Railroad Grade Trail #601, AZ | HikeArizona
for free!

Railroad Grade Trail #601, AZ

Guide 18 Triplogs  0 Topics
  2.6 of 5 
no permit
269 18 0
tap icons for details
Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 21 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,174 feet
Elevation Gain 245 feet
Accumulated Gain 675 feet
Avg Time One Way 7-9 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 23.25
 Interest Historic, Seasonal Creek & Perennial Creek
 Backpack Possible & Connecting
feature photo
Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
8  2017-05-28 Alston_Neal
15  2016-08-16 azbackpackr
6  2016-06-24
West Baldy Trail #94
60  2015-04-05
Pinetop AZ and Area - April 2015
3  2014-09-01 Alston_Neal
14  2014-07-20
West Baldy Trail #94
13  2014-05-26
Pole Knoll Recreation Area
38  2014-05-24 tibber
Page 1,  2
author avatar Guides 27
Routes 477
Photos 5,588
Trips 838 map ( 6,011 miles )
Age 69 Female Gender
Location Needles CA
Associated Areas
list map done
Alpine Region
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar Map
Expand Map
Preferred Aug, Jun, Jul, Sep → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Late Winter
Sun  6:47am - 6:15pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 2011 Wallow Fire29
🔥 1971 Trag Fire17.5 mi**
🔥 View (All) - over Official Route 🔥
*perimeter length in miles
**possible voids inflate figure

I hear the whistle blowin'
by azbackpackr

This trail is unusual because, although it is designated non-motorized in summer, snowmobiles are allowed in winter. It is best done on a mountain bike, but I have seen people hiking it, too. Horse riders also use it. It is kind of flat for hiking but perfect for a summer's day mountain bike ride. I have cross-country skied along it. It is ok for beginners to do that sport but doesn't have enough hills for more advanced skiers.

It travels through the high meadows, with constant views of Mount Baldy, Mount Ord, and all the little knolls. There are several lakes and lots of ponds. The lakes include Geneva Reservoir and White Mountain Reservoir. Sunrise Lake can easily be seen across the meadows.

In its heyday, the Apache Railroad was used to haul logs to the sawmill in McNary. It went all the way to the now-defunct logging camp of Maverick. From 1964 to 1976, White Mountain Scenic Railroad operated steam-powered passenger excursions from McNary to Maverick. (I sure would have liked to experience that!) As the track deteriorated, the run was shortened and finally ceased operation. In the old days, the train linked all the way to Snowflake and Holbrook and ran regular passenger service up until the 1950s from McNary to Holbrook.

The Railroad Grade trail was constructed in 1998 in partnership with Apache County and grant money from ADOT.

Parts of the trail are very marshy in early spring and can't be ridden until late May in very snowy years. Generally, it can be hiked, or mountain biked from late May through late October. For cross country skiing, January and February are usually the best months, again depending on the snowfall that year.

If you are on a bike, you will notice that the trail's tread varies, from well-packed single-track to sloshy cinders. Mostly it is pretty good--the cinders are starting to wash away, thankfully. Please keep your fingers crossed that the FS, in its infinite wisdom, does not decide to cover it over with cinders again like they did when it was first built. It was not rideable back then, and local mountain bikers were upset with the FS.

For more information, visit the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest website. Wikipedia also has information about the Apache Railway.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2010-07-02 azbackpackr

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    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 $$

    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Phoenix, take 87 to Payson, then turn right on SR 260. Follow 260 to Show Low, turn right, continuing to follow 260 past the towns of Lakeside, Pinetop, Hondah, and McNary. Continue past the Sunrise Ski Park turnoff, do not turn there. Watch for the Indian Reservation boundary with the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. When you reach the boundary, you will see on your right a big red and white communication tower on a small hill. At the base of the hill is a big parking lot with a restroom. The trail starts near the restroom and is well-signed. (The parking lot is huge to accommodate winter sledding there.)
    page created by azbackpackr on Jul 02 2010 4:52 pm

    end of page marker