Hike description: This trip has woods, water, and views. You’ll start at the Tubal Cain trailhead and hike in through second growth forest, along a scree slope, across some bridges and shallow water crossings. At 3.2 miles you pass the junction for the Tull Canyon Trail on your left and at 3.5 miles you’ll be at the Tubal Cain Mine site on Copper Creek. This is a good snack spot where you can shed your pack and spend a some time exploring the artifacts left behind by the miners. From there the trail climbs up through a meadow (full of wildflowers in the summer) and hike along a ridge for about 2.3 miles to the Buckhorn Lake trail junction, on your left. Follow the trail down to enchanting little Buckhorn Lake for a relaxing lunch in an idyllic spot. You’ll drop about 150 feet in just half a mile to get down to the lake. Yes, it is worth descending, only to have to climb back out again. The lake, glorious in spite of its diminutive size, is a real treat. The hike from Copper Creek to the Buckhorn Lake way trail is exposed which means no shade (also no water) but magnificent views. As you retrace your steps on the way out keep an eye out for different vistas and more artifacts that you missed on the way in.
Directions: Drive U.S. 101 to 11/2 miles west of Sequim Bay State Park and turn west on Palo Alto Road. Or, turn west on Louella Road 1/4 mile before Sequim Bay State Park. The trailhead is 19.6 miles from the junction of Palo Alto and Louella Road. This summer the entrance to the parking lot was not signed but the trailhead kiosk was clearly visible at the far end. Note that the numbering of Forest Service Roads changes from time to time – in this instance, parts of Road 2880 used to be Road 2860. Also be aware that the current route to the trailhead involves a reroute around a washout on Road 2860 which will not be reflected in older guidebooks. For current road information contact the Ranger District.
Difficulty rating: 4 (1 is easiest, 5 is most difficult)
Miles round-trip: 12
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Elevation: 2,000 feet
Best time of year: June to October
Map: Green Trail 136 Tyler Peak; Custom Correct Buckhorn Wilderness
Pass: None in 2009
Also: There are campsites at Tubal Cain and Buckhorn Lake to make this a multiday trip. Water is available (for treating) at Copper Creek and a stream feeding into Buckhorn Lake.
Hike of the Week is presented by The Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Hiking/Backpacking Committee. For other hikes, visit www.thenewstribune.com/hiking.