Trail Run – Buckhorn Wilderness – Olympic National Forest – Marmot Pass

Hiking Trail: Upper Big Quilcene Trail to Marmot Pass
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Date: August 5th, 2012
Distance: 10.6 miles, out and back/return trip.
Trailhead: 2500 feet
Highpoint: 6000 feet
Elevation Gain: 3500 feet
Hike Difficulty: Moderate. Average hiking time 4.5 to 5 hours (return trip).
Trail Notes: Easy trails most of the way, some steeper sections.
Pass/Parking: Northwest Forest Parking Pass required.

Weather Conditions: High 70′s F in the shade, over 80F in full sun. Clear, still air except for pleasant cooling wind on top of  Marmot Pass. Another picture perfect NW day in mid summer.

English: This is a panoramic image looking Wes...

Panorama looking W-NW to NE from Marmot Pass.

Trail Running Details: This is a popular hiking trail up to the high country and sees many backpackers and over-night usage. The trail surface is mainly easy angled, compacted mud, some roots and sections of rocky avalanche slope debris moving on up into spectacular meadows and Marmot Pass. I chose to jog it.

The first 3.5 miles are through wide, soft forested trails rising to around 4500ft. The shade offered by the canopy was greatly welcomed in “Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the Midday Sun” conditions. And yes, I did start my jog just before noon!!

The trail was mostly dry, had a few damp sections and a couple of small streams to cross, only inches deep, and were great to cool my head, neck and face down.

Leaving the cooling tree covered trail at around 3.6 miles the scenery changed dramatically with wide open views of the entire valley head as I crossed the first of several avalanche debris slopes. The softer, wide trail gave way to rocky, narrower cambered sections until reaching Camp Mystery at 4.6 miles and 4600 ft. The camp area was in trees and has a good year round water supply with drainage from Buckhorn Peak.

Beyond Camp Mystery the trail ascended delightful meadows and skirted a rocky outcrop up to more meadows and finally Marmot Pass at 5.3 miles and 6000 ft. The flowers were out in vibrant colors and lupines danced on the breeze sweeping down off Marmot Pass.

After catching my breath at the Pass I took in the views in all directions. The weather was so clear I could make out Seattle across Puget Sound and Mt. Rainier approx 100 miles away. A good place to eat my trusty peanut butter, cheddar cheese and marmalade sandwich. I also enjoyed an apple and a caffeinated energy gel with water before setting off downhill.

I admit to feeling pretty well done in by the time I got back to the car and think it might be because the heat drained my energy – or could it have been too many beers and wines the night before??

Run/Walk/Jog Time: to Marmot Pass – 1.75 hours. Run/jog down to trailhead 58 mins. Total time 3.5 hours including long break on Marmot Pass (45 mins) enjoying the view.

Running Gear: Breathable long sleeved tee-shirt, shorts, DryMax socks, Montrail Mountain Masochist trail running shoes, Camelbak Rim Runner with 1 quart water, Cliff Bar.

Trailhead: (#833.1). From Quilcene drive US 101 south for 1.5 miles. (From Shelton follow US 101 north for 50.5 miles.) Turn right (west) onto Penny Creek Road. After 1.5 miles bear left ontoBig Quilcene River Road (Forest Road 27). Drive 9.25 miles, turning left on FR 2750. Continue 4.75 miles to the trailhead. Privy available.


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