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Mount Walker

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Hovering over the glacial trough known as Hood Canal, Mount Walker is the easternmost peak in the Olympic Mountains. From its two summits you can gaze out over the Puget lowlands to the Seattle skyline and beyond. Or cast your eyes westward on the jagged Buckhorn Wilderness peaks, including mighty Mount Constance.

Washington's state flower, the coast rhododendron, grows in profusion along the steep dry slopes of Mount Walker. For much of the year the rhodies merely add a layer of dark green to the forest understory. But come late spring this hardy shrub calls for attention as it begins to blossom, speckling the surrounding firs and hemlocks with rosy-purple bouquets. By June, vibrant violet bell-shaped blossoms ring throughout the emerald forest. Mount Walker is one of the best places in the state to witness this floral show.

But if you can't come for the blossoms, Mount Walker makes for a great winter hike. With the summit road closed, you won't have to worry about sharing those far-fetched Puget Sound views with very many people. The trail is hiker only; it's short but steep, well maintained and well traveled.

Immediately begin climbing through a tunnel of rhodies under a uniform canopy of second-growth cedar and hemlock. Look up occasionally to see if you can locate any of the old wire and insulators that once serviced a fire tower on the summit. After about 1.5 miles small ledges begin to break the monotony of the forest and tease with limited views.

The grade eases slightly, and after 2 miles and 2000 feet of climbing you emerge at the North Summit viewpoint. Views are limited here. They're much better at the South Summit, reached by walking the graveled Summit Road for 0.5 mile and then following a small trail to the breathtaking panorama of Puget Sound. Stare straight down to Dabob Bay and the Toanodos Peninsula. Behind, Green and Gold Mountains rise on the Kitsap Peninsula. Mount Rainier adds a snowy backdrop. And if you're here in June, the whole scene will be framed with fragrant purple boughs.

For a variation on the return, if the road is closed (winter) consider descending on it. It loops 4 miles around the mountain, offering more sweeping views of the surrounding territory.
Driving Directions:

From Quilcene drive US 101 south for 5 miles. (From Shelton follow US 101 north for 47 miles.) Just north of milepost 300, turn left (east) onto Mount Walker Road (Forest Service 2730) and proceed 0.25 mile to the trailhead. When the road is closed, park at the gate.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 87 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Mount Walker — Apr 13, 2014 — imahiker
Day hike
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Got an early start because the skies were clear, the weather warm, and I knew the trail would get bu...
Got an early start because the skies were clear, the weather warm, and I knew the trail would get busy. Headed up about 8:15 am. Only saw 5 people going up, and had the top to myself (and the dog). On the way back down I counted 32 heading up. Everyone I met was very happy and friendly, but I was still glad I went early.
I wanted to hike the trail rather than the road so that I would get a good workout. I was right about that too! I had to rest often on the trip up. It took about an hour and a half for me to get to the top and 50 minutes to come back down.
Fantastic views are the reward at the top. Make sure you go on a clear day. I also appreciated that it wasn't hot yet, another plus for going in the morning.
Definately worth the extra walk to see the better south and east viewpoints which include Seattle and Hood Canal.
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Mount Walker — Apr 13, 2014 — Meredith
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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We took the trail up and the road down. As others have noted, it's a short but intense climb. Ther...
We took the trail up and the road down. As others have noted, it's a short but intense climb. There isn't a level stretch of trail until you reach the top. Views from the top were magnificent. There were plenty of other people on the trail, but we saw no other hikers as we descended on the road. We heard lots of elk noises coming from the woods on the way down but didn't see any.
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Mount Walker — Apr 08, 2014 — JonHerriott
Day hike
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Gate is closed. Temp at gate was 47deg. Sign in at 9:00 North summit at 10:57 Last year there were ...
Gate is closed. Temp at gate was 47deg. Sign in at 9:00 North summit at 10:57
Last year there were many Calypso orchids, this year I saw but 2. Many yellow violets and I conclude there are both Roundleaf violet (orbiculata) but also
Smooth yellow violet (glabella) but because you can find every variation of leaf shape between heart shaped and round, it is still difficult for me to determine for any given clump, which is which. Trail is in good condition and shows the recent efforts of WTA guys. Heard the "whoop, whoop" of the sooty grouse at the location of a 3 sided rockbin installed to stabilize trail. Lunch in the sun at South summit (57 deg) was very welcome. No snow anywhere this year. Out by 12:58.
Rain didn't happen until after I get home and get ready for opening day at Safeco. All in all, a very good day.
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Mount Walker — Mar 29, 2014 — tacuddy2000
Day hike
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I hiked up Mt. Walker today as part of a group of 15 Washington Trails Association volunteers. The ...
I hiked up Mt. Walker today as part of a group of 15 Washington Trails Association volunteers. The trail is in great shape and continues to offer a significant challenge to those that to test their physical shape!
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Mount Walker — Mar 09, 2014 — James Wright
Day hike
Issues: No water source
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I had the day off work so I jumped in the car and drove to Mt Walker for a quick yet fairly steep h...
 I had the day off work so I jumped in the car and drove to Mt Walker for a quick yet fairly steep hike to help me be ready for the more painful summertime mountains. It wasn't quick at all, I brought my new camera.
 The weather was heavy overcast with partial showers. Trail conditions were excellent.
 When I reached the summit the views were completely blocked by clouds but the "Camp Robbers or Gray Jays" were out looking for handouts. I played around up top for a while before heading back down.
 Before long the sun started showing through the clouds so of course I turned around and went back to the top in hope of some photo opportunities. Well worth it.
 
 
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Mt walker skimpyphud.jpg
A bench makes a nice resting stop atop Mt. Walker. Photo by "skimpyphud."
WTA worked here!
2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Location
Mount Walker (#894)
Olympics -- East
Statistics
Roundtrip 5.0 miles
Elevation Gain 2000 ft
Highest Point 2804 ft
Features
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Summits
Wildlife
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula (Romano - Mountaineers Books)
USGS Mount Walker

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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Red MarkerMount Walker
47.7756 -122.913733333
  • Trail Work 2013 Frontcountry
  • Trail Work 2012
  • Trail Work 2011
  • Trail Work 2010
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