The Olympic Mountains as seen from the summit of Mount Townsend. Photo by Rob Ollikainen/Olympic Peninsula News Group

The Olympic Mountains as seen from the summit of Mount Townsend. Photo by Rob Ollikainen/Olympic Peninsula News Group

Buckhorn Wilderness peak offers panoramic vistas

Mount Townsend a popular hike this time of year

Mount Townsend’s summit ridge emerged from clouds at the northeast corner of the Olympic Mountains.

The 6,260-foot peak in the Buckhorn Wilderness provided panoramic views of the Olympics’ wild interior and the Puget Sound lowlands during a hike Friday.

The 4.1-mile upper trail begins in a forest near babbling Townsend Creek and climbs at an efficient-but-comfortable 750 feet per mile to an alpine ridge teeming with wildflowers.

A trail runner navigates the Mount Townsend trail. Photo by Rob Ollikainen/Olympic Peninsula News Group

A trail runner navigates the Mount Townsend trail. Photo by Rob Ollikainen/Olympic Peninsula News Group

It passes through forests and meadows, connects with the Silver Lakes trail at 3 miles and continues on switchbacks to a 6,000-foot saddle near the summit.

Several basalt exposures along the summit ridge blocked the wind for social-distancing hikers who were admiring the views of the upper Dungeness River basin.

Clouds that gathered against the mountain Friday lifted during an afternoon descent, providing glimpses of downtown Seattle just 38 miles to the southeast.

No special permits are needed to park at the upper trailhead about 15 miles outside of Quilcene. Dogs are allowed on the well-maintained and heavily-used path in Olympic National Forest.

Clouds build up against Mount Townsend in the Buckhorn Wilderness. Photo by Rob Ollikainen/Olympic Peninsula News Group

Clouds build up against Mount Townsend in the Buckhorn Wilderness. Photo by Rob Ollikainen/Olympic Peninsula News Group

A lower trailhead to Mount Townsend offers more parking 1.2 miles and 400 vertical feet below the 3,250-foot upper trailhead. A vault toilet at the upper trailhead was closed Friday.

Dozens of hikers were encountered on the Mount Townsend, some wearing masks for COVID-19 precautions.

More than 100 hikers — and one mountain goat — were seen on a shorter-but-steeper hike to the 5,944-foot Mount Ellinor near Hoodsport on Saturday.

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