Mt Townsend Trail 839

Olympic National Forest, Washington

Elevation Gain4,956ft
Trailhead Elevation2,849ft
Elevation Min/Max2839/6285ft
Elevation Start/End2849/2849ft

Mt Townsend Trail 839

Mt. Townsend Trail #839 is a hiking and horse trail in Clallam County and Jefferson County, Washington. It is within Buckhorn Wilderness Area and Olympic National Forest. It is 6.3 miles long and begins at 2,849 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 12.9 miles with a total elevation gain of 4,956 feet. Mount Townsend (elevation 6,247 feet) can be seen along the trail. This trail connects with the following: Silver Lakes Trail #842 and Little Quilcene Trail #835.

Mt. Townsend Trail #839 Professional Reviews and Guides

"Easy road access, a long hiking season, and unparalleled views of Puget Sound and the eastern half of the Olympics make Mount Townsend one of the most climbed peaks in the Olympics. Of the three trails to its summit, Trail No. 839 is the route most taken. It’s not the shortest way, but it’s highly scenic and one of the best built and maintained trails in the Buckhorn Wilderness.

The views are great from anywhere along the open peak: Puget Sound and its labyrinth of islands, bays, and channels sprawls below. Watch ferries ply azure waters. Gaze out at the Seattle skyline to glass and metal twinkling in the afternoon sunlight. A fortress of Cascade peaks, punctuated by snowy volcanoes, occupies the eastern horizon."

"The views from the summit of Mount Townsend (6,280 feet) have rightly been called “sweeping.” To the north can be seen Port Angeles and Sequim, with the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island in the background. From east to south is Puget Sound, downtown Seattle, and Mount Baker along with the entire crest of the Cascade Mountains all the way to Mount Rainier.

And to the west are the high peaks of the Olympic Mountains. Not bad for a wildflower hike that also includes two kinds of Rhododendron, numerous species of pine and fir, and a pretty outstanding subalpine flora. It’s a lot of work, though: The trail climbs 2,900 feet in slightly more than 4 miles to the south summit of Mount Townsend."

"Starting with a road walk, this snowshoe trek leads through steep clearcuts,
virgin forest, and up to some near-vertical alpine meadows, but throughout
it all, one aspect is constant: incredible, staggering views."

"A 4.5-mile day hike one-way to the summit of Mount Townsend; 5.5 miles one-way to Silver Lake. This trail climbs to the top of Mount Townsend for sweeping views of the leeward Olympics. The route also offers an outstanding diversity of wildflowers throughout the summer, including several species found only in the Olympic Mountains.

An optional side trip to Silver Lake is well worth the extra effort. The trail begins by climbing through a montane forest underlain by Pacific rhododendrons. These shrubs light up the forest with enormous pink blossoms in early July. A few avalanche chutes crisscross the forest and host a timberline community of plants normally found at much higher elevations."

"Several hundred (possibly even thousands) of people trek to the top of Mount Townsend every year, numbers that are explained by the fact that this lofty peak provides one of the finest views in the eastern Olympics. Though this is perfectly reasonable (the view really is stupendous), in my opinion virtually all of these people do it the wrong way. More than 95% of hikers approach the mountain on one of two trails coming from the east. And while those are nice trails and make for good hikes, they really don’t compare on the scenery scale with the route from the north along view-packed Dirty Face Ridge.

True, the trailhead is a little harder to reach and the trail itself is very steep in places, but if its scenery you desire, then the Dirty Face Ridge route is definitely for you. The backpacker, or really athletic and ambitious day hiker, can turn this into a long and challenging loop trip that visits a lovely little cirque lake tucked beneath a snowy ridge (nice camps) and then returns to the trailhead via Silver Lake Way Trail. Although this unofficial path is unsigned, steep, and rugged, it is nonetheless reasonably easy to follow and makes a good shortcut back to the starting point for experienced hikers."

"This hike climbs 3.8 miles from a rhododendron-speckled forest to a high meadow ridge that invites an afternoon of wandering. Views to Puget Sound, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and into the higher summits of the Olympics are spectacular, as are the sunsets from this lofty perch. In June the mountain’s open, south-facing hillsides explode with colorful displays of wildflowers.

After enduring months of gloomy skies and rain, the first warm, sunny days in June send many Pacific Northwest hikers gleefully careening toward alpine trails, where they’re often confronted by the grim reality that snowpack in much of the region’s high country doesn’t melt out until well into July."

Mt. Townsend Trail #839 Reviews

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It was a great hike it was steep and a challenge. But very much worth it.
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I must have been pretty out of shape for this hike because me over three hours to make it to the top. We basically hiked in the fog the whole way to the top where the sun broke through with bluebird skies. We were hiking back down by 2pm and got fantastic pictures the whole way.
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A quick day hike that takes about 4 hours round trip. Provides excellent views of Rainer, Baker, Constance, The Brothers and the valley below. On a clear day, you can see everything from Seattle to Bellingham.
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Hiked up to the lake on Sunday (7/9/06). It started getting a little crowded in the afternoon, but once you get past the falls it's much less populated. The trail is is very nice condition and they just finished cutting back some of the overgrowth. Parking is tricky. If you get their after 10am on the weekend park before the last small bridge and walk the extra 1/8 mile. You'll be glad you did when it's time to leave. Don't forget your parking pass either, they will give you a ticket!

Mt. Townsend Trail #839 Photos

Trail Information

Olympic National Forest
Nearby City
Olympic National Forest
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
Additional Use
Views, Wildflowers
Olympic National Forest, Hood Canal Ranger District
Local Contacts
Green Trails #168S Olympic Mountains East and #136 Tyler Peak; USGS Mount Townsend; Trails Illustrated Olympic National Park; USFS Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park; Custom Correct Buckthorn Wilderness; DeLorme Page 68 A-6
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018