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Rock Crossing Trail #18, AZ
mini location map2017-06-24
20 by photographer avatarchumley
photographer avatar
page 1   2
 
Rock Crossing Trail #18, AZ 
Rock Crossing Trail #18, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jun 24 2017
chumley
Hiking6.62 Miles 1,744 AEG
Hiking6.62 Miles   2 Hrs   57 Mns   2.24 mph
1,744 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Rock Crossing is a trail that preceded the construction of Blue Ridge Reservoir in 1965 (now CC Cragin Reservoir). The trail construction is absolutely phenomenal. National Parks don't build trails as nicely as this trail was built!

Due to the reservoir filling the canyons which the trail previously crossed, the FS has officially divided the trail into three segments. Hiking the entire length would require swimming or using a flotation device to cross the lake between segments. At full pool, the distance between A and B at Rock Crossing is about 300 feet. The distance between B and C near the mouth of Bear Canyon is only 100 feet. Both crossings can be shorter at lower lake levels and the B-C crossing is often completely dry.

I hiked Segment B out and back, followed by segment A from the out and back, and finally segment C out and back. The photos are in that order, which may be a bit confusing. The photos are geotagged so you can see their location on the map. The descriptions below are all described one way from north to south, which is also how the official gps tracks are set up.

Segment A
Starts at an unmarked pull-out along FR751, which is the main road leading to CC Cragin Reservoir. There's one long switchback and the trail ends at the lake on the east side of a small cove. Depending on the lake level, a little bit of room to picnic, dive, and swim is available. The west side of the cove features a nice campsite that is frequently occupied.

Segment B
Starts on the south side of Rock Crossing on a large flat area that features a couple of frequently used lakeside campsites. The track begins right next to a nice overhanging rock "cave" that has been made into a rain shelter for campers. The trail climbs gently to the top of Battleground Ridge and the intersection with the end of FR123 and a large pumping station which takes water from the reservoir and moves it to the East Verde river near Payson.

The trail follows the road south for about 1/4 mile before a sign indicates the start of the route heading south to General Springs Canyon. It's another 1/4 mile along the old alignment of FR9709Q before the singletrack starts on the left and begins the scenic descent to the lake.

Segment C
This segment starts with a beautiful switchback that leads to a nice campsite above the junction of Bear Canyon and General Springs Canyon before following a steady traverse along the slope above Bear Canyon through a lightly burned fire scar. After a few minutes you reach an old double-track which leads the final stretch to the end of FR139A on Telephone Ridge. It's easiest to follow the double-track, but at the end it climbs more steeply than a nice hiking trail, because the original cut actually takes a more moderate route along a gentle grassy slope on the east side of the ridge. The cut here is indistinguishable except for some faint old blazes cut in the mature ponderosas.

History
From the Segment C trailhead at end of FR139A, it's a short 1.5 miles to the Fred Haught Trail and the old Pinchot Guard Station cabin. I haven't been able to confirm this, but I believe the Rock Crossing Trail was originally connected to the Cabin Loop system and was part of a main trail leading from Washington Park to Blue Ridge. It can still easily be hiked that way now if you don't mind the two swims. You could even make a loop with the AZT which now largely parallels this old route, avoiding the two lake crossings.

This one is a rarely used gem!
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