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Snow Flat, AZ

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Guide 22 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
3.4 of 5 by 5
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Difficulty 1 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 0.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,808 feet
Elevation Gain -150 feet
Accumulated Gain 180 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 1.7
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Perennial Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
7  2017-03-07 cactuscat
24  2017-01-04 SkyIslander18
10  2016-10-20
Mount Graham 10,720
4  2016-09-22 cactuscat
26  2013-03-18 SkyIslander18
17  2012-07-13 outdoor_lover
15  2012-07-13
Twilight Spring
15  2012-04-27
Swift Trail (State Hwy 366)
Page 1,  2
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Aug, Sep, Jul, Jun → Any
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:07am - 6:16pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Culture Nearby
An avalanche of nature's beauty
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
Why write a description for an easy, half mile hike to nowhere? Because it's beautiful, and if you happen to be camped at Snow Flat in Arizona's Pinaleno Mountains, you might wonder what lies below the flat. A well traveled trail, possibly dating to Snow Flat's days as a Boy Scout camp, leads into the forest below Snow Flat's little lake, and makes for an interesting, albeit brief, exploration.

From the little concrete spillway on the south side of Snow Flat lake, a distinct trail heads downhill into the coniferous forest, following Snow Flat's creek down a shallow drainage. The path soon beelines through a small meadow, which in summer is filled with the Pinaleno's ubiquitous yellow wildflowers.

As the drainage narrows, leafy skunk cabbage and cow parsnip plants line the trail, which stays close to the trickling creek.

After a quarter mile of lush greenery, the drainage drops off the southern edge of the Pinaleno Mountains, and the little trail comes to an end atop a rocky platform next to the creek. Below, the canyon steepens, and becomes a maze of near vertical rock walls and tangled broadleaf trees. One can see a small wedge of the Sulphur Springs Valley out of the mouth of the canyon. There may be some small waterfalls farther down canyon, but navigating through this rough terrain is not likely worth the effort.

On the return hike, be sure to stay right when the drainage forks, as a little side trail heads up the left drainage as well.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2009-07-19 PrestonSands
    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 16 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Snow Flat
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    This will be my 2nd to last trip up Graham to survey the Frye Fire damage.
    Plan was to check out the Snow Flat area and spend some time down in the campground.

    Snow Flat Rd 90% down to the campground Med severity burn. Mostly brown needles with a few black trees.
    Snow Flat Campground 98% untouched ..... I couldn't believe it ..... it looked great!
    Snow Flat Trail also looked great ..... some flooding and the fire did come down both sides of the canyon right up to the creek in some spots. Mostly brown needles, a few black trees up high.

    I then spent a few hours back at the campground. I packed in a grill and cooked pork chops for lunch, practiced a few outdoor skills, wrote a little & just relaxed. I watched 3 deer drink from the pond and listened to turkey gobbles up in the hills (never spotted them).

    Treasure Park from Snow Flat - There is now a permanent gate put up with a "forest closed" sign. I hiked just a bit up to the top of the hill to get a better understanding why. 100% black sticks as far as I could see and I'm sure all the way to Treasure Park. The worst hit area I have now seen on top.
    After leaving Snow Flat I next hit up the Shake Trail.
    There is a fire damage caution sign at the trail head for some reason?
    Other than a bit of red slurry on trees the first 100 yards ..... this trail was untouched by the fire. I hiked it just to the "big meadow" a mile down and this area looked great, No Damage!
    Back at the TH I crossed the Swift Trail and a bit up Twilight Peak.
    Destroyed ..... 50% brown needles/50% black trees ..... I could barely make out the trail.

    Was very happy to see Snow Flat & the Shake Trail as I've always seen them.
    The back trail to Treasure & Twilight are sad to lose.
    This is still very hard for me to deal with, I will actually be glad this year for the Nov 15th winter closure. 1 more trip up and I will be done with the top of the mountain until next April 15th after the winter closure is over.
    It's like a big car wreck up there ..... I don't want to look, but I have too.

    Wildlife - Another unbelievable day for deer, I counted 22 along the way. Many Abert's, heard gobblers, lots of butterflies & saw deer/turkey/coati/bear tracks at Snow Flat. Several javalina crossing the road lower down and a baby rattlesnake.
    Snow Flat
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    Goodbye to Winter ... went looking for snow - didn't find much along Swift Trail all the way up to the road closure. Turned around and parked at the (closed) Snow Flat road and hiked in ... decent snow covering the road, and I found a spot while circling the pond where I post-holed up to my knees a couple times.
    Snow Flat
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    Headed up Graham for a snowshoe.
    Didn't encounter continuous snow until the 8000 foot mark.
    I had four options and choose down Snow Flat road to the closed campground.
    Beautiful snow covered road down to the very small frozen lake.
    Left the snowshoes at the lake and out-n-backed the Snow Flat trail in boots.
    Then back up Snow Flat road to the Swift Trail.
    I then hit up Ladybug Peak on the drive back down, 50/50 mix of snow on the trail.

    Cool beginning before the hike when I met 3 young UofA students on top radio collar tracking a gray fox.
    Talked to them a bit about their research and watched as they circled around the antenna listening for the ping.
    No ping and we parted ways with them heading to a new location and myself heading down to Snow Flat.
    I had no idea gray foxes lived in such high altitude!

    I enjoyed my day.
    Snow Flat
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    Leaves are falling all around
    It's time I was on my way
    Thanks to you I'm much obliged
    For such a pleasant stay.
    - Page/Plant -

    Chasing autumn colors up high. Main focus was the aspens ..... and I found them!
    High Peak Road delivered, my favorite grove looked good. I was about a week late, but most still held gold.
    From #507 I finally completed the newly built connector trail over to the Big Creek Trail, cool little trail!
    Next up was Hospital Flat then down to Treasure Park. Big Creek was flowing good so I added on Big Creek Falls to the trip. Super fun boulder hopping down that canyon and the falls were a highlight.
    I then took the "spooky" back trail down to Snow Flat, ate & rested a bit by the pond before the climb up to the Swift Trail. Swift Trail then brought me back to the start completing the loop.

    Upper mountain closes November 15th so this was probably my last trip up high for this year. The lower Swift Trail however is starting to get good with color ..... real good! The next week or so should be primo for a scenic drive along the switchbacks.

    Good day for wildlife - 1 buck, 9 does, 6 Abert's & a dozen gobblers at Snow Flat.

    Snow Flat
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    Parked across from Shannon and took -
    Swift Trail :next: Snow Flat :next: Snow Flat Trail :next: Snow Flat to Treasure Park :next: Big Creek Falls :next: Swift Trail.
    Snow Flat - Always one of the most beautiful places on the mountain.
    Snow Flat Trail - Short & sweet, light creek flow and greening up nicely.
    Snow Flat to Treasure Park - Not very green yet & a little spooky as always.
    Big Creek Falls - Good creek flow. Very scenic waterfalls on the lower section. Because of the good flow, I decided on the climb down to the Big falls. Had forgotten about the butt pucker factor on the route up & down, it was a tad :scared:
    Swift Trail - Still the best trail of them all! Road looked real good today.
    Not much wildlife spotted on this trip, but not surprising with all the people heading up to start the weekend.
    Too early yet for the wow stuff on top, but it's starting ..... I shall return!
    Snow Flat
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    Roper Lake Ranger Trip #7
    Addie, Bianca, Lauren & Myself headed up Graham with the plan of hiking the Webb Peak area. The dirt road portion of the Swift Trail is not in the best of condition this year and for some reason the FS has not graded it for this summer season. We were traveling up in a low clearance car for this trip and made the decision to turn around close to the Fort Grant overlook and just hit up a few of the lower campground trails were the road was much better.
    We parked and started from Treasure Park first completing the out-n-back Big Creek Falls trail. Not much water running down the canyon and we were able to hike right down the creek bed from the lack of flow, very fun!
    We then took the "secret" trail down to Snow Flat. I always enjoy this one as it has such a different forest look then most of the other mountain trails.
    After a short break for lunch by the small lake, we hiked the out-n-back down to the nice overlook below Snow Flat.
    A walk up Snow Flat road and then back up the Swift Trail brought us to the start completing a loop.
    An hour of hilarious conversation back at Treasure Park was had before calling it a day and traveling back down the mountain to Roper Lake SP.
    Not our longest hike as a group, but another very enjoyable day on this great mountain!
    Can't wait for #8

    Pinaleno flowers are getting ready to explode, just need one good rain.
    Snow Flat
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    This is always one of my most anticipated & favorite trips up Graham every year!

    Every year the last upper 14 miles of the Swift Trail is closed for winter on November 15th and is reopened April 15th. I like to go up a week or so before the reopening (and the crowds move in) and hike in on the closed road. The plan for this one was to hike up to Grant Hill and form a loop down through 3 of the lower campgrounds which I completed.
    Just an awesome experience as always. Walking the closed Swifty and through all the empty campgrounds was a bit eerie and a little surreal, but also made for a very peaceful & tranquil day through the forest and all to myself.
    Very little snow left on top now and just a few small flowers starting to come up as the upper mountain is coming out of winter. And the deer ..... oh deer ..... counted 6 on the drive up/down and 12 along the trails with one just 20 feet off the Grant Hill trail feeding without a care of me walking by! There was no sign of bear or bigfoots yet.

    Other than a great 30 minute talk with the mountain police officer, I saw no one else on top of the Big Island the entire day. It was a wonderful trip and one I will continue to do every year - OK, I'm now ready for the crowds :| and the HAZers :)
    Snow Flat
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    After my scenic drive up the Swift Trail, I hit 3 short trails on the drive back down.

    Snow Flat - The road down is still locked up so I had to hike it down. There was quite a bit of snow on the road and I almost turned around at one point when it got calf high. Sooo glad I didn't, the Flat looked Awesome! Still a good amount of snow left and the small lake was 90% frozen on top. Snow Flat trail below the lake, forget it, way too deep :cry:

    Ladybug Peak - Quickie up to the top where I was greeted by a small amount of ladybugs. Signed the register, got my pics of the incredible views and headed down to Jacobson sawmill to end the day.

    Jacobson Sawmill - Made it down to the old Cluff Dairy in no time but bailed on the sawmill canyon part. It was getting late and can get awfully dark and squatchy down there :scared:

    Wildlife seen today - 3 does, 1 Abert's squirrel, 5 turkey & 1 very loud raven.
    Snow Flat
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    Flipped this into Snow Flat via Treasure Park.
    Started from Treasure Park by first looping the big meadow and then taking the back trail to Snow Flat. Then hiked down the short out n back Snow Flat trail before returning back to Treasure Park under a small monsoon storm that soon had me cold & wet. The storm ended the rest of my upper mountain plans so I drove back down stopping at the Jacobson Sawmill TH and taking it down just to the old Cluff Dairy to check out the flora situation. The wildflowers at both Treasure & Snow Flat are just past peak, but still look very nice. Cluff Dairy flora needs some rain help, but always a cool little area of Pinaleno history to walk around. Mountain temps never got above 75 degs and it was another nice day to be in the Grahams!
    Snow Flat
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    After Hiking Twilight Spring, Chad and I went over to Snowflat to Hike the small Trail to the Overlook and also to Camp for the night. It was late afternoon and it was still threatening to rain, but somehow, the Rain never happened.

    The Hike was very cool with more lush plants and Flowers galore. The Stream below Snowflat was actually running just a little bit, which was nice. The Overlook area was very cool and we spent some time there just soaking in the views.

    We returned the way we came and enjoyed the big Meadow along the Lake. The Meadow was showing off some Blooms as well. Chad went up the Meadow a little ways and ended up flushing a Mother Hen Turkey and a bunch of little ones. I went back to camp and just relaxed for a bit, before getting it set up for the evening. We had the place to ourselves on a Friday night, which seemed pretty lucky to me....It was a nice evening, albeit a little chilly, but when the day finally ended, I was snug as a bug in my sleeping bag in the car. :D

    Love this area, good company, nice Hikes, and serenity to boot!!! :)

    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 hike
    From Safford, Arizona, head south on U.S. Highway 191. Turn west onto State Highway 366 (Swift Trail), and follow it for 20.1 miles to the signed turnoff for Snow Flat. Follow Forest Road #472 (Snow Flat Road) for 0.7 miles to the meadow at Snow Flat. Park anywhere, and head down to the lake, past the "motor travel is restricted to roadways" sign. The trail starts next to the spillway of the lake, and heads downstream. (see hike description)
    page created by PrestonSands on Jul 19 2009 4:29 pm
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