Mule Mtn Loop (S Oregon) 23-Dec-2014

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VanMarmot
Posts: 1923
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Mule Mtn Loop (S Oregon) 23-Dec-2014

Post by VanMarmot » December 24th, 2014, 9:54 am

While looking for a low altitude hike to explore on one of those few sunny days squeezed between bouts of rain & clouds, we stumbled on the Mule Mountain trail system. The USFS gives it a write-up (Mule Mtn Trail #919) but the wonderful description in Ruediger's The Siskiyou Crest is what sold it. Note that the Applegate RS is now the Star RS. We ascended the Mule Mtn Trail (#919), traversed on the Charlie Buck / Baldy Peak Trail (#918), and descended via the Mule Creek Trail (#920). Apparently this loop is the best example of intact low-elevation forest and wood land in this area and presents a wildflower extravaganza in the Spring. The TH is only a sign with roadside parking but all the trails, if poorly signed, were obvious, in good condition, and easy to follow.

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The hike starts in the Upper Applegate Valley,

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climbs gently but steadily through a forest of mossy white oak and (eventually) pines,

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before breaking out into open meadows on the S side of Mule Mtn ridge. We left the trail here and headed straight up the open slope,

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to the summit of Mule Mountain (Grayback Mtn is directly above the loved one),

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with its views of the Red Buttes to the S in California (they need more snow!),

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and Mt. McLoughlin to the E.

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The #919 trail connects with the #918 trail at an unsigned junction on the S ridge of Baldy Peak. The views from Baldy are also supposed to be great and we'll be back in the Spring for that summit (and the wildflowers :) ). The #918 trail traverses S across open slopes dotted with Ponderosa pines,

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and provides a good view of Mule Mtn (mm), Mule Creek Canyon (mcc), Grayback (G), and the #919 trail (arrow),

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and of Mule Canyon.

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The #918 trail ends at FS 300 and the unsigned (but obvious) Mule Creek trail (#920) starts on the W side of the road about 50 yds to the S. Unlike the open ridges we traversed in the morning, our descent down the canyon in the afternoon was chilly and gloomy - but an ideal hike for a hot summer day. There are some amazingly ancient and large (+6' dbh) firs in the upper reaches of this canyon that are worth a visit in their own right.

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Mule Creek was actually flowing and the number of small pools and falls increased as we descended.

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The trail descends along the creek to about 1900', where it then climbs back up to the Mule Mtn trail to avoid private land at the mouth of the creek.

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All in all, a really nice loop that accesses a number of different ecosystems, provides big views, and (in the Spring) wildflowers - definitely worth some return visits! Also a pretty good workout - 11 mi RT, 3200' EG. :D

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Last edited by VanMarmot on November 19th, 2017, 4:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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sprengers4jc
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Location: Vancouver, WA

Re: Mule Mtn Loop (S Oregon) 23-Dec-2014

Post by sprengers4jc » December 24th, 2014, 10:45 am

I'm really enjoying your TRs from Southern Oregon, VM. Looks like you are enjoying your retirement immensely!

Also, this photo is excellent. So much going on in it! https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-0fm2 ... GP5239.jpg
'We travel not to escape life but for life to not escape us.'
-Unknown

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Born2BBrad
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Joined: May 1st, 2011, 7:26 pm
Location: The Dalles

Re: Mule Mtn Loop (S Oregon) 23-Dec-2014

Post by Born2BBrad » December 24th, 2014, 11:50 am

I bet that's a scorcher in summer.

Good to see you're making the most of retirement. It was great to finally meet you at the Meet & Deet. Too bad you moved. Now I'll never get the chance to hike with the VM legend.

Brad
Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.
- Jean Luc Picard

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Jack
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Joined: November 22nd, 2011, 3:36 pm

Re: Mule Mtn Loop (S Oregon) 23-Dec-2014

Post by Jack » December 24th, 2014, 1:30 pm

It’s sure not taking you long to get acquainted with your new playground, VM. Looking forward to learning more about the S. Oregon mountains through your TR’s. It was great to see you two at the M-n-D.

VanMarmot
Posts: 1923
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Mule Mtn Loop (S Oregon) 23-Dec-2014

Post by VanMarmot » December 26th, 2014, 9:58 am

Born2BBrad wrote:I bet that's a scorcher in summer.

Good to see you're making the most of retirement. It was great to finally meet you at the Meet & Deet. Too bad you moved. Now I'll never get the chance to hike with the VM legend.

Brad
Same here - good to finally meet you and we really enjoyed the Meet & Deet - easily worth a trip to Portland every year! As for a hike, options can be kept open - I still have some (not too crazy) ideas for the Wallowas.

This particular hike - as most low-land hikes down here - would be HOT in the summer. But with an early start, you could be descending in a cool canyon during the heat of the day.

VanMarmot
Posts: 1923
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Mule Mtn Loop (S Oregon) 23-Dec-2014

Post by VanMarmot » December 26th, 2014, 10:02 am

Jack wrote:It’s sure not taking you long to get acquainted with your new playground, VM. Looking forward to learning more about the S. Oregon mountains through your TR’s. It was great to see you two at the M-n-D.
We too really enjoyed chatting with you & Spitfire at the Meet & Deet! And, yes, a new playground, with some time to enjoy it! Also really liked your recent Defiance TR.

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bobcat
Posts: 2003
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 7:51 am
Location: SW Portland

Re: Mule Mtn Loop (S Oregon) 23-Dec-2014

Post by bobcat » December 27th, 2014, 11:40 am

VanMarmot:

Congratulations on your very well-considered move! Hope to see many more regular reports coming in from PH's southern Oregon outpost . . .

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woodswalker
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Re: Mule Mtn Loop (S Oregon) 23-Dec-2014

Post by woodswalker » December 30th, 2014, 9:07 am

Great retirement area. I think you will enjoy exploring. I hardly ever do offtrail stuff up here. But when I lived in the Applegate that's all I ever did. It's really open and easy to orient and explore for the most part down there.
Most of my explorations were off the sterling ditch trail. which I really enjoyed and is worth checking out.
Woodswalker

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