Source: 3rd Edition of the Climber's Guide to the Olympic Mountains; May 13, 2006 ascent
The snowfields below the summit ridge
This northeastern cornerpost of the Olympics is a north-south ridge bordered by Bon Jon Pass on the north, Silver Creek on the west, and Sink Lake on the southeast. It is becoming increasingly popular as a winter and spring climb due to easy access. A trail runs across the summit.
The views are tremendous, from Canada to the Cascades, including Baker to Glacier to Rainier. Also, take in Seattle and the inner Olympics in clear weather.
In summer, Mt. Townsend is a basic class 1 hike. In the spring, the snow complicates things. The slope to gain the summit ridge is quite steep. This slope is loaded with snow in Mid-May and actually reminded me of Mt. Rainier's snowfields beneath Camp Muir.
I would recommend appropriate winter clothing, an ice axe, avalanche awareness, and route-finding skills for any trips in the snow. Also, be sure to apply sunblock liberally as I got toasted in mid-May, even while socked in with clouds.
Source: 100 Hikes in Washington's South Cascades and Olympics by Ira Spring and H. Manning; May 13, 2006 ascent
The best way to US101 and Quilcene from Seattle is via the Bainbridge Island Ferry to the Hood Canal Bridge. Once on the peninsula, watch for signs for Quilcene. From US104, take the Quilcene exit (right side) and turn left on Center Road which is a shortcut straight to Quilcene (instead of taking US104 all the way to US101 before turning South.
Take Center Rd to US101 at Quilcene and bear left (South) on US101. The Quilcene Ranger Station will be on your right about 5 minutes later.
The directions per 100 Hikes, by Spring and Manning, read as follows:
US101 .9 miles south of the Quilcene Ranger Station and go west on Penny Creek Road. At 1.4 miles go left on "Big Quilcene River Road," which becomes road No. 27. At 13.4 miles pass up road No. 2760, the lower of two starts. About 14 miles, at a switchback go left on road No (2700)190 to Mt. Townsend trailhead No 839, elevation 3400 feet.
Editor's note: As of May 13, 2006, a massive downed tree is blocking access to the upper trailhead. However, the trailhead is only about a 5 minute walk from the site of the fallen tree. In our case, the road was snowed in about a 5 minute walk below the tree, so we parked below the snowline, and then walked 10 minutes to the upper trailhead, which saves time compared to starting at the lower trailhead.
For most recent regulations, check with Quilcene Ranger District, 360-765-3368.
Here is the link with all the Olympic National Park Ranger Station's contact info:
Olympic National Park Ranger Stations
Quilcene Ranger District
Camping available via backpack to alpine Windy Camp, 2.25 miles from trail No 839. Camp Windy is at 5300 feet (read: COLD).
Please see Olympic National Park Ranger links above.
Northwest Avalanche Forecast
Olympic National Park Weather
Washington State Ferries' Current Schedule
Specifications and statistics
8.5 mile round trip
High Point: 6280 feet / 1914 meters
Around 3,000 feet in elevation gain
Per guide books, Mt. Townsend is hikeable by June.
After a winter with significant snow, Mt. Townsend in Mid-May was a robust moutaineering experience for our party.
Our party went at a good clip; 6 hours in the snow roundtrip from upper trailhead to South Summit.
Please leave extra time for trips at a more leisurely pace or for trips with more stops.
Coordinates of Mtn. contributed by Todd C. who found them at the below URL: