QUILCENE — Listen to a police scanner on the North Olympic Peninsula and you’ll hear about Mount Walker.
The 800-foot pass between Brinnon and Quilcene near milepost 300 on U.S. Highway 101 is notorious for spinouts and collisions when the roads turn icy.
When the weather cooperates, Mount Walker is a delightful day hike that delivers views of the East Jefferson County lowlands, Olympic Mountains, downtown Seattle and Mount Rainier.
The two-mile, 2,000-foot accent from the trailhead near the highway to the north viewpoint is shaded by century-old Douglas fir.
About 20 switchbacks are made on the steep and well-maintained trail through salal and other foliage.
Native rhododendrons bloom here in May and June.
The trail climbs the south side of Mount Walker while U.S. Forest Service Road 2730 rounds the north side of the 2,800-foot peak.
The distance between the trail and the road preserves a wilderness experience for hikers.
The trail rejoins the dirt road at the north viewpoint, which overlooks the outskirts of Quilcene, Lake Leland, Discovery Bay, Port Townsend and Whidbey Island.
The south viewpoint, which is a half-mile down the road and also 2,800 feet in elevation, overlooks the Hood Canal, Kitsap County, downtown Seattle and Bellevue as well as Mount Rainier.
Mount Walker is the only peak facing Puget Sound that has a road and trail to its summit, according to Olympic National Forest officials.
Interpretive signs at the viewpoints list the various birds that frequent Mount Walker, including red-tailed hawk, hermit and Townsend’s warblers, sooty grouse and Steller’s jays.
Fire lookouts stood on Mount Walker from 1931 to 1967, according to summitpost.com.
Dogs are allowed on the Mount Walker trail but must be kept on a leash.
The road to the summit is scheduled to close Nov. 1 for forest management activities and will reopen April 30.
The Mount Walker trail will be open during the road closure.
If you haven’t hiked Mount Walker and you have some time to spare, give it a chance. I’m glad I did Sunday.
If you have mobility issues or are pressed for time, take the 4-mile drive to the viewpoints on a clear day.
There’s more to Mount Walker than scanner chatter.
■ Elevation gain: 2,000 feet.
■ Top elevation: 2,800 feet.
■ Round trip distance: 5 miles.
■ Directions: From U.S. Highway 101 south of Quilcene, turn north onto U.S. Forest Service Road 2730.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].