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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Left turn to Little Spring

Little Spring

Some of the best hiking places are stumbled-upon gems like Little Spring. Although this trail is too short to justify a drive from the Valley, it makes for a sweet add-on trek when combined with Bismarck Lake Trail, or, as we did this past weekend, a detour from the Arizona Trail.  Either way, the hike revolves around Bismarck Lake---which, on June 22, 2013, was bone dry.  In the eleventy-nine times I’ve hiked here, there’s always been at least some damp mud---not so this week.  Anyway, to find the Little Spring trail from the lake, just continue hiking on the slim, established footpath as it bends around the lake’s north berm, heads into a meadow (go left at all forks) and then makes a steep dive along an overgrown path-of-use.  Be prepared for a lot of log hopping, some route-finding and a short section of steep stuff before emerging into the lush green environ fostered by a tiny puddle aptly named, Little Spring.

Approaching the spring

LENGTH:  4 miles roundtrip from Bismarck trailhead
OR 2.8 miles roundtrip from No-Name trailhead
RATING:  moderate
ELEVATION:   8300’- 8800’
From Flagstaff, go 10 miles north on US180 to Hart Prairie Road (FR 151) near milepost 225.  Turn right and continue 5.6 miles to Bismarck Lake Road (Forest Road 627), turn right and go 0.6 mile to the trailhead. HIKE DIRECTIONS:
Follow the Bismarck Trail one mile to the signed turnoff for the lake.  Veer left and hike to another Bismarck Lake sign near a group of boulders.  From here, continue hiking north (straight ahead) on the footpath, which will swerve around the lake’s north berm.  Within a few hundred feet, the path will fork---go left.  At a second fork, go left again.  Now, follow the rudimentary trail downhill to the spring.
From Flagstaff, travel 19 miles north on US 180 to the upper loop of FR 151 (Hart Prairie Road) near milepost 235.  Turn right and drive 1.6 miles to FR418, veer right to stay on FR151, set your odometer and continue 2.4 miles to an unmarked road on the right.  You can drive it up to 0.2 mile, but it’s narrow and nasty.  HIKE DIRECTIONS: Find a place to park, pass the “road closed” gate and hike 0.4 mile to where there’s a split rail fence on the right.  Here, leave the road and hike into the meadow aiming for a pair of fallen logs lying parallel on the ground.  There’s a rough 2-track leading first to the historic marker and then the spring.  To pick up the trail to Bismarck Lake, climb above the washout directly behind the spring and hike 1 mile uphill to the lake. 


INFO: Flagstaff Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, 928-526-0866

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