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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.

Merritt Draw Lower Loop - Mogollon Rim, AZ

no permit
119 7 0
Guide 7 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Clints Well
3.3 of 5 by 4
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 5.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,431 feet
Elevation Gain -466 feet
Accumulated Gain 600 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.6
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
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29  2019-06-14 Grasshopper
18  2016-07-23
Lower Merritt Loop - FR 139C
8  2015-09-02 The_N
25  2014-06-13 Grasshopper
11  2012-08-25 Oregon_Hiker
19  2012-08-25 Grasshopper
9  2012-08-12
Author Grasshopper
author avatar Guides 42
Routes 458
Photos 8,104
Trips 508 map ( 5,318 miles )
Age 74 Male Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Sep, Oct, Jun
Sun  6:13am - 6:22pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
good, worthy draw
by Grasshopper

Likely In-Season!
This moderate, pleasant, and partially off-trail loop hike enters scenic and riparian Merritt Draw with seasonal water flow, pooling, a perennial spring, Drift Fence Spring, and travels NNE down the draw to its lower end at the intersection with Barbershop Canyon and U-Bar Trail #28.

From the intersection, follow some well and not so well defined animal routes. The off trail route continues with about 350 ft of elevation gain to connect with the lower end of scenic FR139C for hiking, biking, and driving for roughly a 2.2 mile hike back to start to complete this loop.

June, July, August
I recommended "Counterclockwise" vs "Clockwise" as described above. From the recommended Start location described in directions, first hike 2.2 miles down FR139C, then off trail downhill to enter close to the intersection of Barbershop Canyon/Lower Merritt Draw, then continue off trail hiking up Merritt Draw.

For best results download or import the Official Route to this guide. Key waypoints add to the excitement.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2019-05-27 Grasshopper
    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 Triplog Reviews
    Merritt Draw Lower Loop - Mogollon Rim
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Lower Merritt Loop - FR 139C
    Kelly met me at my house around 11 and we headed north to the cool weather country but not before enduring a whole lot of traffic on the 17; which seemed odd for this time of day.

    After arriving at Camp Grasshopper Site 3 via a slight detour on 139A, Kelly wanted to do a little hike so we chose the Lower Merritt Loop and hiked down the road to the gully where you hang a left. We found a VV sign and took a pic to add to the HAZ collection. This little gully which is also an old road (veers to the west) is covered in what looks like little clover shaped ground cover; pretty cool. The skies were dark thru here but then lightened up as we rounded the corner to head up the loop as you follow the old grass-covered forest road. We did take a tour up to where it looked like there might be a spring. It was a pretty area.
    As we got further up the road the thunder began to rumble and got more frequent the further we walked so we opted to skip the riparian area and head up to the ridge and back to camp. Kelly got way ahead so she missed out on the raspberry bush where we attacked it like a bunch of hungry bears (the darker colored raspberries were the sweetest).

    After visiting for a bit at camp we decided to take a road walk up 139C as Kelly wasn't happy with the couple miles we did. Grasshopper joined us and instead of turning left at the clover covered road we continued straight (north). It was a nice hike with the sunlight dancing thru the tall trees of the forest on each side of us. We checked out an aspen candy section where Hank decided to turn around. Kelly and I continued on for a bit but then it started to get a little chillier and the road was a little wetter. It was also getting darker and since we didn't want to get back to camp after dark, we turned around.

    A nice beginning to a very nice weekend! :) Video - ... MiN4

    Camp Grasshopper: ... VZOQ
    Merritt Draw Lower Loop - Mogollon Rim
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    My Hiking Loop Route today (which is different than the published Hike Desc Route):
    I now recommend a "counter-clockwise" loop around to take advantage of the cooler morning temps with some shade to first hike the 2.3 mile pleasant and less traveled section of lower FR139C before the required route finding, off-trail -375ft downhill to intersect Barbershop Canyon Drainage at the lower most end of Merritt Draw.

    It had been close to two years since I last hiked this pleasant loop with Oregon Hiker. I had planned on another hike visit to this area in year 2013 but I guess I was side-tracked last year :| . Anyway, another nice loop hike departing from my Camp Grasshopper Campsite #3 without having to drive to a TH location made it a good choice for this years' visit. This loop has a bunch of interesting areas to view some of which are detailed with way point locations on my posted GPS Route and further documented via pic captions on my posted picture set.

    One of the interesting items I wanted to confirm was still in place was a special find I had made back in July'11 of a fully in-tack Bull Elk 10 Point Rack with skull . This was pretty 8) and a highlight for friends viewing that I had managed to semi-hide for two plus years from the human "elk trophy hunters" finding.

    Unfortunately, I was disappointed to find that it had been discovered and taken since my last visit :(

    Fortunately however, a special event sighting awaited me just around the next bend :D
    (a minor "downer" with nice pics to remember and a huge new "upper" with new pics and lasting memories)
    Merritt Draw Lower Loop - Mogollon Rim
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I first explored our "Merritt Draw Loop - Mogollon Rim" hike description area on 7/17/11 when I attempted to hike the entire lower draw to it's ending intersection with Barbershop Canyon at the U-Bar Trail #28 crossing. On this first attempt I made it to within ~.75 miles of its lower end when I thought it best to turn around due to threatening Monsoon weather. This is a very enjoyable draw to hike and I have always intended to return with the intent of completing this lower Merritt Draw section and to write-up a new Merritt Draw hike description to include it as a loop connecting off-trail with the lower end of FR139C.

    With this 8/25/12 visit, my fourth hike within this middle to lower Merritt Draw area, I have now edited and documented this new hike description "Merritt Draw Lower Loop - Mogollon Rim":

    "This moderate, pleasant, and partially off-trail loop hike enters scenic and riparian Merritt Draw with seasonal water flow, pooling, a perennial spring- Drift Fence Spring, and travels down the draw to its lower end at the intersection with Barbershop Canyon and U-Bar Trail #28. From here, following some well and not so well defined animal routes, the off trail route continues with ~350ft of elevation gain to connect with the lower end of scenic for hiking, biking, and driving FR139C for a ~2.2 miles hike back to TH Start to complete this loop."

    I do highly recommend this loop and do hope others with consider it when car camping or planning a day hike or backpack in this area of our Mogollon Rim.
    Merritt Draw Lower Loop - Mogollon Rim
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Parked along the Barbershop trail and headed down into Barbershop Canyon. Down Barbershop Canyon is initially easy, with good elk trails on benches. After awhile the going gets a bit tougher, but Barbershop Canyon is wonderful, with plenty of flowers, intermittent water, and two impressive springs along the way.

    With monsoons clouds forming at the time I started the hike, it wasn't surprising I got rained on. After getting a bit wet, I finally found a spot out of the rain to wait out the second half. Thoroughly wet, I continued down the last part of Barbershop, where the elk trails got much better, and found the Ubar intersection.

    Barbershop canyon is a true gem on the rim, probably the best hike anywhere in the area.

    I went up Merritt Draw, which initially wasn't too bad but quickly required scrambling, bushwhacking, and crawling over many, many downed trees. After awhile of this the elk trails began to improve and I headed up the draw at twice the speed. Reaching Hank's "best entry point", I surprised two elk. One of the elk spotted me and ran away. The other elk didn't see me, but panicked when the other ran.

    The elk happened to end up running right at me, not having spotted me. This was good and bad - the bad part was that I had 600 pounds of animal barreling right at me at 15 mph and about 1.5 seconds to react. What to do? Dive behind the tree! While moving, grab the camera, fire off a shot! I haven't checked, but I think I go it!

    The rest of the trip wasn't as eventful, I used an elk trail to bypass a portion when I wasn't having any fun climbing over tree after tree and bushwhacking. I think I skipped about a quarter mile. The upper part of Merritt Draw has lots of fences to keep the elk out.

    It was pleasant walking through the vast meadows of Merritt Draw. This part is an easy hike that anybody can do, and it goes on for quite a ways. Lots of flowers and green fields. Very nice indeed!

    I continued all the way to the top of the draw, cross country to find the trail, and crossed through Barbershop canyon again to finish the loop.

    Spring reports - the springs in Barbershop were flowing quite well. They are amazing, but not on the map!

    Couldn't tell with the Merritt Draw springs - too many fences in the way.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To Mid FR139C the arbitrary/unofficial Trailhead
    From Phoenix
    Drive Hwy 87 north through Payson, Pine, and Strawberry.. approx 10.5 miles north of Strawberry on Hwy 87 at MP281.1, turn right at signed FR300 (the Rim Road). From this intersection...

    Utilize this GPS Driving Route "from" the intersection of Hwy 87/FR300 (Rim Road) at Hwy 87 Milepost 281.2 "to" the recommended FR139C TH Start at Camp Grasshopper-Campsite #3 (or #2).
    (Trailhead is generic)
    page created by Grasshopper on Aug 30 2012 12:25 pm
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