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Clark Peak Trail #301, AZ

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Guide 26 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
3.5 of 5 by 6
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 6.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,000 feet
Elevation Gain -1,829 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,766 feet
Avg Time One Way 3.5-4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 12.39
Interest Peak
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
18  2019-07-13 RedRoxx44
22  2018-06-09 rwstorm
15  2018-05-27
West Riggs Traverse
17  2018-05-27
West Riggs Traverse
6  2017-08-19 CanyonWanderer
102  2016-07-16
Blue Jay Peak
4  2016-06-04
Clark Peak
7  2015-07-26
Clark Peak
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author RedRoxx44
author avatar Guides 5
Routes 0
Photos 19,145
Trips 522 map ( 3,347 miles )
Age Female Gender
Location outside, anywhere
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Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep → 7 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  6:05am - 6:24pm
Official Route
6 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Amazing views!!
by RedRoxx44

Likely In-Season!
This trail exceded my expectations. Mt. Graham and the Pinalenos are a spectacular sky island, with beautiful riparian trails and thick forests, scarred some by fires, as seems the norm in Arizona. It lacks a "ridgeline" trail system, most trails being up and down the mountain side. This trail has not escaped fire, but is the closest to a ridgeline system. The views are fabulous. You start at the end of the dirt road on top, unless you have 4wd and want to go through a few semi permanent mud holes, ignore the small sign for "Clark Peak TH" and simply take the main road a little over three miles to the dead end, which happens to be the TH you want.

I only covered a little over 8 miles of this trail, to Taylor Pass, and did some off trail ridge walking to see more views. The forest service recommends a 2 day trip to do an out and back of the almost 14 mile trail, which terminates on West mountain. I am not sure why. The part of the trail I hiked on was in fair shape, rollercoaster like in elevation gain and loss, minimally overgrown. The trail grew faint as it descended the side of a ridge to Taylor Pass. Some other use trails in the area go to great dry campsites, or great view lunch sites. The trail starts at 9000 feet, skirts Clark Peak ( look for a couple of cairns for short walk up to summit) at a little over 10,000 feet, then drops about 2000 feet to Taylor Pass in the 7000's; where I turned around, then climbs to West Peak at 8600 to meet an old FS road. The route is waterless, so all water must be carried. There are several damp dirt areas which look quite spring like if they were dug out.

The hike goes through old burn, with abundant flowers when I was there, healthy forests, wanders by beautiful rocky cliffs, through a huge open meadow of ferns, and to a newer burn area streaked with the red slurry near Taylor Pass. When I was here I ran into about 10 forest service fire fighters near Taylor Pass, resting on their packs, eventually going downhill to do some mop up work on the aftermath of this newer fire (several months back). Views west include the Galiuros, Rincons, Catalinas, Santa Theresas', Sulphur Springs Valley with all its' farming plots, etc. Views east of Safford playa and the mountains backing that area. It was hazy inititally then clearing on my hike out as big dark clouds started to roll in.

There are some connecting trails to FS roads that come out of Pima etal if one wanted to do a long car shuttle. Or get dropped off at the top and picked up at the bottom somewhere. Better though to camp up top and do this trail as an in and out. You won't get tired of the views, that is for certain, lots of variety on this trial, and a new favorite for me.

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2006-07-17 RedRoxx44

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
Clark Peak Trail #301
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West Riggs Traverse
The real purpose of our quick overnight to the Pinalenos was my desire to hike the Clark Peak Trail between Riggs and West. Having seen it from West Peak on a couple of previous trips it just appeared intriguing to me.

Previous trip reports seemed to indicate some route finding issues, but we had little problem keeping on the tread the whole way. The little attention it took to follow the route made it more interesting and enjoyable for me. I enjoy the "challenge" of finding/following old or little-used trails.

We encountered another couple about 1/4 mile from the Chesley Flat trailhead, but otherwise, not a soul except for those at Riggs Lake where we took a nice break in the grass along the shore. I had only carried two liters of water so I was a little disappointed to learn that the water at the campground was turned off. I filtered an extra half liter from the lake but ended up not needing it anyway.

It looks like there are a few old and underused trails out at this end of the range, and since the other side is a crisp fritter, I might need to check some of these others out.

It was a solid day, and I really, really enjoyed this trail for variety, views, and solitude. A real winner in my book!
Clark Peak Trail #301
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I continued my tour of the Pinelanos with a quick trip up Clark Peak. I stopped at Riggs Lake on the way for the dogs and did not rush to get to the trailhead. I think there are two dirt roads that will get you to the Clark Peak Trail #301 and I took the roughest. I stopped about a half mile from the trailhead after hitting a rock large enough to put a little dent in my frame. I just took a poor line. The rock was certainly avoidable and the road was not impassable. However, I did not want to break something and I was only looking at a two mile hike, so what was a little extra road miles really?

Most of the road portion went through a nice stand of Aspen so it was by no means torture. Not the best views from the peak, but easy to reach, good trail until you make your way up to the peak. There is some evidence of old routes and trails, but the last little bit is basically a mild bushwhack.
Clark Peak Trail #301
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As I start this, let me say that nothing IMO beats the Arizona Trail. I have tons of awesome memories from it for life. But if you want to do a long-distance trail that is truly RUGGED? More rugged than the AZT? Then get on the GET. So far I've done 11 segments of the GET, and 2 of them already have been more difficult than any segment of the AZT, solely factoring distance and elevation. That's not even considering the route finding and bushwhacking; most if not all of the segments (once the GET leaves the AZT in segment 5) have these challenges, since no one maintains the trails and they are so remote. This segment was by far no exception, with a number of miles of route finding and, in some places, fairly dense vegetation.

A few other HAZ people working on the GET wanted to go but we couldn't get the dates nailed down, so JJ and I did it. As usual, we hiked in opposite directions. Anticipating this might be a doozy, I was able to find a marathon runner friend in town (Norm) to go out and do this one with me.

Left the house at 3:30am, swapped Jeeps with JJ at 5:45 in Thatcher, and I was hiking a few minutes before 7am. There are a few places on this segment where the trail is almost gone, but by far the worst of it is in the first 12 miles. Slowed us down more than we anticipated. JJ was a monster machine, we ran into him just 10 miles into our trip. We finally reached Webb Peak at 4pm, and started the 8.5-mile descent.

Other than underestimating the route finding, Norm and I did make one crucial oversight; he didn't have the GPS track on him and we didn't have walkie talkies or anything to communicate. He and I are opposites in that he is fast on climbing elevation but slow on the downs; I'm fast on the downhills but not on the uphills. Because he didn't have a track, 2-3 times he had to wait for me to catch up to him to let him know which direction to go for a total of about an hour wasted. If he hadn't had to wait for me, I could have caught up to him going down. Then, going down I waited for him, which put us both doing the last part of this segment in the dark, and became very slow. We didn't finish until a few minutes before 8:30pm and didn't get back home until midnight.

Through this segment we saw a number of piles of bear scat, especially on the western side, and even fresh bear paw prints in the water around Ash Creek. JJ's right, the waterfalls and flows in Ash Creek were pretty awesome. We also saw tons of those balls that when you step on them, they put out green smoke. Do you know what I'm talking about? Everywhere! :)

Thanks JJ for getting us going again; it's been too long. 11 segments, 32% of mileage completed (69% of Arizona).

Aspen groves were gorgeous.
Clark Peak Trail #301
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Clark Peak Trail - Just the out-n-back up to the peak. The trail going up has become very overgrown, it took some bushwacking & time, but we made it up.

CP Flat Loop - Do I like this short little scenic trail? You bet your sweet golden aspens I DO! Always a wonderful trail anytime of the year. We sat at the end of the grove for lunch and had a doe with her fawn walk right across the road 20 yards from us.

Lakeshore Trail - Counterclockwise around Riggs Flat Lake. This lake always has been & always will be my favorite place on the entire mountain, very quite & peaceful today.

Jesus-Babcock Trail - Out-n-back to the big overlook, another trail I will do every year when at Riggs Lake.

Wildlife once again this week was amazing -
8 Abert's squirrels
2 White-tail deer
25 turkeys walking together single file across Hospital Flat meadow :o
Clark Peak Trail #301
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With the back half of the Swift Trail now open for summer, I headed up my favorite mountain for an overnight trip to the Riggs Flat Lake area. First drove to the end of the ST and took the Clark Peak trail a couple of miles down to the first big meadow enjoying the great open views of the Gila & Sulpher Springs valleys below. Hiked up to Clark Peak on the return trip and back down to the TH where I then got on the CP Flat Loop trail. First time on this short trail and I was very surprized by the amount of aspens along the road. This trail must look awesome during autumn! I also came across some of the biggest (very fresh) bear tracks I have ever seen up here along side a few lion tracks. After completing the loop, I drove back down to beautiful Riggs Lake and got my campsite set up for the night with just enough time left to walk down to the lake and catch the sunset.
Clark Peak Trail #301
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This was my first time on the Clark Peak Trail, and it surpassed my expectations. Endless views, good chunks of green forest, and the feeling that I was walking through the sky made for a great hike. A few aspens still held their golden leaves on this rather warm, autumn day.

The Swift Trail closes beyond Heliograph Peak on Nov. 15, :cry: so I thought I'd better get up in the 2 mile high country one more time this year. A spur of the moment decision was made, and off I went. Started hiking just after 3 pm, and got to the top of Clark Peak (the world's easiest peak bag) in no time. I signed the summit register, and checked out the remains of the fire tower. It looked like the forest service just kicked the tower over when they were done with it. Relaxed on the summit for a few minutes, until the sound of the gentle breeze was replaced by work calling :gun: Heading down, I hiked a little further, until I got to the Carter-Nuttall Trail junction, where more work calls, subsequent anger, and the soon to be setting sun turned me around. I did check out a few hundred yards of the Carter-Nuttall Trail before heading back though, and it looked like it could be a scenic hike for someone with plenty of time and determination.

So, the drive was twice as long as my hike :lol:
Good times though. I'll be back next spring.

Permit $$

Coronado Forest
MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
From Safford drive south 8 miles on US 191 to AZ 366 (Swift Trail). Turn right (southwest) onto AZ 366 and drive 29 miles to the Columbine Visitor Information Station. Continue along FR 803 (Swift Trail) about 5 miles to the Riggs Flat turnoff and then another 2 miles to the trailhead at the end of FR 803. The last 12 miles of this road are narrow and winding. This trailhead is not accessible from November 15 to April 15 when the Swift Trail is closed for the winter. Early or late snow may extend the inaccessible season.

Or, take Forest Road 286 south from the town of Pima. Follow this road 12 miles to the Forest boundary, continue 15 miles farther to the West Peak lookout. The last 2 miles of this road may require a high clearance vehicle; a 4-wheel drive is preferable. The trailhead is alongside the road just before it arrives at the lookout. During the winter months, snow conditions may close access to this trailhead.
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