OverviewBoulder ridge is composed of numerous rocky basalt outcrops but is capped by Peak 6852. Along with the Ridge of Gargoyles to the east it divides the upper Big Quilcene River from the north fork of Tunnel Creek in the rainshadow of the northeast Olympic Mountains. It is most easily approached via the Big Quilcene drainage and is quite prominent on the hike up the valley and from the hill south of Marmot Pass. Peak 6852 affords great views in all directions; from the summit one can look east down toward the Ridge of Gargoyles, out to the saltwater of Puget Sound, and out to each of the volcanos from Mount Baker to Mount Saint Helens. [img:465243:alignleft:medium:Peak 6852 from lower basin] The view across the Big Quilcene to Buckhorn Mountain is not so bad and neither is the vantage to the west over the Dungeness River to Mounts Mystery, Deception, the Needles, and the Graywolf Ridge. But most striking is the rugged view south to the Constance and Warrior Peaks dominating the scene. As for the ascent, there are options. From Marmot Pass, follow a bootpath south up the hill and along the divide until at the west terminus of Boulder Ridge. From here either drop down into the basin or ascend the ridge directly. The ridge can be traversed without complication via class 3 terrain most of the way toward Peak 6852. There is a separate west summit complex which will need to be bypassed if without climbing gear. If bypassed, descend slightly to a bowl with permanent snow and a lingering ice patch leading to the obvious slope northwest of the main summit. If the choice from the beginning was to descend into the basin and not to traverse the main ridge, it is at this point where the routes reunite. Marmot Pass can also be reached via the Tubal Cain Trail but otherwise, an approach could be made from the Tunnel Creek, Charlia Lakes, Alphabet Ridge side on the south slope of the mountain. These slopes are more gentle in character but the approach would be more demanding.
Getting ThereThe most straight-forward approaches would be to follow the Upper Big Quilcene River Trail 833.1 or the Tubal Cain Trail into the Buckhorn Wilderness to Marmot Pass. The Upper Big Quilcene trail is accessed from Highway 101 via FS road 27 and then 2750; the Tubal Cain Trail is accessed via FS road 2870. More committing approaches would be from the Dungeness River (trail 833.2) or up the north fork of Tunnel Creek which has no trail to Charlia Lakes.
Red TapeBoulder Peak lies within the Buckhorn Wilderness so the hoops of the National Park system need not be jumped through. But if parking a vehicle at the Quilcene, Tubal Cain, or Dungeness trailheads a Northwest Forest Pass is required.
CampingWhen hiking up the Big Quilcene River trail, Camp Mystery below Marmot Pass makes for a fine basecamp. If hiking up from the Dungeness River, Boulder Shelter Camp will accomodate. It is also possible to make a nice camp beside the tarn in the basin beneath the northwest side of the ridge.[img:465248:aligncenter:medium:Buckhorn Mountain beyond the valley.]