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West Baldy Trail #94, AZ

no permit
856 72 6
Guide 72 Triplogs  6 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Alpine > Eagar S
4.4 of 5 by 29
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,263 feet
Elevation Gain 2,145 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,364 feet
Avg Time One Way 3.5-4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14.88
Interest Perennial Creek & Peak
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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54  2019-08-29
East Baldy Trail #95 to Hoodoo Overlook
10  2019-07-04 OdinWiski
6  2019-06-27
Mount Baldy Loop
5  2019-06-04 DixieFlyer
5  2019-05-26 RickVincent
8  2018-12-23 RickVincent
22  2018-06-02
Mount Baldy Loop
10  2018-05-12
Mount Baldy Loop
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 7
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
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Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jun, Jul, Sep, Oct
Sun  6:05am - 6:16pm
Official Route
15 Alternative
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True Mountain Trail
by HAZ_Hikebot

Likely In-Season!
The trail starts just out of the parking area and through the gate. Please take a moment to sign the visitor register. The trail is easy to follow as it cuts across a wide meadow and edges up to the West Fork of the Little Colorado. The trail follows the stream for the next two miles, climbing gradually. This stretch is the most heavily used portion of the trail and quite possibly the most heavily used trail on the Forest. If you have a problem with lots of other hikers, avoid this trail on weekends and holidays. As the trail begins a more noticeable climb, the crowds thin out. The trail crosses the West Fork over an old bridge and continues its uphill grade. The ascent is no vein-popper, but it can be taxing due to the steady climb and high elevation.

The trail crosses meadows and winds through a thick forest setting dominated by spruce, fir and aspen. Beaver dams dot the streams and fishing on the West Fork is generally good. As you work your way up, the trail becomes a series of switchbacks. Please stay on the trail and resist the temptation to make your own shortcuts. This damages the soil, scars the land and causes erosion which could wash out the established trail and bring silt into the creek. The West Baldy Trail merges with the East Baldy Trail in a saddle near the Reservation boundary below Mt. Thomas. At this point you can see some new country and continue down to the other side, or turn around and see the trail you just came up from a different angle. Each trail is a 7 miles hike from this point. Many hikers park a vehicle at the Sheeps Crossing trailhead and another at the Phelps trailhead as shuttle vehicles. The summit of Mt. Baldy is on the White Mountain Apache Reservation and is closed to all non-tribal members. Please respect their customs and laws and do not travel to the top.

Group size limits are 12 for hiking and riding and 6 for camping.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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.

Lightning Kills
Stay off the mountain when thunderstorms are forecasted. July and August are notorious for quick unexpected storms. Lower the risk by being OFF the mountain before 11am on a clear morning. Stay safe, read the NOLS Backcountry Lightning Safety Guidelines.

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

2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot
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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 30 deeper Triplog Reviews
West Baldy Trail #94
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I had never hiked in the Mount Baldy area, so Tracie, my intrepid hiking partner, and I decided to go up and down the West Baldy Trail. It was a very nice hike, but after about 5 miles we encountered a fair number of fallen trees for about a mile or so. I would say that the deadfall on this trail is comparable to what you encounter while going up the Escundilla National Trail up to the fire tower atop Escundilla.

On our way back down we saw about 3 elk, but that was the only wildlife that we encountered on this day, unless you count the 3 elk that we saw in the McDonalds parking lot in Payson on our way up to the trailhead. We did see a mountain lion footprint in the snow on the trail however.
West Baldy Trail #94
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Leaving my Pinal Mountain campsite I made my way to the West Baldy trailhead, where howling winds were raining down pine needles and small branches. Ragged clouds raced overhead as I hiked up West Baldy, and hints of approaching autumn were present in golden ground cover. I was surprised to encounter a fast moving terrestrial gartersnake among the spruce trees. I reached our usual campsite next to a cienega of amber grass, just as the rest of the guys were returning from the summit of Mount Baldy. We spent the rest of the day in camp, watching the clouds race by and listening to a lone elk bugling somewhere deep in the forest. The winds continued to roar through the night as the low dipped into the high 30's.

Saturday morning found Jason and I drinking coffee in the sun to warm up, and then hiking up to the top of Mount Baldy. Quite a few day hikers were out, and we crossed paths with a group of backpackers heading down to our spot. A lone, golden aspen was the only fall color seen. The summit cairn provided shelter from the wind as we sat atop the mountain with a handful of others.

Jason and I picked some raspberries and currant berries on the way back down to camp, where we met up with Gary and Eddy, who had hiked back after having driven into Show Low earlier. I fashioned a wig/beard combo out of moss I had found as a tribute to an old HAZ member, and then spent the afternoon in my hammock reading and listening to the gentle flow of the Little Colorado River. We cooked over the fire that night as the cold crept in. The evening's festivities continued as Jason and I pushed over a dangerous dead spruce snag that was about to topple. I wondered what the group camping near us thought, with all of the grunting and tree crashing. I fell asleep listening to the mysterious lone elk that night, still bugling away, somewhere among the trees.

Sunday morning we were up at dawn in the restless wind, and were on the trail mid morning. Noontime found the four of us having lunch at Pinetop Brewing Company, before heading for home.
West Baldy Trail #94
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Baldy Horseshoe
I opted to skip the Saturday ascent with Lee and chose to join Claire and Lizzard on Sunday instead. We went up East, which I think I enjoy much more as a trail in general than West. The only downside is that those lower miles on West just drag on and on at the end of the day. We shuttled to skip the crossover and save the 2 extra miles which we were all pretty happy about.

There were a handful of people on the trail, but I was surprised at how few we encountered being a holiday weekend. There were endless raspberries that were perfect ripeness, and at the top of the mountain quite a few strawberries that were absolutely delicious. :y:
West Baldy Trail #94
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I'd been wanting to get out this way, so this trip was well timed. I drove in from Payson on Saturday night, camped at the CG next to the TH and met Linda the next a.m. She revealed a broken toe right before we set off. We went up East Baldy first. I always enjoy these spruce'd up forests. Everything was green and water was flowing from every drainage. The tread is beautiful and the grades are friendly. We saw what appeared to be recent trail work, dead fall was very minimal. The ridge over to the summit was nice. A few small snow patches provide moral support. We tucked away behind some rocks for a nutrition break / rest period. Heading down West Baldy we encountered some dead fall almost immediately. Far more than what was on East Baldy, but nothing worth griping about. The scenery along West Baldy was superb. Coming out of dense forest into open meadows provides a neat contrast. The many shades of green and a peaceful West Fork LCR winding through the countryside is hard to take your eyes off of. Great day in the mountains with some nice weather.

Tons of Iris blooms..
West Baldy Trail #94
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We drove up to Alpine from Phoenix on Friday. We started hiking on Saturday at 7:30am. We were off the trail at 3:30pm. We stopped for lunch at the "almost summit" by the big pile of rocks that marks the reservation boundary. The trail was lovely, and the weather was perfect. There was some frost on the ground when we started (it was a low of 30F that morning; some of the people camping near the river on the trail complained that their water froze), but it burned off quickly. It was hot near the top in the exposed areas. The signpost to the almost summit is missing. The pole is there, but not the sign. The sign showing the junction with the East Baldy trail is there, though. We thought that the pile of rocks marking the reservation boundary was very anticlimactic. The survey marker is there nestled in amongst the pile of rocks. We saw a few others hiking on the trail, but not too many. We had lunch with one other hiker at the almost summit, but while we were sitting there, two other hiking parties breezed right past the boundary to go to the summit. I wonder if they had permits, but I didn't ask them. Beautiful hike!!! I will say that our fitbits showed our roundtrip value as 17.6 miles, so I am not sure that 14 miles roundtrip as listed is valid. Maybe that value is from the connector trail, or from the sheeps bridge trailhead instead of current formal West Baldy Trailhead. None of the aspens on the trail had yet turned color.
West Baldy Trail #94
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I drove up from Phoenix Monday morning and arrived at the TH around 1000 am. My anticipation was immense :D ! This trail did not disappoint, at all :y: This has to be one of the most stunning, beautiful and breathtaking hikes I have ever done :DANCE: Words alone cannot describe my feeling while on this very easy and less than strenuous hike. Even without acclimation, this hike was less than strenuous even though it was AOA 9,000. My evening was spent at the very unassuming(from hwy 273), but beautiful Winn camp ground, which its self sits at over 9,300 ft. Out of 65 camping spots, only 3 were occupied and no one was by me. But, I must admit...... at 6'1, car camping stinks. Even in my Tahoe :stretch: . Worse than that, I kept waking up and thinking someone was peering through the window :scared:
West Baldy Trail #94
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Spent a nice couple of nights in the White Mountains with my bud Steve . . .

We left the East Baldy Trail trailhead parking lot at about noon in the soaking rain . . . time to try that parka for the first time! Didn't know it rained in Arizona . . . :scared:

day 1
Got breakfast at Baker's Ponderosa Cafe in Heber. Ber-y nice. Hiked through the crossover trail and stopped for lunch in that nice little meadow at the junction of the crossover trail and the West Baldy. Steve never misses a chance to stick his face in the creek :lol: What a pristine hike! Really enjoyed the crossover. Then we hiked to the last crossing of the West Baldy trail and the Little Colorado river (as adenium mentioned in his last post). Found a nice fire ring. Too bad we couldn't start a fire to save our lives!!!! Good thing we didn't need one to save our lives--the temperature didn't dip below 49 or so. Not the most comfortable dinner I've ever had--but bearable.

day 2
We hiked up the West Baldy trail on this fine Saturday morning. We got our asses out as early as we could manage (7:30am . . . impressed?), and were passed by a couple through hikers. We were trying to follow the advice to not be on Mount Baldy after 11am, but some of the hikers on the trail called bullhonky on that. They didn't seem to think the lightning was that b of a d? Oh well. We huffed it to white man's summit (~11,200ft yahear?), and there wasn't a sign there telling the imperialists to stay back . . . ? Seemed like Steve and I were the only ones hiking the mountain that day that didn't risk a day in Indian jail. Oh well--my pride remains intact. Hiked down to the meadow-y area just shy of 2 miles from the East Baldy trailhead and spent a very enjoyable afternoon chillin. Later on in the evening, we got to chillin a little more literally. Couldn't start a dang fire there either!!! Extremely frustrating. I've heard steel wool suggested. I'ma gonna need something. Shivered our way through watching Patriot Games on my iPhone screen :)

day 3
Hiked out. Ate lunch at The House in Show Low. Wow! very nice

It was a great weekend trip--only had to hop a few felled trees. It's God's country up there . . . enough to make a man consider Bonanza a template.
West Baldy Trail #94
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It was after the first week when it hit 117 in the valley. My friends wanted to get out of the heat and do a backpack. The Baldy Loop came to mind. We parked at the East TH and started hiking past noon on the Crossover Trail. The West Baldy offers beautiful scenery meandering along the river, with lushness, tranquility, and some sweeping views of huge meadows. Camped at a very good camp site right below the grassy hills on the other side of the river right before you go into the woods again to start the climb. A curious bear came about 100 yards from our camp site on the other side of the meadow and hung around for a minute to check out what we were up to before sauntering off back into the woods. I was bummed about forgetting my MHW Hardshell there on the big sitting log in that camp site the next morning :( . It had served me very well in the last few years and hopefully someone found it and will make good use of it :)

The next day we had a lazy start and continued on West Baldy on the ascent. There were right around 200 downed logs we had to go over, under, or around the entire loop - a lot more than I remembered 10 months ago. Glad to hear FOTG's report that they had been cut and cleared out of the way very recently. My friend was struggling quite a bit with going uphill with his big pack at those altitudes. So we took our time and went rather slowly. I was encouraged that he and his daughter just buried their heads down and kept going - never complaining and always full of joy and thankfulness to be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery. I always have a weird fondness for the section I call "tree cemetery" right before you get on with the last leg of West Baldy :lol: After coming down from the false summit and passing the airplane crash site on East Baldy, we camped at a campsite near the first scenic lookout. Interestingly, the second night at much higher elevation was a lot warmer than the first night.

The next day we continued down on East Baldy and enjoyed the big views and the cool huge rock formations it had to offer before getting back to the car late morning. When I day hiked the loop, I really wanted to do a backpack here. And I'm glad we did. The White Mountain area never disappoints.
West Baldy Trail #94
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I had Friday off and really wanted to do this as an over-nighter. But all the thunderstorm forecast made me abandon that plan and do this as a day hike instead on Saturday. Getting up at 02:30 and leaving at 03:30 was no fun, but the drive was as scenic as I remembered. By 08:00 I started hiking.

The super cool weather was so refreshing and made me forget about the hot hell for a day. I parked at the East Baldy TH and took the Crossover Trail to West Baldy Trail. Once I was on the West Baldy, I was totally taken by its beauty! The LCR was rushing, meadows were lush, and flowers were blooming. The first 2-3 miles were full of primo backpacking campsites! As I entered the woods, the rain started picking up. Met a few hikers who came back after a few miles because they were concerned about lightning. I was too!! A father and his daughter, who had been camping out for a few days, came down with their donkeys and a ton of gear. They were back country camping in style! I thought they were doing trail maintenance work :) Wiski was busy chasing squirrels.

Once I got to the West Baldy / East Baldy junction, I kept going. I saw one "summit" after another. So I just kept going :)

On my way back down on East Baldy, I really enjoyed all the cool boulder/rock formations. Saw a couple of pieces at the B-24 crash site.

This was a beautiful hike and a great escape from Phoenix heat in the summer. I would love to go back and do an over-nighter sometime.
West Baldy Trail #94
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Don't know sometimes how my reports get so long. I guess TMI. Oh well.
Today as we started driving west we weren't sure which hike we were going to do but we were leaning toward Baldy and as we neared the South Fork TH; we opted to continue past. The weather was tricky but I've heard this is a beautiful trail, even if you don't summit. On the drive near Sunrise we did see some pronghorns resting far from the road. At the TH we geared up for our day's journey.

Our hike started in the forest but then gradually came out into our first meadow. What a view! We were already enjoying our hike and it seemed like we were making pretty good time as we soaked in the meadow and the river and the wildflowers and the trees and the view in general :DANCE: . The sneezeweed was out in force here too. It just adds that splash of color that lights up the area around it.

It was nice to​ stay fairly close to the creek and come in and out of the forest and thru the very BIG meadows that stretched out on each side of us. We would stop a few times to share our thoughts of the views. At about the 4 1/3rd mile mark we hit what I thot was either a dead end or a take off your shoes to cross the river moment. As it turned out, there were 3 different ways to cross and we tried all three. I, of course, had the hardest time but Wade lended me a helping hand since I chose his way.

Once across we started up the very gradual climb up this mountain. It really is pretty through here too even though the huffing and puffing was just beginning. I overheard Wade say that he thot 10 miles would be their limit today since they hadn't been hiking for some time. As usual, everyone got ahead of me and once I caught up to them at the 5 mile/10,000 ft elevation corner where they were resting, I thought we would be eating a snack and turning around. A couple other hikers and their cool dog eventually joined up with us for a bit and then before I knew it, our group decided we were heading up the mountain to the summit. We only had 2 more miles and 1200 more feet :sweat: . OMG!

So I got my trekking poles out, put on my gloves and started up the mountain behind them. After about 1/2 mile of this I'm thinking, I don't know if I want to do these last miles. That's pretty normal for me. But I continued on as I was actually feeling pretty good. And then you get to the matchsticks section. THAT is impressive. There was also a great stance of Towering Delphinium just off the trail. Here you take what I think is the longest switchback of the day as you continue to climb upward back into the trees.

It was getting a little tougher : rambo : with each step but I just kept going albeit very slowly. Eventually you reach this bit of a saddle and this is where Kelly started with the elevation countdown for the rest of the up. She asked me if I wanted to stop but I have found it is better to just keep going even if I'm in slow motion. You kind of go thru more of the burn area but it has a couple different sections of undergrowth going on. I don't think I took much video or pictures on the way up but I would try and make up for that on my way down ;) .

And, yep, there's the sign. I think I'm done and I've made it to the saddle. I was pretty spent but probably not any worse than normal for that kind of climb for being out of hiking shape. Kelly took my picture at the sign. She is just such a great coach and cheerleader for me. She has gotten me up at least eight peaks that I can think of. And I'm not really into climbing mountains. In this case, however, I've always admired Baldy and was just glad to be here :D . The grade and trail condition just couldn't be any better (well except thru a couple parts in the meadow that were wet and had water and ruts).

The other three decided to summit while I rested. I would like to have joined them but I knew we had seven miles to hike back and without several breaks, it would have taken too much time. After all, we had PIE on our agenda and I don't think it's a good idea to get between a hiker and their pie. So I rested while the three of them hiked the .8 and 200 feet to the summit. I know the views are incredible from up there and I'm hoping to see them when I do the East Fork up as that will save a mile. Surprisingly, I didn't see anyone else at the saddle until we started heading back down and ran into some backpackers we had seen earlier on the trail.

The trip down was great of course. I could film to my heart's content :) since breathing wasn't an issue as now it was a matter of trying to stay close to the other hikers. The view going down was nice as well as you passed through different layers of the forest once again. We noticed many different shrooms too. We got to the River and this time I tried Kelly's way. Once again, Wade offered a helping hand to make my crossing a safe one. His wife, Mary Jo, on the other hand did her usual balance beam routine on the log. I filmed it too. (I didn't realize the West Fork originates from Baldy).

Not too far from there we stopped to rest on a log at the meadow that has the forested island in the middle to catch our breath for the last stretch to PIE. The sun was out for the most part so weather would not even be a concern for the rest of our journey. Some of the wetter part of the meadow trails had dried a bit so that made our walking a little easier. Otherwise you had to walk on the grass clumps along side and that wasn't easy. When the sun shone on the River, you could now see the colors of its bottom which was rather interesting.

We decided to continue alongside the river (go to the right of the fence) instead of going up the long hill into the forest for that last mile or so. Wade and I had spotted the off trail from near the top of the hill on our way down and decided that was the shorter, yet steeper, way back to the forest road. We saw a fisherman by the river which was to our right. Once a top the hill you get to see some of the aspens again. And like they say, doesn't everyone like aspens. We also saw the fungi growths all the way up some of the trunks so we admired that for a bit and noticed it on some other trees as well.

Finally back at the vehicle, we could celebrate Mary Jo's longest hike ever (that included the summit) :app: ! She was a trooper throughout. Needless to say, we were all smiles on our drive back to the cabin to shower and change before our drive to Alpine for dinner and... yep, you guessed it, PIE! Love hiking with you all.

4 part video:
to the 5 mile - 10,000 foot corner
In stabilization:
10,000 ft to saddle and back
10,000 ft to TH

lots of sneezeweed. The meadows would have blue flax and daisies among other smatterings of flora.

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
page created by joebartels on Oct 03 2009 3:49 pm
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