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Monday, September 5, 2011

OVERLAND ROAD HISTORIC TRAIL

OVERLAND ROAD HISTORIC TRAIL
Kaibab National Forest
The Swale at Dead Horse Tank

Playing Carin Leap Frog
A Road Segment
The arrival of the railroad in the late 19th century signaled the demise of this storied wagon road built in the 1850-60s to haul gold and other goods between the Prescott area and Williams.  Nearly devoured by the hip-deep grasses of Garland Prairie, the Forest Service wisely saw this trail's historical significance and recreational value, and decided to  preserve the path using a web of roads, footpaths and cross-country jaunts.  Not for inexperienced hikers, the non-traditional route is tricky to follow, but for those who “get” the plan, it’s actually quite hike-able.  Think line-of-sight-leap-frog and you’ve got the idea. Just locate and follow strategically-placed rock cairns, tree blazes, brass caps and wooden posts emblazed with “mule” icons that, frankly, appear to be two heads shy of an image of Cerberus, the mythical 3-headed hound from hell.  As you’ll see, this will turn out to be an appropriate trail mascot---the devil is in the details. (click on the MORE PHOTOS link below to see images of some trail markers).
HERES THE PLAN: From the Dead Horse Tank trailhead, hike across FR 139 to the “2205” post---here, you’ll find the first brass cap trail marker poking out of the ground.  Follow this road 0.5 mile to where there’s a sunny swale with two wood posts stuck in the middle.  This marks the side trip for Dead Horse Tank---hike cross-country toward a prominent berm to find the pond.  We noticed a hunter blind built on the north side of the tank.  Once done visiting the tank, go back to the road and continue east to the 1-mile point where a large carin and a wood "mule" post marks the turnoff for the start of the cross-country leap frog.  Now, pay attention---spot the first carin, then locate the next before moving on----basically you’re walking from carin-to-carin.  Be diligent---they are there, but some are buried by fallen trees and require more effort to find.  Occasionally, the cairns are accompanied by the posts and caps.  Where the route follows road, look for cairns and tree blazes on the shoulders.  Also, some critical junction wood posts are missing---look for green metal rods instead. We had a reasonably easy time of it for about 3 miles before the carin hunt got very challenging, so be sure to budget your hiking time accordingly---this hunt-and-peck trek will take longer than you think.
Brass Cap & Carin

Pomeroy Tanks near FR 109

LENGTH:  25 miles one-way (11 miles roundtrip as described here)
RATING: easy---but route finding skills are  required
ELEVATION: 5,800’ – 7,100’ (6,650 – 7100, FR 139 to FR109 as described here)
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 180 miles one-way
GETTING THERE:  there are many access points, but here’s the one we used
Dead Horse Tank Trailhead:
Trail Sign Near Dow Spring 
From Phoenix, go north on I-17 to the I-40 junction in Flagstaff.  Go 27 miles west on I-40 to exit 165.  At the bottom of the offramp, go left and continue 2.6 straight through Williams on Railroad Avenue and turn left onto 4th Street. Follow 4th St. (it will change into Perkinsville Road/CR73) 7.5 miles due south  to FR 139 on the left.  Go 0.9 mile on FR139 to a the signed gravel parking loop/trailhead on the left side of the road .  Roads are paved up to FR 139 which is good dirt & gravel. Passenger cars okay.
INFO & MAP: Kaibab National Forest, Williams Ranger District
MORE PHOTOS: