A Trip to the Top of Mt. Townsend

Ryan’s parents, Bob and Rohe, were in town for the weekend and their one request was to go on some sort of hike, get outside. We ultimately decided that while there are tons of short hikes close to Seattle we needed to show them something a bit more off the beaten path, more Jamie and Ryan style. Due to the fact that it is still early June and a lot of the snow has yet to melt it was proving difficult to find a hike that didn't require crampons but still met our standards. Out of Google popped Mt Townsend, a good, long day hike with a nice view up top, weather permitting.  Some trip reports from mid-may were still listing snow on trail. When the parents finally came to town we presented them with the potentially snowy, more adventurous Mt. Townsend, or the likely crowded but closer Mt. Si. Bob and Rohe were ready for adventure so Mt. Townsend it was!

Ready to hit the trail

We left Seattle around 6:30am and chose to drive around the Sound. We got to our turn off of the 101 by about 8:30am and began to make our way up one of the many forest roads in the Olympics. Signage was minimal and for a minute (or two or three) we though we might be lost. Luckily we ran into a local and he was able to reassure us we were on the right road.  We arrived at the trailhead by 9am and were off hiking not too long after 9:30 (with Ryan in flip-flops since he had accidently left his socks on the couch at home).

Old Growth Forest

The beginning of the hike led us through beautiful old growth forest. This was definitely the steepest part of the trail, which is always hard to confront first. Each switchback provided new beauty though and a mini waterfall often surprised us as we turned the corner.  It took about an hour to get through the forest. After that the trees become sparser and we were rewarded with views of the surrounding peaks as the clouds broke. Many were still mostly snow covered.

Valley Below and Me and Rohe

The next part of the trail mellowed out a bit and wandered through high alpine meadows.  This is also where we began to encounter snow, but never more than 25 steps or so. Ryan and I were glad that the snow had melted more than we had anticipated and I bet Bob and Rohe were glad too!

Look at that Coordination!


After 3 hours of hiking we reached the summit, which was beautiful. Long and flat and covered in small wild flowers. Although it was still cloudy, and therefore the views were minimal, there is something I love about hiking on grayer days. Having the clouds around makes all of the green really pop and forces you to focus on the small things in front of you rather than the expansive views (which are of course nice too and we will have to come back for them). We stayed up there for about an hour eating lunch (smoked salmon and sausage sandwiches…yum) and having a quick nap. After we had ensured the group picture was taken we were on our way back down.  The descent was super speedy (~1.5hrs) and relatively painless. It felt like we reached the car in no time and there was even a short section of almost glissading up top, which always increases the fun factor.


Exploring the Summit 

Group Shot!

Summit View

 Hiking Down. Kicking Steps.

Hiking Down. Kicking Steps.

Back at the car boots were removed and a group stretch session occurred before hopping in the car and heading back home. We decided to take the ferry back into Seattle and it turned out to be a beautiful ride. After dinner at Seven Stars Peppers we went our separate ways and went right to bed.

The day was awesome and it was great to get outside with Ryan’s parents. Although it was cloudy I am glad the weather cooperated otherwise (no rain, perfect temperature, minimal snow on the trail).  The trail itself was beautiful and well maintained. I love hikes that take you through so many different ecosystems and having the expansive summit was a plus too. 3 Olympic peaks visible from Seattle in the bag!


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