by Robert Eversole
When I think of Washington State I think of not only snow-capped mountains, but also of big water and salt water vistas. With that in mind, we ventured forth with the goal of finding a great riding trail that would give us a little of everything Washington State has to offer. We found what we wanted at Littleton Horse Camp and the Mount Muller Loop Trail in the Olympic National Forest on the northern end of the Olympic Peninsula.
Littleton Horse Camp is well appointed with corrals for stock use (no need for highlines here), stock water tank, numerous dispersed camping sites, vault toilet and back-in parking for 6-7 truck/trailer rigs. The campground is one of the nicest that we’ve stayed at. It’s evident that the Olympic BCHW Chapter puts forth tremendous effort here, both in camp and on the trail. The Mount Muller Littleton Loop trail (Forest Service Trail #882) is 12.8 miles long and is a rough rectangle with the long sides bounded by Highway 101 and the ridge top 2,200 feet overhead. Riders will have a 3-mile climb up the western side of the loop and a similar descent back down into the valley on the return, on the eastern side of the loop.
The trail is most commonly ridden in a counter clockwise manner and starts immediately to the left of the trailhead kiosk following Littleton Creek for a short while before starting the climb to Jim’s Junction about 3 miles ahead. You’ll have trail signs guiding your way through thick forest on the way up and throughout the trip, naming various points and announcing the distance travelled. Once you’ve made it to the crest at Jim’s Junction turn eastward and start on what may be the most rewarding section of trail as you meander along the ridge top for several miles. On the way to the summit of Mount Muller, you’ll pass a number of remarkable viewpoints including glimpses of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and numerous meadows, each with glorious and sometimes dizzying views of the Sol Duc Valley thousands of feet below you. 2.3 miles past Jim’s Junction you’ll arrive at your destination, the summit of Mount Muller and site of a long forgotten fire lookout (no longer there). Be assured that a lunch taken at the top of Mount Muller will be a memorable one for the views that the lonely fire watches enjoyed remain, waiting for you at an elevation of 3,748 feet.
Returning to the Littleton Horse Camp by way of the eastern half of the loop is another seven and a half miles in the saddle. You’ll be rewarded for the longer return with even more valley views, including overlooks of Crescent Lake. After Mosley Gap you’ll remain in forested shade as you begin working your way down the ridge side. A must visit point is Fouts Rock House. Huge boulders leaning together form large caverns that several people can easily stand in. At this stop you’ll glance at the ridge above and hope that another giant boulder doesn’t decide to roll down while you’re there! After the Rock House you’ll have just few more miles of trail until you’re back at camp in time for dinner.
Published April 2014 Issue