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Mount Baldy Loop, AZ
Description 88 Triplogs 10 Topics
RatedFavorite   Wish List Region
 Eagar South
Difficulty 3    Route Finding
Distance Round Trip 17 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,394 feet
Elevation Gain 2,250 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,880 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 8 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 31.4
Interest Perennial Creek
Course Loop Hike
Author Belladonna Took
Descriptions 12
Routes 9
Photos 1,291
Trips 58 map ( 568 miles )
Age 67
Location Lakeside, AZ
Rated Viewed All Mine Friends
5  2014-08-31 bobsocha
3  2014-06-27 toddak
22  2014-05-24
Baldy Horseshoe
14  2014-05-24 John9L
3  2013-08-17 Lucyan
24  2013-06-22 The Eagle
10  2013-06-22 joe bartels
15  2013-06-22 Tortoise Hiker
5  2012-08-31 josetoe5
45  2012-08-19 bknorby
27  2012-08-11
Mt Baldy Loop West TH Sta
8  2012-07-19 brougham86
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
Trailhead Forecast
Historical Weather
Map - Apache-Sitgreaves NF Map
Forest Apache - Sitgreaves
Wilderness Mount Baldy
Backpack - Yes
Seasons - Spring to Autumn
Official Route
Alternative Routes
Nearby Hikes Area Water Sources
direct air miles away to trailhead
0.0  Mt Baldy Crossover Trail
0.2  East Baldy Trail #95
0.6  East Fork Trail #95 - Greer
2.5  West Baldy Trail #94
2.5  Winn Campground
2.8  Thompson Trail #629
[ View More! ]
     Airplane Wreckage
     Cadastral Survey Marker
     Reference Mark
     American Robin
     Arizona Gray Squirrel
   Common Ringlet Butterfly
     Crane Fly
     Dusky Grouse
     Hoary Comma Butterfly
     Horned Lizard
     Milbert's Tortoiseshell Butter
     Mule Deer
     Police Car Moth
     Western Tiger Swallowtail Butt
     Alpine Penstemon
     Aspen Fleabane
     Blue Spruce
     Blue-Eyed Grass
     Canada Violet
     Columbia Monkshood
 Cow Clover
 Dwarf Goldenrod
     Engelmann Spruce
     False Hellebore (Corn Lily)
   Field Mint
     Fly Agaric Mushroom
     Franciscan Bluebells
     Golden-Beard Penstemon
   Grays Lousewort
 Hooded Ladies Tresses
     Larkspur (various)
     Marsh Marigold
   Meadow Arnica
 Mexican Woollywhite
 Mogollon Indian Paintbrush
     Mountain Dandelion
     Mountain Parsley
 Mouse-Ear Chickweed
     New Mexican Checkermallow
 Nodding Groundsel
     Orange Agoseris
     Orange Skyflower
     Parry's Gentian
     Parry's Primrose
     Pink Alumroot
     Plains Beebalm
   Pleated Gentian
     Polypore Mushrooms and Conks
     Princely Daisy
     Puffball and Earthstar Mushroo
     Quaking Aspen*
   Queen's Crown
     Red Raspberry*
     Richardsons Geranium
     Rocky Mountain Iris
 Scoulers Catchfly
     Shrubby Cinquefoil
 Spur Gentian
     Subalpine/Corkbark Fir
 Tower Daisy
 Towering Delphinium
     Towering Larkspur
     Trailing Four O'Clock
     Unidentified Flora
     Unidentified Mushroom or Fungi
     Western False Hellebore
     Western Sneezeweed
     Western Wallflower - Orange
     Western Yarrow
 Whipples Penstemon
     White Prairie Clover
     Wild Geranium*
     Wild Strawberry
     Yellow Monkey Flower
   Yellow Primrose
Wildflowers best
July - September
* Autumn Color possible

A day well spent
by Belladonna Took

Mount Baldy is the second highest mountain in Arizona. However it's only the seventh highest peak as Mount Humphries has several named peaks. Unless you're a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe you can't go to the true peak on this hike, more about that later.

Officially, there are two trails to the pseudo summit: West Baldy #94 and East Baldy #95, each about seven miles long. But since there's also a connector, #96, that joins the two at or near their trailheads, I consider the entire complex one large loop and always hike it that way.

I start at the East Baldy trailhead located about midway between Sunrise Ski Area and Big Lake on State Road 273. Right at the sign-in kiosk the trail divides, with the left fork leading dirctly up the mountain. I usually take the right fork, which is the connector. This is an unspectacular but pleasant three mile amble through heavy, mixed timber, including some very nice old growth fir. The trail skirts three large meadows, prime elk habitat, they say, but I haven't seen a critter in any of them. The route is more or less straight and level with the elevation staying between 9,400 and 9,600 feet.

After about two and a half miles, the trail descends rapidly and emerges from the woods on the bank of the west fork of the Little Colorado River. It crosses the stream and intersects the West Baldy Trail about a mile and a half from its trailhead. For the next couple miles the trace parallels the creek through long meadows, but gradually moves farther away from the streambed and higher up the canyon side, and eventually reenters the forest, now predominantly spruce. Apparently Mount Baldy has not experienced a large fire in a very long time, so there are single aspens here and there but few aspen groves and none along the trail. This will change in a few generations, for now the trail traverses a large area - maybe 200 acres - where all the trees (spruces) are dead. The trees are beginning to fall of their own accord, and one can imagine this becoming, soon, a large meadow and later an aspen grove, perhaps in our lifetimes.

Click to Enlarge Map Having crossed the dead zone, the trail switchbacks and ascends steeply to the ridge top, and here affords the first long views of the hike, first looking north down the canyon one was recently hiking up, and then east to Escudilla and beyond. From here its another mile slog on to the top - or the highest point of the route. But the top isn't really the top, because at the intersection of the West and East Trails a sign announces one's arrival at the boundary of the White Mountain Apache Reservation, and nontribal members are invited to venture no farther. The summit lies somewhere beyond that sign. So we turn east and descend the East Baldy Trail along a ridge, again in heavy spruce timber. About a mile on, the track enters an open area where the remains of an airplane are clearly visible. This was a military plane that crashed here 50 years ago, apparently creating an instant meadow in the process.

A couple miles further along the trail emerges again from the woods to cross granite formations that are interesting in their own right but also offer broad views to the east toward Big Lake and the Blue Range. Shortly thereafter the way descends steeply into the drainage of the east fork of the Little Colorado River. Here again we are among old growth firs - some real brutes five and more feet in diameter. Gradually the forest recedes, and the trail enters a large meadow for the last mile and a half back to the trailhead.

2012-09-27 anonymous wrote: I was able to obtain permission from the White Mountain Apache Tribe to travel to the summit. I was asked to submit a polite letter declaring the day, the purpose, and the location of my intended travel, along with my name and some personal information. The permission is granted on a case-by-case basis, and it's guaranteed. Call the Chairman's office at (928) 338-4346. They were very helpful.


    Directions Preferred Months Jul Aug Sep Oct
    Water / Source:Creek
    Preferred Start7 AM Cell Phone Signal??? Sunrise6:12am Sunset6:35pm
    Road / VehicleFR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay
    Fees / Permit

    To hike
    From Phoenix area take highway 87 to Payson, then 260 to Sunrise junction, then State Road 273 about 10 miles to turn off for Phelps Cabin and East Baldy Trail. Trailhead is about 1/4 mile down unmaintained but solid road.
    Login for Mapped Driving Directions
    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.
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