Hiking Mount Townsend - Part 1
There are two Mount Townsend trails, a lower and upper. The upper is shorter but steeper, but still not too steep. The lower is longer but less steep. I hiked the upper one, which was over 7.4 miles round trip and about 2,500 feet AEG. The Trail starts out being called Little Quilcene trail #835, which you follow for 2.1miles until there is a junction trail called Mt. Townsend trail #839, which you follow for 1.6 miles. The upper trailhead is at the end of forest road 2820. You turn off Highway 101 onto forest road 28 and follow it until the 2810 - 2820 fork, which has a bit of washboarding but other than having to drive slower and a few narrow spots with sheer dropoffs, it's not a bad road as far as forest roads go. You drive south on US101 from US104 for a couple of miles, and then follow somewhere around 10 miles in very rough terms on forest road 28 / 2820.
The trailhead is small, but it's not very heavily used, and big enough for 4 or 5 cars.
The trail winds around the side of Dirty Face Ridge, and then angles up Mount Townsend to the summit.
You have views of Dungeness valley and all the nearby ridges. Unfortunately, most of the snow was melted off the mountains when I hiked it in mid July, more than a month earlier than in past years.
When I hiked these trail sections, I had it all to myself, except I met a forest ranger at the trailhead, but there was not another soul on the trail but Pearl and myself.
When we reached the peak, I noticed that it was pretty exposed, but it looked like you could find some campspots up there - might be a good spot to spend a night with a telescope to do some serious stargazing, or just your naked eyes looking up at the sky at the megastars above there.
Up on top you have 360 degree views. To the east you can see Mount Rainier, you can see hood canal, you can see Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan De Fuca. To the west you can see clear over to Mount Olympus, and everything between Mount Townsend and Mount Olympus. The view is pretty amazing, and some of the mountains still had some snow on them to the west.
I averaged a little more than 1 MPH round trip, so it took most of the day, but I like to take a lot of pictures (about 250) and from time to time I stop and rest maybe 3 or 4 times on a hike this long for 5 minutes. I stopped on top for a snack and took quite a few pictures.
When you're at the summit, you may wish to take a light windbreaker. The day I hiked it I was on the warm side until I got up on the summit, and the windchill cooled me down right away. I ended up starting down after about 30 minutes, because I was getting a chill in that wind.
About two thirds of the hike is in the woods, and pretty protected, with plenty of shade, which I appreciated.
I recommend doing this trail, the views are amazingly good. Almost anybody can hike this trail if you take your time and rest when you need you need rest. Probably a good idea to take lunch with you and make a day of it. Bring plenty of water, say 3 liters per person should be enough for most folks.
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Last Update: August 28, 2015
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