“This is what I signed up for!”
Townsend Mountain offers up an eyeball demolishing ridge walk right in the heart of the Wild Sky Wilderness that should not be missed by any backcountry wanderer.
JUST THE FACTS MA’AM
MILEAGE: 9mi RT
CHALLENGES: “climber’s trail”, NO trail, YDS 2+ scrambling, route finding skills required
MAPS: USGS Baring Mountain
Travel to Barclay Lake via the popular trail of the same name.
Once at the lake continue towards it’s eastern end. Here you will likely find a multitude of trails and bootpaths heading uphill in a north-easterly direction.
The route here is fairly well cairn’ed but that’s not to say that it’s always easy to follow. When in doubt head up into the gap.
Stone Lake at 3875′ heralds your entry into the wide marshy lands of Paradise Meadows.
Eagle Lake lies a little over a quarter mile away to the northwest through the meadows. Obscene ruts stomped into this sensitive terrain stumble toward the lake. (Stay on a “trail”, please try not to exacerbate this tragic mess)
Another crude system of paths continue around to the north end of the lake to a campsite and up a narrow chute. Follow it to the base of some wide slabs.
BEYOND THE TRAIL
At the foot of the slabs, Townsend Mountain is effectively wide open to the consummate backcountry ambler.
The traditional route (which occasionally includes a climber’s trail) bears northwest toward the gap between Merchant Peak and Townsend Mountain.
The real hurdle (besides the elevation!) to gain the ridge is finding the holes through the thick brush. Stay in the open when possible
Once on the ridge you’ll find an established boot path running it’s entire span. (not that you need one now)
The main obstacle between you and the summit at this point is distance!
A mountaineers summit register awaits your scribbles under a cairn at the top.
TOP OF THE WORLD
To say the views here are nice would be a ridiculous understatement.
Baring, Merchant and Gunn peaks dominate the skyline south and west with Eagle Lake twinkling below like a daydream.
There exist some established flat spots along the ridge that could fit a small tent should you wanna ridge camp.
A NW forest pass is required for parking at the Barclay Lake trail head.
A wilderness self registration kiosk is along the trail.