Overview: Why write a description for an easy, half mile hike to nowhere? Because it's beautiful, and if you happen to be camped at Snow Flat in Arizona's Pinaleno Mountains, you might wonder what lies below the flat. A well traveled trail, possibly dating to Snow Flat's days as a Boy Scout camp, leads into the forest below Snow Flat's little lake, and makes for an interesting, albeit brief, exploration.
Hike: From the little concrete spillway on the south side of Snow Flat lake, a distinct trail heads downhill into the coniferous forest, following Snow Flat's creek down a shallow drainage. The path soon beelines through a small meadow, which in summer is filled with the Pinaleno's ubiquitous yellow wildflowers.
As the drainage narrows, leafy skunk cabbage and cow parsnip plants line the trail, which stays close to the trickling creek.
After a quarter mile of lush greenery, the drainage drops off the southern edge of the Pinaleno Mountains, and the little trail comes to an end atop a rocky platform next to the creek. Below, the canyon steepens, and becomes a maze of near vertical rock walls and tangled broadleaf trees. One can see a small wedge of the Sulphur Springs Valley out of the mouth of the canyon. There may be some small waterfalls farther down canyon, but navigating through this rough terrain is not likely worth the effort.
On the return hike, be sure to stay right when the drainage forks, as a little side trail heads up the left drainage as well.
To hike From Safford, Arizona, head south on U.S. Highway 191. Turn west onto State Highway 366 (Swift Trail), and follow it for 20.1 miles to the signed turnoff for Snow Flat. Follow Forest Road #472 (Snow Flat Road) for 0.7 miles to the meadow at Snow Flat. Park anywhere, and head down to the lake, past the "motor travel is restricted to roadways" sign. The trail starts next to the spillway of the lake, and heads downstream. (see hike description)
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.