Approachable throughout the year, the Mount Walker trail’s average 20% grade makes it a go-to route for hikers and trail runners looking for a short, brisk tromp. (While it is also a designated stock trail, riders and pack animals rarely make an appearance.) Spring, summer, and fall the 2-mile trail is both ascended and descended by those on foot. In the winter, when the Mount Walker road is gated closed to vehicles, many will pursue the then 2.25-mile jaunt up to the north viewpoint, saunter over to the south viewpoint and then descend on the more gentle grade of the road.
While Walker draws plenty throughout to year, the trail is most populated in late May and especially in June as the splashy rhododendron show progresses. During peak rhody season arrive early to get a parking spot at or near the trailhead. Or park at the north viewpoint and perform the reverse route by first descending and then ascending.
The trail winds and switches back and forth along the prow of a west-facing ridge. Don’t expect any old-growth on this frontcountry hike – except perhaps old growth rhododendron and salal. You will see the complete frontcountry set: Douglas fir, hemlock, alder, cascara, western red cedar, a few cherry and, if you are a sharp-eyed flora spotter, some western white pine.
There is no water source along the route. You may hear water rushing off to the south of the trail, but don’t be lured off trail to obtain it. Both the north and south viewpoints have viewing benches and privies. The north viewpoint also sports an accessible picnic table.
From the north viewpoint you’ll take in the Hood Canal Bridge, Mount Baker and a swath of the Cascades extending into British Columbia. Turn left and enjoy the sweep of the north end of the eastern Olympics – Constance, Warrior, Welch Peaks and Townsend.
The south viewpoint gives you the long view down the Hood Canal, to Mounts Rainier and St. Helens and the comparatively puny man-made scenery of the Seattle and Tacoma skylines.
Winter hikers might need snowshoes or microspikes. Some will trudge up totting cross country skis and double pole their way down the snow covered road.
- 4.0 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 2,000 feet
- Highest Point
- 2,804 feet
Hiking Mount Walker
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 47.7756, -122.9137 Open in Google Maps