By Gary Huff
Mt. Walker: 2,804 ft.
Elevation gain: 2,004 ft. Distance: 6 mile loop. Time 3 hrs. Trailhead: 800 ft. Rating 3
Overview:The bad thing about hiking to Mt. Walker is that you can drive to the top when the road is open in the summer months. The good thing is that there is a hiking trail which winds up and across the mountain to the two summit viewpoints. From the summit you can walk back down the road when it is closed in the winter months, to make this a loop hike. The views from the top are excellent, including the Puget Sound, Hood Canal, and some of the highest eastern peaks in the Olympics.
Getting to the Trailhead:Drive south on Hwy 101, 5 miles south of Quilcene, then turn left or north on the Mt. Walker road (signed). The hiking trailhead and parking is .25 miles up the road on the right.
The Trail:The trail climbs steeply, 2,000 ft. in 2 miles, through trees, rhododendron, and occasional views, up the south and west ridges to the two summits. The trail breaks into the open at the northern summit, where you find great views, from right to left, of Mt. Townsend, Buckhorn Mt., Warrior Peak & massive, Mt. Constance. Walk the road, either way because both summits are on road loops, for .5 mile to the southern summit and equally good views across Hood Canal and the Puget Sound. Straight south are downtown Seattle and Mt. Rainier. Southwest is a view of the twin peaked Brothers. To return to the trailhead, either hike the two miles back down the trail or walk the 4 miles down the road and save the knees.