Anvil Loop

Anvil Loop, Sahara Horse Camp

If you’re an experienced rider with a seasoned trail horse, you will love the Anvil Loop, a spectacular ride in the Elbe Hills near Sahara Creek Horse Camp.

Anvil Loop, Sahara Horse Camp

On the Upper Elk Spur Trail, on the way to the Anvil Loop.

Difficulty:  Challenging — bridges, creek crossings, and some steep sections, but no drop-offs

Distance:  12.5 miles round trip

Elevation:  1,500 to 3,000 feet, with total elevation gain of 2,400 feet

Anvil Loop, Sahara Horse Camp

You’ll have views of Mt. Rainier from several vantage points along the trail.

The forested Elbe Hills are beautiful, and the occasional clear-cuts are filled with wildflowers in season.  As you ride, you’ll enjoy splendid views of Mt. Rainier from several vantage points.  Your horse will need to be in condition, though, because the elevation changes are significant.

Anvil Loop, Sahara Horse Camp

The trail has significant elevation gains.

The Ride

The ride starts at the day-use area at Sahara Creek Horse Camp.  You’ll depart on the Upper Elk Spur Trail, travel around the Anvil Loop Trail, and follow either the Bull Run Trail or the Buck Crossing Trail to reach the Lower Elk Spur Trail, which will then take you back to the horse camp.  The Anvil Loop segment of the ride circles the flat top of a ridge that was recently clear-cut, so the view of Mt. Rainier is panoramic.

Anvil Loop, Sahara Horse Camp

The forest that blankets the Elbe Hills is beautiful.

The trails are part of the Nicholson Horse Trail System, a huge trail network that is open only to horses and hikers.  Mountain bikes, motorcycles, and ATVs are not allowed on the Nicholson Trails.

The Camping

If you’ve never stayed at Sahara Creek Horse Camp, you’re missing out.  This camp is a treat, with spacious campsites, highline poles, potable water, fire pits, picnic tables, and a day-use parking area.  The camp was featured in a previous blog post you can read at

Anvil Loop, Sahara Horse Camp

Mt. Rainier from the Anvil Loop.

Getting There

From the town of Elbe, drive east on Hwy. 706 for five miles.  Just 200 feet past milepost five and the large sign for the Mt. Tahoma Trails, turn left into the campground.  The campground sign is small and easy to miss, so keep a sharp eye out.

Learn More

You’ll find more information about the Anvil Loop and other trails out of Sahara Creek Horse Camp in Riding Southwest Washington Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2018), available at