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Whip out the planchette and ponder along
Where exactly does the Fife Canyon trail #273 start and end? I’ve hiked the portion signed as the Fife Canyon Trail, but it wasn’t in Fife Canyon. Is the southernmost lower portion also the Hughes Tank Trail 262B? Does the trail continue north down Fife Canyon from Witch Ridge? Why would you have a trail named after a canyon if it doesn’t go along that canyon? Then there is the trail guide that talks about the unsigned, almost nonexistent trail that follows along Fife Canyon. These are questions I pondered before I wrote this guide, and this is the write-up that sits best with me and the facts I have found.
About 1.8 miles in from the Turkey Canyon Road along the Turkey Pen Trail 262 is a signed intersection for the Fife Canyon Trail. This trail is by Chiricahua Mountain standards reasonably easy to follow; this means you shouldn’t have any issues losing it if you keep an eye out. The Trail is through an oak, juniper, pine grassland forest, and the trail can get a little vague in the grassland areas. The first 0.2 miles, the trail crosses over a 200-foot hill to a saddle that separates the Turkey Pen Creek from Rock Creek. From this saddle, the trail is downhill for the next mile to Hughes Tank. This tank was dry when I was there in October. About 0.1 miles after the Tank is the intersection with Rock Creek and the Rock Creek Trail. There is a sign at this junction indicating the Rock Creek Trail 259 heads east and west and that the Fife Canyon Trail crosses over at this point. The Fife Canyon Trail actually follows the Rock Creek Trail east for a couple hundred yards before heading north up to Witch Ridge. The first 1.3 miles of the Fife Canyon Trail from the Turkey Pen Trail has also been called the Hughes Tank Trail 262B, although the signs do not call it this.
The Fife Canyon Trail continues from Rock creek at the signed intersection and heads up to Fife Saddle 500 feet. There are two signs at this intersection, one indicating the Rock Creek Trail and the other calling out the Fife Canyon Trail, indicating Witch Ridge 1 mile and Green Canyon 3 miles. This trail follows an old jeep trail and is relatively easy to follow. Every so often, I would lose the trail, but by looking at my GPS and religiously following the route I had on it, I was able to stay fairly on track. The jeep trail is now just a single-track trail, but you can see that it used to be a jeep trail every so often. At Fife Saddle is a sign pointing the way for the Fife Canyon Trail and the Witch Ridge Trail. There did not appear to be a trail heading north down Fife Canyon, but the arrow on the sign indicated it did. The Witch Ridge Trail was almost nonexistent; at least, I couldn’t see much evidence of a trail at this intersection, just a sign. The non-existence of a trail is typical of the Witch Ridge Trail and other sections I have hiked.
Since this trail is called the Fife Canyon Trail, I must assume that it continues north down Fife Canyon along five Mile Creek. I have yet to be on this section of the trail and can’t talk about it, but there is a guide for the Fife Canyon Trail 273 that gives a description. It doesn’t sound like there is much of a trail anymore. I have called this guide the Fife canyon Trail South 273, and together with the guide for the Fife Canyon Trail, should be a complete description of the Trail. The endpoints would be on the Turkey Pen Trail to the south and an old jeep trail along Five Mile Creek to the north. Access from the north would be along Pine Canyon Road. Pine Canyon Road requires a high clearance vehicle, preferably 4WD.
Check out the Official Route and Triplog.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
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