Hawk Peak

Hawk Peak: 6,550 ft. Elevation gain 2,700. Distance: 8 mi. Time: 6-7 hrs. Trailhead: Silver creek, 3850 ft. 60 % alpine. Enjoyment rating: 5+

Hawk Peak, right center, from the approach south of Silver Lake

Hawk Peak, right center, from the approach south of Silver Lake

Overview:One of my favorite hikes leads you up Silver Creek to beautiful, alpine Silver Lake, a mecca for hiking up peaks. There are six peaks surrounding Silver Lake which can be hiked. The highest of these is Hawk peak at 6,550 feet. Views from the peak are spectacular and include the whole Puget Sound area, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Vancouver Island and the whole string of Cascade peaks from Baker to Mt. St. Helens.

Getting to The Trailhead:It is 24 miles from Hwy 101 to the Silver Creek, Silver Lake trailhead. Take Palo Alto road off of Hwy 101, 2.8 miles east of Sequim. Or 1.5 miles west of Sequim Bay State Park. Drive to the end of the paved road, 8 miles, then turn down and right on forest service gravel road 2880. The sign here says Dungeness Forks Campground and Trails. Drive past Dungeness Forks Campground and hit the junction with road #2870, coming in from your right at 9.6 mi. Continue straight (the road now is #2870) and hit junction with road #2860 at 12 miles, coming in from your left. Stay right and continue up. At 16.6 miles come to a sign which says “Upper Dungeness Trail 2 miles”. (An old fire road turns right here and leads to the Mt. Baldy, Greywolf, Mt. Tyler trailheads.) At 18.6 miles come to the Upper Dungeness trailhead. Continue on for 4 miles and at 22.6 miles pass the Tubal Caine trailhead on the right. (.25 farther ahead the Little Quilcene trail, from Mt. Townsend comes out on this road.) At 24 miles, on your left, just at a big bend in the road to the right, is the unsigned trailhead. There is parking for a few cars on the right.

The Trail:Other trailheads can be used to hike to Silver Lake but this little known trail is the shortest at 3.2 miles. The trail begins by crossing Silver Creek and then follows it for 2.2 miles to a junction with the Silver Lake trail, coming from the Mt. Townsend trailhead. Silver Creek is a pretty, moss covered creek which originates at Silver Lake and tumbles sharply down Silver Creek valley. The trail is very pleasant with an amazing variety of green all around. It climbs 1,200 ft. in the first 2.2 miles to the junction, with Mt. Townsend, at 5,000 ft. Turn right at the junction (unsigned) and hike the trail another .9 mile and 400 ft. of elevation gain to Silver Lake at 5,425 ft. Silver Lake is small but provides good fishing with a trail surrounding the lake and an accessible shoreline for casting. Straight across the lake on the south side is a great camping spot and the place to start the ascent up the ridges and peaks.

Peaks surround the lake on three sides. To the right, west, is a long ridge with three jagged peaks. Straight ahead, south, is a lower saddle with a peak on either side. And to the left, east, raise a whole series of peaks, including Welsh peaks in the middle and ending with Mt. Townsend stretching northeast. Hawk peak is southwest of the lake and at first does not look like the highest peak because it is set back on the West ridge. Hawk is the southern most peak on the West ridge. It takes about 1 1/2 hrs from the lake to reach the top.

The Peak:The easiest route is to start up from the south end of the lake toward the lower saddle straight south. (The peak on your right is Hawk ridge, the next peak, the highest, is Hawk Peak.) Half way up to the saddle look right, west, and hike up the boulder field (good footing) running up to a beautiful rocky basin and a few alpine trees. From the basin ascend scree and talus to a higher saddle, which separates Hawk Ridge on your left with Hawks Peak on the right. Look for a game trail which runs up the middle of the ridge to the saddle. It provides much easier footing. Once at the saddle, walk and scramble along the rocky ridge, right, about 500 ft. to the Peak.

The views from the top are incredible. You look straight down to Silver Lake 1,100 feet below you and into Tull Canyon behind you. South and East is the entire Puget Sound area, including downtown Seattle, the Hood Canal Bridge, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The entire range of cascades from Baker in the North to Mt. St. Helens in the South can be seen on a clear day. You also have a bird’s eye view of Copper Mt. and Iron Mt. to the west and beyond these to Marmot Pass, Boulder Ridge, Warrior Peak and Mt. Constance. To the north is the line of Grey wolf peaks: Tyler, Baldy, Grey wolf, and Walkinshaw. Beyond are Sequim, the Strait and Victoria, Canada on Vancouver Island. This is such a beautiful place that it is truly hard to leave this spot.

Hawk Peak, Tull Canyon loop:One thing you notice immediately from the top, is that you can walk from Hawk Peak, west, down to the Tull Canyon saddle, then 1.2 miles down to the Tull Canyon trail. From the Tull Canyon saddle the canyon funnels you down the center to a large meadow where you catch the Tull Canyon trail. The trail is very brushy for the first mile then it improves to a more normal trail and leads you past the old B17 crash site on Tull Creek, then out to the Tubal Caine trailhead. You then have to hike back up the road one mile to where you started. It is 5.5 miles down from Hawk Peak, using this route. This makes a great loop of about 11.5 miles. 1 mile of that is walking up the road from the Tubal Caine trailhead to the Silver Creek trailhead. Plan 7-8 hours for this loop.

This also provides another option for hiking up to Hawk Peak. Starting from the Tubal Caine trailhead, it is 3.1 miles to the Tull Canyon turn off, then another 1 mile to the old B-17 plane wreckage (beside the trail in the creek) then another 1.2 miles to the Tull Canyon saddle, then an easy .3 of a mile to Hawk Peak. This makes it an 11.2 mile round trip with 3,200 ft. of elevation gain. Tubal Caine trailhead is at 3,200 ft. elevation.

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