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

South Fork Trail #97, AZ

Guide 43 Triplogs  1 Topic
  3.8 of 5 
no permit
311 43 1
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 6.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,938 feet
Elevation Gain 1,400 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,700 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 11.87
Interest Historic, Perennial Creek & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
feature photo
Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
6  2020-09-03 Sun_Ray
8  2020-08-26 azbackpackr
30  2020-07-28 Harry
4  2013-08-13 azfamilyhike
26  2013-01-02
White Mountains Winter 2013
17  2011-11-30 azbackpackr
9  2011-05-11 beiley
12  2010-10-02 michaelg
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Author hikeaz
author avatar Guides 6
Routes 0
Photos 341
Trips 223 map ( 1,981 miles )
Age 65 Male Gender
Location Tempe, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred May, Jun, Jul, Aug → 9 AM
Seasons   Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  5:24am - 7:23pm
0 Alternative

Hey, hay, hey!
by hikeaz

Likely In-Season!
A few of us hiked this short, beautiful trail this past Saturday, July 7th. From the southern trailhead, the overall elevation LOSS is about 1400 feet.

Starting at its southern terminus, we hiked north about 7 miles to the South Fork Campground and trailhead.

The trail starts from the northern edge of Mexican Hay Lake, so named because pioneer settlers in the region annually drained the lake to harvest and bale the tall grasses growing there. From the trailhead, the trail winds its way up and across the benches, through old-growth Ponderosa Pines, and across meadows, affording various viewing opportunities to the west and southwest, just a short distance off the trail. If you get your bearings, you will be able to see Mount Baldy and Green's Peak from these viewpoints. The tread on this first section is pretty good but rocky in spots, precipitating a close watch on your foot placement.

The trail then transitions into a more wooded section with excellent pine needle carpeted tread. Making your way down, the trail bends west; and from this point, endless views to the north are made available. Eventually, you will reach a promontory and a sign indicating that a steep section awaits you. The sign does not lie, but the good news is that the steep section is 100 yards long. After the steep section, as you wind your way down to the South Fork of the Little Colorado River, you will have more nice smooth tread on which to hike while you hike through this transitional area.

Upon reaching and crossing the creek, an entirely different hike opens up. From this point, you have about 2 miles left until you reach the trailhead at South Fork Campground. As you hike along the pine-tree-lined bench just above the creek-bed, you will see myriad flowers, and of course, the accompanying butterflies. This visual cornucopia is serenaded by the creek's soft, fast-moving. This is a beautiful area. This beauty, coupled with the South Fork's easily accessed northern trailhead, means that you may start to see other hikers through this section. It is all flat walking back to the South Fork campground/trailhead.

I want to note that the South Fork Campground, originally a historic fish hatchery site, converted into a campground in 1940 ($10.00 per site of this writing), has excellent widely-spaced sites and a terrific CG host, Manny.

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2007-07-10 hikeaz
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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.

Permit $$

Map Drive
Info is below 'Directions to trail'

To hike
Directions to the north (campground) trailhead: From Payson, go 103 miles east on Arizona 260 to Hon-Dah. Continue on Arizona 260 through Pinetop- Lakeside to County Road 4124. (Look for the signs for South Fork and X Diamond Ranch.) This turn is about 30 miles from Hon-Dah. Turn right on 4124 and go 2.4 miles to the South Fork Campground. Enter the campground and stay right across the bridge. The trailhead is at the end of the short road. Parking is limited; do not park in campsites.

To reach the southern trailhead at Mexican Hay Lake, turn south on State Route 261 from 260. After 7 miles, turn right on FR 70B, then left on FR 8070B to the Mexican Hay trailhead. The roads to this trailhead can be very muddy during the spring run-off and the summer rains. If so, park by the gate near the highway and walk to the TH. The turnoff for 70B is directly across 261 from the lookout point pull-off.

Randal Schulhauser writes: Almost immediately across SR261 from the Vista parking lot is FR8110 (no longer marked FR70B per the HAZ hike description directions). FR8110 joins FR 8070B in about 1/4 mile after you pass through a gate.
90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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