pretty AND pointless
This hike describes West Coal Creek canyon, in Arizona's Big Lue Mountains, near the Arizona-New Mexico border. West Coal Creek offers an easy hike through pine forest along an old jeep trail, and is conveniently located near Coal Creek Campground. There is nothing exciting about this hike, but it does provide something to do if you are camped at Coal Creek Campground.
Forest road 8344 comes down West Coal Creek canyon, from the south, to meet state highway 78, 0.1 miles east of Coal Creek Campground. Parking and camping are available at the beginning of forest road 8344. No signs identify forest road 8344.
Start following forest road 8344 south, and it will soon cross the wide, rocky bed of Coal Creek. After the crossing, the road deteriorates into a jeep trail, and heads due south up West Coal Creek canyon.
The jeep trail follows West Coal Creek's dry creek bed, through vegetation typical of the Big Lue Mountains: tall ponderosa pines, with an understory of white oaks and alligator junipers. Hiking is easy and elevation gain is slight.
At 0.35 miles, the trail reaches a small, open spot, where there is a concrete water trough (dry), and a small, rusty, metal shack. The shack is the site of "West Coal Creek Well". The well, which is inside the shack, is missing its pump and other parts. There is no water available.
The pump shack area offers camping possibilities, for those looking to do a short backpacking trip.
Where the jeep trail comes to an end at the well, a couple of faint atv trails lead further up the canyon, into the pines. These atv trails soon come to an end, at about 0.5 miles. This is where I turned around. One could continue all the way up to the head of West Coal Creek, at a distance of 1.6 miles from highway 78, but there is little else to see.
Return the way you came.
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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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