Mount Townsend, Mount Townsend Trailhead, Olympic National Park, Washington

Mount Townsend - 8.0 miles

Mount Townsend Trailhead

Views from the summit of Mount Townsend (6,260') extend 360 degrees

Views from the summit of Mount Townsend (6,260') extend 360 degrees

Round-Trip Length: 8.0 miles
Start-End Elevation: 3,250' - 6,260' (6,260' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +3,010' net elevation gain (+3,080' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate-Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Mount Townsend - 8.0 Miles Round-Trip

Mount Townsend (6,260') is located in the Buckhorn Wilderness on the NE side of the Olympic Peninsula. This prominent summit offers panoramic views across the Olympic Mountains, Strait of Juan De Fuca, Puget Sound, downtown Seattle and Mount Rainier.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The Mount Townsend Trail climbs 3010' in just 4 miles through diverse forests and open alpine slopes to the summit, with access to Silver Lake along the way:

The trail begins on steep switchbacks lined by rhododendron, Douglas fir and western hemlock (.5 miles : 3,615'). It enters the Buckhorn Wilderness (.9 miles : 4,010') and gradually opens to subalpine meadows on the south flank of Mount Townsend (1.5 miles : 4,570').

Switchbacks wind up the south flank with expansive views across the Puget Sound to Mount Rainier, Mt Baker and downtown Seattle (2.0 miles : 4,860').

The trail passes Camp Windy (2.6 miles : 5,195'), a series of backcountry campsites in the upper valley. Two nearby tarns at the base of Welch Peak (6,000') form the head of Townsend Creek.

Shortly past Camp Windy, turn right at a major unmarked split to remain on the Mount Townsend Trail (2.9 miles : 5,445'). Turning left will lead to Silver Lake in the adjacent valley.

The trail rises quickly past the Silver Lake split through treeline (3.5 miles : 5,940'), where a short side trail leads to the official Mount Townsend summit (4.0 miles : 6,260'), and the main trail continues east to rocky outcrops and additional viewpoints.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N47 51.368 W123 02.157 — 0.0 miles: Mount Townsend Trailhead 3,250'
  • N47 51.517 W123 02.296 — 0.5 miles: Aggressive switchbacks
  • N47 51.653 W123 02.412 — 0.9 miles: Enter Buckhorn Wilderness 4,010'
  • N47 51.614 W123 03.140 — 1.5 miles: Forest breaks - views emerge
  • N47 51.673 W123 03.189 — 2.0 miles: Views of Mt Rainier, Cascades and Seattle
  • N47 51.468 W123 03.457 — 2.6 miles: Camp Windy 5,195'
  • N47 51.551 W123 03.525 — 2.9 miles: Silver Lake Trail Split (turn right)
  • N47 51.693 W123 03.671 — 3.5 miles: Above treeline - final push to summit
  • N47 52.051 W123 03.572 — 4.0 miles: Mount Townsend Summit 6,260'

Worth Noting

  • Silver Lake is a challenging but worthwhile 4.4 mile roundtrip extension off the Mount Townsend Trail with over 1000' additional elevation gain.
  • There is no fee to park at the Mount Townsend Trailhead. Arrive early to secure spaces and avoid crowds. Expect to share the trail with others, especially on weekends.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Backcountry camping is permitted within the Buckhorn Wilderness.

Established backcountry campsites can be found at Camp Windy along the Mount Townsend Trail, as well as Silver Lake and the Silver Creek Valley.

Self Registration is required at the Mount Townsend Trailhead.

Fishing Information

Fishing is permitted at Silver Lake and Silver Creek. The Buckhorn Wilderness abides by all Washington State Fishing Regulations. License is required.

Rules and Regulations

No pass or fee is required to access the Mount Townsend Trailhead.

The following is not permitted in the Buckhorn Wilderness:

  • Groups consisting of more than 12 persons and/or 8 head of livestock.
  • Starting and/or maintaining open fires, such as camp, cooking and warming fires above 3,500'.
  • Gathering wood for starting and/or maintaining open fires or stoves above 3,500'.
  • Tethering of livestock to trees and/or other vegetation, except for incidental use not to exceed 30 minutes.
  • Possessing and/or transporting unprocessed vegetative matter such as hay, straw, grass or grain. The use of pelletized or certified weed-free feed is required in all National Forests in the Pacific Northwest. This helps prevent the introduction and spread of invasive plants.
  • Caching or leaving equipment, personal property or supplies unattended for a period in excess of 24 hours.
  • Possessing or using any form of wheeled vehicle for the purpose of transportation of such things as people, equipment, personal property, supplies and game.
  • Possessing or using a motor vehicle, motorboat, motorized equipment, hang glider or bicycle.

Directions to Trailhead

From Quilcene, travel 1 mile south on US Highway 101 to Penny Creek Road. Take a right. Follow Penny Creek Road staying left at the “Y” (mile 1.4) to the Forest Service boundary and paved Forest Service Road 27.

Continue on Forest Service Road 27 another 9.3 miles to the fork in the road with Forest Service Road 2750. Bear right (remaining on the paved road) and travel for another 4.2 miles then turn left onto Forest Service Road 190 and follow that road .6 miles to the well marked Mount Townsend Trail #839 parking area.

Contact Information

Olympic National Forest

Supervisor's Office
1835 Black Lk Blvd SW
Olympia, WA 98512
(360) 956-2402
TTD (360) 956-2401
Hours: 8-4:30, M-F

Hood Canal Ranger District - Quilcene

295142 Highway 101 S.
PO Box 280
Quilcene, WA 98376
(360) 765 2200
TDD (360) 765 2200

Trip Reports

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