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Sahara Creek Campground

Sahara Creek Campground near Elbe, Washington is a fabulous place to camp and ride — exactly the kind of place you might dream up if you had the chance to design your own horse camp and trail system.

The Riding

 Sahara Creek Horse Camp

Located 5 miles east of the town of Elbe on the west side of Mt. Rainier, Sahara Creek campground provides access to the Nicholson Horse Trails, a 65-mile trail network that explores the Elbe Hills.  The area offers a range of trails from easy to more challenging, with enough elevation change to provide good conditioning opportunities for your horse but without any steep side hills or narrow tread. The trails are open only to horses and hikers.   

Sahara Creek Horse Camp

The trail network is a stacked-loop design that looks a bit like a ladder.  The Upper and Lower Elk Spur Trails form the ladder’s long sides, and numerous connector trails form the ladder’s rungs.  You can ride any length loop you want, depending on which connector trail you choose to take.  We rode 6 different loops when we visited Sahara Creek, and we came nowhere near exhausting all of the possibilities nearby. And because the trail system is so large, additional loops are possible if you trailer out to a trailhead on the west side of the trail network.

Sahara Creek Horse Camp

You will ride through beautiful stands of Douglas-fir and alder, with vine maples and sword ferns in the understory.  This is Washington DNR land, so the forest is actively logged, creating occasional clear-cuts that offer wildflowers in season and spectacular views of Mt. Rainier – so close you feel like you could reach out and touch it.

Sahara Creek Horse Camp

The camp’s elevation is only 1,500 feet, so the trails are rideable as soon as the weather dries out.  And the trails are very well signed so you won’t get lost.

The Camping

Sahara Creek Horse Camp

The campground has 20+ large sites with room to park 40 trailers. Highline posts are located about every 30 feet around most of the perimeter of the campground.  (Bring your own highline rope.)  All sites have picnic tables and fire rings.  The campground also has a vault toilet, a large common area with a fully enclosed group shelter, and a big day-use area.  Please haul your manure home or disperse it beyond the camp’s boundaries.  A Discover Pass is required for camping or day use.


Give Sahara Creek Campground and the Nicholson Horse Trails a try.  You’ll enjoy the camp’s excellent accommodations, the horse-friendly trails, the beautiful forest, and the spectacular views.  It’s your dream horse camping experience, come to life!

More Information

Sahara Creek Horse Camp and the Nicholson Trail System are featured in Riding Southwest Washington Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, available at  Happy Trails!


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