Mount Townsend via Mt. Townsend Trail #839
This is a difficult one way trail to Mount Townsend in Olympic National Forest.
This trail goes by Windy Lake.
From the upper trailhead at 3400ft you will immediately face a series of steep switchbacks through dense forest. The switchbacks terminate at approximately 3900ft, where you begin a straight, steady climb toward Windy Lake.
After entering Buckhorn Wilderness (sign present) the trail crosses three drainages. These do not present much difficulty, but occasionally water flows across the trail leaving it muddy. A second section of switchbacks begins at approximately 4700ft.
At 5100 ft there is a small meadow suitable for camping, and a nice place to rest before tackling the remaining switchbacks. An unmarked spur trail to Windy Lake leaves the main trail at 5300ft. Veer right to continue toward the peak. At 5500ft The Mount Townsend trail intersects the Silver Lakes Trail #842. For an extra challenge use this trail to gain a high ridge for some loose scrambling, otherwise stay right.
The switchbacks terminate at 6000ft where you gain the summit ridge. This is a long, wide, plateau-like summit with many small rock outcroppings. Numerous social trails exist here, in some places four parallel tracks exist. To prevent further erosion, I recommend staying on the path farthest to the left.
The true high-point and USGS marker is close to the midpoint of the ridge. On a clear day all the major Washington Cascade volcanoes are visible to the east, along with Puget Sound, Hood Canal, and downtown Seattle. To the south and west is the rugged interior of the Olympics Mountains, and to the north Vancouver Island and the Straight of Juan de Fuca.
Descend via the same route.
Very limited parking at the upper trailhead so make sure to arrive early. Consider using lower trailhead or carpooling. Numerous pullouts along the last .7 miles to the upper trailhead, but be sure to pull all the way off as the road is very narrow.
Suitable for children. Trail is well maintained gravel, wide in most places, and does not include scrambling or major dropoffs.
Sights to See
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