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Mule Mountain Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Stand of old madrone trees along trail (B. Hope)
View west from saddle (B. Hope)


  • Start point: Mule Mountain TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Mule Mountain Trailhead
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 11.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 4,000 feet
  • High Point: 4,300 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

Because of a change in land ownership, the Forest Service lost its easement for access to this trail's lower trailhead on Upper Applegate Road. You can, however, access the loop from the Charlie Buck / Baldy Peak Trailhead.This makes for a tougher, but still varied and interesting, loop hike.

This is the most readily accessible of the hikes starting in or near the Applegate Valley in Southern Oregon. Barring an unusual snow event, it’s open year-round. In the spring (April - June), there are wildflowers in the south-facing meadows (called "balds") crossed by the trail. In the summer, an early start allows you to climb the arid south-facing balds and twisted oak woodlands in the cool of the morning and then return amidst the lush, cool maple and fir forests along Mule Creek Canyon as the day heats up.

The Charlie Buck / Baldy Peak Trail (#918) trail climbs 1,200 feet in just over a mile - a "healthy rate of climb" per the USFS - then levels off across a meadow below Baldy Peak with views of the Applegate Valley and the Red Buttes Wilderness. You soon reach an unsigned junction on the saddle south of Baldy Peak with the Mule Mountain Trail (#919) coming up from the right (west). Here you have the option of turning north for a 0.8 mile round-trip climb up the ridge to the summit of the peak and some views of the Applegate Valley and Mount Ashland. You can also climb Mule Mountain itself by ascending cross-country from the trail; however, the view from Baldy Peak is better and the ascent easier (no brush!).

Turn right (west) here and descend the Mule Mountain Trail for 3.4 miles to an unsigned junction with the Mule Creek Trail #920 coming in from the left (south). Turn left here and descend the #920 to an old road in the canyon bottom alongside Mule Creek. Turn left (east) here and follow the old road/trail up along the creek. It's not hard to follow if you pay attention. The one tricky spot is where the #920 crosses Hole in the Ground Creek about 2 miles from where you turned off the #919. It may look like the trail continues up and to the right but the Mule Creek Trail goes to the left here. From here on, the trail is a trail and not an old road. There are some huge old-growth firs in the upper reaches of this canyon which alone are worth a visit. After some solid climbing, the trail becomes an old road again and soon thereafter you reach Forest Road 2010-300.

Turn left (north) here and follow Forest Road 2010-300 for about 100 yards to its end at a turn around. The #918 starts at the north side of the turn around (look for as Baldy Peak Trail sign), contours its way back to the unsigned junction below Baldy Peak, and from there plunges back down to the trailhead.


Maps

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • The Siskiyou Crest: Hikes, History & Ecology by Luke Ruediger (pages 116-118)
  • 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon by William L. Sullivan (Third Edition, Hike #63)
  • Rogue River National Forest (Oregon) Location map (very useful for making sense of the forest roads)

More Links

Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.