Uncorrupted by Civilization
Discussing another infrequently visited canyon in the White Mountains, the wildlife biologist for Springerville Ranger District used the term "pristine". That seemed a strange choice of words until I checked my dictionary and realized it also fits Chitty Canyon perfectly: "Uncorrupted by Civilization".
Without a roadside trailhead of its own, Chitty is accessible only from other trails, and none of the routes is particularly convenient or easy. Bushwhacking down from FR 54 is the shortest and fastest way in, but, due to the steepness of the slope, is not recommended for leaving. The McBride Mesa - Highline combo also provides fairly quick access but via an exposed south slope that can be a real scorcher in summer.
A feeling of great age and decay pervades Chitty Canyon. The area was never logged and hasn't burned in living memory. The canyon is deep and narrow, limiting direct sun exposure to just a few hours per day, and destructive winds blow over instead of through. A good sized stream flows here year round. The trees have grown unhindered for a very long time and reached great size - Douglas fir 16 feet in circumference, white pine pushing 14 feet - and are dying of old age. This is truly a climax forest.
The Clifton Ranger District has 488 miles of trail and a budget that allows maintaining only 8 miles per year. Chitty is near the top of the priority list for grooming. It has received no attention for, at least, a dozen years and is gradually being reabsorbed into the earth. Tree blazes are healing over, dead trees (including many of the blaze trees) are falling across the trail, high grass and brush are reclaiming the route which bears very little foot traffic. Hiking through Chitty Canyon is definitely not a cakewalk, and the best strategy is to follow the path of least resistance rather than trying to locate and navigate the actual trail. A benefit of leaving the tangle of dead trees in place is it inhibits encroachment by livestock. Cattle do not come this way.
A lovely waterfall marks the south end of Chitty Canyon where the Highline Trail enters from the west. Chitty Trail itself continues another 3 miles south to its junction with Salt House Trail. The waterfall, the big trees, the sense of real wilderness combine in a unique environment - think Mirkwood and Fangorn - that's difficult to reach but well worth the effort.
Check out the Triplogs.
This is a moderately difficult hike.
Apache - Sitgreaves FS Details
Description: Although hard to access, this trail has some special attractions including a small waterfall and bright, Fall colors from maples in the canyon. Chitty Creek flows year-around and attracts birds and wildlife. The waterfall is just south of the west intersection with Highline Trail #47.
This trail is unusual in that it does not have a trailhead accessible from a road and it just ends in Chitty Canyon instead of at a road or another trail. The southern end starts with a junction with the Salt House Trail # 18. Look for remains of Sawmill Cabin about 0.6 miles up the canyon.
The northern part ends in Chitty Creek Canyon about 2 miles north of Highline Trail #47. The trail ends at a large spring which is the main source of Chitty Creek. Since the trail ends in the canyon, most people take Highline Trail over to the McBride Mesa Trail #26 and go to the top by that route.
This trail leads up hill from Salthouse Creek where it begins at about 6,000 feet. The first part of the trail is a jeep road in Salthouse Creek. Carry plenty of water and treat any water you find before drinking
0.0 Junction with Salthouse Trail #18
0.4 Abandoned corral
0.6 Old cabin site. Jeep trail ends here
1.7 Junction with Spur trail heading west to McBride Mesa Trail #26
2.9 Chitty Falls. Above this falls a patient fisherman can usually catch a few rainbow trout.
3.0 Junction with Highline Trail #47 heading west
3.4 Junction with Highline Trail #47 heading east
5.2 End of trail. Chitty Creek begins here as a large spring that bubbles ice water into the canyon.
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.
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