Buck Mountain in the Olympics / 奧林匹克山脈裏的巴克山

Buck Mountain in the Olympics is among the few places along Highway 101 accessible at this time of the year. The woodsy summit might not boast expansive views as Mount Walker. But solitude is what makes this trip worthwhile.

Buck Mountain summit in the mist
Buck Mountain Olympics in the mist

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Buck Mountain in the Olympics at a Glance

Access: Elbo Creek Trailhead
Round Trip: 10 miles
Elevation Range: 800′-3760′
Gear: microspikes, snowshoes
Route Info: Tanna & Woody
GPS track: available
Dog-Friendly: yes

Buck Mountain

Last weekend’s snowstorms kept us close to home. Today, the pups and I went up to the less-visited Buck Mountain in the eastern Olympic Mountains. Like Lighting Peak, a friend recommended the place.

This mountain isn’t as famous or as grand as its namesake in the distant Glacier Peak Wilderness. But the solitude it provides far exceeds other nearby destinations like Mount Walker.

Lower forest
Lower forest

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Elbo Creek Trail

The trailhead was a stone’s throw away from Walker Pass. Best of all, we arrived at the crack of dawn at an empty parking area. After some organizing, we started walking at sunrise.

The bulk of the altitude took place in the lower old-growth. By the time we reached the northeast ridge, we had gained 2000′ in just over two miles. The opening there gave the view out to Mount Walker.

Mount Walker from below the junction
Mount Walker from below the junction

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Buck Mountain Northeast Ridge

Later we left the trail as we rounded the ridge. Then I put on snowshoes in the hope of a smooth ridge traverse. Little did I know that the crest had undergone logging. So the dense new growth slowed down our progress.

The snow let us avoid the thicket in the forest. During which, we came upon an old road that’s since faded into the brush. We had no choice but to go over down trees through the crest’s east in some places.

Northeast ridge
Northeast ridge

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Road 2620-060

At last, we broke out of the trees at the 3500′ road bend. Then we went up to the radio huts at the roadway’s end. We went behind the buildings and crossed the open ridge with misty views on both sides. Then we dove right back into the trees.

Soon, we reached the woodsy Point 3777 by Road 2620-060. Then we hiked west toward the real summit at a mile away. From the east saddle, the main path went around the south. But we took the brushy spur road up to the top.

This way to Buck Mountain
This way to Buck Mountain

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Buck Mountain Summit

So far, our recent outings in the east Olympic Mountains haven’t yielded many summit views. With the elevation below the tree line, it wasn’t a surprise not to see much. But we enjoyed the sunshine in the clearing.

It was still cloudy on the south side. So I had thought about going out from the north. Then that way, we would make it a loop trip. But I was indecisive. So we went back down to the east saddle first.

The final stretch
The final stretch

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In Search of Views

The clearing on the saddle looked out to the north. But it was even cloudier now than earlier. By then, the spotty views to Buckhorn Wilderness had nearly faded. I decided to exit from the south so we could continue to savor the sun.

It is possible to drive up near the top via Road 2620 in the dry season. The quick ascent would, in turn, leave more time in the day to explore other nearby places. But we’d likely miss out on the solitude.

Buckhorn Wilderness in the mist
Buckhorn Wilderness in the mist

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Road 2620-030 (Jackson Creek Road)

From the saddle, we dropped south in the open forest. Soon, we reached Road 2620-030 at 3100′. I heard we could catch views from below Point 3777. So this road would put us at that spot near the gated roadway up to the huts.

Even before we reached the viewpoint, we had glimpses of the south Olympic Mountains. They included The Brothers, Mount Jupiter, Pluto Peak, to name a few. So glad we came out this way instead.

Southwestern panoramic view
Southwestern panoramic view

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Outro

We saw boot tracks by the lookout. Though, it was surprising not to see people up here scoping out the landscape. Mount Turned looked very close. So I thought we’d combine it with Green Hill as a drive-up trip.

The walk down to the 2700′ junction was unexciting. I expected more folks would make their way up here, but there were none. Soon, we were back in the old-growth for the two-mile hike down to the car.

Finding our way home
Finding our way home

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