Mueller Park Trail
The Mueller Park Trail epitomizes the metro-to-mountains transition for which the Wasatch Front is famed. Within minutes, the nearby suburban jungle is transformed into a tranquil backcountry ecosystem. You won't find staggering views of mountain peaks along this route because, for the most part, the trail is embraced by serene forests. From these woods drift spirited sounds of nature and a rich, earthy bouquet that envelop your senses. From selected locations, though, there are good views of the Great Salt Lake and the metropolitan valley far below. And to top it off, the constantly turning single-track trail is one of finest in the Wasatch.
The Mueller Park Trail is 13 miles long (out-and-back) and is perfect for intermediate bikers. The route begins at the Mueller Park Picnic Grounds in the east Bountiful foothills and ends at a small grassy clearing called Rudy's Flat. Most of the trail is smooth, hard packed dirt and rises at a moderate grade, but there are a few steep, rocky sections thrown in for good measure. You'll have plenty of opportunity to perfect your short-radius turning skills because straightaways are few.
Most of the route is enveloped by a mixture of hardwoods and conifers. Whenever the trail winds into the numerous hollows that crease the hillsides, tall pine and fir trees shade the trail. But when the path bends out around the hill's flank, the woods open to scrubby Gamble oak and bigtooth maple. That's when you can view mountain valleys below and the Great Salt Lake in the distance. Since Mueller Park is lower in elevation than many other trails in the Wasatch Range, snow melts from the trail by spring, which lures bikers who have patiently endured winter and eagerly await the opportunity to hop atop their fat-tire steed.
Mueller Park Trail is a locals' favorite and can be busy on weekends and holidays. Its multi-use designation means it's open to hikers, mountain bikers, and motorcycles, so be alert and courteous to other trail users. But whether you find solitude or have to share the trail, Mueller Park Trail is a joy to ride.
Spread a checkered cloth across a picnic table and feast alongside rumbling Mill Creek at Mueller Park, or cuddle up against a shaded fir tree at the trail's summit at Rudy's Flat and doze away the afternoon.
The path rises moderately overall, although there are several steeper, rocky stretches thrown in for good measure, and is suited for intermediate bikers. Novice bikers can target Big Rock as a mid-route turnaround because the lower half of the trail is a bit easier. Those who reach Rudy's Flat can cuddle up against a shaded fir tree and doze away the afternoon before returning to the trailhead.
By Gregg Bromka, author of The Mountain Biker's Guide to Utah.
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