Note: steep, rocky sections in the last mile & half
The Loy Canyon Trail (#5) begins at the entrance to the Hancock Ranch, on FS-525. The trail heads uphill along the fence line of the ranch
, making a left turn after a short distance where it drops back downhill along the eastern side of the ranch. (You will be passing through private property along this section, please respect the ranch owners wishes and remain on the trail.) Soon, you will be treated to a quaint view
of the ranch, backed by Loy Butte.
Just beyond the ranch, on the west (left) side of the trail, a large natural amphitheatre can be seen in the face of Loy Butte. According to several guidebooks, there should be a number of small cliff dwellings in this area. I did not search for them on this trip, but when the weather is cooler, I will likely return to do so. The trail through this lower section of the canyon is very scenic with views of Loy Butte and the western face of Secret Mountain
. The trail here passes through thick, soft sand and is very open. Gradually the trail begins to climb higher and the canyon closes in more.
After about 3 1/2 miles you'll be in a more forested area and the trail will take a noticeable turn to the northeast, becoming steeper. Great views down the canyon
can be found all along this section. About 1/2 mile later, the trail makes a sudden steep climb and switchbacks to the west. The trail emerges from pines into a manzanita forest, becoming more open. After a series of about four long, very steep and rocky switchbacks, the trail levels off below the edge of the Mogollon Rim and heads east toward a saddle
between Secret Mountain and the Rim. There is one more climbing section, another short level section and then suddenly, you're back in the trees and on the saddle. This saddle is quite narrow at the top, with the eastern side sloping off into Secret Canyon and the right side sloping into the head of Loy Canyon. The trail connects here to the Secret Mountain Trail
(#109), which can be followed south out onto Secret Mountain to Secret Cabin, and several scenic overlooks. To the north, the trail ascends a short distance to the top of the Mogollon Rim at FS-538.