Never Trust a Trail Called Jump Up
Overview: The Jump Up Trail is a connector trail between the Blue River Trail #101 and the upper reaches of Horse Canyon Trail #36. It is obviously popular with hunters and equestrians, but probably sees little 'pedestrian' use. And with good reason.
Warning: This trail sees little traffic and even less maintenance. Even experienced hikers can easily lose the track or become lost on the maze of cow paths in the area. Use caution and come prepared.
History: This hike begins on the Blue River, just above the Fritz or XXX ranch. The ranch was established in the 1880's by Fred Fritz. Sr., who reportedly chose the location so that the buildings could not be seen from the river (and thus were safer from Apache attack). The legend has it that Fritz Sr. was mortally wounded in a grizzly bear attack in 1916. The story goes that after having it's jaw shot off with a pistol, the bear continued to attack. Fritz emptied his gun into the animal, then beat on it with his pistol. Sill under heavy attack, Fritz then stabbed it multiple times with his knife. By the time help arrived to kill the bear, Fritz was barely alive (pardon the pun). He died a few months later from his wounds. He is buried at the ranch site, and his grave site bears (sorry again) a plaque with a dedication from his sons.
The ranching continued with his son, Fred Fritz Jr., who became the Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives and the President of the Arizona Senate. His ranch was not accessible by road until the 1940's, and it's said that only Fritz Jr.'s influence in the senate was able to get the difficult road blasted into the bedrock. Even today, 4wd is required to access the ranch nearly all year, as the way is almost impassible if at all wet.
The ranch and all of its buildings are now owned by the forest service and appear to be maintained by deer hunters for use as shelter during hunting season.
Hike: About 0.1 mile up river from the ranch, on the east bank of the river you'll find the trailhead sign and a gate in the barbed wire fence. It almost immediately begins a gradual climb up the walls of the Blue's canyon - here more gradual and forgiving than in many other spots. The whole surface of the trail is covered with fist to head sized loose rock, and the whole way is a rockin' and rollin' experience that your ankles will love.
Though the landscape is not unattractive, it is certainly not spectacular by any account. Many catclaw, wait-a-minute bushes, prickly pear and mesquite cross the trail, so long pants and sleeves are a good idea. Some of the largest Engelman's prickly pear I've ever seen were along this route, and in places it's a veritable forest - if a shortish one. The trail climbs steadily to a low saddle with some nice views, then a second, higher shoulder from which you can begin to see up and down this stretch of the Blue River. Walking directly west from the trail at points brings you to even better views, including a view down on the XXX Ranch.
The trail climbs the ridge through grasses and small shrubs, with occasional junipers and stands of mesquites the only opportunity for shade. I imagine that in the late summer and fall this trail would be almost invisible under the thick grasses. As it was, we lost the track a number of times and had to stop and search it out. There are numerous cairns, but in this rocky landscape they can be difficult to spot. The cow paths certainly didn't help, and often we'd be following a very obvious trail only to find that we'd strayed from the human track. It certainly keeps you on your toes.
The trail reaches a high point at about 5,700' on the shoulder of a slightly higher hill. The views from up here are nice - reaching many miles in every direction. There seems to be no trace of humans up here except for the occasional trace of trail or scattered cairn. It is certainly an opportunity to get your all alone on.
From the shoulder, the trail descends down into Horse Canyon. It roughly follows a minor drainage, but in the loose, easily eroded slopes here it is even easier to lose track of. It drops about 800' to the bottom of the canyon at a 3-way confluence. Our maps said there was a cabin and a spring here, and sure enough we found both. It was hardly the undiscovered paradise we'd envisioned, however. The cabin was in a serious state of disrepair - obviously completely overrun with rats and other creepy-crawlies. The trash heap nearby and the entries in the log are good testament to the conflict between the Forest Service managers, the ranchers and the hunters - all of whom seem to think the other should be taking better care of the spot. Cattle have completely fouled the spring, and dead alders and sycamores indicated that it is probably drying up as well. A shame - it could have been such a Elysian grove!
Once at the cabin, you can return on the same trail or follow the Horse Canyon trail #36 up or down canyon. Up will lead you to Maple Peak and Charlie Moore Mountain - down returns to the Blue River about 3 miles upstream from the ranch.
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.
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.