Trail to nowhere
This short trail leaves Riggs Lake campground in the Pinaleno Mountains, travels through some beautiful forest, and dead ends on a high brushy ridge with some great views of Sulphur Springs Valley.
I arrived at Riggs Lake late in the afternoon, wanting to do one more hike before heading home for the day. After inquiring with the campground host, I parked at the end of the campground loop and headed west into the woods, following a faint path and yellow tape tied around trees. The ground was wet from a recent rain, and the carpet of fir needles beneath my feet had a spongy feel to it. Before long the trail left the thickly wooded area, and arrived on a narrow brushy ridge that was covered in fallen logs from an old wildfire. Turning around, I saw Merrill Peak, named for an early forest service employee of the area. The topo map showed the trail continuing down the ridge until it stopped at a point about a mile from the campground. The trail was growing increasingly faint, and soon disappeared completely, so I gave up trying to fight the thick brush. I stopped to watch a dust storm blowing across Sulphur Springs Valley, and to look out over the rugged western slopes of the Pinalenos. The Galiuro Mountains looked as if they were a thousand miles away across the vast sea of desert.
As I turned around to head back, a thunderstorm rolled in and it began to sprinkle. Wanting to get off the exposed ridge in case of lightning, I quickened my pace. The sprinkle turned into a downpour as I neared the trees, and several blasts of thunder echoed off the nearby peaks. When the campground came into view, I turned left and headed for a rocky overlook nearby. With rain pouring down on me, I watched the setting sun turn the rain curtain around me a deep orange. Although the trail itself wasn’t that exciting, the interaction of clouds and earth made up for it.
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.