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Monday, August 17, 2009

S-CANYON


S-CANYON Blue Range Primitive Area Loosing touch with your inner wild? A hiking expedition to the Blue Range Primitive Area just might help you reconnect. Spanning 173,762 acres of some of Arizona’s most remote, untouched lands, “the Blue” is an isolated pocket of solitude and raw beauty where the state’s only packs of Mexican gray wolves roam wild and free. The Blue Range Primitive Area is the last of its kind. Set aside in the 1930s by the Forest Service along with 75 other areas in the United States to “maintain primitive areas of transportation, habitation and subsistence” the Blue (as it is referred to by the locals) is the only area that has not been absorbed into the current Wilderness Preservation System. Although managed by the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest as a wilderness area, the Blue retains its strikingly primitive character. Situated at the eastern most edge of the Mogollon Rim near the New Mexico border, the S-Canyon trail provides a tour of the outlandish diversity and breath-taking beauty of this remote and seldom-visited area. The hike begins at the bottom of Blue River Canyon following the water briefly before heading uphill. The environment gradually transitions from riverside greenery to sun-washed ledges surrounded by low-growing junipers before ending at the Cow Flat Trail junction in a forest of aspens and firs. UPDATE: the June 2011 Wallow Fire did NOT reach this trail, or the Lanphier Trail, however, access may be restricted.  Check with the forest service before heading out. HIGHLIGHTS: amazing route through the nation’s last remaining primitive area LENGTH: 11 miles roundtrip RATING: moderate ELEVATION: 5,680 – 7,600 feet DRIVING DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 270 miles GETTING THERE: From Alpine, go east on Highway 180 to Blue River Road (also shown as Country Road 2104 and Forest Road 281 on some maps). Follow Blue River Road for 23 miles to the signed Blue Camp trailhead on the left side of the road. INFORMATION: 928-339-4384, fs.fed.us/r3/asnf/recreation/alpine_trails/index.shtml

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