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Monday, May 8, 2017

MILK RANCH POINT

MILK RANCH POINT

Pine-Strawberry 
Highline Trail
Back in the 1880s, Rial Allen ran cattle along the East Verde River and operated a dairy on Milk Ranch Point. The Mormon settler, who was also a founder of the town of Pine, produced cheese, butter and milk for the locals and crews working on the Atlantic & Pacific railroad.
The Allen family left the area in 1891 and today, there’s nary a trace of the dairy that helped sustain waves of hardy pioneers who came to establish communities in the Tonto Basin.
Milk Ranch Point promontory, which hovers above the hamlets of Pine-Strawberry, is part of the Mogollon Rim, a 200-mile uplifted shelf that marks the division of the Colorado Plateau and Arizona’s Basin and Range zone. The imposing geological feature is a scaffold of pine and fossiliferous sediments squeezed into fractured vertical cliffs that rise to over 7000 feet.
There are two popular ways to get to the wind-ravaged peninsula---the hard way and the harder way.  With a vehicle robust enough to survive nasty forest roads, you can drive right up. Or, you can choose the harder option and make the 8-mile roundtrip hike that climbs nearly 2,000 feet.
Deers Ears bloom May - August
The hike begins at the Pine Trailhead on the Highline Trail #31 which is also part of the Arizona Trail. This easy, 1.5-mile segment passes through washes, juniper woodlands and damp forests of maple and oak as it makes a gradual ascent on a well-maintained trail. At the Donahue Trail #27 junction, the hike changes into a more aggressive climb on steep, yucca-fringed switchbacks. Over the remainder of the journey, a few scattered junipers and pines offer welcome shade on the trail’s exposed slopes. The route is tougher than it looks, so bring more water than you think you’ll need plus sun protection and energy snacks. The sweaty trek pays off with ever-improving views of  landscapes romanticized in the novels of Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour.  On top, volcanic boulders tossed among tall pines and manzanita shrubs provide ample rest spots to take in views of a cabin-dotted valley below and layers of mountain profiles melting into the horizon.
Top of Milk Ranch Point
LENGTH: 8 miles roundtrip
RATING: difficult
ELEVATION:  5400’- 7332’
GETTING THERE:
Pine Trailhead (south)
From the intersection of State Routes 260/87 in Payson, go 15 miles north on SR 87 to the Pine trailhead on the right. The trail begins at the Arizona Trail gate and map kiosk.
Rim access (north)
From the Pine trailhead, continue north on SR 87 to Rim Road (Forest Road 300). Turn right and continue 1.3 miles to Forest Road 218, turn right and go 3.8 miles to the trailhead at the junction of FR218 and FR 9385R. A high-clearance or 4x4 vehicle is necessary and the and may be closed when wet or snowy.
INFO:

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