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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.

Blue River Trail #101, AZ

no permit
248 18 1
Guide 18 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Alpine > Alpine S
3.8 of 5 by 4
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 17.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,000 feet
Elevation Gain -838 feet
Accumulated Gain 503 feet
Avg Time One Way 1 day
Kokopelli Seeds 19.28
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33  2018-11-02
Blue-Dutch Blue-Hannah Canyon
45  2018-11-02
The Blue River
30  2018-10-08
Into the Blue
22  2017-12-23
Hannah Hot Springs and More
24  2017-03-18 friendofThunderg
21  2016-05-26 kelraen
16  2015-10-10 VolcanoCLMBR
58  2014-10-04 friendofThunderg
Page 1,  2
Author hikeaz
author avatar Guides 5
Routes 0
Photos 341
Trips 214 map ( 1,930 miles )
Age 63 Male Gender
Location Tempe, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jul, Jun, Aug, Sep
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  5:59am - 6:25pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
creek bed cobble hike
by hikeaz

Likely In-Season!
Stats for Description below
Distance One Way 13 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,000 feet
Elevation Gain -300 feet
Accumulated Gain 350 feet

This section of "the Blue" was reached, at the upper end, via the Strayhorse Trail, coming in from AZ 191 about 25 miles south of Hannagan Meadow from Rose Peak. NOTE: The 13 mile figure is from Strayhorse/Blue junction to the Fritz Ranch, without the side trip or access trail.

Once in the Blue drainage, we then headed south in the bed of the Blue for about 13 miles to the XXX Ranch (also called the Fritz Ranch) . Along the way we stopped at the historic HU-Bar ranch at about mile 7.8. From the HU Bar we headed south to the Blue's confluence with Little Blue Creek canyon entering from the left (east). This distance is about 3 miles from the HU Bar. All along this section of the Blue there are numerous swimming holes, of which we took advantage. Getting back to Little Blue Creek ...the water in the main Little Blue Creek is extremely high in mineral content and "stings" your tounge... I'd get water in the Blue (which is perrennial) or wait until you're further up into Hannah Canyon and above the Hot Springs area. About 2.5 to 3 miles up Hannah a small side canyon enters from the right(ENE). Wander up this canyon making your way around some small pour-offs and after about 15 minutes, watch the left wall of the canyon for the (approx GPS point) hot springs. There is a small campsite here.. maybe room for 2 small tents. This springs is about perfect, temperature-wise. Although the water eminates at 133 degrees, the springs has enough volume to keep it at about 105+/-... perrrfect, Ahhhh. Well, if you get a little overheated, you can cool off by wading/swimming/climbing your way further up this canyon. It is awesome... like Canyoneering-Lite. The canyon is short (about 3/4 mile), but what it lacks in length, it makes up for in beauty. It is likely you could easily shoot a ROLL of film just in this canyon. As well, a complete day could be spent between the hot springs and the canyon just relaxing.

We retraced our steps back to the confluence with the Blue and headed south to our take-out point at the XXX Ranch a.k.a. Fritz Ranch. This is accessed from FR 475 & 475C. The trail is almost all cobbles, so wear sturdy footwear. Additionally, you will be crossing the river innumerable times, so go when it is warm so that it a welcome respite. It is unlikely that you'll see another soul on this hike, with the possible exception of near the trailheads. This is true wilderness. Enjoy and be prudent.

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2004-05-10 hikeaz

    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
    Blue River Trail #101
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    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.
    Blue River Trail #101
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    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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    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    The Strayhorse trailhead is located on Highway 191 north of Clifton and south of Hannagan Meadow, on Rose Peak. The Fritz Ranch is accessed about 45 miles further south from FR 475 and 475C

    From the northern trailhead
    Take U.S. 180 east from Alpine, AZ for 3 miles. Turn right (south) at FR 281 (County Road 67004) and continue south for 32 miles to the Blue River Trailhead.
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