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Thursday, August 5, 2010

WEST FORK of the BLACK RIVER

WEST FORK of the BLACK RIVER Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest UPDATE: this trail was damaged by the WALLOW FIRE, June 8, 2011. Check with the forest service for updates.  The Black River snakes downhill from its headwaters in the White Mountains near the Arizona-New Mexico state line to its confluence with the Upper Salt River near Fort Apache. During its 90-mile course, the river runs through mostly remote and inaccessible terrain. Yet, West Fork Trail #628, which parallels one of its most scenic tributaries, is easy to find and gives a good sense of the river's life-giving power. The trail is mostly flat and follows a simple path above the rugged volcanic walls of the river canyon. Breathtaking views of massive basalt rock-falls and expansive prairies will have you reaching for your camera every few yards as the trails moves closer to the rim above the river gorge. Known as a great place to spot elk, you’ll need to hit the trail at dawn or dusk for the best chance to see these amazing vegetarians emerge from the cover of sub-alpine forests. In summer, the Wapiti (elk) seldom venture more than a half-mile from water and can usually be seen foraging along the banks of the West Fork of the Black River in the twilight hours. LENGTH: 5 miles round-trip RATING: moderate ELEVATION: 8,870 – 8,500 feet BEST SEASONS: April - November GETTING THERE: From downtown Eagar, go west on Highway 260 for 2.8 miles to the Highway 261 junction. Go left (south) on Hwy 261 and continue for 16.3 miles to Highway 273. Turn left and go roughly 3 miles to Forest Road 249E. Turn right and follow FR249E 2 miles to Forest Road 68. Take FR 68 another mile to the trailhead on the side of the road. ALTERNATE ACCESS: See Thompson Trail blog entry. INFORMATION: Springerville Ranger Station, 928-333-4372, fs.fed.us/r3/asnf

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