Trip Report    

Backpacking Building Blocks Student-Only Backpack - Marmot Pass

Great views and a variety of route options! Get there early for campsites.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The road to the trailhead is pretty good. There are a lot of pretty deep potholes in the last mile or so. This is still passable in all vehicles; just take your time.  The trail is in great condition. There are plenty of water sources along the way but keep in mind that the ones at higher elevation will likely dry up over the summer.

We had a  group of 7 Mountaineers heading up to Marmot Pass via Upper Big Quilcene TH. Luckily we started on a Friday since the TH at 9:30 am was already pretty full. The first 3 miles or so are in the trees, which helped keep everyone cool. After you do some steady climbing, you start coming into some more exposed areas.  The open meadows here were absolutely breathtaking. We timed the trip perfectly to hit peak wildflower season!


We camped our first night at Mystery Camp, which has a creek that runs year-round. The campsites here are small, so we had to spread our 6 tents between two sites. This is a very popular camp, so you'll need to get there early to get a spot. The first couple of sites you visit are probably the largest and easiest for a group to set up. If all the lower sites are full, there is an additional site about 0.5 miles of the trail, right before the pass, and another site just over the pass. Both additional sites only fit 2-3 tents. We did an evening hike up to Buckhorn but only made it about halfway up since it was still hot and exposed. We did get some great evening views of the Olympics!


We got up early the next morning to beat the heat and made our way up the pass to Boulder camp. Boulder camp has limited spots and is extremely popular. There is a creek that runs year-round, but it can get pretty low in the late summer. If you can get there early enough to get to the shelter area, there are plenty of flat spots to put 6-8 tents, and it gets shaded during the day. The meadow is open sun all afternoon, and is a little trickier to find multiple flat spots near each other. Mosquitos were more plentiful here than Mystery, so be prepared.

After setting up camp, we did a lovely day hike up to Home Lake. There are quite a few ups and downs on the way to Home Lake so don't let the small elevation difference between Boulder and Home Lake fool you. We were able to cool off at Home Lake, have some lunch, and make our way back with a few minutes to spare before dinner.


Overall, we had great spirits despite the heat. This was a great backpack for intermediate backpackers or beginners looking for the next challenge.