Boulder Peak: 5,600 ft.Elevation gain 3,800 ft. Distance 13.1 mi. Time: 7 hrs. 25% alpine. Trailhead 1,825 ft. Enjoyment rating: 4.
Overview:Boulder Peak includes a hike up an old historical path to Olympic Hot Springs, then through huge trees of an old growth forest, then up a steep ridge to a gorgeous alpine lake, Boulder Lake. From the lake it is 1,300 feet in .5 mile Boulder Peak, just west of the lake. Views of the surrounding country are very dramatic and worth the climb.
Getting to The Trailhead:Turn left on the Elwah River Road, 9 miles west of Port Angeles. Follow the road 10 miles to its end and the trailhead at 1,825 ft.
The Trail:The trail begins with a 2.2 mile walk up what used to be an old asphalt road to Olympic Hot Springs. In the 1930’s there was a successful resort at the hot springs until the road was washed out. At 2.2 miles (an old parking lot) follow the sign to the right up the main trail toward Appleton Pass, past the campground and then through a beautiful old growth forest, to a signed junction at 3.1 miles. Straight ahead is Appleton Pass. To the right is Boulder Lake, 2.8 miles away and Boulder Peak, .5 west of the lake. The trail becomes steep fairly quickly and climbs the ridge, crossing several small creeks that drain into the North Fork of Boulder Creek. At 4 miles you can see Appleton Pass up through the trees to your left. Soon the pointed, rocky summit of Everette Peak comes into view, also on your left. At 5 miles you get the first look at Boulder Peak, straight ahead. At 5.8 miles hit a trail junction left, going to beautiful Boulder Lake .1 of a mile over a knoll. (Straight ahead is the Happy Ridge trail.) You will want to spend time at this alpine lake (4,334 ft.) set perfectly below Boulder Peak.
The Peak: Standing at the lake, the peak is straight ahead of you, west. Plan on 3 hours round trip to the peak and back. 1,300 feet in .5 mile is steep but the scrambling is easy to moderate. The route is up the right center to the east ridge on the right, then left to the summit. Start by traversing the lake on the right, east, on a trail which leads you to a meadow and then to a rocky drainage, directly west of the lake. Climb up the drainage until you reach a large boulder field. Climb up the boulder field, staying on the right of the field to use vegetation for easier footing. There is a steep headwall ahead of you. Angle right, northeast, before you come to this rocky headwall. Bushwack through the trees for 200 feet until you hit a meadow running down from the east ridge of Boulder Peak. Climb up to the east ridge. (Note that the east ridge connects Boulder Peak with Happy Lake Ridge about .5 mile away to the east.) Once at the east ridge turn left and climb steeply to a spot just right, east, of the peak. Then walk the short distance to the summit. (A less steep alternative, from the east ridge, is to go over the ridge and pick up the north ridge which connects in a U shape with the east ridge. From there it is a little further, but less steep of a walk to the top.)
Views from the summit are spectacular. Standing on the top you look back down at Boulder Lake, 1,300 feet directly below. Looking up from the lake, off in the distance is Mt. Raineer. As you turn to the right, southwest, you have great views of the north face of Mt. Appleton and peak 6100. Just to the right of that Mt. Olympus dominates the horizon. Behind you, north, you see almost the whole of Vancouver Island and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. To the east is Happy Lake Ridge and Mt. Angeles.
An alternative route to the peak, is to go back .1 mile from the lake to the junction with Happy Lake Ridge and turn left. Walk about .5 mile up switchbacks until you gain the ridge. Remember that Happy Lake Ridge connects with the east ridge of Boulder Peak. Turn left, east, and traverse the east ridge to Boulder Peak. One downside with this route is that the ridge is a dragonback with rocks and trees on the tops. So you have to sidehill, walking to the left below the ridge. This is longer than the direct route from the lake but does provide an alternative.