Wednesday, November 12, 2008
DREW TRAIL While the downside of wildfires is the destruction of our beloved woodlands, the upside is improved forest health and the opening up of previously obscured views. Although recent wildfires have denuded sections of the Drew Trail, the result has been mostly positive. Before the fires, dense stands of trees (some unhealthy due to bark beetle infestation) had blocked views that now showcase the stunning geology and beauty of the area. The hike starts out at the See Canyon trailhead below the Rim Road and then heads east on the Highline trail through a 2.25-mile-long checkerboard of creek side ferns, manzanita scrub and soaring pines before it encounters the Drew Trail junction. From here, the hiking becomes more difficult as the final stretch of the steep path climbs 820 feet in just over a mile. As the route gains elevation, the fire damage wanes and the forest grows thicker. Finally, at trail’s end on top of the 7,600-foot escarpment, shimmering aspens, billowing oaks and a healthy crowd of unscathed pines shade the path. LENGTH: 7 miles roundtrip RATING: moderate ELEVATION: 6,780 – 7,600 feet PEAK COLOR: mid October GETTING THERE: Lower trailhead: From Payson, go east (right) on Highway 260 for 21 miles to the Christopher Creek Loop exit. Continue on Christopher Creek Loop to Forest Road 284, which is located directly across the road from the Tall Pines Market. Follow FR 284 for 1.6 miles (stay on the main gravel road ignoring the many spur roads) to the signed See Canyon trailhead where there’s a restroom and corral. Rim Road trailhead: located roughly 6 miles from the Highway 260/300 turn off near FR 9350, marked only by a generic trail post. Consult a good forest service map to make sure you’ve found the right path.