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South Fork Mule Canyon
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mini location map2015-04-30
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South Fork Mule CanyonSoutheast, UT
Southeast, UT
Hiking avatar Apr 30 2015
big_load
Hiking12.00 Miles 20 AEG
Hiking12.00 Miles   9 Hrs   30 Mns   1.26 mph
20 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
After a series of long days, I was ready for a little easy camp time. Unfortunately, much of the big grassy area near the South Fork of Mule Canyon was occupied by a huge group in a bunch of giant tepees. I moved along to another site up on the canyon rim, but it was basically a parking lot. OK, the big group in the grassy area might not be so bad. It appeared to be an all-female church event, so I figured they wouldn't be noisy late into the night. (As it happened, nothing short of heavy ordnance could have interrupted my coma.)

As sunset, neared, the canyon filled with cars and trucks and hardy-looking people loaded with photo gear. For the first time on this trip, crowds seemed like a real possibility. However, I had one big advantage over all of them: I wasn't interested in getting perfect light at House on Fire. That would happen too late to get very far up-canyon, and I planned to go until my gumption ran out, and then another mile or two, before turning around.

I signed the TH register an hour after first light, and stumbled across House on Fire about 20 minutes later. The fire was not yet lit, but it was still pretty cool. Even so, it wasn't nearly as cool as everything else in that canyon. I got up on a ledge as soon as possible and followed ledges at different levels as far they could take me, which was usually pretty far.

My low battery continued focus problems impaired the pictures, but the memories will be enough until I get back for another chance. Here's a short list of my favorites:

  • An apparently pristine set of multilevel ruins, deeply set, and perhaps unreachable (at least by me)
  • A beautiful half-collapsed kiva. It looks easy to reach, but turns hard at the end. The crux involved a tree.
  • A huge alcove with Basketmaker and Archaic rock art, some evidence of long-gone mud walls, but no ruins and no pottery remains at all (it did have some tool-making debris). Signs of digging suggest it was looted.
  • A small complex on a high ledge with no access for a very long way up or down the canyon. After being up there for a while, it took half an hour to figure out the way back down even though I was right there. Ponderosas take over from the junipers this far up the canyon.
  • Another shot at House on Fire on the way back late in the afternoon.
  • Some surprise petroglyphs that I haven't seen mentioned.


Despite all the many visitors that day, my early start and late finish kept human contact to a minimum. I met one person as I was leaving House on Fire in the morning, and then one couple between the kiva and the Basketmaker cave.

I thought about staying another night to visit the North Fork, but opted for a shower and some town food instead, with one more hike to go.

(Photos now in. My camera was still having woes).
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
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