Mount Zion by Mount Townsend in the Olympic Mountains / 錫安山

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Mount Zion by Mount Townsend is the highest point in the northeast corner of the Olympic Mountains. It’s just a short distance northwest of Quilcene. Best of all, the vast network of roadways makes this place accessible all year round.

Puget Sound from Mount Zion
Puget Sound from Mount Zion

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Mount Zion at a Glance

Access: NF-28 (Little Quilcene Road)
Round Trip: 7 miles
Elevation Range: 2280′-4278′
Gear: microspikes
Route Info: Adam Walker
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: yes

Mount Zion

We enjoyed the sun in Eastern Washington yesterday. Then early this morning, we set off to chase more of it on the famous Mount Zion. I had hoped to avoid the mass while the snow was still around.

I found two common routes on SummitPost. Unsure of snow conditions before the upper trailhead, I opted to go through Deadfall Trail at 700′ lower. But that would also get us more exercise.

Deadfall Trailhead
Deadfall Trailhead

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Road 28 (Little Quilcene Road)

The drive to the trailhead was smooth. We went through Quilcene and then continued north on Highway 101. Later we reached Lords Lake, where the pavement ended. It also marked the starting of Road 28.

From the lake, Deadfall Trail was another 3.75 miles. Potholes strewed the roadway. But they weren’t as annoying as those on the worse roads. Later we reached an empty trailhead and started walking at sunrise.

Mount Zion south ridge
Mount Zion south ridge

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Deadfall Trail

From what I’ve read, most people would start from the higher trailhead. Not only was it half the distance. But it’s also 800′ less elevation gain. So by starting from the lower trail, we would possibly avoid the crowd.

At first, the trail went up steeply alongside an unnamed creek. Then the path dropped down north of the saddle through the snowy ground. In turn, we lost 400′. Later we got on the Snow Creek Trail at 1.5 miles from the trailhead.

Trailside view
Trailside view

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Mount Zion Summit Ridge

From the 2900′ junction, it was back to steep climbing on the eastern slopes. The recent boot tracks saved us from the need to make a path. But I used microspikes on the icy trail. There were no views in the dense forest.

Before long, we reached the elongated summit ridge at 4100′. And we were soon at the first outcrop with our first look into the west. A glance at the vast landscape, and then we continued north on the trail.

A little bit of Puget Sound
A little bit of Puget Sound

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Mount Zion Summit

It wasn’t long before we saw the second outcrop. But I decided to check out the views there on the way back. So we proceeded another half a mile and reached the forested summit.

Soon, a hiker and their dog came up from the other trail. It was surprising to see only one other person here. Perhaps everyone took the cold day off to watch the game instead–slackers!

Southwestern panoramic view
Southwestern panoramic view

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Outro

After chatting awhile, the hiker and I then went our separate ways. Later the pups and I stopped back at the second opening. Judging by the remnants of cemented crowbars, a lookout structure once occupied the viewpoint.

The scenery reached as far as Mount Townsend and Graywolf Ridge, with Maynard Peak to the west. Later on the way down, we met a few groups making their way up below the snow line.

Finding our way home
Finding our way home

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Jefferson

    This is a great and quiet little hike to do almost any time of the year. I did this one 5 years ago when I lived about 15 mins from the trailhead! Check out my post below if you’re interested!

    1. Jefferson

      For sure!

  2. Jim Morrison

    Zion has many facets. There are even a few bolts where rock climbers found practice routes on the poor quality rock cliffs. There are also some unused steep old trails on the mountain, a few interesting ones we have tried.
    Last time I was there the road was too icy to even reach Bon Jon Pass and I’m wondering now (3/13/2021) how the road to the common route is.

    1. onehikeaweek

      Great! It sounds like the mountain has something for everyone. Another hiker started from the upper trailhead the day we went. They didn’t seem to have any issues.

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