Welcome to SP!  -
Buckhorn Mountain

Buckhorn Mountain

Buckhorn Mountain

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Washington, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 47.82557°N / 123.12187°W

Object Title: Buckhorn Mountain

County: Jefferson

Elevation: 6988 ft / 2130 m


Page By: gimpilator

Created/Edited: Jun 10, 2002 / Mar 19, 2012

Object ID: 151016

Hits: 25551 

Page Score: 84.65%  - 19 Votes 

Vote: Log in to vote



Buckhorn West Peak
The West Summit

Buckhorn Mountain is double-summit peak within the Buckhorn Wilderness established. At 6988 feet, the west summit is the 23rd highest point in the Olympic Range. It is named after the appearance of its 2 summits which were once thought to look like deer horns, nearly equal in elevation and separated by a smooth saddle. The east peak, only 1200 feet away, is 32 feet lower. For some reason this area doesn't see the same amount of traffic as the northern half of the park but Buckhorn is one of the more accessible mountains in the general area.

Summit Rocks
On The West Summit

After a scenic hike from Marmot Pass, the highest point on the west summit can be reached by boot path and a short scramble up onto a large boulder. The first good views come upon reaching Marmot Pass but improve at the summit. Some of the main peaks visible include Constance, Inner Constance, Deception, Martin, The Needles, Graywolf, Baker, Glacier, and Rainier. Many hikers who visit Buckhorn will want to visit both summits. The east summit is slightly more difficult to get to. Please see the route section for details.

Olympic Goat
Olympic Goat Near The Summit

Standard Route - Marmot Pass

Hike up along the river, hopping downed trees along the Big Quilcene river and watching for the occasional rhododendron. The trail diverges from the river and begins to rise at Shelter Rock Camp (3600 feet, 2.6 miles). Emerge from the trees near 3.5 miles to traverse scree slopes on the south flanks of Iron Mountain and the southeast slopes of Buckhorn Mountain.

Big Quilcene Trail (#833.1)
Big Quilcene Trail

Numerous camping locations are passed along the way to Marmot Pass and several of them have running water. The next one, Camp Mystery is located at 4.6 miles (5400 feet) in a stand of firs next to a stream. Beyond Marmot Pass the network of trails continues on. Multi-day backpackers make frequent use of these camps when coming and going from more distant locations.

Marmot Pass sign
Marmot Pass

When the trail begins to make tight switchbacks it is nearing the pass. Refuse the urge to leave the trail among the basalt outcroppings and ascend directly. It will not save any time and will only damage the ground-cover. At 5970 feet, Marmot Pass is a gateway to the eastern Olympics. Turn right onto the Tubal Cain trail and go less than a tenth of a mile, watching carefully for the boot-path which leads up to the summit. It's easy to miss. If you find yourself contouring around the west side of the mountain, you have gone too far. The boot-path begins by ascending the south side of the west shoulder.

Buckhorn Double Summit
The West And East Peak Seen From The West Shoulder

The boot-path will lead all the way to the large boulders on the summit. It passes through one steep section covered in scree but it's not quite enough to be considered Class 3 until the summit. Venturing beyond the west summit to the east summit is more challenging. There are a number of ways to do it but the easiest might be to avoid the Class 4 section on the east side of the summit block by dropping down a few hundred feet onto the north face.

Viewed from the saddle, this...
Th East Summit Seen From The Saddle

Traverse over from the north face until access to the saddle is gained at 6600 feet. Continue east along the top of the saddle until you come to a large rock obstacle. Go around this obstacle by scrambling over a rocky rib. Ascend loose scree to the base of a small cliff band and traverse around it to the right (south). Continue to ascend short gullies and rocky outcroppings to the east summit at 6956 feet. The difficulty should never exceed Class 3. If it does, you are off route.

East Peak Scramble
Ascending Gullies On The East Peak

To continue along the ridge to neighboring Iron Mountain is possible but not recommended. Do not attempt to downclimb the east face of east Buckhorn directly from the summit unless you have a rope.

Buckhorn East Peak
The East Summit

Getting There / Driving Directions

From the town of Quilcene, go south on Highway 101 for 1.5 miles, and turn right (west) onto Penny Creek Road passing by a big rock quarry. At 1.4 miles keep left onto Big Quilcene River Road which later becomes Forest Road 27. After 9 miles turn left on Forest Road 2750, and continue 4.5 miles to the trailhead located at 2500 feet. (Upper Big Quilcene trail #833, 2470 feet).

Red Tape

Other than a Forest Pass for parking and the trailhead register, there are no permits or fees required. The route is south facing and should be largely snow free in or after June.

Buckhorn Summit View South
Mount Constance And Inner Constance Seen From The Summit

When To Climb

Call the Buckhorn Wilderness: 360-765-2200 and ask about snow levels near trail 833 and Marmot Pass.

Direct routes (via the saddle) are usually snow-free June-October. Marmot Pass and Camp Mystery often hold snow until mid-July.

One could get creative with couloirs (especially on the SW side of the NE summit) in winter, using snow shoes for the approach...

NWH Trip Reports


Olympic GoatMe on the summit of Buckhorn...Mt BuckhornIron MountainThe NE face of Buckhorn...Descending the long scree...Camp above Marmot Pass;...
Mt BuckhornBuckhorn East PeakBuckhorn from my houseSmall waterfallOlympic GoatSummit RocksOlympics
[ View Gallery - 56 More Images ]