A Night on the Summit of Baldy

Tyler Peak (6364′), Baldy (6831′), Gray Wolf – North (7218′) and Gray Wolf – South (7076′) sit at the northern end of the Olympic Mountains and form a high ridge line of conspicuous summits visible above the town of Sequim WA. The steep trails accessing Baldy and Tyler offer quick access to some of the prettiest high mountain terrain in the Olympics, with commanding views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the North and the high peaks of Royal Basin to the South.

The summit of Baldy is broad and gentle with a convenient tent platform ringed with stones to block the wind. It’s a memorable and scenic place to spend the night, provided that the weather cooperates.

The ridge line connecting these four peaks is high, mostly gentle and relatively easy to hike. Baldy and Tyler are by far the most popular of the four, with trails leading to both summits. Gray Wolf North sees some traffic, with a faint and intermittent foot path. Gray Wolf South is rarely traveled, with very few signs of a path.

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Buckhorn Wilderness “Big Loop”

This is a one-night trip in the Buckhorn Wilderness, in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains. Being in the rain shadow, this area sees less snow and the winter snow pack melts out earlier than other mountain areas. This allows easy high mountain access in June without extensive snow travel. And June is one of the best times of year in the Olympics: wildflowers blooming, warmer nights, moderate bugs and really long days.

This loop hike is 28 miles long and has a lot of variety, including forested valleys with 200 foot trees, scenic mountain passes, multiple non-technical peaks and a mix of on-trail and moderate off-trail travel. It includes three passes, including Marmot Pass, “Hawk Peak” pass, and the Mt. Townsend-Welsh Peaks pass. Here’s the map:

Getting to the Tubal Cain trailhead around 3:30PM on Friday, I was blessed to find a ride back down the road 4 miles to the Upper Dungeness trailhead. Camp was just beyond Marmot Pass on the PNT, not far from the summit of Buckhorn. The following day had all the vertical: up and down Buckhorn, down to Tubal Cain, up Tull Canyon to Hawk Peak, down to Silver Lakes, up to Mt Townsend, and down the steep Dirty Face Ridge trail to my waiting truck.

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