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Sunday, March 3, 2013


Water on the Cypress Trail: March 2, 2013

Snow on North Boulders Loop: March 2, 2013
The seasons of spring and fall share a common, landscape transforming magic.  While autumn is famous for painting the Arizona high country in warm fiery hues, spring brings on a rush of “pop up” snow melt rivers to our deserts.  March and April are the best months to view the transient water works in the Payson area.  There’s still enough snow on the peaks and hiding out in shady canyons to keep ravines and gullies flowing, but it won’t last long. Located close to town in a surprisingly untamed terrain of weathered granite dells and abrupt mini-canyons, the Cypress-Boulders Loop, is an ideal place to experience snowmelt runoff.  The trail is shared-use and open to hikers, equestrians, bikes and ATVs, and thus sees lots of action especially during this prime time.  When we hiked here this week, water was everywhere and we found ourselves hopping rivulets and ogling at water chutes cascading over bare rock every few minutes.  Forests of pines, junipers and of course cypress trees mixed in with open, boulder-studded fields form a patchwork of shade and sun along the route.  Although this hike would be pretty anytime of year, cool temperatures and rare water make it exceptional in spring.
From the trailhead, follow Cypress Trail 2.5 miles to the junction for Boulders Trail.  Take either the north or south leg and hike the 2.7-mile loop back to this junction, then retrace your steps back to the trailhead.

LENGTH:  7.3 miles round trip
RATING:  moderate
ELEVATION:  4485’- 4932’
From Phoenix, travel north on SR87 (Beeline Hwy) to Payson.  At the intersection of SR87 and SR260, go right and follow 260 less than a mile to Granite Dells Road on the right just past the Safeway.  Go 1.9 miles on Granite Dells to a small easy-to-miss sign for Cypress Trail.  There’s no official parking area, just find a spot along the road being mindful of the private driveways in the area.
Go 3.3 miles on Granite Dells Road (which will turn into FR435 after 1.3 miles) and park at the Monument Peak trailhead on the left just before a roadblock.  From here, hike down to the roadblock on FR435 and hike 0.5 mile (crossing 3 concrete bridges) to the Boulder Loop trailhead—look for a sign on the cliff wall on the left.  The trail begins on the dirt road heading downhill to the right. NOTE: From the first P.A.T.S. sign above the gorge, the trail continues directly across the gorge.  (NOTE: when we hiked this trail in April 2017, this access trail had been washed away. To reach eh trail, continue another 0.25 mile down FR435 and follow the ATV track to cross the gorge) You can see the signs high on the opposite embankment. 
Payson Area Trails System (PATS)

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