Where the elk and antelope play
This area off 260 near the Eagar Town Dump has recently been developed with a new trail by the Game and Fish Dept. It was once a working ranch, has gone through several governmental layers of ownership, but now is managed by Game and Fish to provide feed for elk, deer, antelope and other wildlife, and also I think they are raising some sort of endangered fish in the many ponds there. They irrigate the old fields, raise hay for the wildlife. I often see elk and antelope if I go early enough in the morning. This last hike we saw a bald eagle, but no large animals.
Many long hikes can also be started here. Even a backpacking trip could be started here if one wants to really explore the grasslands, although you might want to inform G&F why you're leaving your car there. You can hike through the ranch and up above it and hike all the way to Green's Peak, off trail, or following old two track roads. A person could hike for days in the grasslands. Mountain bike rides started here can go for miles on two-tracks, into the grasslands.
Geologically this is the Springerville Volcanic Area, with many cinder cones, which are about 800,000 years old or so. These cinder cones are not very tall but they are steep, and climbing them is kind of fun. There are always wonderful views from the tops of them. (Brochure with map about the Volcanic Area available at Casa Malpais Museum in Springerville, by the Town Hall and Police Dept.)
There are no signs to get to this place. From Eagar you drive west on 260 until, past 261, but before South Fork, you'd turn right, or north, on the road to the Refuse Disposal Site. Once on this road take the first left onto a good gravel road. Follow it in a couple of miles to a locked gate. You'll see the parking area with G & F kiosk. The loop trail starts here, or you can walk on the road. Topo maps: Springerville NW, Greer, Springerville, Eagar.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
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.