The trail is well maintained but note that it is mostly steep switchbacks.
Mount Townsend Trail #839 has several starting points: Upper and Lower Mt.Townsend Trailheads and Silver Lakes Trail
, but the recommended route is from the Upper Trailhead, unless you're looking to run an extra mile or more from the Lower Trailhead.
The well-travelled trail starts out looking like most northwest trails, switching back and forth through old growth hemlock and firs, rhododendrons and mossy goodness. This is a great distraction as you gain elevation and begin to feel the burn. At about the mile mark, youll begin to leave the forest, and the sky will open up to views of the area canyons and the tops of the trees.
Youll continue to switch back and forth, in and out of the forest for about 2.5 miles, until you reach Camp Handy. This is a great place to take a quick break and snap some pictures of the small unassuming lake. After your break, youll continue another 2.5 miles up, up, up, taking in views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound, until you finally reach the vista of open meadows and the open trail to the summit.
Before committing to the summit, stop on the rock ledges surrounding the meadows for a 360-degree view of all of the mountain and water ranges your eye can see. At this point, you say how can it get any better? Well it can. The summit is only a short mile from the meadows and worth the extra bit of energy you have. Best of all, you can stop at the top with your fellow runners have lunch or a snack.
From the summit, the trail continues on a gradual descent to its junction with Little Quilcene Trail
. If you are looking for a day run, an out and back along this trail to the summit of Mount Townsend is a great route.
Old growth hemlock and fir. Rhododendrons and wildflowers in June/July.