Arizona Trail, Day 41 – Passage 27 (Highline), Part 2

In the land of Arizona
Through desert heat or snow
Winds a trail for folks to follow
From Utah to Old Mexico

It’s the Arizona Trail
A pathway through the great Southwest
A diverse track through wood and stone
Your spirit it will test

Oh, sure you’ll sweat and blister
You’ll feel the miles every day
You’ll shiver at the loneliness
Your feet and seat will pay

But you’ll see moonlight on the borderlands
You’ll see stars on the Mogollon
You’ll feel the warmth of winter sun
And be thrilled straight through to bone

The aches and pains will fade away
You’ll feel renewed and whole
You’ll never be the same again
With Arizona in your soul

Along the Arizona Trail
A reverence and peace you’ll know
Through deserts, canyons, and mountains
From Utah to Old Mexico

“The Arizona Trail,” Dale R Shewalter

At Washington Park, the Arizona Trail joins the Highline National Recreation Trail (the namesake of the AZT passage here.) The trail turns west and begins to roll along the eroded foothills of the Mogollon Rim, with diverse plants that vary depending on aspect (the direction the slope points), elevation, sun angle, and proximity to water, as the trail passes a number of springs and streams that flow off the rim. Even seemingly subtle shifts change the species represented. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite passages so far. The diversity of the species encountered, the magnificent views of the Mogollon reminiscent of hiking within Grand Canyon and looking up at the rim, the brilliant red earth contrasting with the blue sky and green plants, and the views off the foothills toward the next major challenge – the Mazatzal Mountains – combine for an incredible experience.

Westbound on the Arizona Trail across the Highline. Mogollon Rim in distance.
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim above the ironwoods and pines.
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim above the ironwoods, brush grass and pines
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim above the ironwoods, brush grass and pines
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim above the ironwoods, brush grass and pines
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Arizona Trail westbound; Mogollon Rim rising above
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim, seen from the Highline above diverse plants
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Arizona Trail through diverse flora communities
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Blue Spruce
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Arizona Trail SOBO
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Array of trees along the Highline – oaks, pines, spruce
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Gamble oak in fall colors
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Gamble oak in fall colors
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim from the Highline
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim through the pines from the Highline
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Pines and oaks along the Highline
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim from the Highline
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Blue Spruce, indicative of cooler, wetter microclimate
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Diverse plant communities along the Highline
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
How many different plants can you name in these images?
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim from the Highline (AZT)
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim from the Highline (AZT)
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim from the Highline (AZT)
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim from the Highline (AZT)
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
South-facing slopes are sparser in vegetation, and those growing here are acclimated to warmer, drier temps
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim peeks above the vegetation
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim from the Highline (AZT)
Again, you can see the vegetation change as the slope tilts toward the prevailing sun
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim from the Highline (AZT)
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest

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Arizona Trail, Passage 25: Whiterock Mesa, Part 2

I got started around 10, heading down Passage 25 toward the East Verde River.
I hike through a gate and enter the Mazatzal Wilderness. Following cairns, the surface alternates between the basalt and more dirt – like walking through a wash. As the trail skirts the rim briefly, a magnificent view of the Mazatzal Mountains and Red Hills opens up to the hiker, then the trail experiences yet another spectacular sunset as it and the backpacker fall off the Mesa to Polk Spring near the East Verde River.

Fossil Springs Wilderness – FR 708

Take a virtual hike through the Fossil Creek Wilderness! Fossil Creek Wilderness is one of the most spectacular areas in Arizona – so much so that permits are required from April 1-October 1. From the Fossil Creek Bridge trailhead, FR 708 begins to climb the wall of Fossil Canyon. A short distance up, the road is gated. Just on the other side is the trailhead for the Waterfall Trail, one of the most popular spots in the wilderness.

Fossil Creek Wilderness – Waterfall Trail

Take a virtual hike through the Fossil Creek Wilderness! Fossil Creek Wilderness is one of the most spectacular areas in Arizona – so much so that permits are required from April 1-October 1. From the Fossil Creek Bridge trailhead, FR 708 begins to climb the wall of Fossil Canyon. A short distance up, the road is gated. Just on the other side is the trailhead for the Waterfall Trail, one of the most popular spots in the wilderness.

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Fossil Springs Wilderness – Fossil Springs Trail

Take a virtual hike through the Fossil Creek Wilderness! Fossil Creek Wilderness is one of the most spectacular areas in Arizona – so much so that permits are required from April 1-October 1. The Wilderness has 11,550 acres with 30 species of trees and shrubs and over 100 species of birds. Fossil Creek itself is one of two Wild & Scenic Rivers in Arizona as well, designated by Congress in 2009 after the Fossil Springs Dam was decommissioned by Arizona in 2005. Fossil Springs, the source of the creek, release 30 million gallons of water per day, incredibly prolific for its location in Arizona.

Arizona Trail, Day 46 – Passage 26 (Hardscrabble Mesa)

I finally get off around 11:30 & run into Matt and a female friend near East Tank. I’m glad for the company and we walk together for a while. The road condition is terrible – lots of loose basalt – and the going is slow. I finally reach the split to Strawberry and encounter them again, and their friend who picked them up flags me down and brings me a beer. Some more trail magic! I think my biggest challenges are becoming the pack weight and the solitude. I head for a short side trip to Fossil Creek.

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Arizona Trail, Day 45 – Passage 25 (Whiterock Mesa)

The trail first rolls through the pines and passes Pine Creek (dry) and Bradshaw Tank on its way to the top of Hardscrabble Mesa, which provides an excellent overlook of Oak Spring Canyon, the highlight of the passage, before dropping to the bottom. Like on the Highline, foliage still lingers in the warmer Canyon. I also spot some cool geology in what appears to be dikes in some of the rocks.

Arizona Trail, Day 43, Part III – Passage 27 (Highline)

The Arizona Trail following the Highline continues its route around Milk Ranch Point, passing some artifacts – perhaps ranching or mining related, as many seem to be in Arizona. Magnificent views to the south are common, with the Mazatzal Mountains an ever-increasing sight to the southeast.

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