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Houston Brothers Trail #171, AZ

no permit
942 113 7
Guide 113 Triplogs  7 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Clints Well
4 of 5 by 30
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Distance One Way 7.49 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,989 feet
Elevation Gain 816 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,029 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 14.25
Backpack Yes & Possibly Connect
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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16  2019-07-13 Anekantavada
10  2019-06-29
Cabin Loop - Mogollon Rim
20  2019-06-13
Houston Bros Tr Loop via U-Bar Tr-FR139G
15  2018-08-31
East Cabin Loop
23  2018-07-24
Fred Haught Houston Brothers Loop
13  2018-07-14
East Cabin Loop
5  2018-02-10
Cabin Loop - Mogollon Rim
18  2017-09-03
Cabin Loop - Mogollon Rim
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 9
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
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Jun, Sep, Oct
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:13am - 6:22pm
Official Route
16 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

Likely In-Season!
For much of its length the Houston Brothers Trail wanders along the bottom of Houston Draw, a picturesque little valley through which a spring-fed perennial stream flows. The scenery here is mostly pastoral with a few photogenic rock outcrops and aspen groves to remind you that you're in rim country.

This trail served a number of purposes during a heyday that stretched over most of the first half of this century. The Houston brothers were ranchers who used it for moving livestock from one part of the range to another. The Forest Service used the trail to move fire guards into isolated forest cabins where they were on twenty-four hour duty during times of high fire danger. Evidence of both of these pages out of the trail's history is visible at a number of locations, including a cabin site which Gifford Pinchot, father of the U. S. Forest Service singled out for its peaceful beauty. Today this trail is part of the Cabin Loop trail system, which provides an opportunity for Forest visitors to relive an aspect of Forest history while they enjoy the area's natural beauty.

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 of 42 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Houston Brothers Trail #171
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    What a great day exploring the springs. I found a cave like spring, unmarked on maps and the pooch enjoyed the water. What a great area!!! For some reason they have cut multiple roads into the draw and deposited haphazard piles of stones. I assume they are for erosion control. Its changed the character a bit since my last visit 2013
    Houston Brothers Trail #171
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    This area of AZ is incredibly breath taking! What an experience to pull us away from the sprawling city and enclosed dark saloons we find ourselves frequenting. The flipside though was this trip was only possible this time of the year probably due to the ridiculously dry season. The roads were in great condition from Payson to getting on FR-300 and FR-95. Got to come back with my 2wd hatchback badged up with snow and mud tastefully splattered across the body. Coming up the forest roads was peaceful with panoramic sights nonstop. Just a couple of cars were seen on the way up and looking out over the rim was a must.

    Once at the Houston Brothers TH we excitedly hopped out and took off down the trail. We briefly surveyed the semi frozen creek and cabin planning to indulge there on the way out. The only people we met on our loop was a vibrant group of 4 on their way out about a mile into Houston brothers. The forest, the space, the patches of snow on the ground was another world compared to our usual day to day trek. I loved the trees towering over us, hearing them grunt and moan swaying in the wind. I loved hearing the rare crunch of snow under our boots, and then hoping the moisture didn’t seep through my roll back boots. We even saw a herd of cow Elk stealthily making their way across the trail. Checking Barbershop Spring most of it was snow and there was only standing water at what I assumed was the source. We decided to pitch just east of Coyote Spring, which was in the same condition just a shallow pool of standing water. As the light faded it definitely cooled, but with a small fire and surprisingly filling good to-go meal, by the time we tucked in we were certainly at ease.

    COLD. Rising just after sun up there were tiny crystals of condensation that had frozen over on our rain fly. Once outside of the tent we were back on our way waiting for the warmth to return to our toes. Probably could have stepped up to a full cushion DarnTough here, but after about a quarter mile down U Bar it was back to basking in this winter wonderland. Dane Spring was running pure straight out of the pipe and Barbershop Canyon creek was glistening and running feely through patches of ice. Completing the loop we took in the history of Pinchot Cabin and signed out the trail log. There is no question to whether you should hike out here. Thanks for the time can’t wait to be back!

    Houston Brothers Trail #171
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Got started at Gen springs cabin about 4pm Friday. Marched into a nice campsite just off trail near the remnants of Fred Haught cabin. Some folks were camped nearby back where the trail pulls away from Gen Springs. Good water flow coming out of the spring below the cabin site. A bit of rain came about midnight. Packed up early Saturday and headed for Pinchot cabin. No body there but a warm campfire remained. Continued on up Houston Brothers, the springs are flowing nicely, lots of good water. Made a left on Barbershop. Passed a few people going the other way. Water in Barbershop and Dane both flowing along the Barbershop trail. I like the campsites in the big meadow just passed Dane. Passed a few more folks by the U-bar turnoff. Stopped at Dane spring which was flowing about like a garden hose full on. Considered camping here, too much broken glass around, a definite turn off for me. A sure sign its close to a road where people can park and walk in quickly. Oh wait! I hear some now, time to move on. I really like the next section of trail leading away and down into Dane Canyon. Folks camped at both Dane and several groups camped at Barbershop crossings. Good water at both crossings. Gathered extra water here. Continued on up and across 139 and settled into a spot for the night. Started early Sunday and rolled down 95B into Pinchot. Watered up and kept on towards Fred Haught springs again for a final water and snack spot. Passed at least 20 people hiking in during my last 2 miles out. Yes, the rim road was a bit crazy, but likely nothing like it was today.
    Houston Brothers Trail #171
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I made a last minute trip up to see some of the water along the cabin loop. I arrived at Washington Park at 6:45am to find the parking lot almost full, and a group of runners getting ready to launch a training run for the Mogollon Monster. I started first, most of them passed me on the way up. Great weather until about 3:30pm when I reached Barbershop canyon on the U-Bar trail. I scrambled for some dry firewood which could be hidden from the rain under the large rock there. I managed to get my tent set up on a slanted spot just before the rain came. Rained for about 2 hours solid. It let up just long enough to cook some food about 6:30, and I got a fire started, then it rained again for several more hours as I called it a night early.
    Clear skies Sunday and a nice hike back to General Springs, Fred Haught still has wet crossings in several places.
    The real fun began when I made it back down to the parking lot. The parking lot was fine, but the last half mile of the road coming in is absolutely trashed. I spent an hour moving rocks, logs, and leveling some sandy spots before I could make it out. I've never seen that black plastic before, must have been a real gully washer Saturday afternoon... The one picture I took does not tell the whole story. The road is seriously a mess!
    Houston Brothers Trail #171
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Came up with this idea last minute and got to Washington Park TH just before sunset.

    Colonel Devin #290: Enjoyed the new stretch of trail in the lower portions. Definitely more scenic than walking under powerlines. Lots of green vegetation and more Columbines than I'd ever seen along the creek. Raspberries appear to be on schedule. New tread meets back up with old tread. Steep climb up the rim, but it's over quick.

    Fred Haught #141: Sunlight was fading quick. I remembered this canyon having ample tent sites so I walked into the darkness for a while before settling on a nice flat spot w/ plenty of firewood. Very peaceful night alone at the campfire. Started again in the a.m. Plenty of water in the canyon, nothing flowing. Green grasses and ferns dominated. Spooked 3 bull elk at Quien Sabe Spring.

    Houston Brothers #171: Highlight of the trip for me. Stopped for brunch at Pinchot Spring where I encountered people for the first time. A group of day hikers. Grass and ferns again dominate the landscape. After the fenced in Houston Draw area, the forest gets dense and tall pines loom overhead. Then into a thick Maple grove. Passed a group of about 15 backpackers headed North.

    Barbershop #91: Couldn't pass this up so I took a detour and did an out and back just to see the sights. Beutiful meadows and dense pine forests where enchanting. This might be my favorite Rim Country canyon.

    General Crook #130 / Rim Road: I started following the white chevron blazes immediately. Spent a surprising amount of time on the actual trail before it spit me back out onto FR300. There is a path there. No well-defined foot path, just remnants of a trail and a bunch of deadfall. Played leapfrog with 3 mule deer for about 30mins. 3 cars stopped and asked me for directions to various spots.

    Great day in Rim Country with highs in the 70s and plenty of sunshine.
    Houston Brothers Trail #171
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    East Cabin Loop
    Three day backpack on the Mogollon Rim with a group of four to escape the horrific weekend temperatures in Phoenix. The plan was to hike the eastern loop (Barbershop/Houston/U-Bar) - both reynchr and myself have done the full loop before and wanted to see Houston Brothers (and avoid the dusty 300).

    After a great lunch at Macky's in Payson we headed up to 321c via 260/300 and parked near the trail crossing. Left the car around 1:30 and headed down to Coyote Springs, turned west and followed Barbershop to Barbershop Springs. Our group split in half to account for different hiking speeds and the last one rolled into camp at 4:30. Plenty of time to test out the hammock, get everyone filtered up, and sit around a campfire as the moon-less night sky filled up.

    Slow start with the cold morning, but we hit the trail around 8 and headed over to Houston. The group stuck together until the draw and then split again based on speeds. It was my first time on this stretch of Houston, and while the little hills at the beginning weren't welcome, the draw was fantastic and the open meadows gorgeous. Plus the little caves at Aspen and Pinchot Springs were awesome. Our groups re-joined at Aspen for lunch and then separated shortly after. Afternoon was getting annoyingly hot, with the strong winds buffered down to breezes by the pines. Last group rolled into camp at Lower Barbershop Canyon around 5:30. Everyone was in their tents shortly after sunset after the long day.

    After much debate the group split in half right away in the morning. Two backpackers continued on U-Bar to pick up the car, myself and one other stayed back at camp to nap through the morning and eventually backtrack up to 139 and get picked up. We met around noon and drove back via 95/87 for another Macky's lunch before the long, hot drive back to Phoenix.

    Aside: reynchr and I have been on several backpacking trips over the last two years, but the other two in our group were brand new to this. They loved the camps, endured the hiking, and tolerated our company.
    Houston Brothers Trail #171
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    West Cabin Loop
    So who hikes 19.2 miles with a sore back? This guy... Actually felt better today. I bought some good inserts for my Moabs and it seemed to help. Slept on my side last night with a pillow between my knees. Seemed to help too.

    About the hike... I've been daydreaming about the Rim and Cabin Loop for a while. With plenty of free time I made my way up.

    This will perhaps be my first and only Cabin Loop since I suffer from IVTS (Inferior Vehicle Trail Syndrome). Some of you would take a used Yugo to Crown King, but not me... Rim Rd in a Nissan Maxima was a bit much, LOL. Ruts, pits, potholes.

    The first 2/3 of Fred Haught is really really nice. Loved it. The last third was OK. I had thought about turning around at Pinchot Cabin to save 5-6 miles but I had the scene from Shawshank Redemption in my head where Andy asks Red "If you've come this far, maybe you're willing to come a little further..."

    Houston Brothers is much more up and down than Fred Haught but not nearly as scenic. Still a great trail. The last few miles on the Rim Rd were a slog but, hey you gotta get back to the car!

    Overall the Rim is a beautiful area. I already miss it...

    @Chumley running water and evergreens.
    Houston Brothers Trail #171
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    3 Day backpacking trip with 4 adults and 3 kids, 10, 12, and 14. The plan was to meet up Friday near Pinchot cabin, Saturday we follow Houston bros trail to the Mogollon Rim, make camp somewhere near there and then hike back on Sunday. My sons baseball game got cancelled on Friday night so him and I and the dog were able to leave earlier than expected, even though we didnt get to Houston Brothers draw until 10:30PM. My buddy Jamaal, his brothers and kids had gone up earlier on Friday to setup a base camp. With no moon, we were hiking through complete darkness, following the trail with our flashlights. We passed and didnt even see Pinchot cabin. After about .5 miles I started the 'call' and heard the response. The guys had made a camp on some trees near the giant rocks past Pinchot springs. With all the hammocks strewn up in the trees about 15 foot off the ground it looked like some kind of Avatar jungle land. The boy, dog, and I settled down for day 2.
    We got up, ate, and made our way up the trail. After several stops and making it only 2 miles in 2 hours, we made the 1st of two most excellent decisions. We decided to make camp #2 early and drop all of our gear so we can hike to the rim much more easier. The kids loved the idea. We found a great spot several hundred feet off the trail and we stopped, ate, and then pushed forward. This trail is great as it passes through the canyon. Some of the open areas remind me of the fairways at Augusta as it was Master's weekend. We saw deer, turkey, squirrels, chipmunks, and many signs of bear :scared: . There were also huge patches of snow still, which the kids and dog loved playing in! After the trail crosses FR139, it becomes more strenuous and after 7 miles the boys were really starting to wear down fast. We decided to make it to the rim by following the 139A road instead of the trail. This proved to be most excellent decision #2 as, though not as scenic, saved us much climbing there and the way back. Carrying packs and hiking 8 miles in one day is a lot to ask for some kids and they rocked it. Finally making it to the rim, you could tell they were all proud of themselves and of each other. One of my favorite things about being a father is watching my son's doubt and fear turn into strength and determination. He has faith in me and I have faith in him and that grows stronger everyday. Trips like this are what really solidifies our bond. The views off the rim were outstanding, as always. I made sure every single piece of food and every snack was eaten before we left as to energize everyone and lessen the weight of my pack! Following the road to the first crossing of 139, we made it back to camp #2 about 45 mins quicker than it took to get to the rim. After a much needed nap, we had an awesome dinner, and partied like the rockstars we are.
    The hike out on Sunday morning was very quick as we were trying to beat the weather. We got hailed on just a bit at Aspen cabin but overall perfect timing, as the drive out was a different story. Us desert cats are not used to driving in a snow storm!! It was fine however and we made it back safely. It was a perfect end to a great weekend of excitement. We had a great team this weekend, hope to do it again soon.
    Houston Brothers Trail #171
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Bear Canyon - Houston Draw Loop
    Kyle invited me for a walk in one of his favorite areas. Do I want to spend the day at 106 or 76 degrees. Duh.

    We dropped into Bear Canyon off of FR95 at FR9737M (as depicted on the TOPO maps) There was actually a Forrest Service sign for this road, but no road. We picked a pretty good route just making our way down the side of the canyon.

    The Bear Canyon drainage was flowing pretty good the entire length we were in it. It was green, green, green! You can find game trails to navigate most of the way, but still need to cross over the drainage many times. It's easy making your way down there, but slow going.

    We crested a bit of a rise in the drainage, to a small grassy meadow. We were both surprised to stumble on a huge Bull Elk, still in velvet, feeding in the grass, not more than 50' away. He was gone before I could get the camera going.

    We only had one spot where we had to go up to avoid a swimmer. Would have been a good swim if it was warmer.

    Out of the drainage and on our way to Pinchot Cabin, it started to rain lightly. Perfect timing as we'd planned to stop at the cabin for lunch anyway. It rained and thundered while we ate lunch under the awning of the cabin. It was actually a bit cold.

    On the Houston Brothers trail we made up some time.

    We dropped into East Bear Canyon following a side canyon down. The Elk have made a decent path to the hill. A few more miles in the canyon and I was ready for the climb out.

    A pretty hike, in great temps. Lots of tiny strawberries along the entire hike. Lilly did great on the hike. Even all the off trail stuff. Thanks for the hike and driving Kyle.
    Houston Brothers Trail #171
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Kyle and I get together for what has become an annual trek up on the rim. We started from Washington Park on an overcast and rainy morning. We were prepared with rain gear and the forecast called for clear skies starting around 12pm. The first two miles up the Colonel Devin Trail were wet and muddy. Both of us had wet feet. We topped out on FR 300 and started our hike east on the road. The rain let up but a heavy fog moved in. This is a really easy stretch and took a bit over an hour to hike the four miles.

    We hit the Houston Brothers Trail and headed north. The weather finally broke and the sun started shining through. We continued on and took our lunch at the Aspen Spring Cabin. We were about half way done at this point and the food really energized us. The rest of the day flew by as the miles blurred by. The going was very easy and we finished back at Kyle’s truck late afternoon.

    This was a really fun hike and I look forward to our return next year. Thanks Kyle for driving!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    Location: 65 miles (about 2 hours) south of Flagstaff in the cool pines of Mogollon Rim country.

    Access: Northern Trailhead. Drive about 55 Miles south of Flagstaff on Forest Highway 3 (Lake Mary Road). Drive north 9 miles on AZ 87 to FR 95. Turn south (right) about 11 miles to FR 139A. Turn left on 139A and go 0.2 (2 tenths) miile to a large trail sign with Fred Haught Trail. Also near the large sign is a small oak sign (on the east side of road) that has Pinchot Cabin on it. Road is obliterated to the cabin but once you hike down to the cabin there are signs with Houston Brothers Trail on them.

    Southern Trailhead. Drive about 55 Miles south of Flagstaff on Forest Highway 3 (Lake Mary Road). Drive north 9 miles on AZ 87 to FR 95. Turn south (right) about 9 miles and turn left on FR 139. Continue 9 more miles on FR 139 and turn right (west) on FR 300. Go 0.1 (1 tenth) mile to Houston Brothers Trailhead sign.

    FH 3 and AZ 87 are paved. FR 95 is graveled and suitable for passenger vehicles except during winter when it is closed.
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