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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.

Willow Springs Bike Loop Trail #535, AZ

no permit
39 24 0
Guide 24 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Heber
2.8 of 5 by 11
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Distance Round Trip 7.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,683 feet
Elevation Gain -162 feet
Accumulated Gain 235 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 8.58
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
5  2018-09-15
Chevelon Lake via Weimer Ridge
8  2018-07-28
Willows Springs Lake / Canyon
10  2018-07-05
Chevelon Lake via Weimer Ridge
7  2018-06-30
Willow Springs Canyon - Mogollon Rim
6  2018-06-23
Willow Springs - Canyon and Bike Loop
12  2018-06-21
Willow Springs Canyon - Mogollon Rim
5  2018-06-09
Willows Springs Lake / Larson Ridge
2  2017-08-20
Willow Springs Canyon Loop
Page 1,  2,  3
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Sep, May, Jun, Aug
Sun  6:11am - 6:20pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

Likely In-Season!
This trail loops from the Larson Ridge Trailhead (vault toilet) or the Horse Trap Trailhead, traveling through cool pines and quaking aspen. The western section of trail parallels the shoreline of Willow Springs Lake. (Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest info)

The trail is an old, closed road, with minimal elevation change, that appears to be well marked. It connects with the Sardine Trail #536, and the General Crook Trail #140.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot
    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 13 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Willow Springs Bike Loop Trail #535
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    Willow Springs Canyon Loop
    On Sunday, four of us made an extended loop around Willow Springs Lake. This is another lake I haven’t been to before. We opted for a clockwise loop and this worked well. I really liked the spillway below the lake. It looks like they blasted it out with dynamite. We continued down canyon for a mile or two and then the canyon was swallowed with brush. We didn’t feel like fighting our way through so we returned to the lake and continued the loop. It went by quickly as storm clouds moved in. The skies opened with just under a mile to go. We hurried back to the cars and then packed up and headed back to Phoenix. Thanks Chumley for planning the weekend and thanks for driving!
    Willow Springs Bike Loop Trail #535
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    Willow Springs Canyon Loop
    Carrie and Johan had never been to Willow Springs and 9L hadn't been there in years so I decided to lead them down Willow Springs Canyon for an easy little after-kayak hike. We all enjoyed the hike in the canyon but turned around when it got thick. A little short on mileage we decided to go up the east side and loop the lake. Apparently there's a bike trail here! Who knew!?

    Along the lake it's pretty nice, but the south side of the lake has been heavily thinned and it's pretty sparse and ugly right now. Give it a year or two to green up again.

    I wish I had a track loaded because with thunder rumbling we stuck to the bike trail which was far from the most efficient way to get back. Eventually we bailed back to the road. We got poured on for the last half mile, arriving back at the cars soaked since we hadn't planned for a 3 hour hike and none of us brought our raingear! ](*,)
    Willow Springs Bike Loop Trail #535
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    Really cool trail. About 1/3 is a recently used (first third if going counter-clockwise) but not used very often forest road, then 1/3 is that same road, but more deteriorated, and 1/3 single biking/hiking trail. Only really rocky through about 1/3 or more, and never too difficult. Great view of Willow Springs at the northernmost tip at a small rock dam. You can cross to the other side of the lake here and circle it, but the trail veers left and stays only on the East coast. You could easily pack a snack or lunch, cross over and do some fishing, then just bike back to the trailhead without even doing the loop. The only people I saw were on that side fishing, and some fishers in a boat.
    There are a couple spots along the East coast of the springs where it is difficult to tell which way to go. Just look really hard at each possible way, and you will finally see one of the brown bike trail diamond signs. Going counter-clockwise down at the Southeastern tip of the Springs, if you hit 260, you went too far. You can go left and ride on 260 for 100 yards or so and turn on to the first forest road on the left, and you will immediately see the bike trail signs again. Or, you can backtrack from 260 about 100 yards, then cross a big swath of tree cuttings to get to that same forest road. Go right and up near 260 you will see the trail signs. The big area where they cut down the trees is probably where the bike trail signs that I missed, used to be.
    Willow Springs Bike Loop Trail #535
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    This was my first ride after replacing the rear axle,which broke when I was checking out the Gold Canyon trails a few weeks ago. After 11 years and 10,000+ miles of hard biking on the Giant Trance 2 I guess it was time for at least one major component to fail.

    This was to be the first of four bike rides on the Rim over two days. Unfortunately it would be the only one completed.
    Since the bike is so old and 26" tubeless rims aren't the in thing (27.5 or 29's now?) to have a hub and rim had to be made up using a tube-type rim.

    Big mistake! With no beads to hold at least one side of the tire on, once you pop the tire off the wheel it is practically impossible to re-air the tire without an air compressor or a CO2 canister. Neither of which I had access to on a Sunday in Heber.

    What? The ride?
    Oh, you mean this ride? The trail was great, and we added a number of extra side trips along the way. The ride WOULD have been fabulous if it weren't for the front brake caliper almost falling off in the first half mile, followed by no usable front brake (the brakes were supposedly bled when the bike shop replaced the rear wheel), then getting a series of hair-raising shocks while riding under high-tension wires (a first for me!). Thankfully no issues with shifting or the rear tire, until AFTER the ride.

    Only after the 20 minute drive to Heber would we find out the tire lost all air, even with absolutely no puncture! It's possible the Presta valve wasn't tight and vibrated loose while on the back of the car?? Who knows, whatever the case, it was enough to ruin the trip.

    We would end up hiking the second day with pretty much street shoes and none of our usual hiking gear. And I'm still hurting from it.
    Willow Springs Bike Loop Trail #535
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    Larson Ridge
    I showed Fan the Larson Ridge / Chevelon Creek view spots.We started from the Rim Top TH and headed up the bike trail.

    Along the way we talked about smartphones and GPS apps.Fan liked the Tremble GPS app, until she heard the split statistics from the HAZ tracks. She decided to dump Tremble and go with HAZ tracks.

    From the bike trail we went off trail to Willows Springs creek and ended at FR237/Larsons Ridge.
    We went up FR237 to where it ended. We spent time exploring around. Fan found a rock overhang with good view. It started to rain so we took a long break/lunch under the rock overhang. At times the rain came down hard. Once the sun came out, we started the trek back. It rained on us 3 more times before the clouds parted.

    We took the General Crook / Willows Springs bike and the Sardine trails back to the Jeep.
    The Sardine trail feels extra-long in the dark with all of its twists and turns.
    Willow Springs Bike Loop Trail #535
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    Larson Ridge
    The goal for the day was to explore Larson Ridge and to explore some of the abandoned roads along the way.

    I started at the Rim top TH. The first 3 hours of hike was fruitless. Then I figured out a direct route from the bike trail to Larson Ridge. I went through Willow Springs canyon. The creek had a good flow through it.

    Larson Ridge is a neat area. As you go North Horse Trap Canyon comes in from the West (left) and Long Tom canyon comes in from the East (right). Eventually Horse Trap Canyon becomes Chevelon Canyon. Larson Ridge ends at the convergence of Chevelon Canyon and Long Tom Canyon.
    There are numerous camping spots along the road. There's also a number of Chevelon Creek views spots along the way. The best view spots are where there's rock outcroppings at the edge of the ridge.

    The two best view spots are:
    Larson Spring Tank -there’s a big flat rocky area here- (I didn't find the tank)
    At the end of Larson Ridge -there a big car size rock here-

    I took the following route back:
    Larson ridge
    Gen Crook trail
    Willow Springs trail
    Sardine trail
    502 Bike trail

    This was one of few times that the fire threat was posted as LOW. The ground was super soggy and there was a lot of standing water on the trails.

    The temps were just down right chilly. It never did warm up. At least I didn't get rained on for once! When I got back to the Jeep the covers had frost on them.
    Willow Springs Bike Loop Trail #535
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    Willow Springs Lake/General Crook Loop
    I had no real agenda for the day. I just needed a good hike after a 55 hour work week. I parked at the Rim top TH and planned on going east on the good old Gen. Crook trail.

    Pre-hike survey
    As I was putting the second rain cover on the Jeep, a forest service person approached me. She was doing a survey for the forest service / congress. Every 5 years the FS picks a national forest and draws random sites to survey how the forest is being used. The survey is used to determine how the forest service spends its money. The survey is sent to congress to determine the level of funding. The FS lady asked where I was hiking and for how long. I told her about the historic General Crook and how a turtle and an eagle transversed it last year :sl: .

    The Hike
    I crossed the 260 and took the Grey Wolf trail to the Gen Crook over to Willow Springs Lake trail. I went to the Dam and saw an old abandoned road. I followed the road and saw a couple of cairns on it. It lead me to an Aspen fence area. The aspen fence was right by the Willow Springs trail, so I followed that to another FS road that lead me to an overlook of Deer Lake Canyon/Chevelon Creek. Along the way it rained pretty hard. The rain stopped by the time I reached the overlook. I had lunch here and the temps dropped to the point of where I wished I had a second jacket.

    Along the way back, I noticed a bunch of red ribbons on the trees and old forest roads leading to the east. The GPS showed that FR 237(aka Larson road) was about a mile and ½ away. I explored a couple of these ‘roads’ and they seemed to lead to canyons. Eventually I decided to bushwhack over to FR237. Doing the bushwhack, I ran across old cairns, ribbons and then another old FR. The FR took ended at FR237 behind a closed gate.

    I took FR237 the Gen Crook to the Sardine trail to 235 road trail. Along the Sardine trail I saw a huge light in the woods and wondered who had a spot light at their campsite and then realized it was the super moon! About a half hour later, the moon rose and the clouds started to part. I hiked by the super moon light for the last 20 minutes of the hike! It’s always an awesome thing to hike by moon light :y: !
    Willow Springs Bike Loop Trail #535
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    This was day two of our stay in the Forest Lakes area. We rode around the Willows Springs Bike loop. Nate got more comfortable riding on the rocks with his new BMX bike. It rained as we had lunch at the lake. Nate got tired on the way back and I had to carry his bike for a while
    Willow Springs Bike Loop Trail #535
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    I started at the Rim Top TH and headed east on the General Crook. It started to rain as I finished covering the Jeep. The rain didn't last that long.

    I went a little past where FR99 hits 260. I took the Willows Springs bike loop back. Along the way I saw an unmarked spur trail and followed it to where it ended at the Deer Lake Canyon.
    It's a good trail/road to take my son mountain biking on.

    After the initial rain the sky turned to partly sunny. There were a couple of random raindrops throughout the day.

    Another great day on the rim!
    Willow Springs Bike Loop Trail #535
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    I did a figure 8 hike with a stick at one end.

    I stated out at the 260 Trailhead and headed west on the Highline. The sky was dark. After 10 minutes it started to sprinkle on me. The sprinkles turned to drizzle and I put on my rain jacket.
    I went up the Drew Canyon trail to the General Crook and eventually meandered to the Rim Lakes Vista trail. Then I hit the Gen. Crook again at the Rim Top TH.

    The sun made an appearance about 12:30 and off came the jacket. It was weird that it was colder below the rim, than on top!

    I followed the General Crook across 260 to the alternate Gen Crook trail “Grey Wolf”. I took the Grey Wolf/General Crook trails to the Horse Fly TH and went towards Willow Springs Lake. I turned around and took the Willow Springs Lake trails back to the Rim Top TH and followed the General Crook to the Military Sinkhole to the Jeep.

    I had a surprise visitor for lunch. I must have been pretty quiet, because I turned around and saw a deer about 10 feet away walking slowly towards me. When I reached for the cell/camera, the deer bolted away.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From the highway 87/highway 260 junction in Payson, drive east for about 32.6 miles on highway 260, to milepost 284.7, directly across the highway from the Young Road (FR 512) turnoff. There is a sign on the north side of the highway for Horse Trap Trailhead, and a small parking area. The signed trail begins here, and reaches the main loop in a few hundred yards.
    page created by PrestonSands on Oct 22 2010 11:10 pm
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