Mt Townsend

In late May 2015, my girlfriend and I hiked up to Mt Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula. It’s a short, easy, spectacular hike with a lot of bang for its buck…but at the price of being very crowded. Do not expect solitude…or even a place to park. It was really surprising how crowded it was. Despite this, it’s a great hike that should be on everyone’s list. Just get there early to beat the crowds.

Mt Townsend is easy to get to. You will have to drive up a fair bit of gravel roads but they are great shape and suitable for normal 2WD vehicles.


From Quicene, drive south on US 101 for 15 miles, then turn right (west) on Penny Creek Road. Follow it for 1.5 miles then go left onto Big Quilcene River Road (Forest Road 27). Drive it for 13.5 miles (ignore the “Mt Townsend Trail” sign at 12.5 miles – it’s the lower trailhead) and turn left on FR 27-190 and follow it for 0.75 miles to the trailhead parking lot. If it’s full, you will have to park on the side of the road. If you see vehicles parked on the side of the road, park there as well instead of going to the parking lot because it’s small and awkward to turn around in. There are toilets at the parking lot. You will need to display a Northwest Forest Pass in your car or risk being fined.


The trail starts to the right of the toilet block. It climbs steadily through forest on very well maintained and graded switchbacks. As the forest thins out, you will be traversing on grass and heather slopes with nice views of Puget Sound and the Cascades to the east. On a clear day you should be able to see Mt Baker and Mt Rainier. After about 1:45 you will reach a nice viewpoint just below the summit with views west and south into Olympic National Park. Continue uphill for another 10-15 minutes to the summit to gain a panoramic view. Retrace your steps back to the parking lot.

particularly high but it is located at a great vantage point. It’s on the eastern and drier side of the Olympic Peninsula and is perfectly situated to give you views of the Buckhorn Wilderness, the northeast section of Olympic National Park and the Cascades including two of its giants, Mt Baker and Mt Rainier.

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