Swift Trail Road Condition

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winotron
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Swift Trail Road Condition

Post by winotron » Sep 19 2014 2:26 pm

I'm planning on taking a trip back to Safford next month, and driving the Swift Trail all the way to Riggs Lake. Right now I'm driving a standard midsize sedan, which I attempted to take to Riggs Lake last year. Once the pavement ended on the Swift Trail, the road was just way too rough for my car. Huge dips, sharp rocks, lots of big bumps. After a few miles of the dirt road I was pretty much forced to turn back...felt like I was killing my poor car!

I was really surprised by the road condition, because I had done tons of research beforehand to make sure that my car would make it up there. All the trails that start around the lake said "Car Okay" here on HAZ, most other resources I found said passenger cars were fine, and I even saw a YouTube video (from 2010) of a guy that had no problems driving his Jetta all the way up there! I went the first week of November... I wonder if we just went after some really bad storms or something, and I wonder if the road has been re-graded at all since then.

Well, this time I'm planning on just renting a small/medium truck or a midsize SUV for the trip. Does anyone know if something along the lines of a Chevy Colorado or a Ford Escape would have any problems making it up there?

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garyc57
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Re: Swift Trail Road Condition

Post by garyc57 » Sep 19 2014 4:42 pm

@winotron
I used to live in the Gila Valley, and have driven to Columbine more times than I care to count! It's always been a little rough - washboard road, etc, but never so bad I'd turn around.

Well, there was that one time, just before arriving at Columbine, there was road construction. Deep ditches on both sides of the road - a TINY narrow lane down the middle, me pulling a '60s era camp trailer (think lead and cast iron!), during a monsoon downpour. Oh, yeah. If turning around had been possible, I would have!

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winotron
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Re: Swift Trail Road Condition

Post by winotron » Sep 19 2014 5:07 pm

@garyc57
Sorry, but what is Columbine? I'm not too familiar with the area. I suppose I didn't HAVE to turn back, lol, but honestly I feared I would have damaged my car. We only made it about 3 or 4 miles, and that took us at least 30 minutes.

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garyc57
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Re: Swift Trail Road Condition

Post by garyc57 » Sep 19 2014 5:36 pm

@winotronI apologize. I presumed you were familiar with the Mt. Graham area.

Columbine is an area near the top where there are numerous private cabins. Also, there is a campground called "Horse Corrals" is located near there. I believe this GPS track ( http://hikearizona.com/gps=7156 ) starts and stops at the Horse Corrals campground. Also, there is Forest Service housing in that area. There's a nice tourist information center there, too. Though, my experience is - it's frequently closed.

The distance from Columbine to Riggs Lake is about 5 miles. The last time I drove on that section was 30+ years ago. Back then, the road was very rough. I have to presume it's been improved since then. YMMV. (Your Mileage May Vary)

Be sure to take a hummingbird feeder with you. After they get used to it, you can hold the feeder in your hands, and they will light on your fingers while feeding. Very cool! So light, they almost tickle!

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CannondaleKid
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Re: Swift Trail Road Condition

Post by CannondaleKid » Sep 19 2014 6:09 pm

@winotron Unfortunately I can't provide recent road information right now but we may be up there camping for 3 days next weekend. If so, I'll have more up-to-date info. If anyone has current info, that will be helpful to us as well, especially if the road is bad.

Still, from my experience, unless there has been a lot of erosion and/or little maintenance on the road, any pickup or SUV should be fine. We camped on Mt Graham two times last year and both times drove Tracey's Honda Fit (very low clearance) to Riggs Lake as well as all the way to the Clark Peak TH.

Yes, in some sections we did have to take it slow but we managed to make it all the way out and back without a scratch. And yes, Tracey is a bit particular about not wanting scratches (or worse) on her Fit.
CannondaleKid

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whereveriroam
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City, State: Apache Junction, AZ

Re: Swift Trail Road Condition

Post by whereveriroam » Sep 19 2014 10:33 pm

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere Safford received 1.5" of rain from Odile. If that's true then the Pinalenos probably got more. I'd call the Stafford ranger district and hear what they have too say.

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whereveriroam
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Re: Swift Trail Road Condition

Post by whereveriroam » Sep 19 2014 10:38 pm

I just checked weather.com and they have Stafford getting 1.56" from Odile. Better check since the monsoon is lingering which is a good thing.

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rwstorm
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Re: Swift Trail Road Condition

Post by rwstorm » Sep 19 2014 10:53 pm

There have been some road closures due to all this precip. Forest road 42 over the Chiricahuas from the Monument to Portal is closed at this time, as is the road to Ramsey Canyon in the Huachucas. Carr Canyon Road was closed but is back open. In New Mexico Highway 152 from San Lorenzo to Hillsboro (over Emory Pass) is closed. It is hard for me to believe the Swift Trail (Pinalenos) will be impacted this much, but as Ed said, call and check. I was up to Columbine Corrals in August and it was fine. Normally, a passenger car can navigate this road all the way to Riggs Lake (with caution). Even beyond that to the end of the road isn't normally what I would call high clearance required.
Onward into oblivion!

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outdoor_lover
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Re: Swift Trail Road Condition

Post by outdoor_lover » Sep 22 2014 9:39 pm

As many times as I've been there I don't think I've ever seen the Swift Trail bad enough where Cars (even low clearance) couldn't do it if they go slow...That also goes for the Roads into the Developed Campgrounds...However, the Roads into the Undeveloped Campgrounds and into some of the Dispersed Camping Sites are a different story as some of those are pretty rough. With that being said, in a Ford Escape, I've only had to turn around once on a side road and I was pretty far back before I just couldn't do it anymore.

With the amount of Water they just had though, I would definitely call ahead to the Ranger Station and make sure that the Swift Trail was not subject to any Land or Rock Slides that are still in the process of being cleaned up....
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty & well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming, "Wow What a Ride!"

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winotron
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Re: Swift Trail Road Condition

Post by winotron » Sep 24 2014 9:59 am

Thanks for all the information guys. My car tends to ride pretty rough, so maybe that just made the road seem worse than it actually was. I'll probably still rent a small truck or SUV this time just to be comfortable. And we do plan on taking a couple side roads of unknown condition.

On a side note... anyone know if Angle Orchard is still open, and how passable the road there is? Their website is down and I can't really find any recent info about the orchard.

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