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Silver Lakes

Olympic Peninsula

Location

Olympic Peninsula -- Hood Canal
View map below

Length

11.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 3400 ft.
Highest Point: 5700 ft.

Rating

4.27 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2016
 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
 
 

These quiet little lakes tucked on the south side of Mount Townsend make a delightful alternate to the Townsend trek. And, like Townsend, there are several ways to access them.

MAIN MOUNT TOWNSEND TRAIL

The most loved of the routes up Townsend starts at what is commonly referred to as the ‘Upper Trailhead’. The ‘Lower Trailhead’ on this route starts 1.2 miles and 400 feet elevation farther down the valley. It can be a good access option when snow has closed higher elevation roads. The trail starts out accompanied by the crashing of Townsend Creek and soon switchbacks through old-growth with a thick understory of rhododendrons.

The track makes a long westward-rising traverse through fir and hemlock, interrupted by three ravines. These ravines get progressively more open both up and down their drainages, providing peek-a-boo views across the valley. Shortly after the trail breaks into a broad, sloped meadow, stop and listen. You may be able to pick out first the sounds and then sights of a couple small waterfalls. The more obvious one drains off of Townsend and the other off of the Welch Peaks to the southwest.

Switchbacks resume in this open area and take one from meadow to forest and back to meadow. The open views to the east offer better and better views across to the Cascades. Shortly before Camp Windy the trail crests an open rock face that brings most hikers to a brief halt to enjoy the views and the moment. At 2.6 miles down the trail, overnighters can enjoy Camp Windy as a nice rest stop. The water source, shallow Windy Lake, is a great reflecting pool for the surrounding trees and cliffs.

The switchbacks above Camp Windy bring you to the intersection with the Silver Lake Trail at 3.0 miles. Head over a narrow pass and down 2.5 miles to Silver Lakes.

DIRTY FACE RIDGE TRAIL

If, after making the brutal trek to the top of Townsend using the Dirty Face Ridge Trail you want to continue to another destination, toddle on down to Silver Lakes. From the summit of Townsend, head south down the main Townsend trail toward Quilcene. Not sure which one that is? Just look for the one that the most people have come up

Descend about a half mile, down several switchbacks on the south flanks of the mountain before reaching a junction signed for Silver Lake. The sign is on a tree that you may miss coming from this direction, so keep a sharp eye out to your right as you descend. The way to Silver Peak shoots off at the bend of a switchback, so instead of continuing downhill, go straight onto the trail toward Silver Lakes. From here, it's 2.5 miles downhill to Silver Lake.

Don't forget, you've got to come all the way back up and out of here, too!

A round-trip from the Dirty Face Ridge trailhead is about 14 miles.

LITTLE RIVER TRAIL

The Little Quilcene Trail offers a similar workout to the Dirty Face Ridge Trail. From the Little Quilcene Trailhead to the peak of Mount Townsend is 3.4 miles and 2180 feet in elevation gain, enough to prompt more than a few breaks to catch your breath.

After two miles, the trail intersects with the Tubal Cain Trail. At this junction, the trail moves up the north side of Mount Townsend and opens up to views to the west looking into the Dungeness and Graywolf watersheds. Head to the summit and Silver Lakes following the directions in the Dirty Face Ridge Trail.

WTA Pro Tip: No matter how you access it, consider making this trek an overnight. There is plenty of camping at the lake, and water sources along the way. Regardless of your access point, your hike will be in the double digits round trip.

 

Silver Lakes

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 47.8564, -123.0359 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Olympic Peninsula -- Hood Canal

Mount Townsed (#839), Little Quilcene River (#814), Dirty Face Ridge (#835), Silver Lake (#842)

Olympic National Forest, Hood Canal Ranger District

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula (Romano - Mountaineers Books)

Green Trails Tyler Peak No. 136

Custom Correct Buckhorn Wilderness

Getting There

To access the Main Townsend Upper Trailhead: Take US 101 south from the Quilcene Ranger Station 0.9 miles. Take the slight right onto the Penny Creek Road and drive through the grounds of the Penny Creek Quarry. In 1.5 miles, take the left fork onto Forest Road 27 and follow it 13.5 miles before turning left onto FR27-190. The trailhead is at the end of this spur road. Amenities include a vault toilet. Ignore the signs for Mount Townsend at 12.5 miles. This will lead you to the “Lower Trailhead”.

To get to Dirty Face Ridge and Silver Lakes Way Trail: From the west end of the Hood Canal Bridge, drive State Route 104 to its end and veer north onto Louella Road. In one mile turn left on Palo Alto Road, continuing for six miles. Bear right at a junction onto Forest Road 2880. The road descends and crosses the Dungeness River, coming to another junction in 1.7 miles, where you turn left on FR 2870. In 2.6 miles bear right at a junction to continue on FR 2870. Drive 10 miles to the Tubal Cain Trail parking area. The trail is located on the left 0.15 mile farther along FR 2870.

To access Little Quilcene River Trail: Take Route 101 two Miles north of Quilcene and turn left onto Lord's Lake Road. At Lord's Lake, take the left onto Forest Service Road 28. Continue on Road 28 to Forest Service Road 2820. Then continue an additional four miles on Forest Service Road 2820 where the road ends at the trailhead.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

None
 

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Silver Lakes

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