The Olympic Peninsula is one of my favorite weekend getaways from Seattle, and I enjoy its many options while looking for new adventures. With most of Saturday already planned, we were excited to start the evening with camping at Dungeness Forks Campground outside of Sequim.
The campground was not opened for the season, but others were also camping. One guy came up and let us know it was ok to camp there even though it wasn’t open. The campground hugs Gray Wolf River, has water, and has pit toilets without showers. All campsites have tables and fire pits that are flat and spacious. The campground also has nice trails going between the campsites. The main parking lot was not accessible with the campground gate closed forcing us to park on the road.
Camping at Dungeness Forks gave us a closer start to our hike in the area. We found down trees and branches to make a fire for the night.
- Little Quilcene Trail #835
- Dirty Face Ridge Trail #839
- Mount Townsend Trail #839
- Silver Lakes Trail #842
Without a parking lot at the start of the Little Quilcene Trail, we parked up the road on a small pull off. The trail is easy to miss as it climbs the road bank up into the trees and has a very little trail marker.
A little up from the road, we signed the hiker log and made note we would be taking another trail out since we didn’t tell anyone our plans. We were the first ones to sign it for the day with only one hiking group from the day prior. We were excited to be on a less popular approach to Mount Townsend.
The beginning of the hike was steep to get to the Dirty Face Ridge. Hiking through the trees on a soft hiking trail made the climb more pleasant. The mossy green colors reminded me I was enjoying another day outdoors. It was a great workout, and the closer to the ridge, the better the views. Seeing popular Olympic peaks like Constance and the Brothers. The trail usually covered in snow this time of year was dry and soft. Approaching the ridge, we switched between soft, dirt sections and hard, rocky ones.
Once we got to the ridge, we saw Mount Townsend in the distance. It looked far, but we knew better. Having most of the steep climb behind us, it was time to ridge walk until the last push to the summit. Here we ran into a couple with a friendly mini Australian Shepard dog. We talked briefly with them as they live in the area and said it is usually covered in snow at this time of year. We believe they came from another trail branching off the ridge.
Standing on the summit.
Mount Townsend was dry and above the treeline. The Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains were visible after reaching the ridge of Mount Townsend. It was nice to see the water on one side and snow-capped mountains on the other. We had a short snack break at the top and were entertained by a couple of chipmunks begging for food.
It was time to leave the summit as we no longer had it to ourselves. We started the second part of our loop trail and took the Mount Townsend Trail for a few switchbacks to get around the rocky, exposed ridge before turning off towards the Silver Lakes Trail. We hiked down into the trees and thought it was going to be an easy hike out. We were wrong as the descent was steeper than we had calculated. All in all, it was nice to do a loop hike to avoid seeing what we already saw. I enjoyed the water draining down the valley through mossy-covered rocks and trees.
The last part of the hike was straight forward as we exited the Silver Lakes Trail back onto the forest road with roughly a mile of easy road walking back to the Jeep.