Mares Bluff is on the south end of the little town of Clifton, in far eastern Arizona. From the bluff, one can view Clifton some 300 feet below (straight down, really), and admire the numerous peaks and canyons of the surrounding area. The trail to Mares Bluff was created as a memorial to veterans of the area, and features a few plaques dedicated to them along the route.
From the little trailhead on Ward Canyon Road (the southern edge of Clifton), the trail to Mares Bluff climbs steep switchbacks up the canyon side, wasting no time in gaining elevation. Hiking poles are helpful on this section on the hike down, due to the loose rock. Ocotillo, prickly pear, and creosote bushes cover the mountainside, which affords a nice view up Ward Canyon of the brilliant red granite rock that forms Red Canyon and the mountains above.
The trail gains some 300 vertical feet in less than a quarter of a mile, and deposits you atop a relatively flat ridge. The trail heads across it for a short distance, then descends a bit to a small point on the edge of a conglomerate cliff. This is Mares Bluff, and it is decorated with flag poles, between which are strung a large number of dog tags donated by local veterans. Enjoy the view, and stay away from the cliff edge, or you'll fall into someone's backyard.
To hike From Safford, head east on Highway 70/191. 10 miles from Safford, the highway splits, turn left onto Highway 191 and follow it for another 23.75 miles to a (4-way) highway junction known as "3-Way" (old drive-in movie theater and store). Turn left to remain on Highway 191. From the 3-Way junction, head north on highway 191 for approximately 8.3 miles to milepost 162.8, in the town of Clifton (next to the Copper Era newspaper building). At this point, turn left onto Ward Canyon Road, and follow it for 0.5 miles to the small and informally signed trailhead parking area on the left. Please be respectful of the memorial and the private land which this trail crosses.
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