Watch out for poison oak which is common in this part of the state. Some parts of the ride are infrequently traveled: carry gear to be self-sufficient, and don't be too surprised to see a mountain lion or black bear. Expect this ride to take at least 3 hours; bring plenty of water.
From the Swayne Viewpoint parking area near the west end of the dam, head east across the dam on road #1075 for a mile and a half before bearing left on the one-lane dirt road #490 heading up French Gulch. This road climbs for a little over 2 miles, gaining nearly 1200 feet up to the French Gulch Divide, where the Little Greyback Trail heads up to the left.
Follow this trail as it ascends up across the south slope of Little Greyback Mountain. It's mostly smooth and scenic, although there are one or two places where the trail surface is composed of loose rock, and at times the oak and mountain mahogany may begin to encroach upon the trail. The trail doesn't go over the top of Little Greyback, but gains the ridge to the east of the summit, where the high point of the ride is passed at 4470 feet, a gain of 2400 feet from the dam.
Crossing to the north side of the ridge, the singletrack merges with an old forest road which is followed downhill to the east to a place called Hanley Gap. Go left (north) on forest road #2010 for less than a quarter of a mile before turning left again on forest road #300 heading back west, then north, towards the Mule Creek divide. After about a mile and a half, a saddle is reached where the Mule Creek Trail
descends to the west, there is parking for Mule Mountain Trail
shuttlers, and this ride continues as singletrack straight ahead to the north along the ridge.
Over the next mile and a half, the trail climbs along the ridge, or traverses on the west side, before reaching another high point on the south shoulder of Baldy Peak at 4300 feet. This is a good place to take a quick breather, as there are expansive views and the trail is pretty much all downhill from here!
Cruising down Mule Mountain Trail
, the tread is very narrow at first as it traverses the very steep SW slope of Baldy before following the ridge-line down and around Mule Mountain. This is four miles of smooth downhill to the upper Applegate Road. Along the way, the Mule Creek Trail
comes in from the left about 3/4 of a mile before you get to the road.
Once on the pavement, it's 2-3/4 miles of smooth pedaling back up to the dam, gaining 300 feet.