We hiked this segment of the crest trail while staying the weekend at Rustler Park Campground. The trail conveniently passes near the campground. The hike was completed with three adults, one 4-year old, one 3-year old, one 2-year old, and one 10-month old plus a Tibetan Mastiff. We were a motley crew! >:D The youngest two were in kid carriers, but the two older kids managed the hike quite well.
The official trail head for this hike is actually before the campground and has a separate parking lot. However, there is a sign in the campground that says "trail" and leads you to the crest trail. From here, the posted sign lists the Barfoot Lookout at 1.5 miles away, leading to the right. We figured that was manageable for the kids. Flys Peak is to the left.
The trail continues up the ridge through a mixed forest. As you proceed further up the trail, breaks in the trees offer great views of the mountain range. We had beautiful weather for our hike. Wildflowers line the trail itself. The trail is well defined and easily followed. The grade is not too strenuous but is up for most of the way. A saddle is reached and the sign posted lists Barfoot lookout as a quarter of a mile away. We continued up the trail. Near the top, the switchbacks are a bit more noticeable, but still not strenuous.
Barfoot lookout is on top of the ridge. As you trek up the last switchback out of the trees, you see the first building. The lookout is comprised of a cluster of pale yellow painted buildings, a gray pipe fence and a nonfunctional light green painted pump. One building looks to be an outhouse, one a shed, and the other is the lookout building itself. All are locked. There is a sign that tells you that indeed you have reached Barfoot Lookout. The lookout house is beautiful. It is full of windows and is perched on the bare rock. A pipe fence extends out from the lookout house to offer some small protection from the dropoff. There has been recent maintenance done on the lookout site, as you can see an old screen door and some wood lying next to the lookout house. Peeking in the windows shows sign designating which canyon is which (since the purpose of the lookout house is for forest fire detection) and a plethora of paint cans as the inside of the lookout house is being redecorated. The views from the Lookout are enthralling and well worth the meager 1.5 mile trek up to the site. Seldom has a posted lookout point been so amazing.
After some lunch and rest, our strange crew started down the mountain. The kids walking got very tired towards the end, but in general, I would recommend this as a family hike! :)
Note that the water system at Rustler Park Campground is no longer in service, so all water must be brought in. - Sep 22 2009 Vashti