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Sunday, July 3, 2016

BLUE RIDGE PASSAGE #28 of the ARIZONA TRAIL

BLUE RIDGE PASSAGE #28 of the ARIZONA TRAIL
Mogollon Rim
Blue Ridge views on the Mogollon Rim
Passage #28 of the Arizona Trail traverses some of the state's most scenic territory. Packed with history and ever-changing exposure to creek and canyon riddled terrain, the 16.1-mile trek is a summertime favorite especially among hikers who also like to camp. The route passes near several popular Mogollon Rim campgrounds including Moqui, Blue Ridge and Rock Crossing and there are plenty of dispersed camp sites along the trail for backpackers who prefer to rough it. Traveling from south to north, the segment begins in the enchanting cloister of General Springs Canyon. There's an historic forest service cabin at the trailhead and the ruins of the Fred Haught homestead off a side trail roughly 3 miles in. Canyon-bound meadows flushed green by perennial pools and monsoon rain burst with butterfly-magnet wildflowers. Keen-eyed hikers might spot our state amphibian, the Arizona Tree Frog. Moist cienegas are prime habitat for the tiny, green hoppers that sport a characteristic black eye stripe.
East Clear Creek
Moving north, the trail climbs through pine-oak woodlands onto Battleground Ridge, the site of Battle of Big Dry Wash-- a July 1882 confrontation between the United States Army Cavalry and the White Mountain Apache tribe. Two monuments near the route stand testimony to the area's contentious history. After topping out on craggy limestone cliffs above East Clear Creek, views peeking through the tree cover reveal glimpses of the river-like waterway of C.C. Cragin Reservoir and clearly show why the passage is called blue ridge. Next up--a 600-foot descent into the creek gorge. Finding water here is hit-or-miss. Either way, the crossing is usually easy but the ascending trail on the opposite bank takes back its 600 feet. Once beyond the creek, the trail cuts through high pastures surrounding busy recreation sites on its way to its northern terminus at State Route 87.
Fred Haught Canyon
LENGTH: 16.1 miles one way
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 6,740' - 7,395'
Fred Haught Cabin
GETTING THERE:
South: General Springs Trailhead:
From the intersection of State Routes 87/260 in Payson, continue 28 miles north on SR87 to Forest Road 300 (Rim Road) near milepost 280. Turn right and go 12.2 miles to Forest Road 705 where there’s a Battle of Big Wash Monument on the northeast side of the intersection. Go left (north) onto FR705 and continue 0.5-mile to the General Springs/AZ Trail trailhead. Roads are maintained dirt and passable by sedan, although high-clearance is a better idea. Trail begins north of the cabin sharing the first miles with the Fred Haught Trail.
North: Blue Ridge (Hay Meadow) Trailhead:
From the State Route 87/260 junction north of Pine-Strawberry, continue 19.5 miles north on SR87 to Forest Road 138 (signed for Moqui Campground),turn right and go about 100 yards to the trailhead on the left. Roads are paved up to FR 138.
In Between: Jumbo Trailhead:
From State Route 87 north of Clints Well, turn right onto Forest Road 751 (just past milepost 295) and continue 2.1 miles to the trailhead on the left.
INFO: Arizona Trail Association
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