A sampling of Rim trails
This route follows sections of four different trails through the beautiful forests along the Mogollon Rim. To add to the variety, the trails include single track, old road, and even paved sections. With the exception of the viewpoint areas on the Rim, the majority of this hike will find no other hikers on the trail.
Our original plan was to camp near the trailhead for Drew Trail #291 and then follow gpsjoe's Mogollon Rim Vista Loop route, but the forest was closed below the rim due to fire danger. By creating a loop above the rim, we achieved nearly the same result, but without the hill climbing.
After an afternoon at Woods Canyon Lake, we made our camp in the dispersed FR 9350 Campground, where the Drew Trail begins. Half of the campsites were right on the edge of the Rim, and the view was incredible. The trees are not too thick, and it was easy to find unimpeded views in all directions. Most campsites don't inspire awe, but this one was special. The evening breeze coming up the cliffs was strong, but it flowed over the top of our camp, and was gone by morning.
The next day we headed to the Carr Lake Trailhead, which sits at the beginning of FR 9350 about a mile away from the Drew Trailhead. It has a restroom facility but no water. The Aspen Trail #40 begins here and heads northwest, toward a series of loop trails that are popular with mountain bikers. To get to the General Crook Trail, we crossed FR 300 to the north side. Here the trail is a single footpath, but well-worn and marked with trail chevrons and an occasional cairn. Eventually it follows an old roadbed, which may have been the military road, but looked like it had been changed by modern equipment. The map we had on hand showed the trail crossing over FR 300 twice, but the trail markers we followed kept us north of the road until we reached the north-south road into Woods Canyon Lake.
The Meadow Trail #505 runs parallel to that road, and we followed this paved section south for half a mile, only having to dodge one family of bikers along the way. Soon we reached the Rim Lakes Vista Trail and headed east. This trail has great views and many people park to have a look. There are a good number of wildflowers along this section. Eventually the paved trail becomes dirt, somewhere west of the Military Sinkhole Trail.
To begin our return route we crossed to the north side of FR 300 and entered the actual sinkhole. The floor of the forest here was full of ferns amidst the trees, though we didn't see any water. At the back of the sinkhole we found a bed of springy pine needles which was a great place to put up our feet and have lunch.
Just to the north we re-encountered the Crook Trail, and headed west. This section of the trail was not in good shape. Only the tree chevrons showed the way, since there was no path and many fallen trees had not been cleared. This section paralleled a power line road, and we were glad to return to the much better section of trail on the west side of the Meadow Trail.
Side note: we refilled our water reservoirs at the Crook Campground, which sits at the intersection of the Crook Trail and the Meadow Trail.
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.