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Upper Big Quilcene & Buckhorn Mountain via Marmot Pass

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

Buckhorn Wilderness, Washington, 2023


A Day in the Life of a Day Hiker:

4:30 AM - Wake Up (wake up), Darcy should put on a little make-up... LOL

5:25 AM - Out the door to catch the 6:10 ferry from Edmonds to Kingston

5:50 AM - Eat breakfast in the car while waiting to load the ferry

6:10 AM - First one on the ferry!

6:35 AM - Off the ferry

7:50 AM - Made it to the trailhead (40 minutes early, but I have a book and my electrolytes to drink)

9:00 AM - LET'S GO!

12:15 PM - Top of Marmot Pass (5 miles and 3,130 feet elevation gain)

12:45 PM - Top of Upper Big Quilcene (+1 mile and 787 feet elevation gain)

12:45 PM to 1:45 PM - LUNCHBREAK!

2:00 PM - Back down to Marmot Pass (+1 mile and 787 feet elevation loss)

2:10 PM - FOMO and shit... to the top of Buckhorn we go!

3:00 PM - Top of Buckhorn Mountain (+1.2 miles and 1,496 feet elevation gain)

3:00 PM to 3:30 PM - VOLCANO WATCH PARTY! 🌋🫶🏽

3:30 PM - Down we go...

6:10 PM - THE PARKING LOT! I've never been so excited for the parking lot in my entire life 😅 (+6.2 miles and 4,626 feet elevation loss)

6:36 PM - On the road, fingers crossed I make the 7:45 ferry in Kingston

7:45 PM - Made the ferry! Chow down on dinner during the ferry crossing

8:12 PM - Off the ferry

8:50 PM - Home and ready for the biggest glass of wine ever 😍🍷



Upper Big Quilcene via Marmot Pass

Length: 12.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,917 feet Max Elevation: 6,299 feet

Route Type: Out and Back

AllTrails Difficulty: Hard

Pups: Welcome on a leash

Buckhorn Mountain Southwest Summit via Marmot Pass

Length: 12.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 4,626 feet Max Elevation: 6,965 feet

Route Type: Out and Back

AllTrails Difficulty: Hard

Pups: Welcome on a leash



We had originally planned to only complete Upper Big Quilcene via Marmot Pass, which was spectacular, but then we heard it was a volcano watch party at the top of Buckhorn. FOMO definitely got the better of us, so we dug deep and crushed some serious elevation gain. Spoiler Alert: it was worth it. We were treated to views of Mt Baker, Glacier Peak, Mt Rainier, Mt Adams, and Mt St Helens.

I downloaded the navigation for Upper Big Quilcene via Marmot Pass from AllTrails and then followed trail signs to complete Buckhorn Mountain.

Beware on Buckhorn: there are several false summits, which are soul crushing when your legs are over it. For more details on Buckhorn, the volcanoes, and false summits, check out my reel here (disclosure: reel contains strong sailor language 😅).



The easiest way to get to the Upper Big Quilcene via Marmot Pass trailhead is to use the navigation system of your choice with your destination set as Marmot Pass Trailhead. Parking is located within Olympic National Forest, which requires either a $5 day pass, Northwest Forest Pass, or an America the Beautiful Pass (my preferred method).



I'm not going to sugar coat this wander for you: this hike is hard. It kicked my ass, literally. Know your abilities when picking any hike and always pack your 10 essentials. That said, if you're a beast on the trails, then put this on your list, especially on a clear day!

Last Ramble: listen to your body on the trail! I joke that I had an out-of-body experience at mile 12 of this hike and am thankful for always packing extra electrolytes for emergencies like this.


 Darcy Wanders 



Welcome to Darcy Wanders! I'm Darcy, the wanderer and writer for all things Darcy Wanders.

I love hiking, camping, paddling, and wandering new places! When I'm not wandering, I turn to books, puzzles, and dreaming up plans for my next epic adventure.

I believe the outdoors is for everyone and created Darcy Wanders as a way to share incredible hikes, gear recommendations, and educate on things such as trail etiquette and leave no trace principles. 

happy wandering!

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