This short trail leaves Riggs Lake campground in the Pinaleno Mountains, travels through some beautiful forest
, and dead ends on a high brushy ridge
with some great views of Sulphur Springs Valley.
I arrived at Riggs Lake late in the afternoon, wanting to do one more hike before heading home for the day. After inquiring with the campground host, I parked at the end of the campground loop and headed west into the woods, following a faint path and yellow tape tied around trees. The ground was wet from a recent rain, and the carpet of fir needles beneath my feet had a spongy feel to it. Before long the trail left the thickly wooded area, and arrived on a narrow brushy ridge that was covered in fallen logs from an old wildfire. Turning around, I saw Merrill Peak, named for an early forest service employee of the area. The topo map showed the trail continuing down the ridge until it stopped at a point about a mile from the campground. The trail was growing increasingly faint, and soon disappeared completely, so I gave up trying to fight the thick brush. I stopped to watch a dust storm blowing across Sulphur Springs Valley, and to look out over the rugged western slopes of the Pinalenos. The Galiuro Mountains looked as if they were a thousand miles away across the vast sea of desert.
As I turned around to head back, a thunderstorm rolled in and it began to sprinkle. Wanting to get off the exposed ridge in case of lightning, I quickened my pace. The sprinkle turned into a downpour as I neared the trees, and several blasts of thunder echoed off the nearby peaks. When the campground came into view, I turned left and headed for a rocky overlook nearby. With rain pouring down on me, I watched the setting sun turn the rain curtain around me a deep orange. Although the trail itself wasn’t that exciting, the interaction of clouds and earth made up for it. - Jul 19 2006 Preston the yeti