Hike of the Week:
June 30, 2008
Location: Olympic Peninsula - East
Distance: 10.6 miles roundtrip
Elevation: 3500 ft. gain to 6000 ft.
Maps: Green Trails #136 Tyler Peak; Custom Correct Buckhorn Wilderness
Marmot Pass is a quintessential Olympic Peninsula hike - from old growth forest and the tumbling Quilcene River to broad meadows of wildflowers and supreme views in all directions, this is a trek well worth making.
Marmot Pass makes an excellent day hike, though it's so beautiful that you may want to consider backpacking. There are two nice camping areas along the way that would open up more possibilities for exploring the area. It's a popular place to spend the 4th of July - you can see Seattle's fireworks from the top of Marmot Pass.
The best way to reach Marmot Pass is via the Big Quilcene Trail #833.1. The trail enters the Buckhorn Wilderness right away, and for the first two miles you walk through towering old growth along the Big Quilcene River. Be sure to notice the forest understory - vanilla leaf, trillium, rhododendrons, thimbleberry, false soloman's seal, and queen's cup. And later in the season - huckleberry!
At 2.5 miles, you reach Shelter Rock Camp and then leave the thick canopy behind. For the next two miles, the trail climbs in and out of forested patches but is mostly in small, enchanted meadows. The trail climbs steadily the entire way, but it never seems super steep.
At 4.5 miles is the charming Camp Mystery, with a few open campsites
right on the trail and a few more secluded ones beyond the big site up toward the pass. Backpackers often stop here for one or two nights, using the extra time to hike beyond Marmot Pass to Home Lake, the Tubal Cain Mine Trail or to the top of Buckhorn Mountain.
A large, open meadow takes the trail the rest of the way up to Marmot
Pass. The views up top are breathtaking - some of the tallest Olympic peaks, the Dungeness Valley, Hood Canal, the Cascades and more.
Quilcene Ranger District (360) 765-3368 for conditions. Guidebook: Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula by Craig Romano (Mountaineers Books). WTA Trip Reports - search Big Quilcene and Marmot Pass.
From the town of Quilcene, go south on US 101 1.5 miles, and turn right (west) onto Penny Creek Road. At 1.5 miles bear left on Big Quilcene River Road, which becomes FR 27. At about 10 miles, go left on FR 2750, and continue 4.75 miles to the trailhead at 2500 feet elevation.