The Alp of Eagar
Flat Top Mountain dominates the skyline behind the little town of Eagar, Arizona. This is not to say that it is a great Alp of a peak, scalable only by experienced mountaineers, using ropes and pitons. No, it's just a flat mesa, rising about 1,000 feet higher than Round Valley, covered with pinon and juniper trees. But it's a favorite of locals for a quick workout with a view.
The Forest Service has designated the old road to the top of Flat Top's rim as a non-motorized trail, suitable for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. There is a locked gate at the trailhead with a large sign on it that says "Road Closed". There is a small parking area here as well, by that gate, and right at the corner of 12th St. and Line St., next to the self-storage units!
The Forest Service reworked the old road to make a trail, and added a new trail they call "Robinson Hollow", although on the topo map the area is called "Robertson Hollow". (Typical of the FS to change place names for no reason, though.) These two trails link to the larger Murray Basin Trail System, but are most easily reached via this 12th St. trailhead, and deserve mention as separate hikes. It's about a two-mile trek to reach a fine view, overlooking the towns of Eagar and Springerville and the surrounding mountains and grasslands. This version of the hike takes about an hour and a half, including the rest stop it's about four miles round trip. However, if you are intent on reaching the actual summit of Flat Top you'll have to hike about half a mile across the top of it almost due south. And yes, it's pretty flat up there! There is a jumble of rocks out on the end of a point, and this is where you'll find the hiker's traditional sign-in jar. This peak is on the Arizona Big List of Peaks, a compilation for that sub-class of hikers known somewhat pejoratively as "peakbaggers".
While hiking up the Flat Top Trail you'll notice signs pointing to two side trails. The first one is the aforementioned Robinson Hollow Trail, which begins at the same trailhead. The second side trail, about a mile from the trailhead, goes down to Murray Basin, and also connects with the other end of the Robinson Hollow Trail. You can do a very nice loop hike by taking the Robinson Hollow Trail, at the trailhead, and following it around to a T intersection. At this T, turn left and hike up the switchbacks until you get to a second T intersection.(34.083872 -109.272466) Go left again to hike back to the trailhead, or go right to get to Flat Top. There are helpful wooden signs at these intersections.
The Murray Basin trail system has about fifteen miles of designated non-motorized trails that are popular with local hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers. The Flat Top Trail is a part of this system, which was completed about 2004. The Forest Service Springerville District office on South Mountain Avenue in Springerville has a free trail guide booklet. It shows the Murray Basin Trail system but does not mention the 12th St. trailhead.
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.
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.