Mount Townsend Hike



Country: United States

Location: Olympic Mountains, Washington State

Round trip: 10 km

Start elevation: 1070 m

Final elevation: 1910 m

Map: Green Trails: Tyler Peak Wash-No 136

Contributor: David Sellars



getting there

Drive south from Quilcene on US101 and turn right on to Penny Creek road. Where the road splits, take the left fork, which becomes FS Road 27. Ignore the spur road signed "Mount Townsend Trail" and continue on FS 27 for about 2 km ahead to another fork to the left. This is a short gravel spur road which leads to the upper trail head.

featured plant

Douglasia laevigata


partial plant list

Rhododendron macrophyllum

Clintonia uniflora

Penstemon rupicola

Penstemon procerus

Lewisia columbiana

Phacelia sericea

Lupinus lepidus var. lobbii

Phlox diffusa

Smelowskia calycina var. americana

Hedysarum occidentale


The east flanks of the Olympic Mountains are drier then the west side and the underlying rock is basalt.  The area supports a diverse and unique flora

The trail climbs through a forest of fir and hemlock with an extensive understory of Rhododendron macrophyllum. Clintonia uniflora can be seen in the undergrowth.  Once above the tree line, extensive pink drifts of Douglasia laevigata are in flower in early July together with Phlox diffusa which contrasts beautifully with the black basalt.  The summit ridge is easy walking and contains rock outcrops with good specimens of Lewisia columbiana, Phacelia sericea and Lupinus lepidus var. lobbii.

Penstemons in flower in early July include Penstemon rupicola and Penstemon procerus. The views over Puget Sound to Mount Baker and Mount Rainier can be outstanding on a clear day

Reference:  Chapter on Mount Townsend by Dennis Thompson in Rock Garden Plants of North America, NARGS, ed Jane McGary

For more information on trail conditions go to the Washington Trails Association site.