Silver Creek


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I am not sure what the real name of this trail is. On some topo maps it is listed as Silver Lakes Way Trail. I like to call it the Silver Creek Trail because it follows Silver Creek and it connects to the Silver Lakes Trail that begins at a junction on the Mt. Townsend Trail. Calling it a way trail just seems awkward to me. At the time of this writing the trail is looking much more like a true footpath now that some work has been done to it, before it was like a well used animal route.


There are no switchbacks on this route until you connect with Silver Lakes Trail for the final push to the upper lake so you can expect to climb about 518m (1700 ft) in around 4.5km (2.8 mi). The trail plateau’s three times between steep climbs making Silver Creek Trail a relatively easy and pleasant climb except for one very steep section with perfectly placed trees.


Trail Data:

  • Length: 3.2mi (5.14km)
  • Elevation Gain: 1772ft (540m)
  • Access: NF-2860
  • Agency: Olympic National Forest, Buckhorn Wilderness
  • Maps:
    • Custom Correct – Buckhorn Wilderness
    • Green Trails – Tyler Peak
    • USGS – Mt. Townsend
  • 1-5 Difficulty: 3


Trail Regulations:

  • Dogs are allowed.
  • Fishing is allowed.
  • No Campfires.Buckhorn Wildernessdoesnotallowcampfiresabove3500ft (1066m).
    • There are a lot of campfire rings in the campsites at Upper Silver Lake that should not be there.
  • No bicycles.


Wilderness Regulations:

  • ThefollowingactsareprohibitedinBuckhorn Wilderness Olympic National Forest.
    • Groups consisting of 12 person and/or 8 heads of stock.
    • Starting and/or maintaining open fires such as camp, cooking, and warming fires above 3500ft elevation.
    • Gathering wood for starting and/or maintaining open fires or stoves above 3500ft elevation.
    • Tethering livestock to trees and/or other vegetation except for incidental use; not to exceed 30 minutes.
    • Possessing and/or transporting unprocessed vegetive matter such as hay, straw, grass, or grain.
    • Caching or leaving any equipment, personal property, or supplies unattended for a period in excess of 24 hours.
    • Possessing or using any form of wheeled vehicle for the purpose of such things as people, equipment, personal property, supplies, and game.
    • Possessing or using a motor vehicle, motor boat, motorized equipment, hang glider, or bicycle.
    • For more information go to Buckhorn Wilderness Regulations Page.

Directions – 2 hour drive from Hood Canal Bridge:

I always enjoy driving forest service roads and FS2870 is one of my favorites. To most it may seem long, especially to “destination” people. However, to us “journey” folk the drive is a scenic wonder. The growing popularity of Royal Basin, Upper Dungeness, and Tubal Cain trails make this a busy road with a lot of tight turns. The road is narrow with plenty of pull outs that very few drivers have the courtesy of using to let oncoming traffic go by. The road is graded in the early spring but doesn’t stay smooth for long and you will have plenty of practice in pothole maneuvers. Besides traffic and potholes be on the lookout for large rocks in the road.

  • From Hood Canal Bridge head NW on Hwy 104 for 15.3 miles (24.6km).
  • Keep right at the fork and continue on Hwy 101 North. 15.8 miles (25.4km).
  • Turn Left onto Louella Road. 0.9 mile (1.4km).
  • Turn Left onto Palo Alto Road. 5.8 miles (9.3km).
  • Just as the pavement ends,turnRightonto NF-2880 (You will see a Dungeness Forks Campground sign). 1.6 miles (2.5km)
    • You will cross the Dungeness River. Continue past Dungeness Forks Campground.
  • Stay Left at next junction. 1.2 miles (1.9km).
  • Continue straight. 1.4 miles (2.2km). The road changes to NF-2870
  • Stay Right and continue on NF-2870 (useto be NF-2860). 11.2 miles (18.2km).
    • 6.5 miles (10.4km) you will reach the parking lot to Upper/Lower Dungeness River and Royal Basin Trails. Keep going.
    • 10.5 miles (16.8km) you will reach parking for Tubal Cain, Gold Creek, and Little Quilcene Trails. Keep going.
  • TAKE NOTE: There is no trail sign. The trailhead is at a marker named 300. It is in front of a huge boulder. Parking is just past that on the right or alongside the road.
  • Link to Google Map. Ignore the Tubal Cain pinpoint, blue line ends at the trailhead. You will not be taking the dotted line to Tubal Cain.


The Trail:

Silver Lakes Trail begins at the edge of an old clearcut. As a result you begin in a dog-hair forest which is a result of second-growth trees rapidly growing and choking out all vegetation on the forest floor. It didn’t take too long to reach the first crossing of Silver Creek after which we began 4.8km (3mi) climb to Silver Lakes. There has been a lot of trail work and looks hiked much more than in the past. I remember it looking like an animal trail, now it is a definite footpath with a lot of ribbon in the trees to mark the way.



Primitive Bridge Across Silver Creek 



Can Be Slick and Unstable





Longway is the trail name for Tim Todd and is quite fitting due to the fact that every aspect of his life consist of taking the longest route and time to arrive. For Longway the journey is the destination.

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