Little White – the remote and undeveloped younger sibling of that other mountain.  This is one of the taller mountains in the Okanagan cracking the 2000m mark.  The summit area is a huge exposed slab of rock which makes for incredible 360 views.  Access to any of the trailheads requires some degree of off-roading so this is not your casual family day-hike.  This also implies that some planning is required and also choosing the appropriate season (July-October).

View north Little White summit

There are at least 5 different access routes for Little White – Hwy 33 / Okanagan Falls Rd / Greyback Rd / Canyon Lakes Rd, Little White forestry service road, Upper Crawford Trail, Highland trail from Chute Lake, and Highland trail from Hydraulic lake or Hwy 33.

Directions To Trailhead (Canyon Lakes):

The shortest hike up Little White is via Canyon Lakes trailhead. Unfortunately, the drive to the trailhead is much longer than others. The last 5km is doable (barely) in an SUV but a high clearance 4×4 is recommended. Take HWY 33 out of Kelowna and turn right about 20 mins later on Okanagan Falls FSR (towards hydraulic lake). Follow the signs to Idabel lake but continue past the final turnoff (to Idabel lake). 22.1 km from HWY 33 turn right at the T intersection then stay right at the Y 2.6km later. The trailhead is obvious 6.5km later (the last 5 being the really rough rocky snowmobile trail).

Hiking up from Canyon Lakes
Approaching the summit from Canyon Lakes Trailhead

Directions To Trailhead (Upper Crawford):

The most straight forward (but harder) trailhead from Kelowna is the Upper Crawford. From McCulloch Rd in south Kelowna turn onto the unpaved June Springs Forestry Service Rd and follow it all the way until it meets with the KVR (kettle valley railway) trail.

Little White as seen from KVR trail
Little White as seen from KVR trail before Bellevue Trestle

It gets a bit sketchy here but it is 100% possible with a regular car. Turn right onto the KVR – watch for cyclists 😉 Drive approximately 7km along the trail until you reach the Bellevue Trestle (as far as is possible to drive). Along this route you have to navigate through some tight spaces with rock walls on either side and some precarious narrow sections with no barriers on the cliff edge. As you approach Bellevue Trestle on the right, go straight and curve left up to where there is parking and the trailhead for the Upper Crawford Trail.

KVR from Ruth Station towards Bellevue Trestle
KVR from Ruth Station towards Bellevue Trestle (ie. drive this way)

The trail climbs steeply at first and after about 1km there is an abandoned Youth Corps camp. From here the trail is more gradual (mountain bikers use it) and at 5.5 km from the trailhead the path joins with the Little White Forestry Service Rd. Follow this or as the summit is clearly visible from here, make a beeline through the sparse vegetation.

Click on map for a higher res version (Upper Crawford Trail)
All that remains of the fire lookout on Little White

Distance from Kelowna to Canyon Lakes Trailhead
Walking time: 4-5 hours round trip
Trail Length: 12km round trip
Elevation gain: 450m
GPS: Not necessary but always a good idea for these remote hikes.
Easy to Keep on Trail: Yes, trail is well worn.

Distance from Kelowna to Upper Crawford Trailhead: 45 minutes
Walking time: 6-8 hours round trip
Trail Length: 16km round trip
Elevation gain: 930m
GPS: Not necessary but always a good idea for these remote hikes.
Easy to Keep on Trail: Yes, trail is well worn.

GPS Download: GPX | KML

View of Little White from Hayman Mountain
View of Little White behind Kelowna from Hayman Mountain

Technically this mountain does fall into our series hiking mountains with loud eyesore communications towers on top but we do it anyway but it is rather tactful so as to not take away from the hiking experience.

Side Quest:

You’ll notice on the map above there is an icon for Abandoned Youth Camp. The camp was abandoned in the 1990s and is worth further inspection. It can be found near the start of the Upper Crawford Trail up to Little White Mountain just off the KVR trail. One weekend we actually camped in the abandoned camp and tried to find all the items on the old map which stands at the entrance.