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Monday, July 21, 2014


Arizona Trail Happy Jack Passage #29
Forest near Bargaman Park

On the Mogollon Rim near Happy Jack, a loose-knit web of dirt roads connects stock tanks, ephemeral lakes, and a smattering of private ranches. Here, the Arizona Trail has incorporated some of these tracks into its state-traversing journey.   Book-ended by recreational sites around Mormon Lake and C.C. Cragin Reservoir (a.k.a. Blue Ridge), ample trail signs keep hikers on track where footpaths and vehicle ways collide and diverge in this deeply-wooded, 30-mile respite from the commotion of campgrounds and RV parks.  Easy to follow and mostly flat, Passage #29 of the Arizona Trail can be accessed via two major trailheads  (Gooseberry Spring and AZ87), but for those looking for an alternative way to day hike among the moss-humid springs and murky watering holes that populate the passage's mid-section, the lesser-known Pine Spring trailhead is the best port of entry.
A bevy of stock tanks situated around the circular depression of meadows known as Bargaman Park are located within a few miles of the trailhead.  Ringed with water-loving plants like the delicate water buttercup, the tanks are wildlife magnets. Rough-hewn hunter blinds built along their banks provide cover for camera-stalking hikers on the lookout for elk, deer, coyotes and the occasional black bear. For a quick 4.6-mile, out-and-back hike, head southeast to Wild Horse Tank, or go northwest to visit Shuffs and Maxie Tanks for a 13.8-mile exploration. Maps available on   show the route with all its points of interest.
Wild Horse Tank

LENGTH: 30.7 miles one-way
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 6702' - 7616'

Pine Spring Trailhead (as described here):
From Payson, go north on AZ87 to Lake Mary Road (FR3) just north of Clints Well.  Turn left and go 14.4 miles north on FR3 to milepost 305 and turn right onto FR294.  Continue 4.8 miles on FR294 miles to FR 135 (just before a cattle guard) turn right and go 100 feet to the trailhead on the right.

AZ87 Trailhead:
From the AZ87/260 junction north of Pine-Strawberry, travel 19.5 miles north on AZ87 to FR138 (signed Moqui Campground), turn right and go 100 yards to the trailhead on the left.

Shuffs Tank

Meadow near Pine Spring
Gooseberry Spring Trailhead:
From Payson, go north on AZ87 to Lake Mary Road (FR3) just north of Clints Well.  Continue 21.1 miles on FR 3 to milepost 312.2 turn right (east) onto a gated dirt road for Gooseberry Spring (FR 935) and drive 100 yards to the signed parking area on the right. 

INFO: Arizona Trail Association

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