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Swift Trail (State Hwy 366), AZ

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Guide 101 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
5 of 5 by 3
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Distance One Way 35.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,233 feet
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
13  2018-08-17
Noon Creek Loop
7  2018-08-15 cactuscat
15  2017-12-26
Jacobson Canyon
4  2017-10-22 SkyIslander18
15  2017-10-06
Noon Creek Ridge Trail #318
41  2017-09-18
Frye Fire 2017 Aftermath
10  2017-05-31 SkyIslander18
15  2017-05-30
Noon Creek Canyon Loop
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
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
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Sun  6:06am - 6:17pm
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The Swift Trail will take you from the base of the mountain to the top of southeastern Arizona's highest "sky island" - the Pinalenos (Mt. Graham). This drive will offer you spectacular scenery from the desert floor up to a lush green mountain forest. It's like driving from Mexico to Canada in an hour and a half. Due to its scenic beauty, Highway 366 was designated a state scenic parkway in 1993. Swift Trail is closed from November 15 to April 15 at approximately 21 miles from its junction with Hwy 191 during the winter snow season.

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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 78 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Swift Trail (State Hwy 366)
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    As expected lots of holiday people around Noon Creek, but ..... not many know about the swimming holes up the middle of the canyon :y:
    Parked at RTM CG and headed up the Swift Trail for the clockwise loop. Did Not get hit by a single vehicle on this short 1/4 mile walk up the road by the 25 or so passers :y:
    Took the Noon Creek trail up to the upper crossing then down the canyon to the swim holes. Spent 2 hours there swimming, sun worshiping and watching all the dragonflies and butterflies over the pool and the insane amount of tadpoles under ..... it was wonderful!
    Off-trailed back up to Noon Creek trail and finished the loop down into all the holiday mountain goers.
    Way too many people on the lower mountain today, but it all worked out and I now have a new fresh slight sunburn to prove it!

    Swift Trail (State Hwy 366)
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    Late afternoon clockwise loop.
    Wonderful hike, made it to the upper crossing just as the sun fell behind Mt Graham.
    Second half down I had wonderful shadow lighting.
    Arrived down to the lower crossing at sunset.
    Spent another hour at RTM Campground with a campfire and meal.
    Watched the big moon rise and the lights of Safford below come on before returning back home.

    Swift Trail (State Hwy 366)
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    Swift Canyon Wash
    It's been a while since I've roamed this area.
    Recent conversation with a friend and the nice temps had me off-trailing across the desert looking for pre-history. I entered from my friends ranch and hiked across the upper mesa one end to the other then came back down along Swift Canyon Wash. Never located any ruins or artifacts, but had a real nice time roaming the open desert ... still my all-time favorite kind of hiking!
    I'll be back to look some more, there is a lot of land to cover, just hope the temps stay cool a little longer.
    Swift Trail (State Hwy 366)
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    Graham got more snow & rain overnight, so I headed up to Noon Creek for the water show while it's at peak. Started from the Round the Mountain TH and headed up counter for the loop. Right away I almost couldn't make the first lower crossing ..... can't remember ever seeing this much water rushing down Noon Creek!!!
    Arrived later at the upper crossing with another tough water cross ..... this one I had to get wet.
    In-between completing the loop I made some short side trips down the canyon, up the Round the Mountain trail, up Noon Creek Ridge and along the Swift Trail to bring me back to the start.
    Unbelievable amount of water coming off the mountain everywhere right now, upper 1/3 of Graham covered with a new blanket of snow and throughout I was hit with snow flurries & cold, cold temps ..... It was Awesomely beautiful!

    From a favorite perch in the canyon -
    [ youtube video ]
    Swift Trail (State Hwy 366)
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    Plan was just a short afternoon one a little past John's Dam, but Jacobson sucked me in for another mile.
    Colors looked great up the canyon and I just couldn't stop.
    Finally had to just pick a spot and exit the canyon up to the Swift Trail as the sun was headed down.
    Completed the loop with another short one down to the dam for sunset.
    Excellent trip up and probably my last color chase of this season.
    Winter gear, snowshoes, hot chocolate and I am ready for the white stuff ..... somebody turn on the snow machine!
    Swift Trail (State Hwy 366)
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    Fall color hunt along the Swift Trail was the main focus for this trip.
    Parked at Twilight and hiked up the Swift Trail switchbacks to Ladybug Saddle. Lots of color along the way, but about half of it is on the ground already, I was a little surprised at this early fall.
    From Ladybug Saddle I took the trail up to Ladybug Peak. Arrived on top to find that the new ammo box register I placed up there after the Frye fire a few months ago was missing. WTF ..... why do people do this pumpkin?
    On the way back down I stewed for a while about the box missing as I took the Ladybug Trail down to Turkey Flat. Ladybug trail was great! I rested for a bit on a rocky overlook for coffee, snickers & the views down before completing the trail down back on to the Swift Trail. A short walk along the road pass the cabins brought me back to Twilight completing the loop.
    Except for discovering that my register box was missing, I enjoyed my morning on the mountain. The colors were great, the peak and trails were great and the weather was cold ..... I love the cold!
    Swift Trail (State Hwy 366)
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    Met up with Chad bright and early after another all-nighter working at the telescope on Mount Graham, and we started up the Swift Trail. The focus of the day was to tour the Pinalenos and see first hand the effects of the Frye Fire of June 2017. Our first stop of the day was at a small canyon that I had passed so many times without ever stopping to explore it. This little hidden gem was loaded with changing maples and flowing water.

    As we passed the top end of the Shake Trail, we entered into the main burn area of the Frye Fire. Pitchfork Canyon looked like it had been skewered by the Devil’s flaming pitchfork. A mountain side of black sticks where a lush stand of mature firs had once provided dense shade. The Arrow Tree still stood.

    Stop 2 was at Snow Flat. Most of this area had fared well, with the exception being the back road to Treasure Park (Treasure Park via Snow Flat hike is charcoal city). Hospital Flat had some damage but is still beautiful, I think.

    Stop 3 was Grant Hill Trailhead. Grant Hill was almost entirely consumed in a crown fire. Hopefully aspens will thrive here in the coming decades, but it looks pretty bad right now, and the trail loops on it are closed for the foreseeable future. We talked with the Squirrel Girl here, and heard the latest Red Squirrel census, which was pretty grim (35 found during the post-fire count, I heard).

    The Grant Creek area didn’t look too bad, with only moderate fire damage, as we approached Stop 4: Cunningham Campground, next to the western trailhead of the Cunningham Loop. We talked with some
    Forest Service employees briefly, and checked out the the Grant Creek Trailhead before continuing on. The Moonshine Creek area fared well, with fall aspens and ferns adding some color.

    The Fort Grant overlook revealed Grant Creek Canyon to have a mosaic burn pattern, with plenty of green forest left intact.

    Approaching Columbine through the singed spruce-fir, we turned down Bible Camp Road toward the Deadman-Highline Trailhead. Bible Camp Road had seen mosaic burn, and while there was heavy damage in places, there were some patches of surviving spruce-fir. I knew that much of Deadman had been thoroughly torched, but I had hope that my trail sign might have survived. As we rounded the first corner of Deadman, there was the trail sign I had made in 2010, perfectly undamaged among burned logs. I couldn’t believe it, and it was one of the few sights that day that made me smile. I unbolted my soot-covered creation to bring it home, as Deadman-Highline, my favorite Pinaleno trail, will probably not ever reopen.

    The next stop was one Chad and I were both apprehensive over: Columbine Corral/Ash Creek Trailhead. We had heard that Ash Creek and Webb Peak were severely burned and a sea of black sticks. Sadly, that was true. The jewel of the Pinalenos was completely devoid of green, save for some small aspen and raspberry sprouts in places. Heartbreaking. On to the next spot...

    Soldier Creek Campground looked great, just like old times.

    As we drove toward Chesley Flat across the black skeleton slopes of Webb Peak, we wondered if any of the top was untouched by this mega-fire. Fire damage beyond Chesley Flat was less severe, and finally ceased at the turnoff for Riggs Lake. There is some ground fire evidence on the east side of Riggs, but very minor. We walked around the lake on the Lakeshore Trail, finally able to see a healthy, familiar favorite.

    We continued down the last mile plus of the Swift Trail through the unburned forests of old, to the Clark Peak Trailhead, where we started the CP Flat Loop hike. The west end of the Pinalenos was deserted and we enjoyed a great hike through the aspens and mixed conifer woodland.
    The rugged cliffs of Grandview Peak above Hell’s Hole looked amazing with a small strip of golden aspens clinging precariously.

    Making our way home, I pulled over at Chesley Flat to check out the upper end of the Blair Canyon Trail and the old “spooky woods” area. This area was on the edge of the Webb Peak inferno and sustained heavy but not total damage. Still some survivor trees, including the tumor tree, and the ancient Blair Canyon Trail sign.

    We continued back down the mountain, discussing our findings and thoughts on the matter, and made one final stop at the upper Shake Trailhead to see trees caked in red retardant from the fire.

    Back on the straightaway at the base of the Pinalenos, Chad headed for home, and I grabbed a sandwich at Mount Graham Market for dinner on the road to home.

    A few observations, which are totally my opinion...
    Most of the burn area, which includes the majority of the top of the Pinalenos, appeared to me to have about 50% tree mortality. Of that 50%, a large portion of these trees were covered in dead needles with no sign of green (heat scorched trees, rather than burn, maybe?). The most severe burn areas appeared to be Pitchfork Canyon, Grant Hill, Ash Creek, and Webb Peak. The least severe/most green areas appeared to be Snow Flat, the area north of Hospital Flat, and Grant Creek watershed. The top of Graham Ridge between Shannon Campground and the summit of Mount Graham was severely burned, with almost total tree mortality. Severe erosion scarred most of the drainages and creeks on top. I won’t discuss my personal feelings here, other than to say the burn was worse than I had feared. I still love the Pinalenos, and always will, but they sure do look rough right now. I might post a photo set.

    Chad, thanks for another great adventure! Much better to see sights like this with a like-minded friend.
    Swift Trail (State Hwy 366)
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    My final trip up to the top of Graham to survey the damage left from the Frye Fire before the November 15th winter closure. I met up with Preston and together we headed up the mountain as we have done so many times before. Plan was to survey as many sites as we could and also get in a hike at the end of the Swift Trail. We drove the entire road to it's end and this is what we saw & know .....

    We first stopped on the way up for a quick trek up "secret canyon" for some fall colors, looked good and is only gonna get better. A return trip up will be made soon.
    Second stop up was made at Ladybug Saddle to show Preston where & how I dislocated my shoulder last week, I was in need of some sympathy.
    Then around to the backside/top and into the burn -

    Snow Flat - Road down to the CG hit with med intensity burn, campground unaffected and beautiful.
    Treasure Park CG - Road down med burn, meadow and CG mostly unaffected and beautiful, the "back" CG hit hard and now gated with "forest closed" sign.
    Cunningham CG - Intact, but high burn all around CG. The trail-head for Grant Creek & Moonshine has "closed forest" sign. We could see golden aspens down in Moonshine and a later overlook view showed that lower Grant Creek from Ft Grant TH was unaffected, the upper trail has burned. At Cunningham we talked with a high up Forest Service employee who gave up permission to hike a bit into Ash Creek for a look a little further up the road.
    Soldier Creek CG - One of my favorites and I was very happy to see an intact CG with minimal burn around it. The Grant Goudy Ridge (and Ice Caves) TH is open with the standard "caution burn area" sign.
    Deadman-Highline Trail - The feel good story of the day! We drove down Bible Camp road to see if the trail-head sign that Preston made and posted back in 2010 made it through the fire. We hiked a bit up the trail through a hard hit area to find burn all-around the perfectly intact sign! It damn near brought a manly tear to my eye to see Preston's joy that it made it through -
    [ photo ]
    Columbine Corrals CG - From the happiest part of the day to the saddest. We parked at Columbine visitor center and hiked in across the road to the corrals. This whole area is closed including Webb Peak & Ash Creek due to high intensity burn. As stated earlier we had permission to hike a bit in. We took the trail just to where the switchbacks start down and that's about as far as you can go. Of all my trips up since the re-opening, this one punched me in the chest the hardest. I just could not believe I was looking down Ash Creek Canyon ..... black sticks as far as I could see down and on both sides of the canyon. We were told by Forest Service earlier at Cunningham that a decision was made to close and not work on Ash Creek & Frye Mesa Trail (where the fire started) for at least the next 3 years. Webb Peak is also black sticks, but was told that a loop may be re-opened next year.
    Riggs Flat Lake - After Ash Creek we continued down the road through much more burn until finally reaching Riggs where the west end of the fire came to an end. We drove down to the lake that does have some minimal burn down, then through the campgrounds & ended with a nice hike around the lake on the Lakeshore Trail. Riggs Lake area for the most part was unaffected by the fire. Merrill Peak was hit on top and I'm sure the backside was too. There is a "burn" sign posted for the Jesus Babcock Trail behind the campground.
    CP Flat - Finally on to the end of the road to hike CP Flat. A very needed break from fire damage with an autumn walk through Letty's Grove. I knew we were late for the golden aspen leaves up high, but just as beautiful hiking on the golden leaf road!
    Blair Canyon - On the drive back out we stopped at Chesley Flat to see how Blair Canyon fared and as expected ..... not well. High burn and I'm sure Chesley Flat to Webb Peak looks the same.
    Quick last stop at the Shake Trail to show Preston the red slurry covered trees at the start of the trail, this entire trail survived and is one of the very few left unaffected.

    Our trip ended on the straightaway where Preston dropped me off at my truck, we said our good-bye's & I drove home still processing what I saw on top.

    I have now seen the entire top of Graham and have a good understanding to the condition of the majority of the forest & trails. As stated in other logs - I am still shook, bitter & angry over this fire. The damage is much worse then I ever expected. There is still a lot of green up there and I have found a few places that still holds some un-burned beauty that will keep me looking for more. I have spent my entire life going up that mountain and this will take many years to come to peace with ..... I just hope someday I will get there.
    I understand that most don't want to read about others personal hardships as I honestly don't like reading them myself. What has happened has happened and I cannot change it only move on - This will be my last log about the Frye Fire of 2017!

    To close I just want to thank Preston for taking me up the mountain to view the destruction with me. Seeing it with a good friend made it more bearable. There will be many more great trips up & around Ole' Graham my friend!!!
    Swift Trail (State Hwy 366)
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    Got on Noon Creek Loop before sunrise.
    Watched the sun come up on Noon Creek Ridge.
    Exited down on the cutoff trail.
    Swift Trail up to Arcadia.
    Wet Canyon down.
    Swift Trail back to the start for the figure 8.
    The Noon Creek trails were great! Very scenic and a lot of fun. The Ridge and Cutoff trails are a little overgrown, but nothing too difficult to follow.
    Arcadia and the Swift Trail as beautiful as always.

    Wet Canyon ..... WOW ..... it was like hiking down a brand new canyon! Major flooding has altered this canyon beyond belief. I will dearly miss the old canyon that was chocked full of thick foliage and wonderful plant life ..... but this new look of a wider, deeper, boulder blanketed with new waterfalls and now clear of obstructions up & down looked something special to me ..... I think many will like it too. I just hope FS rebuilds the old picnic grounds at the lower bridge.

    Another good one on Graham!
    Swift Trail (State Hwy 366)
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Frye Fire 2017 Aftermath
    On Thursday 9/14 the top portion of the Swift Trail (366) was opened back up to the public.
    This was the first opportunity for the Gila Valley residents to drive up and view the effects from the Frye Fire.

    I drove up and parked at High Peak road. Completed a big loop to & through the above linked trails/campgrounds.

    I've only got 2 thoughts -

    #1 - The fire was good for the overall future health and growth of the Pinaleno Mountain range for the decades and more to come, I do not deny that fact.

    #2 - For myself ..... the 40+ year hiker, backpacker, camper, fisherman & photographer of this magnificent mountain range ..... I am totally devastated and heartbroken by the destruction I viewed on top.
    The Pinalenos will never be the same for the rest of my life.
    I am shook, I am bitter & I am angry, but I am also very thankful that I got to see and share with my family and friends the incredible beauty of what once was. There will be many more great memories made on this mountain ..... just in a different way now and in different locations.

    Permit $$

    Coronado Forest
    MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
    Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To scenic drive
    From Safford - Travel south on US 191 for 7.3 miles. Turn right at the Swift Trail junction, you are now on the Swift Trail scenic parkway (hwy 366).
    page created by SkyIslander18 on May 12 2012 1:38 pm
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