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Houston Brothers Trail to Aspen Spring, AZ

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Guide 25 Triplogs  4 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Clints Well
3.7 of 5 by 10
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 3.49 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,000 feet
Elevation Gain 236 feet
Accumulated Gain 314 feet
Avg Time One Way 1.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 4.54
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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5  2018-08-03 Craigbhikin
13  2018-07-14
East Cabin Loop
11  2018-04-20 Gallydoll
14  2016-07-25 trekkin_gecko
24  2016-07-25 tibber
15  2015-07-24
Cabin Loop - Mogollon Rim
12  2015-07-12
Bear Canyon (Middle) - Mogollon Rim
17  2015-07-12
Bear Canyon (Middle) - Mogollon Rim
Page 1,  2,  3
Author Trishness
author avatar Guides 14
Routes 0
Photos 720
Trips 187 map ( 1,244 miles )
Age 60 Female Gender
Location Apache Junction, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Oct, Sep, Apr → 10 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:09am - 6:29pm
Official Route
5 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Great Beginning Backpacking
by Trishness

Likely In-Season!
This is an absolutely gorgeous and picturesque hike through a historic area on the Mogollan Rim north of Strawberry and Clint's Well. As described below, this area was used by ranchers and the US Forest service many years ago and is part of the Cabin Loop Trail system. In the early 1900's this trail system was developed to link General Springs Cabin, Pinchot Cabin, and the Buck Springs Fire Guard Station. The trail passes through picturesque forest atop the Mogollan Rim and consists of 4 trails: the U-Bar #28, Barbershop #91, Fred Haught #22 and Houston Brothers #171.

This was my first backpacking trip in umpteen years and Mary was gracious enough to be my partner and accompany me in both the trip and the planning. We had decided on the area for two reasons... #1) it's the RIM! What's not to love? #2) I needed something on the less strenuous side to start out. We left Phoenix at 7:30 AM on a clear Saturday morning and drove up 87 through Payson, Pine, Strawberry and finally reached Clint's Well. We found FR95 fine just past the Blue Ridge Ranger Station and took Mary's new toy (a nice Toyota 4X4) down this road through a beautiful area in East Clear Creek called Morgan Draw. There were some pretty scary and steep drop offs along the mountain grades but the 4X4 did well combined with the expert driving. Along FR95, you'll eventually pass a sign for Kinder Crossing and Barber Lake and the views are amazing. We finally found the TH along FR139A. It was decidedly cooler at 7,000 feet with temps in the low 70's at noon when we donned our packs and the smell of the Ponderosa pines and the crunch of the pine needles & cones under our boots added to our already heightened enthusiasm of the adventure yet to come. The sky was a clear blue with puffy white clouds and the air was clean and sweet with the fragrance of Ponderosa pine. I packed conservatively (25 lbs) but ran into a problem right away because the pack (that was generously given to me by a friend) is really too large and was seated way too low across my lower back. We tried adjusting the straps but it was still pretty uncomfortable. But, we had driven all this way and I was determined to move forward. So, onward we went.

We started down the trail to Pinchot Cabin and found it after 1/2 mile. At this intersection are the options for Houston Brothers, U-Bar and Fred Haught Trails. Last minute decision and we decided on taking the Houston Brothers trail south which follows a small creek. There were many elk prints all along this trail which leads through many grassy meadows. After another 1.5 miles, we arrived at Aspen Spring which proved to be the perfect place to set up camp. There's an old cabin, an old dilapidated outhouse and a free standing fireplace (where a house was at one time, maybe?) all in a stand of Ponderosa pines with the afternoon wind was whistling through them. There are generations of chipmunks in this area and we watched them scampering across the meadow, up the trees, on top of the outhouse and just about everywhere. We set up camp and then decided to take a hike heading south following the creek but found the entire area blocked off by barbed wire. We headed back and then followed an old Jeep trail heading north that was intentionally blocked off at the top of a hill by some trees. Walked around this and found a FS road that we later identified as FR139. Also found the Ubar trail crossing up on this route. Headed back to camp, made a fire, ate dinner, drank some wine, watched the sun set, the moon rise and the stars start to come out. There was so much silence and solitude out here... we heard some coyotes in the distance as we enjoyed the fire as we nested in our Thermarest recliners.

It was pretty cold at 8 PM when I turned in. I woke at 3:15 AM and was freezing, even in my +20 sleeping bag. Got up at 5:45 and there was frost on items we had left out... you could see your breath. Mary's water bladder had ice in it so I'd say it was in the low 30's during the night. She said she heard some "ruckus in the woods" during the night but I slept like a baby and didn't hear a thing. We made another fire to warm up, had a snack, broke up camp and got to the truck by 8:45. We stopped at the Strawberry Lodge and Cafe for a HUGE breakfast & fresh coffee.

This is an OUTSTANDING area that I'd love to explore more. There are tons of camping areas all along this short stretch we did on our way in. Mary... thank you for your patience and guidance. It was awesome. This is so beautiful!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2004-05-01 Trishness

    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 11 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Houston Brothers Trail to Aspen Spring
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    After packing up and then imbibing in a most wonderful breakfast, we reluctantly left Camp Grasshopper to get in a quick hike before heading back to the Valley. This hike fit the bill perfectly and now I've seen and/or hiked around all the cabins of the Loop except Fred Haught.

    This is truly a lovely hike as you hike past Pinchot Cabin and up the meadow of Houston Draw. The forest came in and out but the ferns were pretty much everywhere along the way. The trail is very nice and it doesn't look like it got recent rain, either that or it dries out real well. We came upon 3 gigantic ponderosas, one with a double trunk high in the sky so that was pretty cool.

    Of course the Springs area is the highlight with what little remnants of what was once here scattered about. The tack shed/barn was pretty cool with its tin roof and corral. The fireplace stood out like a beautiful sore thumb and the water from the spring trickling out from under the rocks looked really refreshing. Of course, you have to cross the bridge which we did. It's a beautiful clearing here, a spectacular place for a campover.

    Hiking back was fun as the light changed a bit with some intermittent cloud cover. Filming the light in and out of the forest is just too much for the camera to adjust to so I spent several hours this weekend learning how to tone that down in the video. I still have some work to do as I was able to adjust a lot of the sharp contrasts but now the video isn't as crisp or colorful as what we were seeing. But now of course, I'd like to go back and fix some of the other videos that I had to fight the contrast (especially the Kachina) but it just takes so much time to re-do; especially since I'm still behind on about 10 trips.

    I did spot some tall larkspur/delphinium in amongst the ferns and then some butterflies on the yellow flowers. None of the pics of the butterflies turned out as I was zooming. We enjoyed the rest of our hike back to the road as I now joined back up with Kelly who got away from me as she was avoiding the flies. I, on the other hand, didn't have any issue with flies ;) . At the road there is a beautiful patch of lupine that had some paint brush scattered in it so it was a fitting way to end our hike.

    from Road 95 almost to the cabin ... pVVo
    Wandering around the cabin/springs area and back to the Trailhead ... X-2c

    lots of ferns, some lupine, come yellow cone flowers, a smattering of tall larkspur
    Houston Brothers Trail to Aspen Spring
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    day three of camp grasshopper
    hank made a big breakfast of bacon, eggs, potatoes and fruit salad for angela, mary jo and i
    we finished packing up and said goodbye to hank, who was staying until wednesday
    angela and i were looking for a short hike we could do on the way home (mj took a little longer to pack up :lol: )
    this was on the way out and proved to be a pretty stroll through diverse forest along a draw
    there was flowing water at times and a few wildflowers
    from the parking area just off 95, you first pass by pinchot cabin
    the aspen spring area is a large meadow with an old corral, a shed, an outhouse and a large stone fireplace
    there must have been a ranch house at one time
    we poked around a bit and headed back to the car
    perfect ending to a fun weekend at camp grasshopper :)
    Houston Brothers Trail to Aspen Spring
    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!
    Houston Brothers Trail to Aspen Spring
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    West Cabin Loop
    Kyle and I decided on this as an easy overnight with the pups. I've always enjoyed this area, and this trip was no different.

    I brought my bike and rode the 4.5 miles along FR300 to save us from having to do that less interesting section on foot. I was surprised how green and wet everything is, especially with the early fire restrictions this year. It really is early season up there, with many aspen not yet showing their leaves, and the maples just getting started.

    Last time I did this section was in a freak April snow storm a couple of years ago, so it was neat to remember how things looked that day. Saturday was just borderline warm in the sun, but Sunday cooled off and was perfect, with cloud cover, breezy, and in the 60s.

    I always forget about the numerous little draws to cross on the southern half of Houston Brothers, it's such a different hike from the northern half.

    We stopped at Baker Butte on the way out. Shirley has been there for 18 years, and it's been at least 7 since I carried an antique sewing machine up into the tower for her, and she has since acquired a horse. The tower has been upgraded and now has new windows and doors and an outdoor walkway around it.

    The views were nice, but a little bit hazy today.
    Houston Brothers Trail to Aspen Spring
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Cabin Loop - East
    We invaded HAZ Camp at around 8:30, to find quite a few HAZers still Sleeping.
    We were greeted by Angela, Pam, Trish, Cindy, Corry, OregonHiker, (all of whom I was meeting for the first time)....and rolling out of the Coleman Mansion with Chinese eyes, Todd.

    Corry decided he wanted to tag along for the tour of the East loop, so we were off.

    This is a pleasant hike with Pines, Oak, Maple, Aspens, Ferns. Our Clockwise loop took us past numerous springs and cabins in various states of disrepair. My favorite areas on the hike were the Barbershop spring area, the Fern Forests on the Houston Brothers Trail, Barbershop canyon, and the cold, refreshing water of Dane Spring.

    On the way up to Pinchot Cabin, we ran into Chumley, Liz, and Oregonhiker. A little later we ran into Laura hiking Solo and then later again, south of Dane Spring, Steve (Nonot).

    I stopped back at camp to wet my liver (Thanks Liz!)for a short while and jab with the folks. I was even allowed to view, touch, and sample Angela's Treasure chest of snacks!

    Good to meet all the new people and catch up with the others I have not seen in awhile.

    Good Hiking with you Corry... keep up the good work!.
    JBM was at an all time low. Approaching 0 (and actually going positive for a short while) at the beginning of the hike.
    Houston Brothers Trail to Aspen Spring
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    After an early Saturday morning Monsoon lingering rain shower, Larry, his son-in-law, and I planned a late morning hike start.

    This was Larry's first visit to our Mogollon Rim- Cabin Loop area trails and I thought it an excellent idea to first introduce he and his son-in-law to one of the more popular and historic areas. This planned, short loop hike takes the back way into the scenic, historic, Aspen Spring meadow area, perennial Aspen Spring, and the Aspen Spring Guard Cabin complex, then north onto the Houston Brothers Trail to perennial Pinchot Spring and on to the historic Pinchot Guard Cabin area before connecting with the U-Bar TR#28 to FR139G to complete the loop.

    This loop hike turned-out to be very enjoyable with cooler temps and with the wetness of the days Monsoon rain just enhancing the peacefulness and beauty of this area :D
    Houston Brothers Trail to Aspen Spring
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    An absolutely EPIC Saturday hike on the rim! Sit back, relax, and enjoy as I attempt to put the experience into words! (Update: Better grab a snack and take a restroom break first ... this ended up being sort of lengthy!) :)

    With the FS having opened all the rim roads five days prior, and the forecast calling for a spring storm Friday night, I thought it would be a great opportunity to see this area in rare light ... a fresh blanket of snow. Normally, it's too cold, too far from an open road, and too limited by the short winter days to attempt. But this was a perfect opportunity, so I decided to go for it!

    Friday night I had two birthday parties to attend, so it was a late night. I had pre-planned though and packed everything I needed in my truck, so when I woke up on Saturday morning around 8, I had a bowl of cereal and headed north. It had rained, hard, at my house overnight, but only for a few minutes as the cold front passed through. The NWS was predicting 1-3" of snow in the higher elevations, with locally higher amounts possible, and scattered snow showers on Saturday. It sounded perfect to me!

    The weather was dry until I got to Payson, when it began snowing lightly. By Pine, there was some light accumulation on favorable surfaces. Ascending the rim, the accumulation increased and the mercury finally dipped below freezing. Thankfully, snow was not sticking to the road, and driving was uneventful. The Rim Road is unpaved, and as such, it was snow covered. There were only one other set of tracks on the road, and maybe 2-4" making for relatively easy driving for the 12 miles to General Springs.

    I arrived around 11:30, having previously decided that I would have to be hiking by noon if I was going to complete the loop. It was snowing lightly and I got everything together to head out on the Fred Haught Trail. It was then that I heard noises coming from inside the General Springs Cabin. I was definitely caught off guard ... I was the only car that had traveled the road that far since it started snowing the day before, and there were no cars at the trailhead. Not sure exactly how to react, I yelled out "Is there anybody in there?", and to my surprise, somebody yelled back! I waited patiently, and curiously, as the door was slowly unbarricaded from the inside. After a minute or so, the door was open and I went in where I met Paul and Drew, two AZT hikers who had holed up in the cabin the night before. After introducing ourselves, we had a brief HAZ mention as well as a discussion about the weather forecast. They had started on March 17th, and having intentionally not carried heavy winter-weather gear, decided to ride out the snow in their sleeping bags in the cabin. Not really a problem, just a very boring way to spend a couple of days!

    So they asked me what I was doing up there, and asked if I was just a crazy Norwegian, which I had a double-take trying to figure out how they could have guessed that ... only to remember my hat has a Norwegian flag on it! So, yes! I'm definitely a crazy Norwegian! They asked me my plans for the day, and I told them I just wanted to go out and enjoy this area in the snow, hoping to do a loop hike. Upon asking when I expected to return, I replied "later this afternoon, by sunset", and added that if it continued snowing or the going got too difficult, I would turn around and head back.

    So I left Paul and Drew to their sleeping bags and headed down the Fred Haught Trail. I chose this loop because I have hiked it before and am familiar with it, and because it follows a draw where route-finding in the snow wouldn't be difficult, even if I wasn't exactly on the trail. After all, it is generally impossible to follow a trail in a snow-covered pine forest.

    The snowfall changed from flurries to squall off-and-on all day, and while I could hear the wind howling in the treetops it was generally calm in at ground level. About 3 miles out, I approached Fred Haught Spring, and could already feel that I had been giving my legs a good workout. Even though there were only a few inches of snow on the ground, hiking in snow is a lot more work than a hard-packed desert trail. I contemplated turning around and calling it a 6-mile day, but I really wanted to get to Aspen Springs. I knew I would have no problem getting the 4.5 miles to the cabin, but was cautiously concerned about the remaining mileage to return from there. Screw it! Not only am I a Crazy Norwegian, I'm also damn stubborn. Plus, I had warm, dry feet, and was clothed perfectly, so I was comfortably warm, and not wet from sweating.

    So shortly after deciding to go on, the sky opened up in that 2-3"/hour kind of dumping. It was incredible. I plowed through Quien Sabe Draw, and the snow stopped and the sun broke through for a minute. The changes from one minute to the next was impressive. The sun was out for my traverse of Bear Canyon on FR95, exposing the beautiful contrast of red rock cliffs and a beautifully unspoiled snow-covered road.

    Next, just as I was heading down the hill to the Pinchot Cabin, I spotted an Elk in the meadow below. He didn't notice me, so I yelled, and he looked up to try to find me before deciding to dart off into the woods, along with a second Elk I hadn't previously seen.

    I signed the trail register at the Pinchot Cabin and headed up Houston Draw the last mile and a half to Aspen Springs. It was snowing fairly steadily the whole way, but I still managed it in about 35 minutes, arriving at Aspen Springs at 3:15. I took refuge from the snow in the little cabin, which was only halfway helpful since it was only marginally more wind- and snow-tight than an open field. Nonetheless, I was able to grab half a bag of beef jerky, swap out my socks, rest my legs, and plan for the best route back.

    I checked the exact sunset and realized I had under 3-1/2 hours left. That's also when I realized that the extra batteries I had for my GPS were AAA, when I needed AA. The AAAs were for my headlamp, which I also noticed had not made the journey from my front seat to my pack. Doh! I had slowed to under 3mph in the snow, so I knew that I couldn't stay on the Houston Brothers trail and have any hope of getting back to my truck ... it was at least another 11 miles, and I wasn't sure I had the strength for that much more distance anyway.

    I am very familiar with the area, and decided that I would bail out to FR95 and take it back to the Rim Road. The key for this is that FR95 is on the west side of Bear Canyon which would cut the distance significantly from staying on the Houston Brothers trail on the east side of the canyon. The catch is that I would have to go off trail through the canyon to get there. And that's when my GPS batteries finally gave up on me!

    Luckily, I knew generally where I wanted to go, and knew that once through Bear Canyon, it would be impossible not to run into FR95. I also had downloaded some tiles of the Topo maps onto my trusty iPhone/Camera/GPS. I had plenty of battery life remaining since I had purposely put myself into Airplane mode earlier. Having recently switched to Verizon from AT&T, I was shocked that the few times I turned off Airplane mode to get an exact GPS bearing, i would suddenly receive a flurry of emails and text messages. So there was some comfort in knowing that I could probably make a phone call if needed.

    So I headed down into Bear Canyon, and let me just say ... it's crazy steep. Oh, and I'm a Crazy Norwegian. I wouldn't have gone down this slope on skis if there were no trees and another 5 feet of snow! But I basically just slid down the side, bouncing from rock to tree to rock, letting the snow absorb my bounces, all the while lamenting what it would be like climbing the other side. Upon reaching the bottom, however, I was surrounded by the most awe-inspiring natural beauty. It was amazing. Photos can't possibly do it justice, but the snow just framed the cliffs and trees and rocks in such a perfect, peaceful, amazing place. I will have to come back here again this summer!

    Not wanting to stay too long, I decided to begin the grueling ascent, proceeding only 20-30 steps at a time before stopping to catch my breath for a minute. I eventually came across a very fresh set of elk prints (it's still snowing ... I can tell they are fresh), and decided to follow them since usually the animals know the "easiest" way up and down these deep canyons. Sure enough, 10 minutes later, an elk hops up and runs away not 50 feet in front of me. He was too fast for me to get a photo, but I saw that he had been laying down in the snow on the steep hillside of the canyon. I don't know if that was a "defensive" spot where he could keep an eye out for predators, but he didn't hear me coming, so I'm not sure how good of a spot it really was!

    Finally I reached the top and FR95, but was unsure how far I had to go to get to the rim road. I looked at the time and began to wonder if I was going to make it before dark. I bit of anxiousness set in upon realizing that I didn't have my headlamp and it was still snowing and once the sun set, it would be completely dark. I figured that even so, I would be able to follow the road.

    There were some off-trail options for me to take a more direct route back to the truck and shave some mileage, but I decided that it was a smarter decision to just stay on the road at that point. Even if it got dark, I knew I could keep walking and eventually get there. But it was going ridiculously slow. FR95 had just been graded, so the roadbed was not firmly packed, but instead was soft like sand. Only it's spring and the ground is warm, so the snow was melting from below. The road was basically mud under the snow. That made for some incredibly heavy steps. I found out later that it was 3 miles worth! I had tried to walk parallel to the road on the normal forest floor, but that was just as slow due to rocks and logs and other under-snow obstacles.

    My slow progress on FR95 as the skies darkened made me mentally pre-plan for an arrival up to an hour after sunset. I knew I would be fine, I just wasn't really looking forward to hiking in the dark. I was really, really looking forward to getting to the rim, and having only what I thought was about 2 miles on FR300 back to the truck. But FR95 just continued forever!

    Finally! I arrived at the Rim Road at about 6:30. Less than 25 minutes before sunset. Luckily, the road had not been recently graded, and in fact there were one set of tracks having driven the road. So I set forth down the hill to the trailhead, hiking in the tire track in the road, and made awesome time. It turns out the last stretch was just under a mile and a half, and I did it in under 30 minutes, arriving back at my truck looking like the abominable snowman!

    When I arrived, Paul came out of the cabin and we chatted for 20 seconds before I said that I would get a change of clothes and then come in and visit with them for a minute. It took me at least 15 minutes to get changed and unpacked. My truck had 4-5" of new snow accumulated since I had arrived, which might explain why the going got so much slower as the day went on. What happened to that forecast of 1-3" with just "scattered instability showers" during the day. Apparently the rim is highly unstable!

    I went into the cabin to greet Paul and Drew, and when I opened the door, I was a bit surprised to see that they were all packed up, and just rolling up their sleeping bags. Of course, that's when I realized that they weren't about to head out hiking. "Do you mind giving us a lift back to Pine?" I smiled, and said not at all!

    So we got everything packed into my truck and began the harrowing 12-mile drive back to Hwy 87. It's a good thing that Paul and Drew didn't know what they couldn't see, because there's about 2.5 miles of that road that is right on the edge of the rim, and in a burn area, so it is totally exposed. It was full-on whiteout conditions, in the dark. I couldn't stay too far on the "high-side" of the road because the snow drifts were too deep to drive in, so I had to stay closer to the edge. White-knuckle, two-hands, kind of driving. Paul and Drew were talking about their adventure thusfar and asking the kind of general questions you ask new people that you meet ... where do you live, work, etc. But I kept my answers pretty short, anxiously looking forward to reaching Hwy 87.

    I think it took about 45 minutes to drive those 12 miles, which technically isn't too bad. I think Drew took a video of part of the drive, which hopefully I'll get to see one day. I would have liked to take a video, or even a few photos, but I surely wasn't going to do it myself while driving, nor was I going to stop my truck. I was very happy to have a capable Taco with good tires!

    Paul and Drew called a friend who has a cabin in Pine and arranged to stay there, so I drove them down the hill and dropped them off. It sounded like they were going to wait a day or two before heading back and continuing their trek toward Mormon Lake, Flagstaff, and the Utah border.

    Paul is on HAZ and had posted a few AZT queries prior to his trip: profile.php?u=58052 and he has his own blog following their adventure if you're interested in it:

    All-in-all, it was a great adventure and an amazing experience. I'm glad I was able to experience this area during the snowstorm, and even more happy that some anxious moments were the only negatives!

    Crazy Norwegian : rein :

    (gps track shows bear canyon crossing and FR95 bail track
    And I don't care what HAZ computes, I guarantee I burned over 4000 calories!
    Houston Brothers Trail to Aspen Spring
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    My last full day of seven, car-camping/hiking on our Mogollon Rim-Cabin Loop Area I decided to enjoy a short loop hike again on this Houston Bros Trail. This time hiking north from my campsite on FR139G to connect down to Aspen Spring/Cabin then take Houston Bros TR north to Pinchot Spring then on to Pinchot Cabin to connect with the U-Bar TR#28 back to FR139G south and back to my TH Start.

    Thanks to Steve(nonot) for bringing-up some extra ice two days prior to allow me to spend an extra day & night in the ponderosa pines at 7350' before needing to return back to the real heat. Think I would still be there today IF I had an endless amount of water and ice to last through the summer.. ;)

    Please see my posted pic set/captions and posted GPS Route/notes for more hike details.
    Houston Brothers Trail to Aspen Spring
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    East Cabin Loop:
    Fred Haught to U-bar
    U-Bar to Barbershop
    Side trip to Buck Springs and wandered the area a bit
    Barbershop to Houston Bros.
    Houston Bros back to Pinchot Cabin.
    Trek on Fred Haught back to car.

    Heat and humidity was more than desirable today to do the loop.

    Warning: You can get on the wrong road/trail pretty easily. There are over 20 crossings of roads, with only 3 of them marked by signs. Many of them are really devious - the trail will join a road for awhile, the road becomes the trail, then the trail will sneak away from the road after 0.3-0/7 miles with no signs! Argh, added nearly a mile backtracking after missing over 4 junctions.

    This whole place is a maze of trails, abandoned trails, game trails, roads, atv roads, and old abandoned roads. I will have to return to figure out where half the stuff goes!

    Houston Bros trail was great, the rest I thought were not great, maybe because of the heat. Dane Spring is a godsend to help cool off and Aspen Spring is really a very cool place.
    Houston Brothers Trail to Aspen Spring
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Took my brother Michael and his girlfriend Dawna (visiting from Maine) on this hike today. And it reminded them of Maine with all the pines. They were blown away that you can drive a couple of hours from Phoenix and go from desert to forest. They wanted something easy and scenic so this nice little trail and perfect weather filled our requirements. We accessed the TH from FR 139A off FR 95 just after you cross East Clear Creek and Houston Draw (formerly I believe it said Morgan Draw)and parked near access to the Fred Haught Trail. We started at the sign for Pinchot Cabin and then onto the Houston Brothers trail all along the way we spotted a variety of wildflowers...some wild roses, Rocky Mountain irises, yellow columbine, lupine and deer's ears. I haven't been on this trail since 2005 and when we arrived at Aspen Spring, we saw that the old outhouse that was once here is now gone although the fireplace and corral building were still intact. The spring was flowing nicely. Someone camped here last night and LEFT A HOT FIRE GOING IN THE FIREPIT which really is totally irresponsible and really peeved me. It was quite windy today and red hot sparks were flying everywhere, not to mention there was still a HUGE piece of wood still smoking in the pit. There is water in a creek not 100 feet from the pit so I went down to the creek 4-5 times and filled up an empty ziploc bag from my pack and put the fire out. We brought the smoking piece of wood to the creek and put it out there.

    Met some fellow HAZers, Tim & Carolyn, at Aspen Spring who were continuing on down Houston Brothers. Nice to meet you both!

    This was a terrific day hiking under the pines with my family.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    from PHX...Hwy 87 North through Payson, Pine, Strawberry, and Clint's Well. Just past the Blue Ridge Ranger station on Hwy 87, turn right (east) onto Forest Road 95. Follow Forest Road 95 for approximately 11.15 miles, then turn left (south) onto Forest Road 139A. Follow Forest Road 139A for a little over 0.1 miles to the signed crossing (on left side) of the Fred Haught Trail #141. There is a small parking area here, and a large trail sign. This is the TH Start for access to the the Pinchot Cabin location and signed trail start for the Houston Brothers Trail to Aspen Spring.
    3 pack - loud whistle
    go prepared
    help comment issue

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