Buckhorn Wilderness

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Buckhorn Wilderness
IUCN category Ib (wilderness area)
Map showing the location of Buckhorn Wilderness
Map showing the location of Buckhorn Wilderness
Location Jefferson / Clallam counties, Washington, USA
Nearest city Quilcene, WA
Coordinates 47°50′N 123°8′W / 47.833°N 123.133°W / 47.833; -123.133Coordinates: 47°50′N 123°8′W / 47.833°N 123.133°W / 47.833; -123.133
Area 44,258 acres (179.1 km²)
Established 1984
Governing body Olympic National Forest of the U.S. Forest Service

The Buckhorn Wilderness is a 44,258-acre (179.11 km2)[1] mountainous wilderness area on the northeastern Olympic Peninsula in Washington, USA. Named after Buckhorn Mountain (6,988 ft or 2,130 m), the wilderness abuts the eastern boundary of Olympic National Park which includes nearby Mount Constance (7,756 ft or 2,364 m), Inner Constance (7,667 ft or 2,337 m), Warrior Peak (7,320 ft or 2,230 m), and Mount Deception (7,788 ft or 2,374 m).


Buckhorn Mountain as seen from the southwest

The Buckhorn Wilderness, established in 1984, is the largest of the five wilderness areas surrounding the Olympic Wilderness within Olympic National Park. The others are:

The Buckhorn Wilderness is administered by the Hood Canal Ranger District of the Olympic National Forest.


The lowest elevations of the Buckhorn Wilderness are found in the lower parts of the three principal drainages: 2,470 feet (750 m) at the Big Quilcene River, 2,700 feet (820 m) at the Dungeness River, and 3,300 feet (1,000 m) at Townsend Creek. The highest point in the wilderness is 7,139 feet (2,176 m) at the summit of Mount Fricaba, which lies on the western boundary of the wilderness area, shared by Olympic National Park. The tallest peak entirely within the wilderness is Buckhorn Mountain at 6,988 feet (2,130 m). A notable historical site in the Buckhorn Wilderness is the Tubal Cain mine.


The wilderness lies within the rain shadow of the Olympic Range, resulting in a relatively drier climate. Despite this, the lowland forests (below about 4,000 feet) are still dominated by stands of old-growth western red cedar, western hemlock, and Douglas-fir, in addition to numerous understory organisms such as devil's club, salal, thimbleberry, fungi, and mosses. Above about 6,000 feet (1,800 m), alpine vegetation prevails where conditions are not too dry. Some slopes, such as the south side of Buckhorn Mountain, are rather arid above tree line due to fast-draining soils, sunny exposure, and low precipitation in the summer months.

Panorama looking West-Northwest to Northeast from Marmot Pass in the Buckhorn Wilderness. Buckhorn Mountain and Iron Mountain can be seen in the far right side.

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