Trail: Mule Canyon, South Fork – Cedar Mesa, UT
Nearest town: Blanding, UT
Distance from Denver: 450 mi / 7:10
Management: Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – Monticello Field Office
Distance: 2.5 mi RT to House of Fire ruin + option to hike the full 8.0 mi RT for additional ruins and canyon views
Elevation at TH: 5,944 ft
Direction notes: See my Trail Map for the location. From Hwy 95, turn North on County Road 263. The graded dirt road immediately reaches an open area where we parked; a few cars can fit on the road just above the trailhead, which is a quick dip down the road.
Fees: The BLM charges usage fees ($2/person as of this post). See the BLM’s website below for details.
Trailhead: Signage and basic map; self-serve fee station
Dogs: On leash
Date hiked: May 15, 2013
Bureau of Land Management – Monticello Field Office
Non-Technical Canyon Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau (book)
Trail notes and photos:
I hiked this trail with a friend who was physically limited on difficulty and distance (and her dog). It was perfectly easy, gently rolling along the bottom of the canyon, often with an option to hike on the trail or in the dry wash. We hiked in about 1.25 mi to the House of Fire ruin and back. The trail continues along the canyon with many more ruins for a total of 8.0 mi RT.
As usual in these parts, the drive from where we were staying in Monticello was beautiful. The trail is easy to access, just off the main road. Just past the big ponderosa pine (rare at this lower elevation), the trail passed through what I called a sage forest, full of bushy 5 foot tall sage bushes.
This would be a fun canyon to explore with kids, with plenty of room to play on the slickrock.
Apparently the best time for the “fire” effect on the rock is late morning. We were there around 4:45pm, it was cloudy, and I could see and enjoy the effect but from the photos on the interwebs, it can be pretty amazing.
The ruins themselves are a quick climb to about 20 feet above the trail. We came down pretty much right below the ruins, which we agreed was an easier path than the first one we reached and used to climb up. Scope it out to find the best route before climbing up. Please respect the ruins by looking but not touching or climbing on the walls.