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KP South Fork, AZ

Guide 35 Triplogs  1 Topic
  3.9 of 5 
no permit
349 35 1
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,960 feet
Elevation Gain -1,303 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,438 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3-4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 13.09
Interest Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
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8  2021-08-07
North Fork KP Trail #93
17  2020-08-01
North Fork KP Trail #93
6  2020-07-17 FOTG
12  2020-04-24 FOTG
3  2018-05-27 MountainMatt
6  2017-09-03 FOTG
9  2017-07-01
KP Trail #70
12  2016-05-30 FOTG
Page 1,  2,  3
Author Rodney
author avatar Guides 2
Routes 0
Photos 249
Trips 2 map ( 0 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Indian-a
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar Map
Expand Map
Preferred May, Jun, Sep, Oct
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  5:25am - 7:22pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 2011 Wallow Fire29.45
🔥 2007 Chitty Fire25.6 mi*
🔥 2004 KP Fire32.5 mi*
🔥 2003 Steeple Fire20.7 mi*
🔥 View (All) - over Official Route 🔥
*perimeter length in miles

Waterfalls in forest of pine
by Rodney

Out-n-back, 2.8 miles down to KP North Fork then back up. Also available is the full 9.0 mile KP Trail #70.

The hike begins in a sub-alpine meadow with black and white butterflies clinging to Grayhead Coneflowers next to a rivulet. The forest then begins to draw you in with beautiful pine trees saluting the sky. The path, softened by a carpet of pine needles, follows the rim for about a half mile before descending to rejoin the water, which has now grown to a small stream. Wildflowers of all kinds, including Queen Anne's Lace, Indian Paintbrush, Showy Daisy, Star Thistle, and a surprising variety of mushrooms abound. There is also quite a bit of moss and lichen and some maidenhair fern. The forest of green is punctuated with small stands of majestic Aspen and Douglas firs to add dazzling white and red to the color palette. We were surprised at the amount of trail maintenance that had recently occurred. A lot of deadfall had been cleared from the path by chainsaw and axe. At one point, though, a fallen tree was so large (about 3 1/2 feet in diameter) that the trail had been made to detour around the roots. Other deadfall was left in place as a means to cross the stream or to keep the forest floor as natural as possible.

As you proceed along the path, there are numerous stream crossings but at this time of year (unless the monsoon hits which it did as this photo taken at 2:00 in the afternoon shows!) you needn't get soaked. Here and there are waterfalls which get progressively larger the deeper in you get until you finally meet the KP North Fork (#93) trail (this is right after three descending switchbacks) where the confluence of two streams creates beautiful 10+ foot waterfalls. If you proceed a little farther along the KP #70 trail, toward Blue River, you will see below you, next to a series of small waterfalls, a very special spot with a fire ring that should make for great camping! There is also a small fire pit nearby beneath an overhanging rock. The music from the falls should lull you to sleep. (NOTE: As always, consider the weather and possible flooding when choosing a campsite!)

After having encountered two gentle showers on the way in, we headed back up the trail as the roar of the thunder indicated to us that the monsoons were upon us. We were very soaked as we made our way back to the campground from the trailhead and very excited to jump in the car, add some heat, and dry out. Our fingers had gone numb, and the GPS went on strike (shut itself down) due to the weather.

We finally broke camp when the rain let up somewhat and decided to head back home to Phoenix via US 191 south in the hopes that we could outrun the storm. This, however, became a real adventure in and of itself. The speed limit went from 30 mph to 25 mph and then, to our amazement, 15 mph. After about 20 miles, the speed limit became 10 mph for 30 miles or so. No guardrails here, thank you very much. We finally outran the storm, but it took 3 hours to drive the first 60 miles toward home. The lesson here: If you're heading back to Globe, do NOT take the southern route!

Those that might be interested in the Wolf Recovery Program, the Cienega area is the third-largest area where wolves have been tracked since their release three years ago. Unfortunately, we didn't spot any on this trip.

NOTE: Our original intention (which we ruled out due to the weather) was to proceed from the junction of KP #70 and KP #93 onward along KP #70 to the junction with #71 Blue Lookout trail, hike trail #71 south (with an intermediate hike up to the Blue Lookout via #321 Blue Cabin trail) to an unidentified trail which winds back and forth across FR 84 which leads west and close to the Cienega campsite. Be sure to check your topo maps on this one!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2001-08-13 Rodney
    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.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    Take US 60 east from Globe, then US 180 south from Springerville to Alpine. From Alpine, continue on US 191 south for 27 miles and then look for the KP Cienega Campground sign on the east side of the road and follow the signs to the trailhead.
    Drive south from Alpine 28 miles on US 191 to the 1.3-mile road leading to KP Cienega Campground and the trailhead marked by a parking area and a poster board.

    The KP Trail is accessible via several trails, including the North Fork Trail #93, the Blue Lookout Trail #71, and the McKittrick Trail #72, all of which provide additional access from US 191. The Steeple Trail offers access from either US 191 or the Blue River Road, Forest Road 281. The first three trails combine with KP Trail to provide strenuous but manageable day hikes. A Steeple Creek/KP hike in one day would be long for most hikers at 17.2 miles.
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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