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Mule Ear - Mule Shoe Loop
North Fork Park

The Mule Loop consists of the Mule Ear and Mule Shoe trails in North Fork Park. The ride is singletrack, about 5.5 miles in length. The ride is moderately strenuous in aerobic requirement. It's not technical in terms of rocks, roots, and tricky stuff. But Mule Ear, when done clockwise, has quite a few tight S turns on the downhill. So I'm giving it an upper-intermediate tech rating.

Typical trail view as we climb up the meandering Mule Ear through groves of big maple. Photos and checkout ride October 12, 2010 by Bruce.

This trail is fairly new. Judging by the huge heaping piles of horse crap in the middle of the trail, it's destined to become a favorite of equestrians. That's OK. The woods are fairly "open" so it's easy to move off the trail. I saw only two riders on horseback on the day of my ride.

A nearby ride is Cutler Flat, which starts about 1/3 mile north of the Mule Loop trailhead, just up the North Fork Park Road. Consider tying both trails together in for an 11-mile figure-eight.

A couple of horses head down Mule Ear with the town of Liberty and the Ogden Valley in the background.

The loop is split into two halves by the North Fork Park road. Mule Ear is on the uphill side of the North Fork Park road. Clockwise, Mule Ear has a long sustained climb with lots of not-too-tight switchbacks. Downhill, it's a plunge through a ton of turns. 

Looking around a turn on the downhill side of Mule Ear. Notice by the condition of the trail edge that this is a fairly fresh cut.

Mule Shoe is the part on the downhill side of the road. Mule Shoe is much easier aerobically. The turns are more mellow, so it's also easier technically. Mule Shoe doesn't make you work as hard overall, but has some short steep pitches. Mule Shoe has up-and-down riding, and a few of the short "ups" are quite a grunt.

View south over Ogden Valley.

You can ride both trails as a loop, or ride just one and head back to the car on the gravel road. 

Northern trailhead altitude is at 6000 feet. Low point is 5500 feet on the Mule Shoe Trail. The Mule Shoe crosses the road and becomes Mule Ear at 5700 feet elevation. High point is near the viewpoint on Mule Ear at 6500.

After crossing the gravel road, we're on Mule Shoe, the lower half of the loop. Fir and aspen hide in the gulleys, with scrub oak, maple, and brush in the exposed areas.

I also noticed only horse trailers at the formal trailhead. All the cyclists I saw rode into the trail system from the campground and picnic area. The gravel in the trailhead parking slots was obviously very freshly dumped, so it might be that cyclists just haven't found the parking area yet.

Dogs are allowed, and are supposed to be on leash.

Mule Shoe dips in and out of ravines and through small creeks. You cycle rapidly from one environmental zone to another.

The woods here are pretty, and there are nice views. I'd give this trail a hearty recommendation. It will make a good day of riding for an early-intermediate. More advanced riders may want to combine it with another ride, for example Cutler Flat, just 1/3 mile down the road.

More trail as Mule Shoe heads south toward the picnic area.

Because cyclists are riding this trail from the campground road (rather than driving to the new formal trailhead at the north end of the loop), my ride description starts where the loop crosses the road at the south end. Follow the signs toward Cutler Flat. As you climb away from Cold Canyon (the last camping area), the trail crosses the road.

Riding notes, clockwise loop from 1st road crossing:
Road turns sharply R at creek, climbs hill.
ST is on left about 100 hards up the hill
0.0  Hard L onto ST N41 22.424 W111 54.768
       Mule Ear Trail, begin climbing
1.5  Hard L for viewpoint trail
       N41 22.560 W111 55.350
1.8  At viewpoint turnaround
       N41 22.489 W111 55.552
2.1  Back at fork, keep straight
3.3  Cross road (parking area on R)
       Mule Shoe Trail N41 22.863 W111 55.145
4.0  Keep straight N41 22.889 W111 54.685
5.3  Back at road

Getting there:  Go up Ogden Canyon. (From the north on I-15, take the 12th South Ogden exit and head east on Highway 39. From the south, exit I-15 on US 89. Pass I-84 and climb up the hill, then turn right on Harrison Blvd. Continue on Harrison until you hit U-39 and turn R toward Ogden Canyon.) Turn left across the dam at Pineview Reservoir. At the stop sign in Eden, turn left. Turn left at the stop sign in Liberty. After about 1/4 mile, take the next right. Just after you cross the river, veer left toward North Fork Park. Turn left again at the North Fork Park sign. Follow the main campground road past a few camping loops. If you know your way around, park and head for the spot where the trail crosses the road. A good picnic area is at the bottom of the ravine (Cold Canyon) near the creek. For the official trailhead, go 1.8 miles from where you turned off the main road. Look for a the trailhead sign on your right. The trail crosses the road just a few feet north of the 2nd turn-in to the parking area.
Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files (right-click, "Save as..."):
   Garmin      GPX 
High-res area topo map:  View to print
Lodging, camping, shops:   Links to Ogden area resources

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