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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Wander down Dirtyneck Road

Near Clints Well
Ferns galore

While attempting a less-than-successful exploratory hike on the Mogollon Rim this past week, we stumbled upon this easy dirt road hike on the western lip of Dirtyneck Canyon (see separate blog entry for the canyon hike).  Because it's situated in an area that gets lots of moisture runoff and lingering snow, the route is smothered in healthy oaks and oceans of whispering ferns.  A stock tank roughly halfway in is the pub of choice for local forest beasts that leave their impressions along its muddy fringes.  Look for signatures of elk, raccoon, possum, skunk, rabbit, squirrel, deer, and the meandering scribbles of traveling caterpillars on the "critter dance floor". Beyond the tank, the road dips downhill to emerge in the impossibly green meadows of Fortynine Canyon---it’s an unsigned junction where FR6089 goes right.  This is easy to miss---look for a 4x4 road going up a steep embankment on the left, the route heads right (northeast) directly across and continues for just under a mile to AZ87.  However, if you want an extra treat, head left into Fortynine Canyon.  Here, the road follows a moist drainage leading to a spring and a group of old cabins resembling a tiny pioneer hamlet.  If you go this way, the road bends north near the cabins and ends at AZ87.
Stock tank 

LENGTH: 6 miles roundtrip
RATING:  easy
ELEVATION:  7385' - 6923'
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 90 miles 1-way (from Shea Blvd. & AZ87)
From Phoenix, go north on AZ87 (Beeline Hwy) to Payson.  Continue north on AZ87 past Pine-Strawberry to the junction with AZ260.  Set your odometer.  From here,  north on AZ87 to FR 613 on the right--this is roughly 2.5 miles north of FR300 Rim Road and between mileposts 282 and 283.  Turn right and follow FR 613   0.8 mile (veer left at the Fortyfour Canyon sign)  to where there are signs for "Dirtyneck Canyon" and FR6089 on the left. Park in the pullout and hike north on FR 6089.

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