Arizona Trail, Day 41 – Passage 27 (Highline), Part 3

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

The Arizona Trail continues west toward Pine, curving around parts of the Mogollon Rim that reach out, and segments that sit farther back, rolling across the eroded foothills beneath the parapets that’s tower overhead. The diverse plants continue to amaze. How often do you find blue spruce growing next to agave cactus! Remarkable how many microclimates there are in this area 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. As I observed in the last section, 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, and the views off the foothills toward the next major challenge – the Mazatzal Mountains – combine for an incredible experience. As usual, as the sun sets I spot a relatively flat camping spot with a good view of sunset and sunrise alike, since the light on the Rim in the golden hours is nothing short of spectacular.

Mogollon Rim
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Douglas fir
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
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Mogollon Rim
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Diverse flora below the Mogollon Rim
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Diverse flora below the Mogollon Rim
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
AZT SOBO
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
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Moon above the AZT SOBO
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Rim
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
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Mogollon Rim
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mazatzal Mountains from the Highline Trail
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mogollon Mountains
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Sunset along the Mogollon Rim, Southeast view from the Highline
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
South view from the Highline at sunset, including the Mazatzal Mountains (right)
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
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Mogollon Rim at sunset
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Moon over the Mogollon
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Mazatzal Mountains at sunset from the Highline
Arizona Trail, Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
Sunset
Arizona Trail Passage 27 (Highline)
Tonto National Forest
343 miles down, 482 to go.
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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