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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Railroad Grade Trail #601, AZ

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269 17 0
Guide 17 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Alpine > Eagar S
Rated
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2.9 of 5 by 7
 
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Statistics
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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 Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
8  2017-05-28 Alston_Neal
15  2016-08-16 azbackpackr
6  2016-06-24
West Baldy Trail #94
friendofThunderg
60  2015-04-05
Pinetop AZ and Area - April 2015
Randal_Schulhaus
3  2014-09-01 Alston_Neal
14  2014-07-20
West Baldy Trail #94
friendofThunderg
13  2014-05-26
Pole Knoll Recreation Area
John9L
38  2014-05-24 tibber
Page 1,  2
Author azbackpackr
author avatar Guides 26
Routes 365
Photos 4,732
Trips 720 map ( 5,214 miles )
Age 66 Female Gender
Location Flag-summer-Needles-winter
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Preferred   Aug, Jun, Jul, Sep → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Late Winter
Sun  6:06am - 6:15pm
Official Route
 
5 Alternative
 
Water
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Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
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I hear the whistle blowin'
by azbackpackr

Likely In-Season!
This trail is unusual in that, 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. It's also used by horse riders. It is kind of flat for hiking, but perfect for a summer's day mountain bike ride. I have also cross country skied along it. It is ok for beginners to 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 1950's from McNary to Holbrook.

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

Parts of the trail are very marshy in early spring, and can't really 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, usually January and February are the best months, again depending on the snowfall that year.

If you are on a bike, you will notice that the tread of the trail varies, from well-packed single-track to sloshy cinders. Mostly it is pretty good--the cinders are starting to wash away, thankfully. 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.

    Most recent of 11 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Railroad Grade Trail #601
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Most of my upcoming posts will be cycling or paddling. I have to let my foot heal, possible stress fracture, metatarsal.

    This was a wonderful little bike ride. I didn't go as far as I used to because I had other things on my list to do that day. It was the first time I'd ridden it since 2013. Nice to see it is becoming a single-track trail. The awful cinders that made it a mess to ride 17 years ago are pretty much either packed down or washed away. Local riders still remember the FS putting the cinders in, and have never forgiven them!

    However, it will need some maintenance. Also, people should start riding it, to keep it open. Otherwise it is going to just disappear. The Ranger district is not doing any maintenance on it as far as I know. Maybe I should write them a letter.

    I saw about 100 elk and 2 pronghorn, a male and a female. See photos.

    Due to the recent rains there were a lot of ponds, and Hall Creek was running over the trail. But I was surprised to see Geneva Reservoir and White Mountain Reservoir both dry.
    Railroad Grade Trail #601
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Pinetop AZ and Area - April 2015
    Pinetop AZ and Area - April 2015

    197 miles, 3hrs 45min per Google Maps

    Bob Mohle's country getaway cottage on the outskirts of Pinetop AZ was offered up as an excuse to burn off some forfeitable vacation time. With some backdrop interest in the local history surrounding lumbering/lumberingu railroads, we headed out to the White Mountains with seven basic clues;
    Clue #1, Apache Railway :next: azmemory.azlibrary. ... d/34
    Clue #2, Apache Railway :next: en.m.wikipedia.org/ ... lway
    Clue #3, Apache Railway 2004 :next: trainweb.org/southw ... html
    Clue #4, Southwest Lumbering Industries logging train, circa 1910 at Standard AZ in the White Mountains :next: azmemory.azlibrary. ... c/14
    Clue #5, White Mountain Scenic Railroad (7 page brochure) :next: archive.library.nau ... 1967
    Clue #6, White Mountain Scenic Railroad locomotives :next: air-and-space.com/L ... .htm
    Clue #7, Maverick AZ ghost town :next: boards.ancestry.com ... ashx


    Day 1 - Sunday April 5th, 2015
    FitBit totals = 7.64 miles, 770 AEG (77 floors)

    On the road by 3pm after Easter brunch with the family. Arrived at Bob's Pinetop cottage about 7-ish and enjoyed some crisp country air with temperatures expected to drop into the hi 30's later that evening...



    Day 2 - Monday April 6th, 2015
    FitBit totals = 6.97 miles, 410 AEG (41 floors)

    Up at dawn with a loose plan to visit Kinishba Ruins, Fort Apache Historic Park :next: wmat.nsn.us/fortapa ... .htm , Pacheta Lake, Pacheta Falls, and scout out remnants of the logging railway that ran between McNary and the ghost town of Maverick. Flat tire on our way out from Pacheta Falls to Maverick put an end to the exploration (made it back to Pinetop to see NCAA final game tipoff).
    Apache Railway that ran from Holbrook to McNary to Maverick :next: azmemory.azlibrary. ... d/34 NOTE: ran as a tourist train during 1960's and 1970's until fire in 1980 (1976 in some references) at the McNary Lumber Mill combined with changes in tribal lumbering policy led to its closure. Ran under brand of White Mountain Scenic Railway.
    Maverick ghost town :next: ghosttowns.com/stat ... html
    McNary lumber history :next: https://fhsarchives ... lls/
    Finish the day with some "Hollywood History" by watching Walter Hill's "GERONIMO - An American Legend" with Wes Studi, Jason Patric, Gene Hackman, Matt Damon, and Robert Duvall :next: imdb.com/title/tt01 ... 004/.
    Our visit to Fort Apache and seeing General Crook's cabin made me think that movie would be a great bookend to our day...
    Later that night, I find the best historic reference for the Apache Railway, an article from the January 1963 Arizona Highways entitled "First Caboose to Maverick" :next: islandpondrailroad. ... .htm




    Day 3 - Tuesday April 7th, 2015
    FitBit totals = 9.60 miles, 790 AEG (79 floors)

    Up at dawn and after a hearty breakfast, headed over to Greens Peak - Four Knolls area to take in the stellar panoramic views (despite hurricane-like winds). Explored Sunrise Ski Resort area to see if tram to top of mountain was open (everything closed to public). Off to explore the headwaters of the Little Colorado and the Mount Baldy Loop. When we parked at the West Baldy Trail #95 TH, I heard a distinct hissing sound - Another flat tire!
    Fortunately I was able to limp back to Pinetop where Rex @ Future Tire (futuretireaz.com ) took care of us. Today's flat was caused by a roofing nail and a simple plug-n-patch repair to the Goodyear Wrangler P275/65R18. Monday's flat was a rock puncture and not repairable. Disappointed with Ford's off-road package tires (these weren't my first off-road flat tires), I let Rex sell me a Cooper Tire Trailcutter AT2 that we mounted as my spare for now as I contemplate what to replace my other 4 tires with (anyone have experience with Cooper Tire Trailcutter AT2's???). A special "shoutout to Louis Weaver (Bob's handyman in Pinetop) who met us as we limped into town just in case we needed a ride
    Lugs are 21mm, stock tire wrench lugs 7/8", yet have specialty 21mm wrench in truck
    (Shouldn't the 7/8" lugs on truck all be 21mm to fit wrench?)
    Back on the road after lunch at Red Devil Pizza :next: reddevilrestaurant.com (Randy and CJ took care of us during lunch) and headed over to Porter Mountain and
    Ice Cave Trail #608 :next: [ description ]




    Day 4 - Wednesday April 8th, 2015
    FitBit totals = 5.11 miles, 150 AEG (15 floors)

    On the road home with a stop at the Salt River Canyon...




    TOTALS
    29.32 miles, 2120 AEG
    193 TOTAL IMAGES
    85 images on iPhone 5S
    87 images on Canon 6D
    9 images on Canon 7D
    12 images on Canon Rebel XT



    HAZ DESTINATIONS
    1. Kinishba Ruins :next: [ description ]
    2. Fort Apache Historic Park :next: [ description ]
    3. Pacheta Lake :next: [ description ]
    4. Pacheta Falls :next: [ description ]
    5. Maverick Ghost Town :next: [ description ]
    6. Railroad Grade Trail :next: [ description ]
    7. Greens Peak :next: [ description ]
    8. Four Knolls :next: [ description ]
    9. Candy Mountain Trail :next: [ description ]
    10. Sunrise Park :next: [ description ]
    11. West Baldy Trail #95 :next: [ description ]
    12. Ice Cave Trail #608 :next: [ description ]
    13. Salt River Canyon - AZ60 Crossing :next: [ description ]
    14. Upper Salt River :next: [ description ]

    Sent from my iPad
    Railroad Grade Trail #601
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Team Buford was having some issues getting their truck started so Liz and I headed over to the railroad track for a quick mountain bike ride. I borrowed Chumley’s bike and Liz brought her own. Our plan was to ride for a couple of hours and then regroup with everyone before heading back to Phoenix.

    We started the ride and found the trail to be more trouble than it was worth. It meanders across a wide open area and got boring real quick. After a couple of miles we regrouped to talk about our options. I noticed Pole Knoll off in the distance and Liz was down. We continued riding another mile and then stopped and locked up the bikes. From there we went cross country towards the large knoll. After roughly a mile we started the climb up. It was a bit steep but very straightforward. We continued up and before long things leveled off and we proceeded to the high point.

    Once on top we took a break and soaked in the views. Sunrise Ski Resort was off in the distance and we could see for miles. It was a clear and warm today. A nice change from the previous three days weather. While on top we found a register and signed ourselves in. It goes back to 2001 and we didn’t find any HAZ entries. We also found the benchmark which was placed in 1936.

    After our break we started the return and it was much easier heading down hill. Along the way Liz had to stop to document her 10,000 step of the day. :D Soon after we arrived back at the bikes and then rode back to the trailhead. Our timing was just about perfect because Chumley and Team Buford got the truck running and were on their way. We stopped at the Pinetop Brewery and then returned to Phoenix.

    This capped a really fun, and cold, weekend! Thanks Liz for the bike ride and quick summit!
    Railroad Grade Trail #601
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    This trip log should be titled "NOT the West Fork Trail" as the West Fork 94 was my goal. I have no idea how I missed the sign :doh: to the right (I spotted it on the way back) as you come through the gate after passing under 273 except that I was filming and looking straight ahead. Anyway, after we set up the Baldy shuttles and I got the group photo of the gang before they headed up West Baldy Trail, it was time for me to hike. (Kathy was initially going to take me up the east side as I think the elevation gain is less but because of the late start and unstable weather, I decided it would be best to pass).

    I didn't have a map or anything for the West Fork, LCR Trail as it was not my intended hike. I did have a hike description for West Fork, Black River Trail which is what I thot I was going to hike. Believe me, there was mass confusion :tt: on this West Fork Trail stuff so it's no wonder nothing was matching up not to mention that there was no trail numbers anywhere. I knew I was on a grade as I headed up the trail.

    I passed by two large open meadows as I made my way on the grade not too far from FR 87. There was a camping area with some occupants that would have many more occupants when I passed by on my way back. I could see a bridge in the distance so I zoomed in for a pic of it not realizing I would actually be crossing on that bridge. Eventually you cross the road toward the pedestrian bridge that crosses Benny Creek as you start heading west.

    Not too far from Boardshack Knoll the graupel flurries came and went. It was interesting round little balls of snow (graupel). One hit my lip and it was definitely cold :o . Previous to getting in this area, the wind had been blowing pretty good. The Knoll has beautiful newly leafing aspens. (There are two cinder pits in the Knoll which looks like they can be accessed from FR 112 from 273. In fact, if you look at the topo, there seem to be other cinder pits in this area). Eventually off to your right (N) you pass Bull Pasture Spring where it looked like there were some sort of troughs. Mind you I didn't know the name of any of this stuff as I was somehow trying to figure out where I was :-k other than just on a Trail per the several carsonite signs I passed indicating as much.

    I came to an intersection with another off-road that was coming in from the south. Straight ahead I could see a major dirt road, a stop sign and a snow storm. I decided I would walk to the road and then turn around. When I got to the road I could see a kiosk ahead a bit so surely there would be some sort of information ...there was NADA!!! Sheesh this was frustrating. It does appear I was by an empty Mountain Reservoir. I did spot Green Peak in the distance. Our camp wasn't too far from there. It is the peak with a bald spot on its west side and a gazillion towers on top.

    The storm was nearly on me now so I got out my jacket, my hat and gloves and bundled up as it swarmed around me. The storm had much more bark than bite and was fleeting. However, I am sure as vehicles drove by they probably wondered about that bundled-up hiker making her way east in the middle of nearly nowhere. Once past the Knoll, I un-bundled and went back to my normal hiking wear. It was slightly windy at this point but not bad.

    As I continued on the grade after hiking across the 87, the graupel flurries came and went so I pulled out the umbrella (you can hear graupel while snowflakes aren't quite as noisy ;) ). I was going to try and hike without stopping for a break but decided I would pull over at a rock or log in this one protected section to rest for 5 minutes. A little further down the trail I stopped to enjoy this one section where the birdies seemed particularly active :) . As I got closer to the TH I spotted this carsonite sign off to my left that said TRAIL... imagine that! I couldn't believe that I didn't see that :oops: .

    So I debated with myself as to whether I should follow this obviously little-used trail or head to the TH. I decided since I was stupid for missing it, I should have to go see if there was an indication as to what trail this might be since once again, there is no indication whatsoever. The weather was getting worse so I thot I might just venture up 2 miles.

    I headed over to the other side of the clearing following the cairns and then the posts that took me up into the forest. This is kind of a neat area but the graupel started coming and with my umbrella out, it made it difficult getting thru the narrow areas. I threw in the towel and said I was hungry and I would save this hike for another time. As I opened and closed the barbed wire gate I thot, "if I HAD been on the right trail, I might indeed have run into Nonot as he was doing the W and E Fork Trail loop". I passed by his car and then headed up to the parking lot.

    I decided I would have some lunch and then drive over to the East side to check out the E Baldy or connector trail. As I was working on the second part of my lunch the graupel started coming down; well it started graupeling (precipitation that forms when super-cooled droplets of water are collected and freeze on a falling snowflake) pretty seriously. And it kept coming down for about 1/2 hour :o .

    Not only that, it started getting cold. Fortunately I had my chenile Mexican blanket so I wrapped myself up in that (ya I know, "why didn't you just start the car for a bit?"). Then my fingers started to get numb; it was the strangest thing. I did everything I could think of to bring the feeling back including rubbing and clapping and blowing into my hands but nothing seemed to work. My first fear was what if I couldn't shoot pictures anymore :lol:? I quit fussing and just waited for the storm to pass. I did shoot some video and pictures during the event and worried 8-[ that my buddies on the mountain were getting pummeled.

    The sun finally came out and as the graupel started to melt and the vehicle warmed a little, the feeling came back in my fingers. What a relief! This is my second bad experience with the cold up in these White Mountains. The last time was during a ski trip. It's a long story :-({|= but that's when I think my body thermometer went on the blink permanently (mid 90s). I was glad when the Mount Baldy hikers showed up and hadn't experienced the weather I had here.

    Anyway, it was a great hike and I was fascinated by the weather and I got some pretty cool video and pictures.

    Snow in May at the White Mountains including at camp on Fri afternoon, along the trail and at the parking lot: http://youtu.be/p7ZwdcAK3p8
    Part 1 of my hike to just before the Knoll and some small graupel flurries: http://youtu.be/2MwIne4goDA
    Part 2 of my hike to Mountain Reservoir including view of pending storm and in the graupel flurries as I headed back toward the TH http://youtu.be/ZoaIrgQAo2U
    Railroad Grade Trail #601
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I haven't been staying in shape for mountain biking, so this seemed long, although in the past it didn't. I've ridden the trail quite a few times before. We started at 260 trailhead and rode to West Baldy trailhead and back the same way. This time I went with a local group.

    The trail is in worse shape than the last time I rode it. I think monsoon will help pack down the cinders a bit. There were more areas of loose cinders than I remember from before. I biffed, also, at the most technical spot on the ride (a steep slope with big and small rocks at the bottom of it) and banged my knee, and someone took a photo of it and posted it on Facebook. Gee, thanks!

    On our return someone had the idea of following FR 112. I thought it was a lot harder than if we had ridden back on the trail, because I was tired by then, and it had more ups than the trail would have had, and it was longer. Plus, that part of the trail through the meadow is very easy and pleasant.

    How astonishing to look at our route on a map and see that big lake there! I have never seen more than a puddle in White Mountain Reservoir, at least not for many years. It's kind of a shame.

    This ride is really nice if you can catch a dry day in August or early September, when it's very, very green and full of flowers (and maybe those cinders are packed down by the rain.)
    Railroad Grade Trail #601
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    White Mountains Winter 2013
    White Mountains Winter 2013


    I needed to feel some snow beneath my feet - so having heard from my neighbors Terry and Giselle about their New Year's trek to Sunrise Ski Park (check out => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1307 ), I thought a couple of days in the White Mountains would be "just the ticket". I couldn't take advantage of my Marriott Rewards or Priority Club Rewards booking a hotel since none of their hotels in the vicinity of the White Mountains are "pet friendly". Luckily the Best Western in Eagar AZ will accept dogs in the room, so we had our base camp.

    Wednesday 1/2 - Arrived in the White Mountains late morning via Hwy 260 with our first stop near Sunrise Ski Park and FR112 and the Railroad Grade Trail #601 (see => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=15451 ). Lots of snow fun on the slopes of the Railroad Grade. FR117 was unplowed so our afternoon plans to explore Green's Peak and the Four Knolls (see => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=792 ) were thwarted. Our back-up plan was to explore trails near the village of Greer. Mini-hikes on West Fork Trail #94 and Butler Canyon Trail #98 (see => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=784 and http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=2250 ) and exploring some real estate poking around the village. You can see the scarred forest and how close it came to torching all of Greer from last summer's Wallow Fire (see => http://wildfiretoday.com/2011/06/09/wal ... r-arizona/ and http://hikearizona.com/map.php?QX=769 ). We ended the day with a sunset hike of the G&F Grasslands (see => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=963 ). Grasslands lived up to the hype for surefire wildlife encounters as we met up with a herd of mule deer.

    Thursday 1/3 - After a frigid night, arrived at the South Fork Trail #97 (see => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=602 ) trail head with my truck thermometer indicating 19degF (neglected to get photo evidence, but did capture the noon time temperature of 23degF). We hiked the 3 miles to the bridge with the dogs enjoying the snow. Once again scars from the Wallow Fire could be seen along the hiking route. Next up was Pole Knoll (see => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=802 ). Hiking was challenging post-holing your route beside the set track for cross country skiing. I was very impressed with the skiing conditions at Pole Knoll - makes me want to break out my skis! We Wrapped up our White Mountain tour with some photo ops at Horseshoe Cienega (see => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=17512 ) and Los Burros (see => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=603 ). We had a late day dinner in Show Low and returned home via Hwy 60.
    :)
    Railroad Grade Trail #601
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    West Fork LCR--RR grade loop
    I started at my campsite at Winn Campground, hiked due north to the rim of West Fork of the Little Colorado River canyon. Hiked down the steep slope covered in deadfall, very slippery and wet! But I could hear the tantalizing sound of the big creek below, although I could not see it, there were so many trees!

    I think that creek has to be one of the prettiest places in the state!

    After following the creek upstream I got to 273. I caught up with RR Grade Trail # 601 for a little while, then left it to cross the road again, using my GPS to cross the meadows and get back in a fairly straight line to my campsite.

    I was camping there to await the arrival of people from the Valley. We did a Mount Baldy backpack the next two days. They didn't show up until well after dark.
    Railroad Grade Trail #601
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    FR 72 and Apache RR grade
    This was a fun ride on quiet back roads in a remote corner of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, south of Big Lake, not too far from Reservation Lake. We drove FR 116 to FR 72, and rode several side roads, including a stretch along the old Apache Railway. This stretch of the old railroad bed which goes from McNary to Maverick, is not designated as part of the Railroad Grade Trail #601, but intrepid travelers could make the connections. The area we were riding sees a little bit of ATV traffic, but not much as it is kind of out of the way. I had not been there before, myself. We saw a lot of flowers and a pretty good herd of elk, running away from us. The group I was with were members of TRACKS, a hiking club from Pinetop. Very nice people.

    After the ride I forgot to push "SAVE" on my GPS tracking (Aaargh!!). Then I drove south in POURING RAIN to hook up with FR 25, turned left toward Buffalo Crossing, crossed the West Fork of the Black River, and then the East Fork at Buffalo Crossing. Stopped both places to take a couple of photos, as the rain had mostly stopped then. At Buffalo Crossing I walked down a quarter mile or so. I had brought hiking gear, but it kept drizzling off and on, and I melt if I get wet. ;) Also did not feel comfortable leaving my $2,000 bicycle in the car while hiking...the bike is worth more than the car! All in all, it was a most pleasant day. Drove back via 191 and Alpine.
    Railroad Grade Trail #601
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    A fun mountain bike ride on a beautiful summer day. A coyote barked at me like a dog! Frogs ribbeted in all the ponds. The thunderclouds built up and dripped on me a little, but there was no thunder and lightning, and I didn't really get wet. The irises are still in bloom up there, although they have dried up in the lower elevations. The entire ride is pretty much above 9,000 feet. I went from the 260 sledding hill trailhead to just past the West Baldy trailhead. Next week I will start at Big Lake and ride toward W. Baldy TH.

    At W. Baldy trailhead the trail also links to the West Fork Trail, going down to Greer. Then at Colter Reservoir, you can link to the East Fork Trail, also going down to Greer.

    Beyond Big Lake, the RR grade continues, but not as a designated trail. It is incorporated into parts of the Indian Springs Trail and the Thompson Trail. I believe a determined person could make their way along it southward, all the way to Maverick! I have ridden parts of it by Thompson trail, going far past the trail designation.
    Railroad Grade Trail #601
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Starting at the sledding hill on 260, just west of the WMAT reservation boundary, I followed roughly the route of the Railroad Grade Trail. At first, I followed snowmobile tracks. The fact that I knew there would be snowmobile tracks here did influence my decision to ski here today, although in retrospect, it is a pretty boring trail, with very little in the way of ups or downs. Since the Springerville Ranger district usually does not see fit to groom Pole Knoll, I wanted a groomed trail today, and a change from Pole Knoll, as well, where I've been skiing daily for awhile. Snowmobile tracks are almost as good as a groomed trail. Actually better, sometimes, because usually there is no one else around. I saw no snowmobiles at all, in fact.

    The RR Grade Trail is fun in summer on a mountain bike. I don't think I will return to it in winter again, though. After about a mile or so I ran out of snowmobile tracks and decided to break trail myself for awhile. I headed for some low hills in the distance, but they turned out to be further away than I thought they were. Pole Knoll is right to the east and looms in view, and the ski slopes of Sunrise are also visible, once you pass a big hill that hides them from view.

    I arrived early and was the 4th car, but by the time I returned I could barely get out of the parking lot due to all the sledders having arrived. And that's another thing. That parking lot used to always be snowplowed really well, because it often packs in 50 cars or more. But it was a total mess, piles of snow everywhere, ice, etc. Budget cuts? It wouldn't take long at all to shove the snow out of there. Grr.. People were getting almost stuck all over, spinning their wheels, etc. I don't know if the FS or ADOT is supposed to plow it, but how much you wanna bet if I call ADOT they'll tell me to call the FS and if I call the FS they'll tell me to talk to ADOT?

    Right across the highway from the parking area is also a nice area to ski. You head for a little gap between the hills, straight across the meadow. Once in the hills you can go in all different directions. I really should have gone there instead, as there were snowmobile tracks to follow in that direction as well. I was lazy today but skied steadily for over 2 hours. Tomorrow it is going to be warm again, so I'm gonna ride my road bike.

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    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 on 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 accomodate winter sledding there.)
    page created by azbackpackr on Jul 02 2010 4:52 pm
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