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Meadow Trail #505, AZ

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Guide 22 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Heber
2.4 of 5 by 5
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Difficulty 1 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 1.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,560 feet
Elevation Gain 100 feet
Accumulated Gain 160 feet
Avg Time One Way 0.5 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 2.23
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10  2019-07-20
Mogollon Rim Vista Loop
8  2018-09-08
Woods Canyon creek - Bear Canyon Lake
5  2018-06-09
Willows Springs Lake / Larson Ridge
16  2017-06-17 RowdyandMe
21  2017-06-17
Rim Disc Hunt
4  2016-07-02
Bear Canyon Lake Trail #112
10  2015-06-29 Stoic
5  2013-08-11 charlieaz
Page 1,  2
Author chumley
author avatar Guides 74
Routes 666
Photos 13,110
Trips 1,414 map ( 10,519 miles )
Age 46 Male Gender
Location Tempe, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Sep, Oct, Jun
Seasons   Late Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:06am - 6:32pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Sidewalk Sale!
by chumley

Likely In-Season!
Why the Sitgreaves National Forest named this the Meadow Trail is anybody's guess. There's only one spot that might pretend to be a meadow, and even that is a real stretch. I prefer to call it the Sidewalk Trail, because that is essentially what this is. Forest signs indicate its length to be 1.8 miles, but my maps and my GPS couldn't come up with a step over 1.5, and I hiked it out-and-back and measured both ways.

So, here's what this trail is good for: It is a nicely paved trail (yes, bring your wheelchair, strollers, tricycles, rollerblades, etc.) that leads from the Woods Canyon Lake boat ramp/store area to the Woods Canyon Vista point adjacent to the Rim Road (FR300). The trail parallels the Woods Canyon Lake road (FR105), which all summer long will keep you no more than 50 feet away from trucks, motorhomes, and diesel-exhaust-spewing boat trailers. Peace and serenity are not what you'll find on this trail during the summer months! However, if you are enjoying a camping weekend with your family at the lake, this trail is ideal for your young ones or those who don't have a great deal of hiking experience. It keeps you off the road, and except for the very short hill up from the lakeshore is a virtually flat hike through a nice Ponderosa Pine Forest.

The reward is the view from the Woods Canyon Vista at the end of trail. I think it might make a nice evening/night hike with headlamps. Since its a paved trail, its very easy to follow, and the footing won't be a problem even in the dark.

There are plenty of trails in the area, and the Meadow Trail ends at the Woods Canyon Vista, where you can continue hiking on the Rim Vista Trail. A proper loop can be accomplished by connecting Meadow, Rim Vista, and a portion of the General Crook Trail, which intersects the Meadow Trail about halfway between the Lake and the Vista. A long loop using the General Crook Trail would take you to the parking area at the Rim Road and Hwy 260 and add about 6 miles, though there's a 3 mile loop that cuts to the Military Sinkhole Vista/Trail that is another option for would-be loop hikes.

My description focuses on summer hiking because the Rim Road is closed in winter due to snow, so access to the trailhead requires hiking, skiing, or snowmobiling. Though access in the winter when the road is closed makes this area much more peaceful!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2009-03-08 chumley

    One-Way Notice
    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.

    Most recent of 11 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Meadow Trail #505
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    The first night we stayed at Sharp Creek Camp ground. We were told we had to be out by 1pm as the camp ground was going to be closed and used for firefighters. And we were glad to have them move in. The second night we stayed at Aspen Campground ⛺️.
    I spent most of my time helping my son with his 24ft travel trailer. And of course his Highlander need a new thermostat that sucked.
    Rowdy and I slept in a tent ⛺️ it was Rowdys first camping and he did great.
    My plan was to hike See Canyon-Mogollon Rim Vista Loop but now I have a excuse to come back.
    Meadow Trail #505
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    The day before this hike was our intended destination but a very strong wind changed our minds. So we went back today to try again. It was still windy but no were near what there had been. We started out at the Rim Lakes Overlook. Went to the lake, then the spillway and back. It was a really nice day for a hike.
    Meadow Trail #505
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    Bear Canyon Lake / 260 Trail-head loop
    This is a figure 8 loop with the 260 TH, Bear Canyon Lake and the Carr Lake trails.

    I started out at the 260 TH and there a group of hikers going up the Military Sinkhole.

    The route I took was:
    Drew Canyon
    Boulder Hop
    Carr Lake
    - jump across to -
    General Crook
    FR208 - to rim
    FR208 - to Bear Canyon Lake
    Bear Canyon Lake trail
    FR300 (bushwhacked away from the road)
    Carr Lake
    General Crook
    - jump across to -
    Rim Vista
    Military Sink hole

    It was a typical hike except for two things.

    When I was going towards the rim (on FR208) I smelled a camp fire [-X . I came across a family hiking the other direction and they showed me a fire that they put out. They ground around a small pine tree was scored! The ground was still smoldering. They told me that a there was a some people camping in that spot the night before. The family was heading out to the Woods Canyon store to report the fire. I continued to the rim and upon my return, There was 3 forest service fire trucks dousing the area. One of the rangers questioned me. I told them what I knew and the ranger though it was a carless cigarette thrown out into the woods.

    Driving through Payson , I pulled into a parking lot to grab a Mountain Dew. Suddenly two huge Elks were walking down the Beeline :o ! A pickup truck (with no doors) chased the Elk down a side street. The pickup had a retro 70's police siren. One Elk came back and stood still about 30 feet from the Jeep. The pickup came back and chased it down the side street. It was too dark for a picture.

    The hike was fun. The temps were on the cool for the entire hike. Once the sun dropped, it got cold. I almost put a jacket on, but I held out until the descent down the rim. Then the temps got better.
    Meadow Trail #505
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    Mike's never been to Bear Canyon Lake, so we did a hike to it.

    As soon as we got out the truck the mosquitoes started biting! The trail was soggy at best, to swamp land! I've never seen that much water on the rim. There were creeks that I never know existed!
    The cool part was that we saw about 20 frogs through the day. Some were bright green.

    Our lunch at Bear Canyon Lake got cut short due to rain. The mosquitoes were so bad on the way back that we cut-over to the rim view trail to avoid them.
    Meadow Trail #505
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    Eastern Mogollon Loop - Low-High-Lake
    Met Johnny Rocket in town, loaded up the rocket ship, and he launched us up North in a Tropical way.

    This loop got thrown together the night before the hike. JJ says it's book worthy, I'll have to agree. It has a little bit of everything. Pleasant trails with vast views, interesting rock formations, old growth pine and oak, meadows, a lake, fauna, and snow cones. Even the off trail portion was on long ago decommissioned forest roads.

    A lot of first time trails for me including this portion of the Rim Vista, Military Sink Hole, Drew, Aspen #441. I'll always love the views from the Rim Vista Trail. Sure, it's paved in spots and gets close to FR 300, but the views just keep you coming back.

    We started on the Rim Vista and had about 15 minutes of a steady rain. It was overcast and the temps were quite comfortable. We dropped down the enjoyable Military Sinkhole Trail and caught the far East end of the Highline Trail. This really is a nice section of trail. At the Drew trail we made our only real steep climb for the day, climbing 800' in a mile.

    Once a top the rim, we continued on the Drew for awhile, to the Aspen #441 and even the General Crook for awhile. The next part that I had drawn up, was the off trail portion to Woods Canyon Lake. This was the easiest off trail I'd ever done and it took us right to one of the western fingers of the lake.

    As always the lake is just a darn purdy hike. This was really about the first people we'd seen all day. We stopped in the store, looking for just the right "Accessory" for Dr. Frick. No Luck. JJ grabbed a snow cone and off we went.

    On the Meadow Trail, we got up close and personal with 3 elk.
    See photos and the end of the Video for Dr. Frick's exploits. :next: :next: :next:

    JJ....Thanks for the Joy Ride!
    12.08 at 115 is Movin'
    Meadow Trail #505
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    I parked at the Rim Top TH and took the Rim Lakes Vista trail to the Mogollon campground. Then I found an old Jeep road that took me very close to the campgrounds by the Drew Canyon trail. I poke out by FR300. After exploring for a bit, I found the General Crook trail.
    I took the Gen Crook trail to the Carr Lake TH and had lunch. I looked again at the warning not to trust the Carr Lake trails (or the signs). I had a lot of time, so I threw caution to the wind and I took off down the Aspen Trail.
    I took it to where it intersected an unnamed trail. That trail went to FR300 and there was another trail called "C" My GPS showed this "C" trail looping back to the General Crook trail. I took it but either the GPS was wrong or I missed a turn. The trail took me back to FR300 and I was going the wrong direction from the Jeep. I studied the GPS and decided to double back on "C" to a spot where I could bushwhack to the Aspen trail. The terrain made it a very easy bushwhack and I was back on-course. I took the Aspen trail to the General Crook, back to the Jeep.

    This is the second time that I got turned around on the Carr Lake trails. I noticed that the Sitgrave's forest has turned a lot of old jeep roads into unnamed trails. They place a gate in front of a FR and put up a generic trail sign.
    My leg held pretty well doing the hike because my doctor has me on anti-inflammatories.
    Meadow Trail #505
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    As the three of us headed up the bee-line we discussed where to hike. Due to the heat we settled on the eastern side of the highline trail. I knew that side has more shade and is higher in elevation

    We parked at the See Canyon TH and headed east. We saw a bunch of mountain bikers and a couple of horses.

    We headed up the Military Sink hole. The heat was getting to Fan so she hung back on the rim. Mike and I took the General Crook trail to Meadow trail and then to Woods Canyon Lake. This was my first time at the lake. Along the way a group of people had congregated by a mother & baby elk that had nested down for the day. On person had to get a real close up shot and the mom didn't like that, so both of the Elk took off.

    Mike stopped by the general store to get a diet Coke. We hiked around the lake. Halfway through the loop we stopped by a guy with binoculars and a two-way radio. He showed us an eagle's nest and we saw the mother eagle bring fish to the baby eagles!

    We went around a finger of the lake to get a better view. We found a perfect lunch spot right on the edge of the lake.

    We heard a loud whack and saw that a boat smacked into a tree that was sticking out of the lake. Then two bikini girls climb the tree as two guys circled in the boat.

    We finished lunch and completed the Woods canyon loop. We took the General Crook to the Drew Canyon trail. My leg started to act up on the downhill. What should have taken an hour to get to the TH, took me 90 minutes. My leg was hurting by the time we got to the TH. I'm glad we didn't do a major death march. I can't be doing any elevation for a bit longer. :?

    The temps were warm even on the rim. It felt just right whenever we were in the shade, but the sun was hot and humid!
    Meadow Trail #505
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    17-mile loop: Meadow Trail to Woods Canyon to Willow Springs Canyon, returning on the General Crook Trail.

    Sorry for the long description! A lot of new terrain to cover!
    I had wanted to explore South Chevelon Canyon for a while, and knew nothing about it except that it is 18-20 miles from Woods Canyon Lake to Chevelon Canyon Lake. Figuring that would take at least 2 or 3 nights of backpacking, I decided that it wasn't realistic right now. So I opted for a shorter trip to get my feet wet on the route. I decided to hike down Woods Canyon from the lake until reaching Willow Springs Canyon, and then hike up to Willow Springs Lake.

    I woke up late, didn't feel good, and got a late start. I had mapped out the route and knew it would be about 15 miles to complete the loop. Estimating how long it might take in the canyons, I figured that I couldn't start hiking after 2pm or I would risk darkness while still off-trail. Having never been in the area before, if it was going to get dark on me, I wanted to be in the easy stretch of familiar territory of the Rim Vista Trail, FR300, and General Crook Trail, rather than in an unknown canyon, off-trail.

    Sure enough I got to the Rim Vista trailhead at 1:50, and began my hike down the Meadow Trail at exactly 2:00. Half an hour later, I was at the dam and headed downstream in the grassy canyon. There were some pools of stagnant water, but otherwise, the end of June was taking it's toll on this drainage. The first couple of miles were easy to hike, and as I was cognizant of the time, I was able to keep my speed close to 3mph. Initially, the hiking was flat and grassy, but the vegetation increased, and the use trails became less defined.

    Soon it was a struggle to decide if it was easier to hike next to the dry creek, or just make my way down the rocks in it. Having left the lake far behind, there were no signs of people anywhere, but plenty of signs of wildlife. I startled an elk and its young calf, as well as a rafter of turkey... big, fat, delicious-looking turkey! I was surprised at the number of blue spruce in the canyon, offering a nice contrasting color to the bright green grass and other flora along the creekbed.

    Eventually however, the canyon slowly transitioned from grassy meadow to rocky canyon. The only way forward was to navigate the boulders that fill the creekbed. From time to time, it looked like there was an option for hiking alongside the creek, but every time I tried, the path I had seen ended abruptly in deadfall and brush, pushing me back to boulder hopping.

    Knowing I was looking for the junction of Willow Springs Canyon, and hoping to be there before 5:30, I pressed forward. A couple of large rockslides and one good landslide along the canyon provided some different views than you typically see in lower elevation canyons in Arizona.

    Finally, it looked like there was some easier hiking on the right bank, so I headed over and found a very well defined wildlife trail through a nice healthy forest. Of course, after 200 yards it ended and I realized I was at the junction of the three canyons. It was exactly 5:00 so I was happy with my time, knowing I had 3 hours of daylight remaining.

    Having studied the satellite photos of the area, I was anticipating that the lower half of Willow Springs Canyon would also be an unpleasant boulder field like Woods Canyon had turned into. I wasn't really looking forward to that, and decided to take a short break, have a sandwich and hydrate before pressing on.

    When I started again, I had not gone 300 yards when the most pleasant thing happened. Suddenly the dry canyon I had been hopping rocks in began to trickle with a little running water. And suddenly more and more! There is no spring marked on the map and yet, the water flow was as impressive as many mountain springs in Arizona! :D What a fantastic surprise!

    The only way to navigate upstream was in the center of the mountain stream, but the rocks are plentiful and getting my feet wet was totally unnecessary. The stream ran over dark black rocks, and the water, though crystal clear, appeared black, juxtaposed against brilliant green grasses and flora. This is still a very rugged and remote area, and the going was slow. Deadfall across the creek, and occasional route-choosing decisions impeded progress from time to time.

    I startled a big, fat porcupine sitting on a rock in the center of the stream. He stared at me and didn't move. I looked for a way around, but there was no option, so I slowly approached him, calling out for him to move. He slowly waddled his fat butt to the shore and disappeared into the grass. That's my 2nd porcupine sighting in Arizona!

    So I continued upstream for what seemed like forever, but despite getting later in the day, it actually got lighter as the canyon got shallower and the remaining sun was sometimes visible on the trees above me. The canyon suddenly changed complexion, going from a beautiful wooded mountain stream, to a meandering meadow of grass with pools of water and little flow. I figured I was now close to the lake, but I was wrong. The grassy meadow seemed to continue forever, probably because I was now tired and anxious to get back on a familiar trail before daylight was lost.

    Finally I arrived at the dam and climbed up in time to catch beautiful sunset light across Willow Springs Lake. I had to climb two fences to get across the spillway and head for the boat ramp. Anybody else who does this should hike up on the north side of the spillway to avoid the closed areas. I didn't want to retrace my steps, so I opted for the illegal route.

    I now knew I had 4-5 miles back to my truck, but it was familiar territory. There's no established trail between Willow Springs Lake and the FR300 TH for General Crook and Rim Vista trails, and was more of an adventure than I thought it would be, but with the waypoint on my GPS I still found it easily. As darkness set in, I decided to stick to the Crook trail because it is essentially a closed dirt road and I figured I could make better time on that than the Rim Trail. Plus, the fun of the Rim Trail is the view and at night there's not much to see except the annoyance of bright headlights passing you on FR300. Choosing to skip the headlamp, I hiked Crook with only the aid of the nearly-full moon above me.

    So I made it the 3 miles back to the truck in about 45 minutes, arriving just before 9pm. Exhausted, but feeling the accomplishment of a good day! Managed to be in my garage only an hour and 45 minutes later, and bed very shortly thereafter!
    Meadow Trail #505
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    What was I thinking. Head north on a Holiday weekend, when it's still close to 110 in the valley, to of all places.... a lake.

    Finding parking here was a treat. It took 20 minutes to get past the loop by the store... No open spots... Then over to the Day Use area of Rocky Point.... I couldn't even pay to park because they were full. No worries.. there was plenty of free parking just off the road.

    The South side of the lake was a zoo. There were people, Kids, and rental boats everywhere. hiking counterclockwise on the lake loop, once you got past the spillway, it was quite enjoyable. You ran into the occasional hiker, but for the most part, you had the trail to yourself.

    After completing the loop of the lake, I took the meadow trail out to the Rim Road, to get the never tiring views off the rim.

    Even with the Labor Day crowds... a Good time
    Meadow Trail #505
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    I hiked this out and back on a Saturday afternoon in early March. Much of the snow had melted along the edge of the Rim, but plenty of deep drifts remained. I connected this hike with one to Woods Canyon Lake on the Meadow Trail. Because the Rim Road was still closed for the winter, I skipped the first mile or so of the Rim Lakes Vista Trail and instead just hiked down the road. In retrospect, this was a bad idea because of the numerous and very deep snow drifts. Unfortunately, there was too much pavement for snowshoes, and there was too much snow for hiking boots. This made this part of the trip a bit of an extra chore.

    I got a late start to my day and didn't start hiking until 1pm. It was very windy and subsequently cooler than I was expecting. I headed out wearing a ski hat and fleece gloves. The wind died down a couple of hours later and made it much more pleasant and allowed me to drop a layer of clothing.

    Via my return trip, learned that the actual trail, while a bit longer in distance than the road, was a much easier hike, because for some reason there was no snow on it to slow me down. I don't know if the exposure helped the immediate edge of the rim melt snow faster, but I learned not just from the road, but also from the Meadow Trail that the amount of snow increased greatly after getting away from the rim just a few hundred yards.

    For being such a windy and chilly day, I was surprised that visibility wasn't better than it was. But it was nonetheless a great day to hike along this amazing spot ... and besides two other cars at the trailhead, I didn't see another person all day long!

    It took me 1:15 minutes to hike the 3.0 miles to the Woods Canyon Vista where I joined the Meadow Trail. On my return, I avoided the Rim Road and stuck to the trail. It took me 1:30 to get back to the parking lot where I was happy to have just enough time to drive back to the valley before dark.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Payson travel east on Hwy 260 for approximately 30 miles to the intersection of the Rim Road (Forest Road 300). Travel FR300 for about 3 miles to FR105. This is the Woods Canyon Vista, which is one end of the trail. However, Woods Canyon Lake and a variety of campgrounds are about 1.5 miles away on FR105. Thats where the official Meadow Trail #505 is.
    page created by chumley on Mar 08 2009 2:12 pm
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