Salt Lake City Quickie: Mueller Park Trail
Urban Dictionary defines a "quickie" as a great way to spice things up and revive some spontaneity and excitement that may be lacking in a mundane life (edited). Very few of us have the luxury of being full time adventurers- we have families, jobs, and staggering to-do lists. The quickie category describes adventures that you can squeeze in before or after work, but still offers a lot of bang for your buck. I highlight adventures that have relatively fast city access and offer worthwhile views, and also recommend my favorite local spot for a recovery-meal.
- Access to City: 20 minutes
- Length of time: 1 hr to ride to Elephant Rock
- Favorite local spot for a recovery meal: Apple fritters from Dick's bakery
When I have friends that are just getting into mountain biking, I take them on one of three trails to make them fall in love with the sport. Mueller Park is one of those trails. It's close to the city yet wooded enough to feel like the mountains, it's steep enough for a good workout, and it's technically easy enough for all ability levels to enjoy--- especially on the way down. When I lived downtown, I found myself driving to Bountiful once a week to ride Mueller Park after work. While the trails in the foothills of the city get hot and dusty, Mueller Park tends to stay cooler and shadier, and the trails stay tacky longer. When I was looking for an apartment, Mueller Park was a big reason I chose to move to Bountiful--- the trailhead is literally 5 minutes away from our home.
From the parking lot just before the toll booth (for people driving up the canyon), the trail to ride Mueller park starts just across the bridge. You'll likely notice several hikers. While the trail sees a steady stream of traffic, the hikers thin out after about 15 minutes. The first section of the trail is quite steep, but within a few moments the trail evens out at a nice sustained climbing pitch. You will pedal under a shaded canopy of trees for most of the ride, catching stunning glimpses of the Great Salt Lake in the sections where the trees thin out.
After about a mile, you'll see some large log teepees, where many families of hikers stop to play before heading back down. From this section, the trail becomes more moderate, and continues to climb the mountain in a rolling manner. As you climb, you'll want to stay aware of other mountain bikers descending. The trail is smooth and hard packed, and riding down fast is FUN. You will encounter a few wooden bridges and features along the climb, but nothing technical.
Once you get to elephant rock you have INCREDIBLE views of the valley and the Great Salt Lake. It's a great place for sunset if you don't mind riding down in the dark ;-) It only takes a few minutes to ride down the 3.5 miles back to the car. Because the trail is consistently downhill, and is wide, buffed, and smooth, it's easy to find yourself going FAST. Look out for bikers on the way down, and remember that uphill traffic has the right of way. It is INCREDIBLY tempting to try to ride around people climbing up (the flow on the ride down is THAT good), but remember to be courteous. I always have that stupid post-ride grin plastered to my face for the rest of the night after riding Mueller Park.
I definitely recommend stopping by Dick's for an apple fritter or eclair after the ride (they make little sugar cookie bones for pups that come along for the ride too!).
- Location: At the very top of 1800 s in Bountiful
- Distance/ elevation: 7 miles RT; 1329 feet
- Additional info: Dog friendly, shady
*If you have more time, you will definitely want to continue up the trail towards Rudy's flats. The trail becomes slightly steeper and more technical, and evergreen trees line the trail. The steep rocky ride down--- WORTH IT.