Home Lake is a picturesque alpine lake sitting at 5,330 feet on the eastern edge of Olympic National Park. In addition to its remoteness, part of the majesty of the lake is the "walled-in" feeling provided by 7,742-foot Mount Constance and 7,300-foot Warrior Peak rising to the immediate east and 5,800-foot Constance Pass to the south and west. Mount Constance is the third highest peak in the Olympic Mountains, the highest eastern peak, and it appears as the most prominent Olympic peak when viewed from the Puget Sound.
Although Home Lake and Constance Pass are located in Olympic National Park, the route described here involves the Upper Dungeness Trail that begins in the Buckhorn Wilderness to the north. The trail heads south from the trailhead and closely follows the Dungeness River through old-growth forest before meeting a spur trail to Royal Lake that leaves the river after approximately 1 mile. After 3 miles of hiking you will reach Camp Handy, an established backcountry campsite. At this point the trail departs the river and begins to climb more drastically. Shortly after Camp Handy, bear left at the fork to continue to Marmot Pass. The next 3 miles of trail will climb more than 1800 feet to arrive at Boulder Shelter. Note that, just before arriving at Boulder Shelter, an unmarked spur trail will turn to the left; this is the trail to Marmot Pass. Boulder Shelter was aptly named, for in addition to established backcountry campsites, there is a shelter structure and several large boulders.
Shortly past Boulder Shelter, a trail will depart to the left toward Charlia Lakes. One mile later (approximately 7.1 miles from trailhead), a sign will indicate the boundary between the Buckhorn Wilderness and Olympic National Park. The trail becomes noticeably less maintained after crossing into the national park, and large amounts of brush encroach on the trail from the sides. The trail quickly leaves the forest and brush behind and crosses a large, open rock field with Warrior Peak and Mount Constance in full view to the southeast and The Needles ridge to the west. The route descends across the boulder field for a few hundred feet to cross Home Creek. From here the route again enters the forest to make its final ascent to Home Lake, gaining approximately 700 feet in elevation in a little under 1.5 miles. Established backcountry campsites at Home Lake are predominantly located along the western side of the lake. Olympic marmots are prevalent in the Home Lake area, and mountain goats frequent the area as well. The entire route gives terrific wildlife and wildflower viewing opportunities depending upon season.
Constance Pass provides some of the most impressive views of the Olympic Peninsula and the interior Olympic Mountains. Great views are possible from the saddle pass itself, but the best panoramas can be had by venturing west for a short distance along the Del Monte Ridge. In addition to the previously mentioned Mount Constance and Warrior Peak, The Brothers, Mount Anderson, Mount Olympus, Mount Mystery, Mount Deception and The Needles are all visually prominent. On clear days, Mount Rainier can also be seen to the far southeast.
This adventure is a terrific out-and-back, but it can also be easily linked with other great trails in the area including Marmot Pass and those along the Dosewallips River. In fact, the original itinerary for this adventure involved a return trip over Marmot Pass to the Tubal Cain Trail, but weather conditions did not cooperate. This area of the park is a great option if you prefer a little more isolation with your adventures.
Note that the trailhead is difficult to find. Several popular guidebooks, maps, and online resources include incorrect road numbers and references to forest roads that are no longer through passages. Pay careful attention to the driving directions and consider confirming directions with the ranger station. Also, Wilderness Camping Permits are required if you are going to stay overnight in the park