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Mule Mountain Loop Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Trail head sign at USFS property boundary (B. Hope)
Stand of old madrone trees along trail (B. Hope)
View west from high point; trail climbs ridge on right (B. Hope)
Map of Mule Mountain Loop hike (B. Hope)
  • Start point: Mule Mountain TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Mule Mountain Trailhead
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: Loop
  • Distance: 10.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 2,800 feet
  • High Point: 4,300 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

Sadly, this trail is no longer accessible from the trailhead on Upper Applegate Road. The first 0.3 miles of the trail cross private land and the new owners don't want people on their land. The Forest Service has apparently spoken to them about this but to no avail. The USFS trail sign on Applegate Road has been taken down. Hopefully the new owners will eventually come around and reopen the access but, at the moment, you'll be trespassing if you use this trail.

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 descend among the lush, cool maple and fir forests along Mule Creek Canyon as the day heats up.

After parking, walk back down the road to the sign and the start of the Mule Mountain (#919) trail. The first 0.3 mile or so is through private land, so please stay on the trail. You will reach another trail sign once you cross on to USFS land. About 0.5 mile beyond this second sign, you will come to a trail junction. Turn left here (the trail to the right is Trail #920 and your return route). After another 3.4 miles, you will reach your high point, a grassy ridge on the side of Baldy Peak and a junction with the Baldy Peak (#918) trail. 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!).

To continue with the loop, turn south on the Baldy Peak trail (not signed but there's a small cairn). It's faint at first but the tread soon becomes clear as it runs south below the ridge for 1.5 miles to an old forest road (FR 300). Head straight (south) along the road for about 300' to an obvious trail on the right (west) side. This is the Mule Canyon Trail (#920) that will take you back to that first trail junction you encountered on your way up. This trail starts off strong and obvious (the sign marking the start of this trail may be missing or vandalized) but has a few faint stretches once it reaches the canyon bottom - but it's not hard to follow if you pay attention. There are some huge old-growth firs in the upper reaches of this canyon which alone are worth a visit.

After 3.4 miles, the Mule Creek trail starts climbing out of the canyon (simply continuing down the canyon is not possible because of private property) and in 0.7 mile reaches its junction with the Mule Mountain (#919) trail, which you then take back to the trailhead.


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.