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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 Mule Ear Connector runs through the loop north-to-south. The trail's elevation is from 5600 to 5900 feet, with a riding season of late May through October.

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. Latest update June 19, 2019.

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

The loop ride is moderately strenuous in aerobic requirement. It's not particularly 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 Mule Ear an upper-intermediate tech rating, while ranking Mule Shoe and the Mule Ear Connector trail easier-intermediate.

This is why the trail is called Mule Ear. In June, every clearing is full of Mule Ear blossoms. We're facing southeast on the Mule Ear Connector trail.

The loop is bisected by the Mule Ear Connector trail. This is an easy trail, gently uphill from south to north as it contours the hillside. It lies just uphill from the gravel road. Beginning riders can make a fun loop of Mule Shoe and the Mule Ear Connector.

Looking south on the Mule Ear Connector trail near the north end of the Mule Loop.

For a longer ride, you can start at the 365 Trail. 365 has two ways of connecting uphill to the Mule Loop (see the map, and see the 365 and Pipeline trail page for navigation details). The easiest to navigate is the Pipeline to Mule connector. Get to the Pipeline-365 trail fork (either via 365 or Pipeline), then go uphill on Pipeline. Just after crossing a small creek, take the right (uphill) trail fork and climb up to Mule Shoe / Cinch. When you reach the loop, straight and right puts you on the counterclockwise loop. A left turn takes you to the road crossing, Mule Ear, then the Mule Ear Connector trail.

You can also connect from the 365 Trail using the McDurfee Creek trail (called Traily McTrailface on Trailforks). See the instructions under "Ben Lomond trailhead" at bottom.

View uphill to the west.

Uphill from the Mule Loop are the Cutler Flat area trails. These start about 1/3 mile north of the Mule Loop trailhead at the group area pavilion. There's the Cutler Flat lariat loop, Cutler's Twist, and the Traildemic-Bicentennial loop ride.

To connect, you have two options. You can take the Mule Ear Connector trail down to the Cutler Flat gate, then ride up the doubletrack to the group picnic area. Or, you can take Cutler's Twist from the northern side of the loop, which will take you directly to the group area pavilion. See the area map below.

Aspen grove on the Mule Ear Connector trail.

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.

Just uphill from the gravel road is the Mule Ear Connector trail. It's 1.1 miles long, running from the southern end of Mule Ear just west of the road crossing,  then crossing the northern side of the loop before dropping to the Cutler Flat gate.

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 most cyclists are riding this trail from the campground road as it climbs out of Cold Canyon -- or via the Pipeline to Mule Shoe connector -- my ride description starts where the loop crosses the road at the south end. If you're not confident on the navigation, drive to the new formal trailhead at the north end of the loop.

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
0.1  Straight (R = Mule Ear Connector, L = Traily McTrailface) 
       N41 22.389 W111 54.867
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
3.1  Keep R (L = Cutler's Twist)

3.2  Cross Mule Ear Connector N41 22.847 W111 55.170
       (L = to Cutler Flat, R = to south end of loop)
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
       L = Bottom of Cutler's Twist
       Keep straight again (R = Cinch)
4.8  Keep L (R = Cinch joins)
5.2  Keep R uphill N41 22.433 W111 54.709
       L = to Pipeline trail
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.

Mule Ear trailhead (recommended): Turn left again at the North Fork Park sign. At the campground entry gate, you can turn left into the 365 Trail trailhead for a longer ride. To park at the Mule Loop trailhead, go 1.8 miles on the main North Fork Park road from where you turned off the main road. Look for a the trailhead sign on your right. Pull into the little loop and park. Connect to the trail on the northwest side of the parking area.

Road-fork parking to north Mule Connector: Pass the first entrance into the North Fork Park (on your left). Go another mile up the road and turn left at the second entry N41 22.986 W111 54.298. Fork left at the T intersection. When you reach a hairpin turn with a gate at the apex (north side) of the turn, N41 22.979 W111 55.187, you're there. Park your car. Find the singletrack near the gate. That's the Mule Connector trail.

365/Pipeline parking: Just after you cross the river, veer left toward North Fork Park. Turn left again at the Ben Lomond Trailhead - North Fork Park sign. As you approach the campground entry gate, turn left into the 365 Trail trailhead and park. The 365 Trail is at the southwest corner of the parking lot. For the Pipeline trail, pedal back to the road, go through the gate and 100 yards uphill, then turn right to find the trail post marking the entry to the singletrack trail.


Ben Lomond trailhead: Turn left toward North Fork Park just after you cross the river. Turn left again at the North Fork Park sign. Drive past the campground entrances, keeping generally straight and uphill. As the main road turns to the right, turn left toward the stables. Now keep generally straight until you see parking and a metal horse corral on your right. Park just north of the horse corral, and you'll see the trailhead directly west. Start uphill on the Ben Lomond Trail, then quickly fork right on the 365 Trail. After 0.3 miles, fork left uphill as a trail crosses. This is Traily McTrailface and it will take you 0.7 miles up to where the south end of Mule Connector hits the Mule Ear trail.
Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files (right-click, "Save as..."):
     Loop ride track    Multi-track GPX area file 
Above map in fresh window for printing:   View map
Lodging, camping, shops:   Links to Ogden area resources

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Updated 2019