Friday, September 19, 2008
MILITARY SINKHOLE TRAIL #179 Tonto National Forest Mostly shaded by junipers, maples, oaks and pines, the lower portion of the Military Sinkhole Trail winds through a dense woodland. At about the half-mile point, there’s a creek that’s dry in the summer months but runs wet and wild after heavy rains and during spring snow melt season. Many fallen trees bear witness to the power of running water in the area. Once past the creek, the uphill haul is gradual but constant. Just below the point where the trail meets the Mogollon Rim, fields of soft green ferns and wildflowers blanket the forest floor in the shadow of majestic stone cliffs. The trail officially ends at FR 300 on the rim, however, take time to hike up to the road and explore the moss-encrusted ramparts and peaceful meadows. Views from the top are unbelievable. Length: 5 miles round trip Rating: Moderate Elevation gain: 850 feet Getting there: From Phoenix, take Loop 202 to Highway 87. Go north on Highway 87 and continue for approximately 90 miles to the town of Payson. Once in Payson, head east (right) onto Highway 260 and continue for 27 miles to the signed “Two Sixty” trailhead turn off on the left. Follow the good gravel road for a quarter-mile to the trailhead parking area where there is a restroom and a corral. NOTE: you may opt to access this trail from the Rim Road FR 300. Exit Highway 260 at the FR300 sign and drive 1.9 miles up to the scenic vista parking lot. From there, the trail is downhill all the way, but you’ll need to car shuttle to avoid hiking back up the steep trail.