Take a short side trip off U.S. Highway 101 in North Hood Canal to Mount Walker, the only peak facing Puget Sound that has a road to its summit. Once you park the car, the steep, two-mile hike through dense, century-old Douglas fir and spring-blooming rhododendrons is well worth a little huffing and puffing. The view at the end of the trail can’t be beat.
From 2,804 feet, take in a panorama of mountains, Sound and cities:
- North viewpoint: Observe Mount Jupiter, the closest peak to Mount Walker, and take in the spectacular and massive rock faces of Mount Constance, the third-highest peak in the Olympics. Under clear skies, you’ll likely spot Mount Baker to the northeast, the fourth-highest mountain in Washington state with a glacial system second only to majestic Mount Rainier. The three peaks of Buckhorn Mountain lie just north of Marmot Pass. Take in the splendor of sheltered Quilcene Bay on the Hood Canal, a haven for boats and home to world-famous oysters.
- South viewpoint: Gaze upon the grand saltwater fjord that is Hood Canal, glacially carved 10,000 years ago. Get a glimpse of the Hood Canal Floating Bridge linking the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas. Feast your eyes on Mount Rainier. At a whopping 14,411 feet, it’s the highest peak in Washington state. In the distance, you can spot the cities of Everett, Seattle and Tacoma, and on a clear day you can see the iconic Seattle Space Needle.
The Mount Walker trail is open year-round, but the road is subject to seasonal closures. Tack on an extra quarter mile to your hike when the gate is closed and be prepared to traverse snow during winter. Check before you head out, and pack plenty of water for the trek.