Location: Northeast Olympic Peninsula
Land Agency: Olympic National Forest
Roundtrip: 5.0 miles
Elevation gain: 2050 feet
Contact: Hood Canal Ranger District
Green Trails Map: Olympics East no. 168S
Notes: In winter the road is gated. Park away from gate and walk .3 mile to trailhead.
Access: 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 onto Mount Walker Road (FR 2730) and proceed 0.3 mile to the trailhead.
Good to Know: dog-friendly; historic; snow-free winter hike; exceptional wildflowers (rhodies) in spring
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 or cast your eyes westward to lofty craggy Mount Constance. In May and June, rhododendrons transform Walker into a purple mountain majesty. 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 short but steep. Immediately begin climbing through a tunnel of rhododendrons 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, reach a small ledge offering limited views.
The grade then eases slightly, and after 2 miles and nearly 2000 feet of climbing you emerge at the North Summit viewpoint, the site of a fire lookout from 1931—1967. Enjoy good but limited views west and north here. Then head to the South Summit (dogs must be leashed at the summits) reached by walking the graveled Summit Road for 0.4 mile and then following a 0.1 mile trail to a breathtaking panoramic view 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. If the road is closed (winter), consider returning on it. It loops 3.9 miles around the mountain, offering more views of the surrounding territory.
Mount Walker is one of 125 featured hikes in my bestselling Day Hiking Olympic Peninsula Book. For more details on this hike and others, pick up a copy of this book—the most trusted guidebook on hiking in the Olympics—today!
For information on where to stay and on other things to do on the Olympic Peninsula, check out Northwest TripFinder