From the get-go, the 13.6-mile Mt. Muller loop is difficult and demanding, but the pleasure is worth the pain.
The pleasure: Climbs and descents through beautiful woods and incredible wildflower-strewn meadows; views of Mt. Olympus, Lake Crescent, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island, and, on a clear day, Mt. Baker and Glacier Peak.
The pain: With only a couple of pedal strokes worth of warm-up, the initial three-mile climb alternates between difficult and punishing, with just a few short respites. Once on the ridge, there's more climbing and steep roller-coaster sections until a descent with around 30 switchbacks brings you back to the bottom. This is a must-ride for the strong-legged and technically advanced rider.
The trail is hard-packed, with some steep, rooty, and rocky sections. The last three miles roughly parallel US 101 as you make your way, on both dirt road and trail, back to the trailhead.
Finding the trail: From Port Angeles, travel west on US 101 for 25.8 miles to the Fairholm Store at the west end of Lake Crescent. Continuing on US 101, 4.7 miles beyond the store, turn right onto Forest Service Road 3071 (where FS 2918 goes left). Drive 0.3 mile, past the Soleduck substation, to the Mt. Muller/Littleton Loop Trailhead parking area. The trailhead is approximately 24 miles northeast of Forks on US 101.
Notes on the trail: From the parking area, enter the trail on the wide gravel path and go left, routing the loop clockwise. Climbing starts almost immediately. At Jim's Junction, a four-way intersection at 3.1 miles, veer right to continue the loop. After some steep climbing and descending on Snider Ridge, past Jasmine, Allison, and Markham Meadows (2.5 miles after Jim's Junction) climb on the spur trail to the left for 0.1 mile to the top of Mt. Muller. Walk around to the north for views through the trees of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island to the north, and Glacier Peak and Mt. Baker to the east. Return to the main trail and continue the loop. Pretty quickly, as the trail winds to the left, look to the right for the 0.1-mile spur trail down to Panorama Point, where views of Lake Crescent add to the visual wonder. On the descent, 1.6 miles past the signed Mosley Gap, on a right-hand switchback, a 200' walk straight ahead takes you to Fout's Rock House, an imposing rock formation on your left that juts straight up. Continuing the descent, cross Hutch Creek in another mile. About 0.3 mile past Hutch Creek, the trail opens into a clearing; ride straight through and you'll pick up the trail in less than 0.1 mile. Pass a dirt road in another 0.5 mile and continue on the trail through a clear-cut. At the next intersection, follow the road for 0.2 mile, looking for the sign pointing you to the left, just past Drought Creek. Follow this road a short distance to the trail, which veers off to the right. Follow the trail to loop's end in 0.7 mile.
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Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication