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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Water and wildflowers on the Mogollon Rim


Now here’s a little slice of paradise wrapped in fragrant pines and wildflower glory. The water of East Clear Creek nourishes a sweet ribbon of green across the Mogollon Rim and a hike into the beautiful Jones Crossing area of this perrenial stream rewards with exposure to an impossibly lush canyon flanked by contorted limestone cliffs. The trek begins at Jones Crossing bridge where hikers can follow the stream either north or south.  We found the southbound strip more scenic and better shaded.  Right out of the chute, the route---which roughly follows a closed 4x4 road----drops hikers into a field of thigh-high grasses splattered with OxEye Daisies and wild geraniums.  From here, just follow the water to enter a steep-walled canyon with intermittent pools and trickling rivlets smothered in ferns and bobbing yellow Columbine. Water levels fluctuate so be prepared for wet feet as there are a few spots where crossing does require some ankle-deep wading. 

Southbound (as described here): whatever---but it’s 5.2 miles one-way to the Poverty Draw side canyon.
Northbound: whatever, but it’s 1.75 miles to an unsigned forest road
RATING:  easy, with several creek crossings
ELEVATION:  6,850’ – 7,050’
From the intersection of State Routes 260/87 in Payson, go north on SR87 (Beeline Hwy) past Pine-Strawberry to milepost 289 and the sign for Jones Crossing and turn right onto Forest Road 141. Continue 4 miles east on FR141 to the (signed) Jones Crossing bridge and park along the road.  FR 141 is maintained dirt with just a few minor bumpy parts--okay for slowly driven sedans.
Hike begins across of the bridge at the yellow “area closed” and “732” signs.  The area is closed to all motorized vehicles, but hiking is okay.

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