Lanphier Trail has it all - beautiful setting, trout pools, interesting names along its length, history, geology and great vistas from the mountain tops in the Blue Range Primitive Area. As the trail winds in out of the Lanphier canyon, you are treated to scenic vistas of Bear Mountain, Lanphier Peak and views into Lanphier Canyon as you hit the high points and verdant riparian areas as the trail descends to the streambeds, providing a scenic access to the northeastern sections of the Blue range Primitive area.
The trail starts at a corral on the Largo Canyon Trail. Lanphier Canyon has a rich collection of trees that makes this area a great Autumn Color hike - Boxelder, Gambel Oak, Arizona Walnut and Velvet ash cloak this area in golden glow as the trail climbs up half a mile to the top of the ridge and drops into the Lanphier Creek following it for the next 2.6 miles. At about 0.6 miles from the trailhead is the junction with the Largo Trail that follows the Largo Creek. Stay to the left and follow the Lanphier trail and at 1.5 miles you will encounter "Red Rock Pillars" - rock conglomerate walls that look purplish. How did it ever get named "Red Rock Pillars"? Moister microclimates in this area benefit the big-tooth maple that grows here. Canyon grape and Virginia creeper are also abound in this area. Watch for Poison Ivy along the trail too. From here on the trail criss-crosses the creek many times until it reaches Indian Creek - a major tributary. This is an exceptionally rich riparian area and the pools of water are rich in trout making it an excellent spot to take a break.
A quick climb-out to leads to panoramic views of Bear Mountain, Lamphere Peak (More of the quirks: mis-spelling of Lanphier) and the canyon below. On the right side you see "Whoa Canyon" - named after riders "whoa & ing" their mounts as they came down the steep canyon walls. The trail continues up the north side of the canyon meandering through side canyons and a good spectrum of Blue vegetation of ponderosa pine and white fir in the cooler upper reaches; pinyon, juniper and scrub oak on the harsher southern slopes and dropping back into the canyon and its rich riparian cover. You arrive at the lush Cashier's spring, 5.0 miles from the trail head. The steep hill just above Cashier's spring is Banker's Hill. Again, there is lore to these names & thanks to early cattle ranchers who raised cattle in this area. (Cash Cow? - raise cattle in the mountains and take them up trail to make money)
The trail climbs up from Cashier's spring for 0.6 miles where it meets up with Cow Flat Trail. The last part of the trail heads through ponderosa pines and is quite uneventful. Cashier's Spring is a good turn around point unless you absolutely have to follow the trail to its very end. You can also use the Cow Flat Trail #55 as a connecter trail to the S Canyon Trail #53 for a 12.4 miles loop trail.
Apache - Sitgreaves FS Reports Lanphier Canyon provides a scenic access route into the northeastern section of the Blue Primitive Area. The trail follows Lanphier Canyon for most of its 5 mile course winding in and out of that shallow gorge providing scenic views as it reaches high ground and offering the pleasant surroundings of rich green riparian vegetation as it descends back to the streambed. At its high points, views of Bear Mountain, Lanphier Peak, and overlooks of Lanphier Canyon are the reward for the climb. About 2.7 miles from the trailhead a major tributary called Indian Creek shelters an exceptionally lush riparian area which you may want to stop and enjoy.
Beyond Indian Creek Canyon the trail slants up the canyon slopes to offer even broader panoramas to the south and west. About one half mile beyond the confluence of Lanphier and Indian Creeks, the trail climbs the north slope of the canyon and meanders through a series of secluded basins before dropping back into the canyon. Vegetation varies as the trail gains and looses altitude and the area through which it passes becomes more or less exposed. Trailside trees vary through the entire range found in the Blue with ponderosa pine and white fir holding the high ground and cool sheltered areas, while pinyon, juniper and scrub oak claim the hotter, dryer south slopes. Maples, walnuts, alders and box elders thrive in the streamside oases.
As the trail nears its end, it crosses the creek one last time at a pleasant spot marked by pools of water bordered by moss covered rocks. From that point the trail heads up slope to its junction with the Cow Flat Trail.
Notes: No mechanized vehicles (including mountain bikes) permitted in Primitive Area. Reliable water can be found at Blue River and in Lanphier Creek downstream of Indian Creek.
0.0 Trailhead at Blue River.
0.6 Junction with Largo Trail.
1.5 Red rock pillars.
3.2 Junction with Indian Canyon
5.0 Cashier Spring.
5.6 Junction Cow Flat Trail #55.
USGS Maps: Bear Mountain, Blue
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.