Here are some pictures and commentary of the trip John, Alan, Andy and myself made to Mount Muller in the middle of August, 2003... John and I had talked about this trip for over a year - but never made the effort to set it up. So finally we picked a date and decided it would be done. A trail map can be viewed by clicking here...
Mount Muller is located directly west of Lake Crescent off of US 101 near the north coast of the Olympic Peninsula. It borders Olympic National Park to the east and south. The trail is in very good shape, but the ride should be left to the hearty. A 13 mile loop, before you're done, you will have done over 3,000 feet of climbing - about 2,200 of that in the first three miles. Make sure your equipment is sound also, especially the brakes. The switchbacks that lead down off the ridge are as steep as they are epic, with very little margin for error.
The trail quickly steepens once out of the parking area into a set of climbing switchbacks. There is little time to warm up, so laps around the parking area is very recommended. The trail is relentless for the first three miles, allowing little opportunity to catch your breath. I needed to stop frequently, and even offered beer and pizza to anyone who wanted to turn back - it is that killer. Andy seemed to take the trail easily though, damn kids, and John wasn't far behind - you could tell he'd been training! Alan and I brought up the rear. After a couple miles though, I seemed to hit my stride, and was able to up my pace.
Once on the ridge, the trail climbs and descends through beautiful meadows and stands of timber. The view is epic to the south - into the heart of Olympic National Park - but on this day, we were thwarted by overcast skies that only allowed us the view down to the highway 3,000 feet below. While we still had some flowers blooming, mostly purple paintbrush, I would say mid July would be optimal for floral entertainment.
The climb to the real summit is a well marked spur trail mid-way across the ridge, and takes very little extra effort to make. Once the ridge has been traversed, be ready for some epic downhill switchbacks - almost three miles of them. Be careful though, as overshooting a left hander could result in a serious injury as some of them have over a hundred feet of exposure!
Once down, the trail is very flat for the remaining four miles back to the car. It meanders through classic Olympic Peninsula vine maple and Doug fir, each with large amounts of hanging moss. And then if you're hot, stop by Lake Crescent on the way out, and take a plunge! These shots were taken at various points during the trip with comments underneath. Click the thumbnail to view the picture full size... Enjoy!
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