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Mount Muller

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Roam for miles on a high ridge carpeted in a mosaic of brilliant wildflowers. Catch your breath not from climbing (although it's tough), but from watching a continuous reel of premiere showings starring glistening white Mount Olympus and deep-blue Lake Crescent. If that's not enough to slack your jaw, Mount Baker hovering over the Strait of Juan de Fuca will most certainly captivate you. Constructed in 1994, the Mount Muller Loop is one of the newest additions to our trail system and among the all-time supreme scenic high-country romps.

Back in 1975, Forest Service employee Molly Erickson was convinced that Mount Muller and Snider Ridge were the most beautiful places in the Forks Ranger District-and that someone should put a trail on them. Twenty years later, Erickson and a slew of her Forest Service compatriots did just that, designing and building over 20 miles of trail on the long northern ridge above the Sol Duc Valley.

These dedicated Forest Service workers not only built an amazing trail that delivers one stunning view after another; they named features along the way and dedicated meadows to each other, making hiking the loop a whole lot of fun. The trail is shared by equestrians and mountain bikers, but no need to worry about crowds. Your main concern should be carrying enough water-most of the way is bone dry.

Do the loop clockwise, tackling the steep climb early in the morning before the day heats up. Start in a dark damp glen housing Littleton Creek, your last sure water until Hutch Creek, 9 miles farther. The way starts off easy before reaching a series of switchbacks that climb 2000 feet in 2.5 miles. In early summer, twinflower lines the trail like rows of tiny street lights. As you climb you'll traverse acres of young forest interrupted by big charred stumps.

After 3 long uphill miles, crest the ridge (elev. 3200 ft). Here at Jim's Junction, a trail leads left 3.5 miles to Kloshe Nanitch, one goes straight 0.5 mile to FR 3040, and another goes right 2.5 miles to Mount Muller. Head right on an up-and-down ridgeline march across miles of meadows, drinking in panoramic perspectives of the U-shaped Sol Duc Valley.

After a short stroll through a stand of silver fir, come to a glorious viewpoint of the emerald wall, Aurora Ridge, and the massive snow and ice heap, Mount Olympus. Hikers not wishing to make the long loop may consider this point far enough. For those eating the whole enchilada, carry on. After climbing to 3400 feet in Millsap Meadow, the trail rapidly loses 400 feet, bottoming out in Thomas Gap before steeply regaining lost ground.

On an up-and-down course, pass through Millsap, Jasmine, Allison, and Markham Meadows. Marvel at their multitude of blossoming flowers: paintbrush, tiger lily, thistle, bleeding heart, vetch, star flower, hawkweed, daisy, bear grass, columbine, lupine, lace, strawberry, bunchberry, and queen's cup among them.

At 5.5 miles a side trail leads left for 0.1 mile to the semiforested 3748-foot summit of Mount Muller. Bag it. Now proceed on the main trail to another side path, this one leading right 0.1 mile to Panorama Point, a series of outcrops in a sea of meadows. If you think the view can't possibly get better, wait until you see Lake Crescent sparkling below. Like sentinels, Pyramid Mountain and Mount Storm King guard the pristine waters of the fjordlike lake.

After soaking up views and sunshine, continue up and down along the ridge crest, dashing behind ledges and undulating between forest and meadow. From Cahill's Overlook (at 7 miles), drop rapidly to Mosely Gap, a 2800-foot low point on the ridge. One last uphill struggle, and then begin a long descent back to the valley.

Take a break to check out Fouts Rock House, two giant boulders rubbing shoulders at 8.5 miles. A mile beyond, cross Hutch Creek, a good spot for refilling depleted water bottles. The final 3 miles are mostly uneventful, traversing forest on a mostly level route. Not very exciting after what you've experienced, but a necessary price to pay for this satisfying journey. At 12.8 miles (13 if you went up Muller) Littleton Creek's soft babble welcomes you back to the trailhead.
Driving Directions:

From Port Angeles follow US 101 west for 32 miles to an electricity substation at milepost 216, 4.5 miles beyond Fairholm. Turn right on Forest Road 3071 (signed "Mount Muller-
Littleton Loop"), proceeding 0.3 mile to the trailhead. Privy available.

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

Recent Trip Reports

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There are 25 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Mount Muller — Jul 05, 2013 — MLMarcoux
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Blowdowns
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Beautiful hike - taking the loop clockwise from the trailhead is the ideal route. The descent beyond...
Beautiful hike - taking the loop clockwise from the trailhead is the ideal route. The descent beyond the summit is less traveled/less maintained. The vegetation is a little overgrown becuase of the late summer, but easy enough to get through. Meadows are gorgeous, with tons of wildflowers - watch for bees. One large blowdown just after Jasmine's meadow that you have to duck under, but the other blowdowns are easy to step over or around. Trail was a bit hard to find when it opened up into the logging/construction area at about mile 9-10, but we found it eventually. Salmon berries are ripe! Saw 1 mountain biker on the last mile or two, and only one other couple at the beginning of the hike.
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Mount Muller — May 25, 2013 — BumbleB
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Overgrown | Mudholes | Snow on trail
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We (I) slept in and arrived at the trail later than we'd planned, around 9am. There was one car. It ...
We (I) slept in and arrived at the trail later than we'd planned, around 9am. There was one car. It was was misting and the forecast called for something like 80% chance of rain. It rained about 50% of the hike. We saw one couple with a dog and a couple of guys near the end of the hike, who sailed past us as if they hadn't just hiked 13 miles.
This hike was awesome. There were several trees down, but easily passable, and there was a bit of snow still on the trail on the backside. The trail was also sort of overgrown, especially on the backside. Gaiters would have been very useful.
Wildflowers were busting out all over, especially in the many meadows, named for different women. We imagined the views must have been spectacular, but the clouds were dense, especially towards the top, and visibility was very limited.
Despite the poor visibility, this was a great hike. We dawdled up to the top, took too long and had to huff it back for fear of walking in the dark.
Just like the general report says, the first 3 miles are steep, but then it tops out and wends around ridge lines for miles, through meadows and forested sections. The descent was more gradual than the ascent, through forests and glades and meadows. There was one section, about 10-11 miles in, where the small path opens up into what seems like a timber service road. Trees are chopped-down and it's like a 14-foot wide mud road. So, it went from being beautiful and isolated to a destruction zone. Quite a contrast and we were kind of bummed thinking the final 3 miles would look like that, but the trail picked up again soon and got back to being really awesome.
We look forward to returning when the weather is clear and the views can be appreciated.
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Mount Muller — May 18, 2013 — Amber
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns | Clogged drainage | Overgrown | Mudholes | Snow on trail
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Great rainy day hike! Probably even better on a nice clear spring or summer day. There was a light r...
Great rainy day hike! Probably even better on a nice clear spring or summer day. There was a light rain starting when we headed out on the trail but with the tree cover offered along the trail it wasn't too bad. About 1/4 of the way up the trail the rain stopped. Still socked in by fog but the old growth and beginning of blooming flowers gave us a nice quiet hike. Only ran into 2 other groups of two all day, one couple hiking and one couple biking. Saw some fresh signs of someone on horses, which my dog just had to roll in lol Loved the fact that there were so many tail signs marking the different areas. There were a few blowdowns and some snow along the back half that covered the trail. Nothing to serious, we easily maneuvered around them. Some parts of the trail are beginning to get a little over grown but again nothing too serious. Along the first part of the trail there seems to be an issue with sink holes which I could see being a problem for anyone on a horse. Will definitely need to try this trail again when the weather is clear so we can take in some of the views that I'm sure it offers.
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Mount Muller — Jan 04, 2013 — Joe Hendricks
Day hike
Issues: Snow on trail
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Left around 9am, back by 1pm. Dog could not handle the post-holing once we reached the ridge, so we...
Left around 9am, back by 1pm. Dog could not handle the post-holing once we reached the ridge, so we turned around. Probably 4-5mi total.
Only saw one other hiker, no bikes or horses.
Beautiful!
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Mount Muller — Sep 22, 2012 — silcedar
Day hike
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Trail offers beautiful views and a great work-out. I mountain biked this trail today. As a mountain ...
Trail offers beautiful views and a great work-out. I mountain biked this trail today. As a mountain bike trail it is marginal. Most hills are too steep and loose to climb on the bike, so I walked many of the up hills. Switchbacks are often too tight to stay on bike as well. This trail is heavily used by horses and it shows. While you may see and smell many beautiful flowers in the early summer, but now your more likely to see, smell, and wear horse poop, it is literally every 15' on this trail. The tread is pretty loose and pot-holed due to heavy horse use as well.
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mount muller.jpg
Tigerlillies in the foreground of Mt. Olympus. Photo by Tomas.
Location
Mount Muller (#882)
Olympics -- North
Olymic National Forest, Pacific Ranger District, Forks
Statistics
Roundtrip 13.0 miles
Elevation Gain 3200 ft
Highest Point 3748 ft
Features
Wildflowers/Meadows
Mountain views
Ridges/passes
User info
May encounter pack animals
May encounter mountains bikes
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula (Romano - Mountaineers Books)
Green Trails Lake Crescent No. 101
Custom Correct Lake Crescent-Happy Lake Ridge

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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