Hiking the Mule Mountain Loop from Above 19-Nov-2017

Mule Mountain Mule Creek Trails Oregon

The Mule Mountain Trail (USFS #919) used to be one of the most popular trails in the Upper Applegate Valley. Then the Forest Service lost its easement through private property to the low-altitude start of the trail on public land. The Forest Service’s suggested alternative, the Charlie Buck/Baldy Peak Trail (USFS #918), starts higher up, where it might be closed by snow in the winter, and involves a heart-wrenching 1,200 feet of gain in its first mile from its northern trailhead! Having done this before (post), I thought it might be easier to reach the Mule Mountain and Mule Creek (USFS #920) Trails from the #918’s southern trailhead at the end of Forest Road (FR) 2010-300.  There was just time to give this a try ahead of an incoming  stretch of hiking-unfriendly weather. The LovedOne has always maintained that hiking should be fun rather than character building, so she buried further under the covers and offered up a muffled “good luck with that” as I headed off into the freezing fog outside our garage.

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Little Grayback Mountain (Southern Oregon) 12-Mar-2017

The Little Grayback Trail (#921), which is in the Upper Applegate Valley southwest of Jacksonville, Oregon, is one that does not show-up in many guidebooks. That’s too bad since it provides hiking access to the (now available for rent) historic lookout on Squaw Peak and is south-facing, so it’s usually clear of snow sooner and hence a good place for early season wildflowers. It may become more popular now that direct access to its companion trail in the Upper Applegate, the Mule Mountain Trail (#919), has been lost to private development.

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Snow on Mule Mountain (Applegate Valley, Oregon) 16-Dec-2015

Mule Mountain Applegate Valley Southern Oregon

This is one of the classic hikes in the Applegate Valley west of Medford; one that we first did last December when snow was in short supply. But last Sunday, a major storm dropped the snow level to 500 feet and the Mule Mountain area got plastered with 8 to 12 inches of fluffy new snow. What a welcome relief after two years of drought and skimpy snow! We took advantage of the brief break between storms for a quick snow hike up to the ridge crest at 4,300 feet.

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Mule Mountain Loop (Ruch, Oregon) 23-Dec-2014

Mule Mountain Upper Applegate Valley Oregon

Update: Because of a change in ownership, the lower trailhead for the #919 is no longer accessible to the public from Upper Applegate Road.

While looking for a low altitude hike to explore on one of those few sunny days squeezed in between bouts of rain & clouds, we stumbled on the Mule Mountain trail system – the Mule Mountain Trail (USFS #919), the Charlie Buck/Baldy Peak Trail (USFS #918), and the Mule Creek Trail (USFS #920). The wonderful description of these trails in Luke Ruediger’s The Siskiyou Crest is what sold it. Note that the Applegate Ranger Station is now the Star Ranger Station. 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 trailhead is only a sign with limited roadside parking but all the trails, if poorly signed, were obvious, in good condition, and easy to follow. We ascended the #919, traversed south on the #918, and returned via the #920.

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