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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mueller Park Trail - Bountiful, Utah

Oh mountain biking.
How we have a love hate relationship. I love being outside, fresh air sunshine dirt trails, and a happy dog chasing my bike behind me. But those first few rides of the season can be tough.  Now that I graduated, I don't spend a whole lot of time on my bike (I used to ride it to school), and with winter just wrapping up, I hadn't spent too much time on my bike on the trails. Matter of fact the last time I sat in my bike seat, was Navajo Rocks in Moab.
 Yep, over a month ago. 
It is a great workout and something I enjoy more and more, with the exception of those first few rides that remind me how out of shape I am.  Not even so much on my legs but man does mountain biking set my lungs on fire. If your legs don't feel like blocks of lead, then your lungs will surely feel like they are burning out of your chest after a few hundred feet (especially here where the air is already thin - sea level fo life). 

Like hiking, spring mountain biking can be a little iffy. If trails are clear from the snow, they can often be muddy. And biking, and even hiking on muddy trails can really ruin them for the season and for future use. You can read more about how tire ruts and hiking trails can be detrimental to a trail here. But I will just summarize by saying if its muddy, walk your bike around or better yet, turn around which is exactly what we did. 
After checking the "Utah Mt. Bike Trail Condition Network" facebook group (its a great group where people post trail conditions on local Utah trails) we were a little unsure of a good place to bike after some recent rain and your typical spring trail conditions.  We opted for a new to use trail, a low elevation trail system about 15 minutes north in Bountiful, Utah called Mueller Park.  This was my first time to Mueller Park and I was amazed at how pretty (and everything everyone friendly) this trail is.  Dogs, horses, bicycles, dirt bikes, everyone invited to the party!
And amazingly (to my knowledge) it was a trail everyone shared well.  
Mueller Park itself is a gorgeous little day use area with bathrooms, picnic tables, fire pits, and hiking trails. It is a pretty cute place to spend the day, picnicking by the stream and hiking among the trails.  There is a fee to enter the park, however, the Mueller Park Trail itself is right before the fee booth area.

Trailhead:                   Mueller Park Trail over the bridge before the fee booth. 
Parking:                      Small parking area before the fee booth, or along the road 
Destination:              Big Rock/ Elephant Rock 
Difficulty:                   Moderate
Round trip:               Total 13 miles, 7 miles to Elephant Rock 
Hiking time:              3 to 4 hours
Elevation gain:         1,020 ft.
Restrooms:                Yes/picnic area
Dogs allowed:            Yes

Fee Booth
Fee Booth- parking and trail entrance before the gate to the right
On I-15, take the 2600 south Bountiful/Woods Cross exit. Go east towards the mountains. The road will turn north and be renamed Orchard Drive. While heading north, turn right (east) on 1800 south. This street takes you to the trailhead about 2 miles later, where you'll see parking places on the right side of the road. Go across the stream on the bridge to begin the ride.

Mueller Park Trail
Multi use trail- open to horses, dogs, bikers, and dirt bikes 
The Mueller Park Trail is  can be a 7 or 13 miles long (out-and-back) trail depending on how far you want to make it.  It is the perfect for intermediate bikers as the trail is usually a nice "wide enough" dirt trail, with very rocky segments.  The route climbs continuously making it not so beginner friendly, but nothing an intermediate rider cant handle (I powered up with a few well deserved breaks and photo ops). 
Mueller Park Trail
Mueller Park Trail
The route begins at the end of the bridge before the fee booth at the Mueller Park Picnic Grounds in the east Bountiful foothills and ends at a small grassy clearing called Rudy's Flat. As mentioned above, most of the trail is a smooth, hard packed dirt climbing at what can be called a moderate grade.  But before you go expecting a nice groomed trail, do note there are a few steep and a few rocky sections throughout the trail.

Most of the trail heads through hardwoods and conifers, densely wooded by Utah standards. There are also a few points in the trail where it opens up and you get that beautiful view of the mountain valleys below and the Great Salt Lake in the distance. 

Mueller Park is (usually) a great spring ride due do its trails at a lower elevation (around 5,200') compared to many of the trails in the Wasatch Range.  While 90% of the trail was clear for us, there were a few muddy sections we got off and walked our bike around, before calling it quits at the muddy sections near the end of the trail.  

Mueller Park Trail
Cross the bridge to start the trail
Start of the trail

Tee Pees along the trail 
My bike on the nice flatt(ish) dirt section of the trail

Overlook with views of the lake and valley 

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