The Whiterock Mesa AZT #25 section takes some coordination as a day hike so we all decided it would be more fun as an overnight staying at LF Ranch. We planned a nice leisurely meet up time at 11am McDonalds in Payson to setup the car shuttle. We drove to north end of the section at Twin Buttes and left a vehicle. Then headed to the south end start at Doll Baby TH to hike into LF Ranch. Hiking the road was uneventful but easy even with the large hill in the middle. Even with the late start time we arrived at the ranch by 4pm. We enjoyed some beverages, checked out the ranch and settled into the bunk house before Marianne served a nice 7pm dinner. After relaxing a bit we all turned for the night.
Next morning we had a hearty breakfast at sunrise with the dogs eagerly awaiting something to drop off our plates. I think a few morsels made it to the ground With breakfast out of the way we thanked Marianne for everything and headed up the start of Whiterock Mesa AZT #25 which begins at the East Verde River crossing. It starts uphill right away but is not too steep. First stop along the way is Polk Spring. Very nice riparian area with flowing spring water coming out of the embankment which supported a nice grove of trees. After taking some pics and looking around we continued up the trail which gets a bit steeper and rocky right after the spring.
Once up the first significant climb the trail levels out for a few miles. We passed Red Saddle Tank which had a lot of water. Then over to Whiterocks Spring with only a few small pools...filterable if you really needed it. The trail then climbs abruptly form the spring for the second real climb of the day. Good views of the Mazatzals to the south including North Peak as we climbed this section.
Then the trail levels out again and begins the long gentle climb up Saddle Ridge which eventually reaches the end at Twin Buttes Road. This section is over 5 miles of the passage and is very rocky, somewhat poor trail condition, and on this day lots of mud from the recent rains making the walking more difficult. However, despite that everyone just enjoyed being out in the near perfect weather. Made it back to the vehicle before 4pm and headed to Payson for Mexican food