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Peterman Hill

Peterman Hill is a mighty nice year-round riding area in the forested hills on the outskirts of Morton, WA.  At nearly 7,000 acres, Peterman Hill (sometimes called Peterman Ridge) features a ten-mile network of trails and closed roads.  Plus, open gravel logging roads crisscross the area, and you can combine them with the trails to create some interesting loops.Peterman Hill

On a closed forest road at Peterman Hill.
  • Moderate trails
  • 10+ miles of trails and roads to ride
  • Elevation 1,550 to 2,450 feet

The Riding

Peterman Hill, part of the Cowlitz Wildlife Area, occupies several hills between Highway 12 and Riffe Lake.  Some of the trails at Peterman Hill are single-track, and some follow closed roads.  Color-coded signposts mark all the trails, so it’s easy to find your way.Peterman Hill

Peterman Hill is part of the Cowlitz Wildlife Area.

The trails at Peterman Hill are open to hikers and mountain bikes as well as horses.  This is a popular spot for fall hunting, so you might want to ride elsewhere during hunting season. Keep an eye out for logging trucks, as logging may occur here year-round.Peterman Hill

The horses get a breather in a clear-cut on Peterman Hill.

The Wildlife

Opportunities for wildlife watching abound at Peterman Hill.  This part of the Cowlitz Wildlife Area provides protected habitat for pileated woodpeckers, black-tailed deer, and Douglas squirrels.  In addition, black bears, cougars, elk, grouse, turkeys, beavers, and several types of amphibians have been spotted here.  While you’re unlikely to see any bears, cougars, or elk (they value their privacy, so they tend to stay away from the trails), it’s nice to know that they roam this pretty forest.Peterman Hill

Douglas-firs and alders provide shade at Peterman Hill, and sword ferns and oxalis cover the ground.

The Facilities

The trailhead has a vault toilet, hitching rails, garbage cans, and parking for ten or more trailers.Peterman Hill

Peterman Hill has plenty of parking for horse trailers.

Getting There

From I-5, take Exit 68 (Yakima/White Pass) and head east on Hwy. 12 toward Morton.  In 27.5 miles, just before milepost 94, turn right on Highland Valley Road.  In 100 yards, veer right on Peterman Hill Road.  Drive 0.9 mile to reach the large trailer parking area at the end of the county road, just past the car parking area.

Learn More

You’ll find more information about Peterman Hill in Riding Southwest Washington Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, (Ponderosa Press, 2016), available at www.nwhorsetrails.com.

Reprinted with permission from Northwest Rider Magazine, December 2017.

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