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Outdoor adventures, mostly gravel rides, but not always

Mt Townsend & Silver Lakes

A loop trail over Mt Townsend with a stop along the way at Silver Lakes.

By the Numbers

Sport
Hiking
Shape
Loop
Profile
Pyramid
Two steep climbs, two even steeper descents.
Distance
17 miles
Elevation
5700 feet
Time
5h15m
Nutrition
The trail from the parking lot to the MT summit is pretty dry. Silver Creek runs alongside the Silver Lakes Way Trail and provides plenty of water.
Logistics
A short section on FR 2870 otherwise all ‘trail’.
External
Strava | Komoot | WTA

Mt Townsend is an extremely popular hike in the Olympics appearing in all the popular day hike books. This route built on the standard hike by adding an extension to make a loop via a short jaunt on FR 2870 and the Silver Lakes Way Trail.

Marine layer settling in over Puget Sound
Marine layer settling in over Puget Sound
Marine layer
Marine layer

The drizzle of the early morning did not inspire great expectations of a pleasant day in the sun. A marine layer, seen in the photos above, had settled on Puget Sound over the last few days socking us in.

Trail leading up
Trail leading up
Mt Townsend summit
Mt Townsend summit
Trail on Mt Townsend summit
Trail on Mt Townsend summit

Fortunately on the drive up to the trailhead we ascended above the marine layer and were awash in sun! The blue skies and sunshine continued as we made our way up the Mt Townsend trail to its summit and the views of the neighboring mountains.

Ryan running the summit trail
Ryan running the summit trail
The mountains from the summit
The mountains from the summit

From the summit it’s a steep, steep descent (the sign at the trailhead clearly indicates grades of 30-40% – it’s the Olympics after all) to FR 2870 and then the fun begins.

The ogre's trail
The ogre’s trail
Rocks, roots, steep
Rocks, roots, steep

The Silver Lakes Way Trail is a lightly-maintained collection of roots and rocks laid out in a twisting network of steep (my watch indicated 46% at one point) climbs and paths through the trees. I remarked to Ryan I envisined this trail remnants of an ogre vomiting it’s lunch of rocks from high on the mountain, it was that random (and honestly quite fun!).

Silver Lake
Silver Lake
Silver Lake reflecting trees
Silver Lake reflecting trees

The Ogre’s Trail Silver Lakes Way Trail, after much climbing and crossing back and forth of Silver Creek, makes its way to the namesake lake of the creek.

Fall colors starting
Fall colors starting
Trail leading back to Little Quilcene Trail
Trail leading back to Little Quilcene Trail

The larger of the two lakes (we didn’t visit the smaller) is situated in an amphitheater of mountains with a large meadow on the south end and a loop trail around it.

From the lake it was another steep descent back to the trailhead and the truck. Another great day in the mountains, with two hard climbs (and harder descents!) and miles of trails I had not yet tackled. Looking forward to the next adventure!

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