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Hospital Flat Nature Trail, AZ

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125 19 0
Guide 19 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
Rated
3.2
3.2 of 5 by 5
 
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Statistics
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Loop 1.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,980 feet
Elevation Gain 196 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 2.23
Interest Perennial Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Collective Slideshow
Inaugural Calculation next Tap
5  2018-05-31 cactuscat
10  2016-10-20
Mount Graham 10,720
SkyIslander18
15  2016-06-23
High Peak Road #507
SkyIslander18
11  2014-10-20 winotron
10  2012-05-24 outdoor_lover
12  2011-08-02 sirena
20  2011-03-31
Cunningham Loop Trail
SkyIslander18
9  2010-10-11 SkyIslander18
Page 1,  2
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jul, Aug, Jun, Sep → Any
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:46am - 5:21pm
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Official Route
 
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Water
Nearby Area Water
Hospital Flat Campground
0.1 mi away
Big Creek Trail #320A
Big Creek Trail #320A
0.1 mi away
3.2 mi
823 ft
Treasure Park Campground
0.2 mi away
Upper Hospital Flat
0.2 mi away
Grant Hill Loop
Grant Hill Loop
0.3 mi away
4.2 mi
485 ft
Cunningham Loop Trail
Cunningham Loop Trail
0.3 mi away
7.6 mi
1,212 ft
Cunningham Spur
Cunningham Spur
0.5 mi away
3.2 mi
470 ft
Big Creek Falls - Coronado NF
Big Creek Falls - Coronado NF
0.5 mi away
1.2 mi
400 ft
Connector Trail #507 - #320A
0.7 mi away
0.6 mi
100 ft
High Peak Road #507
High Peak Road #507
0.7 mi away
3.8 mi
642 ft
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Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
alpine therapy
by PrestonSands

Continuing on in my series of hikes that are not really destinations but rather "something to do if you are in the area", is the Hospital Flat Nature Trail. Built by the Safford Rotary Club, this easy loop hike circles around the little hill that separates Hospital Flat from Treasure Park. Hospital Flat gets its name from the military hospital located there in the 1870's and 80's. Rather than be made to suffer in the desert heat at nearby Fort Grant, sick or wounded soldiers were brought up to Hospital Flat to recuperate in the cool alpine environment. Today, the expansive meadow that forms Hospital Flat is the location of a forest service campground and this scenic little trail. The trail is easy to follow for the most part, except where it ends at the turnoff for Treasure Park, where the myriad of other paths get a little confusing. Starting this hike from Hospital Flat solves that problem. State highway 366, which provides access to this hike, is closed yearly due to snow from November 15 to April 15, at a point one mile before the trailhead.


At the end of the Hospital Flat Campground road, about fifty feet to the left of campsites 10 and 11, is a well trodden trail leading into the meadow. Follow this trail downhill to the far side of the meadow, where it meets a little creek, near campsite 9. There will be a large wooden sign there, marking the start of the Hospital Flat Nature Trail (32.66533 N, 109.87560 W). The first of many wooden posts with the word "trail" and an arrow, appear here as well. These markers are scattered along the rest of the trail. Just past the signs, the trail plows through an alder thicket, and crosses a little wooden bridge over Big Creek. A metal donation/trail guide box that appears to be abandoned sits beside the trail at the edge of the campground. Now you'll begin following Big Creek downstream through a peaceful riparian area full of large leaved cow parsnip and skunk cabbage plants. Young alder trees crowd small crystal clear pools along this gently trickling alpine stream. A narrow grassy meadow soon follows, amid dense stands of fir and spruce.

About a third of a mile in, the trail turns southeast, and begins to climb out of the creek bed, following an old logging road. Pines proceed to replace the spruce trees, and the trail widens out. Aspens appear once the trail turns north and begins climbing along side the Treasure Park road.

The trail leaves the old logging road just before reaching a parking area along highway 366, at the start of the Treasure Park road. A few more "trail" signs attempt to direct you back to Hospital Flat from the highway, but I couldn't make any sense of them among the intertwining paths and fallen logs. It's easier to just hang a left on the Swift Trail (highway 366) and follow it for 0.4 miles back to Hospital Flat Campground.

PrestonSands
  • guide related image
    guide related
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.

Permit $$
None

Coronado Forest
MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)


Directions
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FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
From Safford, head south on U.S. highway 191. Turn west onto state highway 366 (Swift Trail). Follow highway 366 for approximately 22.8 miles to the signed Hospital Flat turnoff. Turn left at the sign, and follow the campground road to its end. The trail is unmarked at first, but starts 50 feet to the left of campsites 10 and 11. The trail takes off across the meadow, and reaches a trail sign at the far side (see description above). Trailhead gps coordinates: 32.66602 N, 109.87500 W
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