Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Elephant Rock


I have hiked up Mueller Park several times but due to one thing or another I have never made it to Elephant Rock. Well, today was going to be the day that we change that!

Mueller Park is located in Bountiful. From I15, take exit 315 (Bountiful 2600 S) east towards the mountain. 2600 s eventually becomes Orchard Dr. Take this to 1800 S and turn right. Follow that all the way up to the sign. Mueller Park is a fee park, but this hike is before the ranger/fee station (cross the bridge on the right just before the station).

Since I have been so many times I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures for the first section. From what I read it is 3.2 miles to Elephant Rock, and about 1000 feet of elevation gain. I think you do most of the elevation gain in the first quarter mile, and then it evens out and is a very gradual slope after that.


For a minute here I was worried we might get rained on.


There is elephant rock on the right.


Small section full of ferns.


A little closer to the rock.


And the pipeline scar.Still ugly, and frankly, starting to look like a fire hazard.

Well this officially marks about the highest we have been and as I later learned this is almost exactly halfway to the rock.


The forest as we curve back into another side canyon. The rock looks a lot closer than it is because the trail hooks back in and out of several side canyons.


More forest.


Very slow trickle of a creek.


With a random bug filled hole.


Looking less like we’re going to get rained on.


Looking back at the scar. Definitely the highest we have been.


Some wildflowers.


We startled off a BUNCH of grasshoppers here. I managed to catch this little straggler.



Another large caterpillar nest. These are just weird.


Getting closer! It’s just right there, shouldn’t be much further.


Except we’re going back into a side canyon. Crap!


Trail on the other side. Ho boy, we still have a ways to go.


Blue berries of some sort.


Interesting red berry.


The hills above.


Pretty white flowers.



Side stream. I believe this is called Right Fork Mill Creek. The good thing about popular trails, people build bridges. The bad news, lots of people.



Strange flower.. has purple blossoms weird cottony fluff. Never seen one like this before.


Yellow flower.


Small field of these guys. Every time I see one I tend to look for another crazy spider like I saw at Stewart Cascades.


Close up. Weird looking flower.


Another side stream.



Another foot bridge. This one is over a spring that bubbles up next to the trail here. This is a sign you are almost there.


Cool trees.


The trail is really easy here on out.


Another nice flower.

A little further up there is an obvious trail split. Luckily I read a review that said stay to the left. To the right, the trail continues another 10 miles to a valley and other things.


And just a few steps down we are rewarded with this amazing view. There were a few other hikers taking the view in here.


And that would be Elephant Rock. I didn’t realize the trail would take us up above it.


The little trail down to the rock was really steep. I made it about 1/3rd of the way down (where I took this) before decided it wasn’t worth fighting to climb back up just to go stand on a rock.


Another view of it.

After scrambling back up to the main trail, we decided to rest and catch our breaths. Eventually, the other hikers decided to return down the trail so we had the place to ourselves for a minute.



A couple of benches built by local boy scout troops. As angry and disappointed I am with their attitude towards LGBT people, and until that changes I will never support them, I do appreciate some of the things they do for us nature lovers though.



View from the benches. Overcast day, great for hiking, terrible for landscape shots.


The entire trail down to the rock.

elepant rock stitch

Quick panoramic.


Landis and Elephant Rock.

We decided it was time to start heading back. Just in time, because as we were returning to the main trail we passed another set of hikers heading towards the rock.


This weird bark shedding still kind of freaks me out.


Another boardwalk.


And here is the one by the spring.


Well, it didn’t turn out like I had hoped, but the spring is bubbling up right here.


Nice view down the canyon.


Here you can see the bike trails, any chance they get they make little side ramps to fly up. This trail is very popular with bikers. I would say about half follow the rule of yielding to hikers. Of course, knowing that they are traveling faster than me, I tend to just step to the side if I hear them anyway.


Better shot of a grasshopper.


Back to the scar. According to my pedometer app, this is 1.7 miles from the benches, so yea, pretty much halfway.


View back up the canyon. Perhaps one day I will backpack up the 13 mile trail to see what is up there.


Another shot of the forest and trail.


A couple of the tree’s seem to have started autumn early.


Black acorns. Neither of us have seen acorns this color.


Random structures up a small side trail.


Nearing the end of the trail, getting steeper.


For the most part the trail is fairly even hard packed earth. There are a couple of sections that are rocky, but not a lot.


Mill creek is just a trickle this late in the year. Reaching the creek signifies we have neared the trail head.


My pedometer app shows a little more than 3.2 miles, but I backtracked a little bit a few times, and did quick side trail so I think 3.2 miles to Elephant Rock is fairly accurate. Also, the app shows the scar approximately half way.

Copy of DSC_0392

Driving out of the park and out of the neighborhood Landis spotted this dear munching on this home owners trees. So, we technically saw wildlife today. Hah!

I am really glad we finally made it to Elephant Rock, however, I am disappointed we couldn’t get to it. The view at the end was great, but if I hike 3.2 miles I kind of expect something more. The trail was pretty crowded, with tons of mountain bikers, most of which not yielding to hikers. There were also a pair of motorcycles that should not have been on the trail. It is a very pretty trail, and after the initial switchbacks it is a fairly easy jaunt in the woods. Finally getting to the rock bumps it up, however factoring everything in I really must go down to 7 squirrels.

squirrels 7

As for difficulty, I think this falls under my DR3. It was steep in the beginning, but then fairly flat. The trail is well packed, and mostly even earth with just a few rocky parts. There are a couple steep slopes, but nothing that made me too nervous. However, watch out for bikers!