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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Cow Flat Trail #55, AZ

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Guide 15 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Alpine > Alpine S
Rated
2.8
2.8 of 5 by 4
 
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Statistics
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Distance One Way 12.1 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,587 feet
Elevation Gain -2,800 feet
Accumulated Gain 875 feet
Avg Time One Way 6-8 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 15.02
Backpack Possible & Connecting
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
24  2017-03-18
Blue River Trail #101
friendofThunderg
28  2016-05-27
Bear Mtn Loop - Blue Range
friendofThunderg
51  2016-05-27
Bear Mtn Loop - Blue Range
chumley
27  2016-05-27
Bear Mtn Loop - Blue Range
BiFrost
15  2016-05-27
Bear Mtn Loop - Blue Range
John9L
19  2016-05-14
Bear Mtn Loop - Blue Range
BiFrost
15  2016-05-14
Bear Mtn Loop - Blue Range
uphill_junkie
19  2015-07-18
Bonanza Bill Trail #23
friendofThunderg
Page 1,  2
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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Preferred   Oct, May, Apr, Sep
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:04am - 6:13pm
Official Route
 
7 Alternative
 
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Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby

Likely In-Season!
Cow Flat Trail is sufficiently long and passes through so many different areas that it is known by several names. Alternately it is referred to as the Bear Valley, Government Mesa and Ladron Springs Trail. Actually, it leads to or through each of those different forest locations. That portion of the trail which lies within the boundary of the Alpine District winds along the top of the Mogollon Rim through mature park-like stands of ponderosa pine alternating with pinyon-juniper woodlands on the high plateaus of Cow and Campbell Flats. Along this stretch of the trail it connects with several other backcountry trails that offer almost comprehensive access to this diverse area.

The Cow Flat portion of Trail #55 is well defined and easy to follow. As the trail traverses Bear Valley and crosses Government Mesa, it becomes more difficult to follow. While you're keeping an eye out for blazes and rock cairns you might notice the remains of an old wagon and a few outbuildings that bear testament to the fact that this valley was farmed during the turn of the century. After the trail leaves Bear Valley, it's as rough and tough as three cowboys who once lived here. Pappy (who lived in a cave) Smokey (who loved his mules) and Buster (a cowboy stone mason) added a bit of their spirit to this wild area. You may find yourself calling on them to help you find your way.

At Auger Tank a well-used game trail heads down the drainage. Don't follow this trail. Look across the creek to a couple of crude corrals where Trail #55 heads up out of the drainage to the west. The going is rough here but some excellent views provide a payoff. Another stretch that is hard to find, especially when coming from Blue River, is where a steep descent enters Sycamore Canyon across from another old corral.

Below Ladron Springs the trail hugs a bedrock slope across a steep chute where pack animals once needed to be unpacked to cross. One unfortunate animal fell to its death here in 1980. In 1983 a forest crew received authorization to take motorized equipment into the primitive area to drill and blast a wider passage to the great appreciation of those using this trail on horseback. Ladron Springs emerges at the base of a large walnut tree as a constant and powerful water source. Several small waterfalls mark its drainage between the spring and trail's end at the Blue River.

Notes: No mechanized vehicles (including mountain bikes) permitted in Primitive Area.

Trail Log:
0.0 Junction with Bonanza Bill Trail #23 at Bonanza Flat.
0.7 Junction with S Canyon Trail #53.
1.2 Junction with Franz Spring #43.
1.4 Junction with Lanphier Trail #52.
1.6 Junction with a shortcut trail to Franz Spring.
3.6 Junction with WS Lake Trail #54.
5.2 Junction with Little Blue Trail #41 at corral at the lower end of Bear Valley. Elevation 6,600 feet.
5.3 Bear Valley Cabin.
5.4 Trail heads west out of Bear Valley.
6.4 High point on trail at junction with an unmaintained trail to Little Blue Creek.
8.9 Rock cairn marks unmaintained trail to the south to Winter Cabin.
9.9 Auger Canyon, another unmaintained trail, leads from here to Winter Cabin.
11.1 Sycamore Canyon at old corral.
11.6 Ladron Spring.
12.1 Blue River.


USGS Maps: Bear Mountain, Dutch Blue, Alma Mesa

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot

    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 Triplog Reviews
    Cow Flat Trail #55
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    I made my first appearance of the year in the Primitive Blue Range with Jackie and the pups this past weekend. We completed a 33 mile backpack utilizing the Blue River Trail, Cow Flat Trail, the Little Blue, Largo and Lamphier Trails. Originally, I had planned for a more mild out and back to Ladron Spring on Cow Flats Trail, with a day of exploring, but high and fast moving water on the Blue had us planning an impromptu backpacking loop, with a long connecting road walk.

    We camped at the Blue Crossing Campground Friday night, but still started our hike pretty late in the morning. The road crossings were fine heading to the trailhead, however, it was immediately noticeable that the Blue was flowing strong, as we embarked. The crossings were a little fierce, but we managed through them just fine to start. As with the other end of the Blue River Trail, its really more of just a route, with some occasional nice sections of trail along the bench and several crossings. Most crossings went pretty well, however, the Blue narrows a few times during the route and this created some sections of narrow, deep, fast moving water that were pretty tough to get across. Our luck with the crossings ran out about four miles in when Jackie lost her footing in some deep stuff that I was trying to help her get across. She only went about 15 feet down stream before standing up very shocked and a little wet. Unfortunately, her boots and hiking poles were about 100 feet down stream of us and moving fast. I jumped to the shore, ditched my gear and ran after the boots along the bank and in the water, after a couple of chest deep floaters, some fast water, a little rapids and a few broken toes, I caught the shoes and one hiking pole. Despite being wet and a little humbled, we decided to push on and just be more careful. By luck Jackie spotted her corked hiking pole handle floating up down stream and we were able to reunite the pair of lost poles, with the soaked boots. A real disaster nearly struck shortly after. During a pretty routine crossing, we lost track of Cup briefly. In our horror, when we spotted her, she was down stream completely submerged and trapped under a large log that was sticking out into the water, I sprinted to her and popped her out, but it was brief as she went right back into the tangled branches, below the log. I then pulled her out and up for good. Suprisingly, she swam right to the shore despite's spending a solid 15-20 seconds completely under water. I can't remember the last time I was that scared and amped up and Jackie said it was about the worse thing she ever had to watch, but Cup came away with only a few sneezes and was ready to go after a brief look over.

    I had had enough at that point and said we would just push to Cow Flat Trail and skip returning via the Blue. My final crossings involved me going to one side with gear, then dropping gear, coming back to grab Jackie and then walking back over to carry Cup. It was slow going, but safe and surprisingly by the third carry Cup was back to swimming them on her own. All the turmoil of the day seemed to pass pretty quickly when we hit Cow Flat Trail. First we enjoyed the falls created by the robust Ladron spring and then marveled at the .6 miles of perennial cascades and general paradise created by the spring. We enjoyed an amazing spot above the source of the spring, enjoyed a great campfire and perfect overnight temperatures.

    Day two was a bit of a grind, but we loved the little cross range trek from the lowest elevations of the Blue Range to just below Bear Mountain. Cow Flat Trail was rugged, warm and dry. We liked the scenery and appreciated its ruggedness, however, we both agree it was terrain only a mother could love. Bear Valley was nice and we spent an extended amount of time there at a nice set of cascades along the Little Blue River Trail. The climb out of Bear Valley was tough and a little warm near the top, but we all hung tough. From there, we coasted down the Little Blue and Largo Trails to Dutch Oven Spring where we camped. That section of trail from the Little Blue down Largo is really nice, especially, with flowing water and we ranked it as some of the best trail we traveled all weekend.

    We had a very short hike out Monday morning and then began a very long road walk of about 8.5 miles. One really never wants to have to complete an eight mile plus road walk to finish a hike, but we both agreed that it was a better alternative than trudging back up the Blue River from Cow Flat Trail after our luck on that river the day before. The backpack ended up being superb anyways and we enjoyed it enough to justify the road walk, besides we made it really easy by leaving our heavy packs at the finishing trailhead, before starting off for the Xterra.
    Cow Flat Trail #55
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    FOTG has spoken glowingly about the Primitive Blue Range and pics of the area looked intriguing. I jumped at the chance to go when he mentioned it a couple weeks ago and said he would drive. Chumley & Karl joined us and we made a loose hiking itinerary and headed out.

    Our group of four, plus Blanco, left Phoenix on Thursday after work and made the long drive to the Primitive Blue Range. We car camped off Red Hill Rd at roughly 8,000ft elevation. I had a hard time sleeping that night. We woke early on Friday and drove to our trailhead and started the hike in. I wasn’t feeling too well from the lack of sleep and was partially dehydrated. Plus I was carrying a heavy pack so that didn’t make things easy.

    We started off with the Largo Canyon trail and hiked in several miles and took a break by Dutch Oven Spring. From there we connected onto the Telephone Ridge Trail and headed for Bear Mountain at 8,550 elevation. The climb to the summit took its toll on me and I was glad to finally reach it. We took a break there and then headed southeast for Bear Valley where we set up camp. The others then went for a short hike while I stayed in camp to filter water, prep the fire ring & relax. I was finally feeling better when the others returned and we settled in for dinner and a nice campfire.

    We woke on day two and packed up camp and headed northeast for Franz Spring & the cabin. We wanted to get there early hoping to beat other groups to the prime camping spot next to the cabin. We made good time as we climbed the trail to Campbell Flat and then continued on to Franz Spring where we arrived to a vacant camp around 9:30am. We spent the next hour setting up camp and filtering water and then headed northeast for the Tige Rim for a hardy day hike.

    The lasso loop around Tige Rim was long, dry & relatively slow going. Most of this section was okay and there were some nice views on a ridge around the halfway point. The heat took its toll on us and Blanco seemed to be having a hard time as he rested in shade every chance he got. Chumley, Karl & I shared our water with him while FOTG looked on with indifference saying he’s been through worse. We continued our lass loop and finally topped out on the high point and it was relatively easy going back to camp as we headed downhill.

    We arrived back to Franz Spring to find a large meetup group camped close by. They had a fire going and were very noisy and generally crappy neighbors. One of them walked through our campsite several times to use the outhouse rather than going in the woods. It was annoying but didn’t ruin the weekend for us.

    All of us were up early on our third day and packed up camp and hit the trail. We headed down Lanphier Canyon and passed several groups making their way in. The Blue was busy this weekend! We arrived back to the trailhead late morning and packed up our gear. Our backpacking portion of the trip was over and we had plans to day hike & car camp that night.

    The Bear Mountain loop is fantastic with great views and the trails are in good condition. I expected more solitude but wasn’t totally surprised considering it was a holiday weekend. I would definitely like to explore more of this area another time.
    Cow Flat Trail #55
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    Lee took the lead on planning this one and it turned out to be a great introduction to the PBR. I was a little surprised to find that this area is much more like the rim country near Payson than the White Mountains as I was expecting. The Blue River valley is only 5500 feet, and while our route took us up to higher elevations, the landscape overall reminded me of the same Mogollon Rim 120 miles farther west.

    The upper portion of Sawmill along Telephone Ridge was the highlight of day 1, with big views and a pleasant climb after the steep connector that climbs up from Largo. Bear Mountain is obscured by trees, and the old lookout tower isn't tall enough to see over them. Maybe that's why it's been decommissioned!

    Bear Valley is a great spot. I could set up a base camp here and explore. The trip down Little Blue was a great suprise with running water and amazing geology. Huge spires loom above the canyon. I climbed up the ridge adjacent to the canyon to get a better view, but the afternoon sun made it tough to capture any photos. I tried to find trail 341 on the way back to Bear Valley, but I couldn't find even the slightest sign of old tread amongst the fire deadfall and new growth.

    Saturday we made the quick trip over to Franz spring and set up camp near the old cabin before heading off to check out the Tige Rim. I had been excited to see this area, but found the reward not to be worth the rest of the hike. It's just a long, hot, dry slog to get to a couple of great view points. In retrospect, I'd skip the loop and just hike the south part of the loop to the views and head back from there.

    We returned to camp to find a huge group of people camped right next to us. I'm guessing it was a meetup kind of thing. Apparently they don't backpack into the wilderness looking for peaceful solitude because it didn't occur to them to find a spot to camp that might be just out of view or earshot of others. I've encountered this before, and it is something I will never understand. Might as well have headed for Woods Canyon Lake! :-({|=

    In the morning we headed down Lanphier back toward the trailhead. We passed numerous groups along the way. It was actually quite surprising even on a holiday weekend in the Blue. We figured that articles last year in Backpacker (Nov 15) and possibly AZH (July 15) contributed to the 21 cars :o in the parking lot. (We were the only car when we started).

    While Lanphier is a pleasant canyon with shade and a stream, I'm not sure I'd like to use it for the ascent. It is steep in places and I could see it really taking it's toll on somebody carrying a heavy pack.

    Thanks to Lee for the intro to the PBR. Sorry we didn't make it down to Ladrone. Next time!
    Cow Flat Trail #55
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    I headed back to the Blue Range for Memorial Weekend and for the first time, I brought company. We had a loose plan to cover some pretty good ground with a relatively ambitious loop that involved some must-see side trips in my opinion. The plan was enough for myself and Karl, but Chumley and John were not at ease without having everything perfectly laid out. But I assured them it was a little flexible and we had a few plan Bs and Cs worked in there and they were pretty cool with the rough plan I laid out to them.

    We drove up Thursday night and despite being pulled over twice on the way (both warnings), we made great time. In fact, we were there in time to enjoy a fire and relax a little. We woke up to frozen water on the rim, but our day got noticeably warmer as we made the last part of the drive down Red Hills road to the trailhead.

    We made good time up Largo, but it was a tad dry and warm to appreciate. Telephone Ridge was a bit of a big boy climb with full packs, but we all had enough energy to drop our packs for a quick trip up Bear Mountain. After Bear Mountain, we decided Bear Valley was starting to look like an ideal first night's camp. This was further confirmed when we arrived at the quaint meadow, rich with prime campsites and a trickling creek. After setting up, myself, Karl, Chumley and Blanco hiked further down the Little Blue Trail. This turned out to be an excellent hike, as the trail was in great shape, there were stretches of flowing water and it took a path through some very cool narrows before opening up to a nice section dominated by giant rock spires and monuments. After seeing what seemed to be about the best 2.5 mile section of that trail, we headed back to camp.

    On day two we opted for a short trip with our big packs and then a rather large loop into New Mexico via the Tige Rim Trail. We chose Franz Spring and cabin area to camp. After setting up, we all took off for a 15 mile day hike. The Tige Rim loop was hot and dry. The views from the rim were nice and there were a few cool stretches, but the warmer temps and lack of water took away from some of the loop's normal appeal. We we got back to Franz, the worst possible scenario had played out. A group of no likely less than ten people had popped a squat next to us. I knew there was a chance we might bump into some backpackers, but I could have never imagined running into that many people out there. They ended up not being the worst neighbors and our dogs got along, but they were definitely louder than our small group and they insisted on using the outhouse for some reason. To each their own, but it was probably not designed for large backcountry groups with its three feet deep hole, no maintenance and no chemicals. Nevertheless, it was business as usual at camp and we still enjoyed the great spot and did get a chance to chat with a few from the large group. No sour grapes about sharing one of the nicer areas in the Blue Range, I was just not ready to share it with ten people and it ended up not being the nice serene spot I had described. So a small damper on the backpacking trip in my eyes.

    A lot of hikers on the trail on the way out, but a quick hike with pretty good trail and very scenic along the flowing sections of Lamphier. A small disappointment on day two, but I enjoyed my three days in the the Blue. I would have liked to cover some more new ground, but it was nice to revisit some spots that I had been intrigued by before and the section of Little Blue we covered on the first day will instantly go on my list of favorites for the area. But overall great times as usual with these guys and I hope the newbies to the area were happy with the change of scenery.

    .
    Cow Flat Trail #55
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    I really liked the setting of the Mark's Cabin/Franz Spring area that I had came across during my Bear Mountain loop the previous day. After hearing that its guest would be leaving, I decided to make it my backpack destination via the Bonanza Bill Trail #23. I moved my car camp destination from Sawmill Trail #39 to Bonanza Bill Trail #23. I stayed in the somewhat established camping area about 25 feet inside the New Mexico border.

    I planned to hike into Franz Spring relatively early and then complete an afternoon day hike after some rest and getting settled in. Although the cabin was locked, the porch would provide a nice covered area in the event some torrential rain rolled through. There was also a nice Army cot on the porch and I could have totally pictured myself just sleeping on that under the porch. However, when I got there Terry was still there. We chatted for a long time and he told me several cool things about the area including the locations of some Indian ruins on the other side of the Blue. He was planning on staying there one more night and I kind of had my heart set on my own site and some solitude, so I decided to just push on and make a loop utilizing WS Lake Trail #54 and the southern section of Bonanza Bill Trail that I had yet to cover.

    WS Lake Trail was in great shape, however, Bonanza Bill's southern half was downright miserable at times. There was: nearly no water, Devil's Monument was a bust and between erosion, dead fall and route finding the trail was never easy going. I kept thinking how sad it was that I added like 12 miles to my day and risked stormy weather all to avoid sharing a campsite. I did see another bear on the New Mexico side of Bonanza Bill and there were at times some breathtaking views, however, overall this was a somewhat unpleasant portion of my day and probably trip for that matter.

    I camped at Hinkle Spring and decided to hike Tige Rim Trail back the next day. I set up camp very fast trying to beat a storm that never came. There was a period of lightning and thunder, but I was already in my tent. I found counting the seconds between flashes and booms to be similar to counting sheep and somewhat therapeutic. I fell asleep probably not too long after it got dark. It rained pretty hard for about a half hour during the early morning, but had stopped by the time I got out of bed and was sunny for most of the hike out. Tige Rim offered perhaps some of the best views of the trip and was generally a nice trail one that continued to get nicer as you neared its intersection with Bonanza Bill.
    Cow Flat Trail #55
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    Originally, I had planned a four day three night trek into the Primitive Blue Range. However, on the day of my departure I decided I would at least inquire about the weather. My go to guy painted a pretty bleak outlook for the weekend. I decided I would just remain flexible and car camp if necessary and complete several day hikes in the area. I think my weather man was in a bit of a fear mongering mood because the conditions ended up being closer to pretty normal July conditions for the P.B.R. Areas of the high rim country certainly got hammered, but I did not endure through that much nasty weather during the entire trip. That being said, Chumley is pretty spot on most of the time with his weather so I opted for a large day hike on day one a car camp and then playing the rest of the weekend by ear. Sounds like the big storm never really materialized on my side of the state leading to the pretty normal monsoon season conditions for that area.

    There were some dark clouds in the morning when I started which provided some immediate reinforcement to my decision to change plans. However, things changed quickly and the rest of the day apart from one small shower was beautiful. In fact, I spent most of the day cursing the fact that I did not bring my camping gear as I passed numerous picture perfect sites nestled away in the Blue Range. However, I know if I had got caught in a nasty electrical storm and downpour I would be cursing the fact that I was not sitting inside my warm well-grounded Xterra listening to a ballgame on satellite radio.

    The loop I hiked quickly erased any real disappointment that may have popped up. I borrowed the loop idea from the 100 Hikes in AZ book and basically followed JJ's track from a few years ago, except the four mile detour down into the very scenic and remote Bear Valley. Without overstating the hike too much it was truly memorable and certainly one of my better ones in recent memory. This was due in large part to the amount of wildlife I saw on the hike, the interesting summit of Bear Mountain, a chance encounter with a local and the very scenic Lamphier Trail/Canyon to finish up the day.

    Blanco and I had a real cool moment with a sow and her cub appropriately near the summit of Bear Mountain. I spotted the cub first and grabbed Blanco as mom made her way into the picture. She stared at us for quite a long time at a distance of about 30 meters or so, however, I made no threatening gestures or movements towards her and just calmly held Blanco while snapping away with my IPhone of course. She definitely noticed Blanco but just nonchalantly walked away with her cub closely behind after a few minutes. I will be honest if she charged us my plan A involved unleashing Blanco, but it never even came close to that and turned out to be a pretty cool encounter.

    Bear Mountain has a pretty interesting summit, but the views are less than spectacular due to the trees. The real nice views will be coming up Telephone Ridge and exiting the mountain via WS Lake Trail #54. I loved Bear Valley, saw my first bobcat/lynx for an extended period of time in AZ, very cool. I ran into an interesting guy at Franz Spring who turned out to possess a wealth of knowledge about the area, more on that in next trip log, but it involves rock piles. I loved the setting at Franz Spring so much that I decided it would be my destination for an over-night trip via Bonanza Bill Trail #23 the next day.

    Lamphier Canyon is a little rugged but very scenic especially as you approach the lower elevations and the creek becomes perennial. It was in Lamphier that Blanco and I had our final bear encounter of that day. It was another mom and her cub, however, this sow was much larger and the situation was a little bit more sketchy in the narrow confines of the canyon. I gave her a very wide berth pulled Blanco the other way and did not even attempt a picture until she was far to shaded and in too thick of brush to show up on any pictures taken from my IPhone. Turns out the wettest I got all day was from crossing the Blue.
    Cow Flat Trail #55
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    It was another great trip to the Primitive Blue Range. However, this trip may as well have been to a completely new wilderness area, as it was a sharp contrasts from my previous northern Blue Range runs. Carl and I share a similar affinity for the Blue Range and I was very pleased when on short notice he told me he could make a three day run the first weekend of October. At his suggestion we headed for the southern Blue Range. We made the short 5.5 hour drive to the TH Friday night and car camped about 45 minutes via rougher road from the remote and rugged Blue River 101 TH.

    I was relieved that Carl offered to drive in the morning, as the final stretch of road into the Blue River Trail TH proved to be a little nasty in spots. Nevertheless, in what seemed to be an over-night drive we were finally hiking by about nine in the morning. The first stop was to visit the Fritz Ranch or more commonly referred to XXX ranch near the TH. For an abandoned ranch house it was actually in pretty good shape and made for an interesting quick tour before our hike. Our next major land mark was the old ranger station which sits at the boundary of the Primitive Blue Range and the intersections of the now very defunct Baseline Trail and Blue River 101 Trail. It is amazing to think of the level of care and attention given to this area by the forest service a few decades ago in comparison to now. Carl and I both agreed the next mile or so of trail is perhaps some of the worst sections of the Blue River Trail and I will admit it did have me wondering how enjoyable our three days would be. The trail simply no longer exists in large sections along this portion of the Blue River and the several crossings coupled with steep over-grown banks made for some tougher hiking with three day packs. We made camp just north of the confluences of the Little Blue and Blue proper in a picturesque spot located on a large grassy bench with steep canyon walls as a backdrop.

    As it turned out, and not really by design, day one ended up being Carl's itinerary and day two ended up being reserved for my itinerary. We both struck gold. Carl maximized our day one hike in by creating a nice lollipop loop for us that included an awesome slot canyon section of the little Blue and culminating with a stop at the Hannah Hot Springs. It's not like this loop was a shot in the dark for Carl, he knows this area so well and spent so much time in here during the 90s and early 2000s that they should really have a canyon somewhere in there named after him by now. The hiking was not necessarily easy, but the hot springs really made the trip worth while. Never considered myself a hot springs type, but it was hard not to enjoy these. Arriving to camp was a welcomed relief, whether it was the 5.5 hour drive the night before, or the ten miles of "ankle busters," I was beat! We: made a quick fire, ate some food, chatted it up a bit and ended up staying up really late. Well that's if you consider both in bed by a quarter after eight late ;)

    Saturday we went with a little 15 mile out and back track I drew up earlier in the week. The track consisted of the Blue River Trail north to Cow Flat Trail #55 and a stop and Landron Spring for lunch. Ladrone Spring (spelling seems to be different on multiple sources) was simply described as having a robust flow and Carl had not done that section of Cow Flat so we went with the route. Although lengthy the hike proved to be very rewarding. H U Ranch was an interesting site to visit along the way and Ladrone Spring proved to be nothing short of special. It was part of a system of several gushing springs that seem to come out of nowhere near a very dry and rugged section of Cow Flat Trail. The springs create a very fast falling stream with a strong flow that is essentially one cascade after another. Just a cool place, pictures will probably not do justice, but will have several in photo set. I struck out on some rock pile hunting on way home and then we repeated routine from previous day, however, this time I think we both made it to nine O'clock.

    The hike out was relatively uneventful. Carl and I did some additional exploring near the juncture with Baseline Trail near the abandoned ranger's cabin, although, Carl was certainly more ambitious then myself. After several creek crossings we were back at Xterra for post hike beers and ESPN radio. A great cap to an awesome three days. Carl certainly picked a winner and I see myself going back for sure, assuming I can get someone to drive my Xterra through that rough section of road again.

    A Kind of Funny Final Note:

    Carl had a hike on Saturday like we have all had before and it was sort of humorous that it was not me for a change. After I snapped an early morning river crossing photo, Carl realized he forgot his camera. Luckily it was only about a 2 to 3 tenths of a mile detour for him. He then lost a glove near the Blue that was found with some careful back tracking and capped it off by making an additional trip to Lardon Spring to retrieve a misplaced handkerchief.

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    Directions
    Map Drive
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    To hike
    Drive 3 miles east of Alpine on US 180 to Forest Road 281 (Blue River Road). Turn south 20.7 miles to the Pueblo Park Road (Forest Road 232) and east 4.7 miles to the Bonanza Bill Trailhead.

    Backcountry Access: This trail is accessible via a number of other east Blue Range Trails.
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