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

Houston Bros Trail #171 / McFarland Spr Loop, AZ

no permit
31 9 1
Guide 9 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Clints Well
3.5 of 5 by 4
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.1 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,315 feet
Elevation Gain 100 feet
Accumulated Gain 331 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 4.76
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Historic & Perennial Creek
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
41  2015-08-18
Cabin Loop - Mogollon Rim
12  2015-07-12
Bear Canyon (Middle) - Mogollon Rim
17  2015-07-12
Bear Canyon (Middle) - Mogollon Rim
15  2015-07-09
Bear Canyon - Houston Draw Loop
12  2010-06-21 Grasshopper
19  2009-06-25 Grasshopper
Author Grasshopper
author avatar Guides 42
Routes 458
Photos 8,104
Trips 508 map ( 5,318 miles )
Age 74 Male Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   May, Oct, Sep, Apr
Sun  6:13am - 6:22pm
Official Route
6 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Jump brother jump!
by Grasshopper

Likely In-Season!
This is a very pleasant and short loop hike with Parking/TH Start originating off FR139G (0.25mi from the FR139G entrance road/gate to perennial and historic Aspen Spring/Cabin Complex). Hike to and through this entrance gate and down this entrance road 0.25mi to Aspen Spring/Cabin which then connects with Houston Brothers Trail to later "off-trail" the short, easy to navigate distance across Houston Draw to perennial McFarland Spring.

From McFarland Spring this loop hike connects with old logging road FR9616E to later connect with FR139, then up FR139 back to FR139G and 0.5mi up FR139G back to Parking/TH Start.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

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

2018-07-14 Grasshopper
    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 Triplog Reviews
    Houston Bros Trail #171 / McFarland Spr Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Day 1: Critter Day

    After breaking camp over at Pivot Rock Canyon, I headed out to backpack the eastern lobe of the Cabin Loop. Parked at the intersection of FR 139 and the Barbershop and headed out counter clockwise. Was a bit warm for my taste, but so much better than down in the desert. Barbershop Spring was flowing and the little meadow was all fern and sunflowers about chest high. Always take a deep breath here, listen to the wind in the pines and smile knowing I'm away from it all and back in the big country.

    Hit the edge of a meadow and stopped to take a photo, but picked up some movement. A nice looking coyote was cruising the meadow and hadn't seen me. I watched him from about 250 feet away for a few minutes until he finally spotted me and dashed. Not much farther up the trail, I ran into two elk, the first of 15 on the day's relatively short hike. It obviously isn't hunting season yet. For one group of five, I just happened to see an outline of a head with two big ears up slope. This big cow and four others were laying out the midday heat. We all watched each other for a few minutes until I moved and they departed the area. Near the intersection of the Barbershop and U-Bar I spotted a turkey hen. Moved quietly and got close. She noisily took off right and her brood of teen turkeys quietly slipped away left. Add in hundreds of squirrels and thousands of birds, the day turned out to be a critter watching bonanza. Seeing all this is another benefit of solo trips -- less noise means more animals.

    Made camp at Dane Spring. The cabin there is a bit more dilapidated than when I saw it last. The spring had a good flow of cold clear water running from the pipe. Still lots of watercress growing, but looked a bit ragged since it likes cooler weather. I'd planned to steam up some with my meal, but declined. It will be there next time.

    Set camp and broke out the food bag. Peanut butter and a packet of honey liberated from the Starbucks in the San Jose airport provided an appetizer. Cooked up some fantastic dehydrated cream of broccoli soup. The main course was salmon and ramen with two packets of hot sauce freed from the Popeyes in the Vegas airport. I forage wherever I find myself. LOL. Some apple cider after night fall completed the gastronomic tour de Dane.

    While having dinner I heard a very large tree crash to the ground across Dane Canyon. Looked around with a more critical eye and moved my hammock, one large snag being a bit suspect. With a cold spring water bath, I turned in to be serenaded by elk and coyotes off and on during the night.

    Day 2 - The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday

    Was trying out a new under blanket for my hammock. It worked great, but during the night I'd pulled out the sleeping bag and draped it over me. The morning was cool enough to make me hit the snooze button when the sun rose. Finally coaxed myself out of the hammock knowing I had Dane and Barbershop Canyons to cross and hoped to do both before the day warmed. Oatmeal (scorched the bottom of it, dang it), cowboy coffee, hydrated up, broke down the camp, loaded the pack, headed out.

    Slipped into that mode where you just churn the legs and admire the surroundings and otherwise just go into your head. Cleared Dane Canyon quickly and soon found myself at the bottom of Barbershop Canyon, one of my favorite places. Stopped for some fuel and fluid, filtering out some more water for the afternoon push to Aspen Springs. Walked upstream just to admire the creek. A really nice pool held minnows, some 5 inch trout, and crawdads. Looked inviting for a cool down, but I resisted.

    Approaching Pinchot Cabin I saw smoke north and close. Moved on to Pinchot quickly and dropped my pack to go check it out. The fire was large, but mostly burned out up against the north side of FR 95. This was the General Fire, I just didn't know it would get this far south. Didn't see any Forestry Service folks around. The smoke was blowing north and the fire looked contained, so I kept to my plan. After a break at Pinchot, the Houston Brothers Trail took me south to the meadow at Aspen Springs.

    Set up camp across the draw from Aspen. I am in my summer shape, which is horrid, and thus the day's miles were long and the pack was heavy. Lounged in the hammock a bit to rest the tired legs and aching feet and let the day cool. Went to filter some water later and made friends with a brave little ground squirrel who was quite the poser. Some snacks and rehydrated baked ziti served for dinner. Watched a hawk hunting near the spring and then the bats came out.

    Made some hot chocolate and took it over to the big rock near the old barn. Wonder how many people over time have sat on that boulder contemplating whatever they felt like contemplating? For me it was reaccessing my relationship with the back country. How far had I come in fitting in here, becoming part of the land and its inhabitants as opposed to just a visitor, learning to forego contrivances and affectations when venturing out. That journey is not yet complete to my satisfaction, but the chasm between me and the worthy goal is not as deep nor as wide as before. The night cooled considerably and I slept hard.

    Day 3: Exiting Eden

    All things come to an end. My other world was waiting. Today was a short hike out and a drive down to home. Did a cold breakfast, filtered some water, and packed up camp. Felt good but the legs just weren't too motivated. Hiking south on the Houston Brothers is uphill and the legs felt every foot of the climb. With a humid morning, I was soaked in sweat with in minutes.

    Marveled at the shoulder high ferns. It seems the trail is used more by wildlife than humans. The mud held a huge variety of tracks - elk, squirrel, coyote, wildcat, human, mountain bikes. The southern portion of the trail is a moist conglomeration of trees, shrubs, mushrooms, moss, and rot. I scared up one elk and one something. I only got a quick glimpse of the something -- very black it seemed. Sounded more like an elk in retreat than a bear, but it was black. Don't know.

    Turned east at the the junction with the Barbershop and found the old Jeep right where I left her three days earlier. Changed clothes and slipped into my old Keens for the drive. Took the long way north up FR 95 to further explore the fire and delay the inevitable just a tiny bit more. Called home when the phone announced cell service to let the concerned know I was safe. Of course there's far more danger driving the highway than hiking along a trail, but emotion and imagination trump reality.

    The 4-day retreat calmed the soul. Can't ask for much more than that these days.
    Houston Bros Trail #171 / McFarland Spr Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Bear Canyon - Houston Draw Loop
    Kyle invited me for a walk in one of his favorite areas. Do I want to spend the day at 106 or 76 degrees. Duh.

    We dropped into Bear Canyon off of FR95 at FR9737M (as depicted on the TOPO maps) There was actually a Forrest Service sign for this road, but no road. We picked a pretty good route just making our way down the side of the canyon.

    The Bear Canyon drainage was flowing pretty good the entire length we were in it. It was green, green, green! You can find game trails to navigate most of the way, but still need to cross over the drainage many times. It's easy making your way down there, but slow going.

    We crested a bit of a rise in the drainage, to a small grassy meadow. We were both surprised to stumble on a huge Bull Elk, still in velvet, feeding in the grass, not more than 50' away. He was gone before I could get the camera going.

    We only had one spot where we had to go up to avoid a swimmer. Would have been a good swim if it was warmer.

    Out of the drainage and on our way to Pinchot Cabin, it started to rain lightly. Perfect timing as we'd planned to stop at the cabin for lunch anyway. It rained and thundered while we ate lunch under the awning of the cabin. It was actually a bit cold.

    On the Houston Brothers trail we made up some time.

    We dropped into East Bear Canyon following a side canyon down. The Elk have made a decent path to the hill. A few more miles in the canyon and I was ready for the climb out.

    A pretty hike, in great temps. Lots of tiny strawberries along the entire hike. Lilly did great on the hike. Even all the off trail stuff. Thanks for the hike and driving Kyle.
    Houston Bros Trail #171 / McFarland Spr Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    If you're ridding around checking out the forest roads in our Mogollon Rim- Cabin Loop Trails area or camping in this area and have ~1.5 hours to spare, then I would recommend checking out this short and pleasant loop hike. This hike originates off of FR139G Parking/TH Start and makes a loop back to include a shorter access route to historic and perennial Aspen Spring/Cabin Complex, some of Houston Brothers Tr#18, then a short, easy to navigate "off-trail" section across always lush-green Houston Draw to perennial McFarland Spring.

    This short hike description with all details posted via my GPS Routes and pic set/captions can be completed as a clockwise or counter-clockwise (as described here) "loop" or as a more remote and peaceful "in and out" hike to the Aspen Spring area and then on to McFarland Spring and back.
    Houston Bros Trail #171 / McFarland Spr Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Camp Grasshopper 6/16 to 6/22 off FR139G
    First true week of summer 2010 and my first planned 6nt/7day camping-hiking trip to our Mogollon Rim-Cabin Loop area at 7350' for some needed R&R.

    Four of us enjoyed one of my favorite areas to be in the summer and autumn seasons. The four of us enjoyed five different hikes during our stay. The temps were great, the hiking wonderful, the food plentiful, and the company excellent.

    Due unfortunately to an unexpected pine tree bark beetle infestation at this favorite campsite, I need to devote some time this trip to locating a new campsite area for our next visit. It was fun driving around on some new(old) forest roads in-search of a new primo site. I succeeded in finding it--> This new site will provide some new areas to explore up and down Barbershop Canyon for some possible new HAZ hike descriptions :D
    Houston Bros Trail #171 / McFarland Spr Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Our Mogollon Rim- Cabin Loop Area is a great location to practice GPS route finding skills. One of my friends Beverly(blk) has had a nice Garmin Etrex GPS for a couple of years and has only used it a couple of times for a bare minimum of it's capability. I got the idea to do some "off trail" exploring and navigating off this Houston Bros TR, and also take the time on this planned loop hike to teach Bev some important uses and features of her Garmin. With at least two hours of free instruction from someone still learning too, we succeeded in doing both!

    We were on a 5nt/6day car camping and hiking trip in this M/Rim-Cabin Loop Area, camped up FR139G at what is becomming my second or third AZ wilderness home along with Byous Butte in the Superstitions :) .

    Our hiking loop route for this day was: From our FR139G campsite to Aspen Spring/Cabin to connect with Houston Brothers Trail south to off-trail to perennial McFarland Spring to off-trail to FR139 north to off-trail from FR139 through Richard(Dick) Hart Draw back to our beginning campsite location. Beverly learned how to use her GPS "go to" waypoint function and she did most of the successful "leading the way" on the off-trail segments.
    Houston Bros Trail #171 / McFarland Spr Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Our Mogollon Rim- Cabin Loop Area is a great location to practice GPS route finding skills. My camping friend Gary has had a nice Garmin GPS for one year+ and has only used it for a bare minimum of it's capability. From HAZ-Tim's recent 6/20 "off trail" trip log using this same trail, I got the idea to also do some "off trail" exploring and navigating off this same trail as did Tim, and also take the time on this planned loop hike to teach Gary some additional uses and features of his nice Garmin GPS. With at least two hours of free instruction from someone still learning too, we succeeded in doing both! :D

    We were on a 6nt/7day car camping and hiking trip in this Cabin Loop Area, camped up FR139G. Our hiking loop route for this day was: From/back to our FR139G campsite via FR139 to Aspen Spring/Cabin to connect with Houston Brothers Trail south to off-trail to perennial McFadden Spring to off-trail to FR139 north to off-trail from FR139 through Dick Hart Draw back to our beginning campsite waypoint location. I instructed Gary on how to use his GPS "go to" waypoint function and he did most of the successful "leading the way" on the off-trail segments. I do believe I have now made a gpsjoe believer of Gary: "Become a skilled GPS user and it will set you free!"

    Please see my posted pic set/captions and posted GPS Route/notes for more hike details.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    From the PHX area: Take the Beeline Hwy 87 all the way past the small community of Clints Well, continue on Hwy 87 past the right turn for signed Blue Ridge Reservoir, continue on Hwy 87 past the signed right turn for Moqui / Blue Ridge Campgrounds, continue on Hwy 87 past the Blue Ridge Ranger Station to the next signed FR right turn onto FR95; Turn Right onto FR95 and follow signs for FR95 South to FR95/FR96 intersection at East Clear Creek Bridge; "Stay on" FR95 (~right turn SSW) and continue until you reach signed FR139; Turn left onto FR139 and continue south on FR139 for ~3.5mls to signed FR139G on your right side; Turn Right onto un-maintained FR139G and continue driving slowly for .50mls to Parking/TH Start just off Right Side of FR139G at way point N34.48887 W111.18831; Note: Also see posted 7/3/10 GPS Driving Route for more details;
    page created by Grasshopper on Jul 03 2010 9:12 pm
    help comment issue

    end of page marker