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Muleshoe Ridge
Banff National Park, Alberta
June 24, 2018

Muleshoe Ridge, an outlier west of Mount Cory, takes its unofficial name from Muleshoe Trail. It's a fine trail at the beginning, running up spacious meadows that provide sweeping vistas of Bow Valley, but about three-quarters of the way up, the trail disappears in a tangle of deadfall. Persevere through this mess of rampikes and you'll reach a summit cloaked in trees, but views can be found a short distance away.

Christine, Zora and I parked at the Muleshoe Trail parking lot, crossed Highway 1A, and started up the trail. After passing through a stand of aspens, the trail takes a sharp right followed by a sharp left. After that, it runs up the south ridge, mostly in an unrelenting steep climb.

After the trail hit deadfall and vanished, we had to find our own way up the ridge. When we encountered piles of dead trees, we usually found it better to go right, staying below the crest, sometimes on a brief trail. Other times, we had to stick to the crest and climb over logs.

Since I was last here in 2004, the years haven't been kind to Muleshoe Ridge; there is much more deadfall. At one point I noticed the old trail buried under a pile of logs. At another spot I saw fresh trees, still green, had fallen. Apparently the deterioration of the upper ridge is an ongoing process.

Despite the travail, we reached the top. Evergreens completely block summit views, so we dropped down the west side to an open bench. Here the far-ranging views seemed to make our dead-tree-bashing efforts worthwhile. But that may not be the case in the future if trees continue to topple on Muleshoe Ridge.

KML and GPX Tracks


Muleshoe Ridge from HIghway 1. The ascent starts on the right.


Starting up the trail


Leaf miners, a type of insect, left interesting patterns


To reach the ridge ahead, the trail turns right here


After gaining the ridge, the trail starts climbing


The Bow River meanders below


The grade eases on this pleasant stretch


We began to encounter deadfall


Apparently Muleshoe Trail derives its name from the oxbow below


Clark's nutcracker


Toppled trees were strewn along the ridge


Some sections of the ridge were impossible to cross


The worse areas can usually be avoided by going right


Even so, climbing over logs was unavoidable in some places


More deadfall


The summit is less than 100 m from this outcrop


Mount Cory appears well in the background


In the fall of 2004 Dinah and I dropped down to the col and climbed a short way up Cory


Castle Mountain, Stuart Knob, Television Peak and Helena Ridge lie northwest


Nearby is The Finger


Since the summit is treed, we hiked west a short distance and took a break on an open bench


Posing near the summit of Muleshoe


Back at the parking lot, chirping drew my attention to this pair of pileated woodpeckers. The male waited on an adjacent tree while the female fed her chicks. Both flew away when she was done.


82 O/4 Banff

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