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, but not the wind, in Eastern Washington yesterday. Then early this morning, we set off to chase more sunshine on the well-known Mount Zion. I had hoped to avoid the mass while the snow was still around.

I found two common routes on SummitPost. But unsure of snow conditions before the upper trailhead, I opted to go through Deadfall Trail at 700′ lower. In turn, that would give us more exercise as well.

Deadfall Trailhead
Deadfall Trailhead

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Road 28 (Little Quilcene Road)

The drive to the trailhead was pretty smooth. We went through Quilcene and then continued north on Highway 101. Later we reached Lords Lake, where the pavement ended, and Road 28 started there.

From the lake, Deadfall Trail was another 3.75 miles up the roadway. Potholes scattered throughout, but they weren’t too annoying to bypass. 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 start from the higher trailhead. Not only is it half the distance, but it’s also 800′ less elevation gain. So by starting from the lower trail, we would perhaps avoid the crowd, if any.

At first, the trail went up steeply alongside an unnamed creek. Then the path went down north of the saddle through the snowy ground, losing 400′. Later we took the Snow Creek Trail at 1.5 miles from the car.

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 having 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 extended summit ridge at 4100′. Soon, we were by the first outcrop looking to 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 walked another half a mile and reached the forested summit.

Later 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 for a while, the hiker and I parted ways. Later the pups and I stopped back at the second clearing. Judging by the remnants of cemented crowbars, a lookout once occupied the viewpoint.

The scenery reached Mount Townsend and Graywolf Ridge, with Maynard Peak to the west. On the way back, we met a few parties making their way up to 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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