Mt Zion at elev. 4,100’ in the Olympic foothills is a popular hike off of Forest Road 28 and it can be triangulated from Snow Creek in the north, Deadfall to the east or the main trail from the south which could make three trips. Each route has an established trail. We chose Deadfall for our April winter-spring hike.
On the well maintained Road 28 from Quilcene or Sequim, look for the 060 spur road at 1.5 miles south of Bon Jon Pass. In another 50 yards you will see a dark opening in the forest, without a sign; that’s your trail! At the trail kiosk a few feet in we had a laugh – the last winter hiker here claimed Paris, France as home.
The Deadfall trail leads through young second growth forest where trees are so densely spaced that they literally choke each other out for sunlight. Many of the small dead trees you can push over and you would be benefitting the forest ecology in a rather small but fun way. There is little underbrush or green growth along this stretch and the forest lacks that musty earth smell of an older forest but it prepares you for a beautiful contrast on the other side of the mountain. All mountain hikes have the steeps and there is no exception here, (read also: no switchbacks) but you gain elevation quickly. My friend found this a workout for sore legs.
One other characteristic about the Deadfall hike is how this side of Mt Zion is absolutely quiet in a strange way; it’s protected from the strong southwesterly winds, there is no bird or animal life that I’ve seen in my 5 years here and the tree canopy is very dense and low giving the feeling of seclusion.
In about 1.5 miles we reached a junction with the Snow Creek trail coming in from the north and swung left following the Mt Zion sign. At 3,000’ we were in continuous snow and the hiking got fun on the tracked-out white stuff. The numerous tracks up here tell me a lot about the people of the Olympics – hiking all year so long as they can get their 4-wheel drives in there; and Parisians like it to. The angling traverse we were on finally gains a ridge line at 4,100’ with dramatic basalt bluffs overlooking the Olympic Mountains. We picked a lunch spot in the sun and watched wisps of clouds passed around us from the valleys below. A fragment of the mountain range was out which was good considering that a gale force storm was on its way. The hike took us about 5 hours total time.
For a fun alternate, try a loop here in late spring, carry a mountain bike and stash it by the Mt Zion trail head then return to Deadfall and start your hike. You will get 5 miles of mountain hiking and from the south side you’ll have rhododendrons blooming in June and late sunlight long shadows from the northwest through the tall firs. On the 4 mile bike ride back to your car you might catch deer browsing by the roadside.
Regional Coordinator Olympic Region
Pacific Northwest Trail Association