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White Mountain Grasslands Area, AZ

no permit
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Guide 20 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Alpine > Show Low
2.5 of 5 by 2
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Distance Loop 3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,442 feet
Elevation Gain 100 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 3.5
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Ruins, Historic, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
8  2013-06-09 azbackpackr
26  2013-01-02
White Mountains Winter 2013
17  2012-06-16 azbackpackr
16  2010-04-18 azbackpackr
2  2009-05-17 azbackpackr
10  2009-03-13 azbackpackr
11  2008-12-28 BelladonnaTook
8  2007-12-23 BelladonnaTook
Page 1,  2
Author azbackpackr
author avatar Guides 26
Routes 365
Photos 4,732
Trips 720 map ( 5,214 miles )
Age 66 Female Gender
Location Flag-summer-Needles-winter
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Nov → Early
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:06am - 6:13pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Culture Nearby
Where the elk and antelope play
by azbackpackr

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.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2011-08-29 azbackpackr
    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 of 15 deeper Triplog Reviews
    White Mountain Grasslands Area
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    Well, I haven't really got it down yet (loading GPS route, that is) but I did managed to figure it out using Joe's notes. This is the second route posted with the new Oregon.

    On this hike I saw 11 pronghorn and about 10 elk. This is normal. I saw a hawk. It was reddish. It had black wingtips. Yes, and a three-piece Armani suit and a red necktie as well. Very spiffy. Carrying a very expensive-looking briefcase...

    This is not the best time of year to hike out this way but I wanted to do the route, and I wanted a short hike close to home, because I am very busy right now. There is plenty of water in the ponds--they are supplied via the long irrigation ditch coming down the mountain. I think its source is the Ellis Wiltbank Reservoir. If the irrigation water is running you can follow it upstream to a very nice waterfall. However, the three ponds on the property do not have official names to add to the water report data page.

    I noticed that Game and Fish has removed the modern additions to the old homestead log cabin and they are working on it. I am very pleased by this. A fire burned through here a couple of years ago and burned one of the old buildings, but not the two oldest ones, thankfully. G&F needed a storage unit, so they put up a metal building which does not really fit in, but they need to work out there, so I understand.
    White Mountain Grasslands Area
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    White Mountains Winter 2013
    White Mountains Winter 2013

    I needed to feel some snow beneath my feet - so having heard from my neighbors Terry and Giselle about their New Year's trek to Sunrise Ski Park (check out => ), I thought a couple of days in the White Mountains would be "just the ticket". I couldn't take advantage of my Marriott Rewards or Priority Club Rewards booking a hotel since none of their hotels in the vicinity of the White Mountains are "pet friendly". Luckily the Best Western in Eagar AZ will accept dogs in the room, so we had our base camp.

    Wednesday 1/2 - Arrived in the White Mountains late morning via Hwy 260 with our first stop near Sunrise Ski Park and FR112 and the Railroad Grade Trail #601 (see => ). Lots of snow fun on the slopes of the Railroad Grade. FR117 was unplowed so our afternoon plans to explore Green's Peak and the Four Knolls (see => ) were thwarted. Our back-up plan was to explore trails near the village of Greer. Mini-hikes on West Fork Trail #94 and Butler Canyon Trail #98 (see => and ) and exploring some real estate poking around the village. You can see the scarred forest and how close it came to torching all of Greer from last summer's Wallow Fire (see => ... r-arizona/ and ). We ended the day with a sunset hike of the G&F Grasslands (see => ). Grasslands lived up to the hype for surefire wildlife encounters as we met up with a herd of mule deer.

    Thursday 1/3 - After a frigid night, arrived at the South Fork Trail #97 (see => ) trail head with my truck thermometer indicating 19degF (neglected to get photo evidence, but did capture the noon time temperature of 23degF). We hiked the 3 miles to the bridge with the dogs enjoying the snow. Once again scars from the Wallow Fire could be seen along the hiking route. Next up was Pole Knoll (see => ). Hiking was challenging post-holing your route beside the set track for cross country skiing. I was very impressed with the skiing conditions at Pole Knoll - makes me want to break out my skis! We Wrapped up our White Mountain tour with some photo ops at Horseshoe Cienega (see => ) and Los Burros (see => ). We had a late day dinner in Show Low and returned home via Hwy 60.
    White Mountain Grasslands Area
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    A quick hike early this morning. Saw a lot of pronghorn. One yearling cow elk who seemed lost. This is not the time of year for many elk to be down this low. The pronghorn are always there, though. Lots of birdies and bunnies, too. Game and Fish irrigates the area, so there is a lot of greenery, and the irises are blooming like crazy.
    White Mountain Grasslands Area
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    Rode our bikes through the old ranch area, and up the road behind it, and rode through the grasslands area. These are nice two-track roads, almost like riding single-track. Great views from up there. This grasslands area was all burned over last winter, and has not regrown. One of the ranch buildings burned, but not the old log ones, thankfully. We saw several herds of pronghorn and some very confused-looking young elk. The elk have escaped to this area from the Wallow Fire.

    There are miles and miles of two-track to ride in the Arizona State Lands in the White Mtns. National Forest is still closed, but not state lands.
    White Mountain Grasslands Area
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    Revisiting one of my favorite old ranches near Eagar. AZGFD owns it now, but it is locally referred to as "the Water Ranch" because for awhile the town of Springerville owned it, and used the water rights. It has about 4 ponds. We saw ducks this time. Usually we see antelope, and often we see elk, coyotes, owls, etc. This was just a duck day, though.
    White Mountain Grasslands Area
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    A short stroll out to the Water Ranch to see the fire damage. There was a fire there just before Thanksgiving. It burned one of the sheds, but it was not the old log one. And the old log house is ok, too.

    Grass fires are common in this area, and they move extremely fast and generally will consume 10,000 acres before they can be stopped. This particular one was started by forest service workers up by 260 near the Greer turnoff, who were doing some burning of slash piles, I heard. It got out of hand due to the high winds. (Duh.) The fire burned all the way to 60, passing through the G&F Grasslands area (the Water Ranch) torching the one big shed, and moving on.
    White Mountain Grasslands Area
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    I like to start near the entrance to this area and ride my bike to the west in the grasslands around it and back through the old ranch. There are old two-track roads everywhere, and they are like riding single-track. This is what I did. I rode about 7 miles out, so that I was almost to Hidden Meadow Ranch on FR 118. And back again, looping around so that I could ride through the G&F property.

    I saw 5 bull elk, including one big one, quite a few horses mixed in with the elk, and baby horses, and cow elk and their calves. All hanging out by a pond back in there a few miles. I saw a great horned owl on the G&F property as well. No camera, no GPS, I was traveling light. When I crossed Carnero Creek I remembered that at some point I plan to hike that lower part of it to look for petroglyphs, since I have already found a few along that stretch.
    White Mountain Grasslands Area
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    I started at the parking area at Grasslands Area. Hiked thru the property, out the other side, and up into some cinder hills. I had been dropped off, was going to walk all the way home. I got pretty tired of all the flat walking, though, so after 13 miles I called for a ride--I was almost home by then. My back was really hurting. (Will be seeing my chiropractor.) Saw 6 antelope--I find them impossible to photograph with the pocket camera, so I didn't bother.

    The grasslands have a kind of stark beauty. A good photographer could do wonders with the shadows on the hills at dusk and dawn, sunsets, clouds, etc. The overgrazing is very noticeable, though. Partly this problem is an ongoing thing that was begun in the 1800s when the area was just decimated by cattle. Now that there are controls on grazing, and most ranchers do care about their land, they are still between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand we have herds of over 1,000 elk, which are a non-native species to this area, which come down from the mountains in winter when the snow is deep up there. Unlike deer, which are browsers, elk are like cattle--they are grazers.

    The land where I was hiking is mostly owned or leased by two sisters, both hardworking ranchwomen, descendants of pioneers, etc. I admire them both, they are tough and strong women. But I was kind of appalled at the condition of the graze. Not that one of them hadn't already told me herself what to expect. She said between the cows and the elk there is nothing left to eat out there. In some areas, especially, there was mostly dirt and rocks.

    I always look for petroglyphs and artifacts and other signs of ancient people when I hike the grasslands. I have found a lot of stuff out there, but I don't bring any of it home! I don't generally tell people where it is, but I did report a small village find to the state museum 3 years ago. It was new to them. Lots of pottery shards at that place.

    It is a very good area for mtn. biking as well, since one can ride for miles on two tracks and never see a soul.

    It is about 6 miles back home to Eagar. Walking home, I crossed the highway and dropped down to look at the Little Colorado River, which was running at almost flood stage. Saw that big cottonwood the beavers had chewed--amazing! There were a lot of smaller trees the beavers had cut as well. I was on private property where the photo was taken.
    White Mountain Grasslands Area
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    Just a short stroll into the old ranch with someone who wasn't up to more than that. I got my exercise today riding my bike 36 miles!

    This is a great place to see elk early in the morning or at dusk, in winter. I'll be looking forward to that later on. There's quite a bit of elk sign there right now, in fact, so some are coming down to the ponds for water. The big lower pond is very low, the smaller one is pretty full. We didn't go to the upper pond or the waterfall.
    White Mountain Grasslands Area
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    Hiked with a couple of pals, checked out the waterfall. It is dry now. The reason it runs so nicely earlier in the season is because they run the irrigation water down through that draw from up above, from Ellis Wiltbank Reservoir. Saw four antelope including a showy male with pretty big horns.

    They have been irrigating all around the ranch since March, and the grass is green. Contrasting with this green is the bluish lavender color of thousands of blue flag irises. It really was pretty out there today. Big puffy clouds in the blue sky. We hiked about 5 miles or so. Yes, once again, (I'm editing here) that flower is called BLUE FLAG IRIS.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From east Phoenix, take 87 to Payson. Turn right on 260, go to Show Low. Go STRAIGHT through Show Low on US 60, 46 miles, to Springerville. Turn right at the only stop light, go ~2 miles to Eagar. Turn right at the only stoplight. This will be 260. Follow it west for about 4 miles, watch for sign for Refuse Disposal Site. Turn right at this sign. Follow pavement around a left-turning bend. When pavement bends to right again there will be a gravel road on left. Follow it to locked gate, and Game & Fish Dept. kiosk. Hiking trail begins at kiosk. Or hike on gravel road past locked gate (this is what most people do).
    page created by azbackpackr on Aug 29 2011 12:04 pm
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