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Tubal Cain Mine hike

Location: Buckhorn Lake (#845), Olympics -- East

Statistics: Roundtrip12.0 miles
Elevation Gain2000 ft
Highest Point 5200 ft
Retrace a packer's trail to a mine dating from the 1890s. Peer into dark forbidding shafts and saunter past relics left over from boomtown settlements that went bust. But the real find is the miles of wildflower-studded meadows beyond the mine. Rhododendrons too-traverse a jungle of them on the trail's lower reaches.

Start on a well-groomed track, passing the Silver Creek Shelter (which once provided refuge to wayfarers before FR 2870 shortened the journey) and crossing Silver Creek on a log bridge shortly afterward. After 0.5 mile enter the Buckhorn Wilderness; then turn southward, entering the Copper Creek valley. Skirting slopes high above the creek, the trail travels through a tunnel of rhododendrons and thick stands of second-growth conifers. Occasional breaks in the forest canopy offer previews of the high country lying ahead.

After 3 miles of easy but monotonous walking (except in early summer when the rhodies' purple reign dazzles and delights), come to a junction. The trail left climbs steeply 0.7 mile into Tull Canyon. Among the surprises that await you if you explore this rugged rift are the ruins of an old mining town and the remains of a crashed World War II-era military plane. Immediately up the trail and visible from the junction is a mine shaft. It's extremely dangerous to enter, so best to just imagine what deep dark secrets it possesses (or once possessed).

A half mile beyond, in dank, scrappy forest, is the site of yet another old mining town, now a popular backcountry camping area. Rusted relics lie scattered about-some have been revived, serving the needs of imaginative campers. The Tubal Cain Mine lies just to the left. It is a private inholding within the wilderness and is still active (somewhat); respect all postings and leave any equipment alone.

Besides, you have little time to snoop around with miles of meadows waiting for your arrival. Leap across Copper Creek and begin climbing the valley's west wall via a series of short (followed by one long) switchbacks. Now, thanks to a series of past forest fires and avalanches, enjoy 2 miles of hip-hopping through the harebells. Other blossoms too-a full spectrum of colors streaks the hillside.

Twin-peaked Buckhorn Mountain with Iron Mountain by its side hovers over the far end of the valley. At 5.5 miles reach a junction. The trail left drops 150 feet, heading 0.5 mile to little Buckhorn Lake tucked in thick timber. The lake isn't much, but Copper Creek is pretty enough to make the trip worth it.  
Driving Directions:
From the west end of the Hood Canal Bridge, drive State Route 104 to its end and veer north onto US 101. Proceed 16 miles and turn left onto Louella Road (just before reaching the Sequim Bay State Park entrance). In 1 mile turn left on Palo Alto Road, continuing for 6 miles. Bear right at a junction onto Forest Road 2880. The road descends and crosses the Dungeness River, coming to another junction in 1.7 miles, where you turn left on FR 2870. In 2.6 miles bear right at a junction to continue on FR 2870 (formerly called FR 2860). Continue 10 miles to the trailhead.
Everyone hikes at their own risk, be prepared and bring your 10 essentials. 

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  • Regina

    My # is[masked] if you have questions.

    June 8, 2013

  • Regina

    just a reminder to bring, Northwest forest pass....

    June 8, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hey, Sandy, there isn't a waiting list. I would love to be on the waiting list if someone cancels. Thanks, Casey

    May 31, 2013

    • Regina

      Susan, did you write down the directions? Hope to see you at the traeil head. My # is[masked]

      June 8, 2013

    • Regina

      don't know if we will have service out that way, but hoping.

      June 8, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Let me know if someone cancels...would love to join!

    June 3, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Leah - I just cancelled - I hope you can take my place! And I truly look forward to getting out with the group soon. Have a great time!

      June 5, 2013

    • Regina

      Theresa, Jim French just stopped by and said that you you were going, he told us to take good care of you. We shall see you on another hike since you can't make this one. See you on the trails soon.

      June 8, 2013

  • Regina

    Just an update about trail conditions....Current Conditions: 5/28/13 No recent report 4/26/13 Trail clear til just before Copper Creek crossing, heavy snowpack. We may run into snow be prepared folks.

    June 8, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Oh, sorry, I thought Sandy has posted this hike. Thanks, Regina, for explaining why you don't have a wait list. I will pass on this since if it's a last minute, night before, morning of hike, I will have already made other plans. Have fun.

    June 2, 2013

  • Regina

    I didn't post a waitlist as most folks dont cancel until either the night before or the day of, AND usually most people don't give notice that they aren't showing up so even if there were a wait list you would have to hope those people would have the courteous to cancel on the actual site... I will do my best to notify folks, please send me a phone # to contact you at AND be prepared for a last minute call.

    May 31, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sure, that's fine. We've met people at the trailhead before.

    May 26, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I am new to this area. Is it more sensable for me to drive from Lilliwaup (Hoodsport) to the trail head, rather than to Olympia, then to the trailhead?
    Or where is a good place to meetup, any help to save milage is appreciated.

    May 26, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I would like to join you.

    Gene Sine

    May 26, 2013

12 went

  • Sandy
    Organizer,
    Event Host
  • Regina +1
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member
  • A former member

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