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Saturday, July 30, 2011



SEE CANYON, Christopher Creek
One of the most popular hikes below the Mogollon Rim, See Canyon Trail #184 begins as an easy stroll but soon degrades into an insanely fun quagmire of logjams and sheer inclines on its 1,700-foot uphill haul.  Because of the claustrophobically narrow, deeply–wooded route, hikers like to bandy about the adage--“all you see is the canyon” when describing this trail.  However, to regard this as a deficit is to miss the point. Although majestic vistas are notably lacking on this trip, running water, wildlife and a wide variety of vegetation zones within the canyon make for a stunning visual journey.
Part of the adventure involves finding the trail.  Here’s how--from the parking lot, descend down through the wooden fence located to the right of the parking lot trailhead sign.  Bear left and head down toward the creek. Rock hop over the water, head up the bank and then veer right along a faint path to the signed intersection for the Highline and See Canyon Trails.  Turn left at the junction and hike north on #184.  The first mile of the trail crosses Christopher Creek several times before it leaves the streamside environment and enters the aforementioned frey on its way to the lip of the Mogollon Rim.

LENGTH:  7.5 miles round trip
ELEVATION:  6,160’ – 7,860’
RATING:  Moderate - difficult
DOG RATING: excellent 1st mile, challenging after that
KID FRIENDLY: yes--1st mile only
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX:  110 miles one-way
From the intersection of SR87/260 in Payson, go 20 miles east (right) on 260 to the Christopher Creek Loop exit.  Continue on Christopher Creek Loop to FR 284, which is located directly across the road from the Tall Pines Market.  Follow FR 284 for 1.6 miles (ignore the many dirt spur roads; stay on the gravel) to the signed circular parking area.
FACILITIES: restroom
INFO: :  Payson Ranger District, Tonto National Forest
This short jaunt, which branches off trail #184 at the 0.65-mile point, stays close to the water and away from the difficult terrain.
LENGTH: 2.6 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION: 6,160’ – 6,640’
RATING: easy
DOG RATING: 3 paws

Monday, July 25, 2011



Tricking creeks, manic wildflowers and herds of bellowing bovines wandering among errant blue herons distinguish this high country hike from your standard walk in the park. Short in length and easy on the feet, the trail loops through wildlife-friendly pine groves, dewy cienegas and sun washed pastures. Two creeks contribute to the area’s lush plant and animal life---Billy Creek feeds a swath of swaying grasses while Thompson Creek spawns a ridiculously green and moist riparian corridor.
LENGTH: 3.8-mile loop
ELEVATION: 7,140’ – 7,190’
RATING: easy
DOG RATING: excellent
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 180 miles 1-way
From Show Low, go southeast on SR 260 (toward McNary) to Bucksprings Road (located 2 miles before the Hon-Dah Casino).
Turn left at the stoplight and continue 0.6 mile to Sky-Hi Road (FR182), turn left and go 1.1 miles to the trailhead on the left.