Pine TH is just down the road...
I hesitate to write a negative guide of any trail on the Rim, so perhaps I had too high expectations for this one. After doing a little homework, phrases such as "beautiful trail", "little used" (read: solitude), and "expansive views" compelled me to have visions of a quiet stroll along the base of the beautiful Rim, dodging elk as I soaked in the views in every direction. Okay maybe not so dramatic. Perhaps it is just that the Forest Service and I have a slight difference of opinion when it comes to the definition of a "trail" as opposed to "Forest Road".
Geronimo Trail #240 is accessed by hiking a quick 1/4 mile section of the Highline from the Geronimo TH, located on FS 440 2 miles from FS64 (Control Road). The TH is on the east side of the road and consists of a pullout with a FS board explaining the various trails in the area. As I strapped on my pack, five pickups and a huge Asplunda truck flew by at approximately 147 miles an hour, heading for Geronimo Camp, a private campground located just a quarter mile or so north of the TH.
To reach the Geronimo Trail, you first cross FS440, at the trail post with the Highline blaze, immediately cross West Webber Creek, then climb a short distance to a sign bolding proclaiming you are 1/4 of a mile from the Geronimo intersection. The Highline is faint as it climbs toward this junction, but is intermittently cairned and not terribly difficult to follow. Soon you will reach the terminus, where the Highline will bank west on it's 8 mile last leg (or first depending on your direction of travel) to the Pine TH. To your right is another FS sign explaining that it is 2 miles to the Turkey Springs #217 trail, and 3 miles to the West Webber Trail. Just a few feet down a slight hill and, yep, you are standing on a Forest Road. To your right is a dirt berm, blocking any further access south on the road.
There are many trails in Arizona that follow old Forest Service roads, stock roads, historic cavalry trails, etc. Those roads usually range from extremely rocky two-tracks to faint single path foot trails. I am pretty sure most two wheel drive vehicles with only moderate clearance could have driven the Geronimo Trail, and it's offshoots listed above. This was a rocky but definite forest road, probably maintained by pickup trucks loaded with ATVs. Incidentally, all the trails that I followed in this area appeared to be blazed with the same diamond marker as the Highline. Ya know, just to make it interesting.
The Geronimo road heads north-northwest, climbing gently. There are some nice views of the Rim as the forest opens up in some areas. These will help push you onward. The road will swell up and down for the rest of it's journey, a fairly easy walk before it banks sharply east, and a short time later, ends at the junction with the Turkey Spring Trail #217. Which is a Forest Road. Another very good forest road. Down the hill to the south, you will see a tube fence and what appears to be the upper Geronimo Camp. Yep, you probably could have driven right up here.
Here, the Geronimo Trail ends, however, the offshoots are worth a brief mention. A FS sign at the junction displays mileage: 1/8 of a mile to Turkey Springs, 1/8 to West Webber. Strange considering that the first sign at the Highline junction stated that the West Webber was a full mile farther than Turkey Springs! Taking this trail north-northwest, you will first notice the junction with the East Webber Trail. Then a short distance later, the West Webber.
Turkey Spring is located right off the trail. It consists of a pipe emptying into a large round wooden basin. A spur trail heads off northeast. At first I thought this was the Turkey Spring Trail, however, there is a FS sign tacked to a tree across from the trough which displayed this as being the Turkey Spring Trail intersection. I followed this spur as it climbed it's way toward the Rim along a well repaired fence line. I noticed a large brown FS sign which explained that the fencing was needed to protect the spring from WATERBORNE PARASITES, such as Giardia. Perhaps it would have been more logical to place this sign next to the spring. Maybe then hikers, overheated from walking on forest road "trails", would not be tempted to splash their faces, containing certain mucus membranes, with the spring water. I did not follow this spur any further, instead deciding to try out the East Webber in hopes of making a loop back to the Highline. A guide I read of this trail stated it was a "beautiful, little-used trail following Webber Creek". I walked back down the hill on the Turkey Springs trail to the East Webber intersection. The trail heads east, drops down and crosses Webber Creek (dry), and then turns into, yep, a Forest Service Road. I believe this is the "pack trail" as shown on the topo, so I'm sure it turns nice and follows the creek later on. I followed it only a mile or so before I ran into a smattering of pickup trucks parked right in the middle of the trail. One had a full size very detailed mannequin in the bed. At least, I hope it was a mannequin.
This was enough for me, and I returned the way I came. I was serenaded on my return hike, not by the whistling melodies of songbirds or the bugling of elk, but the incessant buzz of chainsaws as the Asplunda crews denuded the forest around Camp Geronimo.
I would rate this hike as Fair, just to be..fair. There are some good views of the Rim and the only actual person I saw was a mannequin, therefore not really a person. So there was solitude. However, the Pine TH is just down the road, which I believe makes for much better hiking.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
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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