Buckhorn Mountain, Tubal Cain Trailhead, Olympic National Park, Washington
Buckhorn Mountain - 16.2 miles
Tubal Cain Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||16.2 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||3,250' - 6,988' (6,988' max elevation @ the summit)|
|Elevation Change:||+3,738' net elevation gain (+3,950' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Buckhorn Mountain - 16.2 Miles Round-Trip
Buckhorn Mountain (6,995') is located 8.1 miles from Tubal Cain Trailhead in the Buckhorn Wilderness. This rugged peak stands over the Copper Creek, Big Quilcene and Dungeness River valleys with views that extend deep into the Olympic Mountains. Buckhorn Pass (north) and Marmot Pass (south) lie on either side, each with summit access.
The Tubal Cain Trail follows a long but more moderate route along Copper Creek to Buckhorn Pass, then turns south to reach a steep scrambling route up the NW ridge to the summit:
The Tubal Cain Trail heads south past several backcountry campsites and the Silver Creek Shelter before turning west and south again into Copper Creek Valley (.5 miles : 3,395').
Travel and trail conditions change little over the next 2.5 miles up the east side of Copper Creek. This well-maintained segment runs under a moss-draped canopy lined by dense rhododendron and salal. Views are quite limited, but occasional breaks offer a glimpse of the upper valley.
IMPORTANT: The trail reaches a major unmarked split at the 3.0 miles (4,240'). Stay right on the Tubal Cain Trail; the left fork leads into a confusing plot of campsites and on to an historic mining area.
Stay right and cross the creek to the west side of the valley (3.2 miles : 4,290'). The correct path continues past a small campsite on the right once over the creek.
Steep switchbacks rise up the west valley wall (3.5 miles : 4,470') as montane forests open to great views of Buckhorn Mountain and Iron Mountain (4.0 miles : 4,750'). Travel moderates across 5,000' to the split for Buckhorn Lake (5.0 miles : 5,185').
The trail keeps straight and scales steep, open switchbacks (5.5 miles : 5,480') up to Buckhorn Pass (6.2 miles 5,865'). It bends south through the pass on a high alpine ridge toward Buckhorn Mountain and Marmot Pass. Account for variable weather on these exposed segments.
The main trail reaches the base of Buckhorn Mountain (7.5 miles 6,515'), where a social trail breaks left and negotiates snowfields to the beginning of the final scramble (7.8 miles : 6,615').
Routes vary, but are generally strenuous and require some bouldering up to Buckhorn Mountain (8.1 miles : 6,988'). Views stretch into the Olympics and across the entire Buckhorn Range. Notable summits include Mt Deception, Mt Mystery, Iron Mountain and Mt Fricaba.
Interactive GPS Topo MapKey GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84
- N47 53.166 W123 05.489 — 0.0 miles: Tubal Cain Trailhead 3,250'
- N47 53.184 W123 05.912 — 0.5 miles: Trail bends hard south up Copper Creek 3,395'
- N47 52.769 W123 05.736 — 1.0 miles: Trail continues though Fir and Rhododendron
- N47 52.315 W123 05.564 — 1.5 miles: Trail remains in forest on moderate ascent
- N47 51.918 W123 05.652 — 2.0 miles: Conditions remain unchanged
- N47 51.276 W123 05.655 — 2.5 miles: Break 4,000' elevation
- N47 50.949 W123 06.111 — 3.0 miles: Mine Site - bear right at unmarked trail split
- N47 50.934 W123 06.160 — 3.2 miles: Cross creek then turn right onto trail
- N47 51.110 W123 06.210 — 3.5 miles: Trail begins switchbacking up
- N47 51.179 W123 06.277 — 4.0 miles: Heading south on exposed mountainside
- N47 50.815 W123 06.623 — 4.5 miles: Great up-valley views of Buckhorn and Iron Mountains
- N47 50.467 W123 06.947 — 5.0 miles: Trail split to Buckhorn Lake - Stay Straight
- N47 50.334 W123 07.243 — 5.5 miles: Set of switchbacks up exposed mountainside
- N47 50.349 W123 07.482 — 6.0 miles: Final push to Buckhorn Pass
- N47 50.209 W123 07.667 — 6.2 miles: Buckhorn Pass - 5,865'
- N47 49.684 W123 07.772 — 7.0 miles: Above treeline between Buckhorn and Marmot Passes
- N47 49.534 W123 07.312 — 8.1 miles: Buckhorn Peak - 6,995'
- The Tubal Cain Tail continues over Marmot Pass into Olympic National Park. NPS rules and camping permit requirements apply within park boundaries, regardless of your starting point.
- Those aiming for Marmot Pass can also hike the Upper Big Quilcene Trail from the Upper Big Quilcene Trailhead - click here for that description.
- Mountain Goats inhabit the Buckhorn Mountain area. Keep a safe and respectful distance from wildlife.
- This is a no-fee area for parking and recreating. No pass or fee is required to access the Tubal Cain area.
- Dogs are permitted on this trail and must be under control at all times.
Camping and Backpacking Information
There are many great campsites scattered throughout the Tubal Cain - Copper Creek area. Camping is dispersed and please try to use established backcountry campsites to minimize ecological disturbance. There is a self-registration board at the Tubal Cain Trailhead. No permit or fee is required.
Fishing is permitted in Copper Creek and Buckhorn Lake. The Forest Service abides by all Washington State Fishing Regulations. License required.
Rules and Regulations
No pass or fee is required to access the Tubal Cain Trailhead.
The following is not permitted:
- Groups consisting of more than 12 persons and/or 8 head of livestock.
- Starting and/or maintaining open fires, such as camp, cooking and warming fires above 3,500'.
- Gathering wood for starting and/or maintaining open fires or stoves above 3,500'.
- Tethering of livestock to trees and/or other vegetation, except for incidental use not to exceed 30 minutes.
- Possessing and/or transporting unprocessed vegetative matter such as hay, straw, grass or grain. The use of pelletized or certified weed-free feed is required in all National Forests in the Pacific Northwest. This helps prevent the introduction and spread of invasive plants.
- Caching or leaving equipment, personal property or supplies unattended for a period in excess of 24 hours.
- Possessing or using any form of wheeled vehicle for the purpose of transportation of such things as people, equipment, personal property, supplies and game.
- Possessing or using a motor vehicle, motorboat, motorized equipment, hang glider or bicycle.
Directions to Trailhead
From the Hood Canal or Quilcene Area - drive north on Highway 101 until you reach Louella Road (near the Sequim Bay State Park). Turn left onto Louella and drive 1 mile to Palo Alto Road. Turn right onto Palo Alto Road and continue for 5.5 miles to a marked road split. Bear right at the split onto Forest Service Road 2880 then a hard right within several hundres yards to remain on 2880.
Take Forest Service Road 2880 for 1.8 miles and bear left onto Forest Service Road 2870. Take Forest Service Road 2870 for 12.4 miles to the Tubal Cain Trailhead (Note: you will pass the Upper Dungeness Trail 3.4 miles before reaching the Tubal Cain Trailhead).
Park at the trailhead - no fee or pass is required.
Olympic National Forest
1835 Black Lk Blvd SW
Olympia, WA 98512
TTD (360) 956-2401
Hours: 8-4:30, M-F
Hood Canal Ranger District - Quilcene
295142 Highway 101 S.
PO Box 280
Quilcene, WA 98376
(360) 765 2200
TDD (360) 765 2200