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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Descend a rocky road to East Clear Creek

Coconino National Forest

Since it was abandoned in the 1940s, the old road leading to Mack’s Crossing has disintegrated into a precipitous ledge overlooking the gaping gorge carved by
East Clear Creek.
Even though the rough conditions don’t deter brave souls in fishing-gear-laden ATVs from careening down the serpentine route-- hiking at a leisurely pace is the best way to savor the  epic beauty of this dramatic canyon.
The downhill trek to the creek begins on the sunny edge of the Mogollon Rim, passing fossiliferous limestone outcroppings and a stand of elegant Arizona walnut trees before rounding a bend where grand views of the waterway 600 feet below grab the spotlight.
East Clear Creek
Near the creek, thickets of wild roses, alders, and exotic wildflowers color the landscape and provide handy excuses to stop and take in the sights.  Although the official trail ends where the road meets the sandy shore of the shallow stream, opportunities for wading, swimming and fishing abound both up and downstream.

Antelope Horns
Antelope Horns
Asclepias asperula
Habitat:  woodland clearings and open areas
Elevation: 3,000 – 9,000 feet
Blooms: April-August

LENGTH:  4 miles (on trail)
ELEVATION: 6,250 – 6,860 feet
RATING: moderate

DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX:  165 mils one-way
From the junction of AZ 89 and AZ 260 in Payson, go north on 89 past Clint’s Well to milepost 304.5 and turn right onto Enchanted Lane (Forest Road 319).  Continue .2 miles to Green Ridge Dr., hang a right and go .5 miles to Juniper Dr. From here, turn right and go a short distance to Cedar Dr. and follow it to the “primitive road 137” sign.  Park along the road—do not block private driveways.

INFORMATION: refer to the Coconino National Forest map

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