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Mount Baldy Loop
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mini location map2008-06-17
34 by photographer avatargpsjoe
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Mount Baldy LoopAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 17 2008
gpsjoe
Hiking21.00 Miles 2,044 AEG
Hiking21.00 Miles   12 Hrs      1.75 mph
2,044 ft AEG
 
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SUN_HIKER
This is your 2008 version of the Baldy Loop. Road construction of FR273 caused the Forest Service to establish a temporary trailhead about 200 feet past the intersection of FR273 (that starts at Highway 260) and FR87 (that comes from Greer). Sun_Hiker and I did this on Tuesday, June 17, 2008. The total trip was 21 miles and it took us exactly 12 hours from 6:40 AM to 6:40 PM.

The temporary trail connects to the loop at the intersection of the West Baldy trail and the Crossover trail in 2.2 miles and therefore adds 4.4 miles (of easy hiking) to the ordinary Baldy loop.

After hiking the temporary trail we continued on the West Baldy trail which is easy hiking for about 2.5 mi. This trail follows the West Fork of the Little Colorado River yielding some great views along the way. As the trail moves away from the river and begins serious climbing there is much deadfall on the trail for about 2 miles. This part of the trail can only be described as mean and nasty. You must hike around, over or under the deadfall and it's not easy as this is some of the worst fall I have ever seen. Other trip reports done in 2007 have reported on this and I will confirm that nothing has been done to clear the trail. I was happy to have worked through this section early in the day. We reached the intersection of the East and West Baldy trails, had lunch and rested there for ½ hour. The East Baldy trail had some deadfall but seemed very easy when compared to what we had just been through.

The East Baldy trail is very scenic with lava rock and tall spire like rock formations. It also presents great panoramic views toward Big Lake and beyond. There is a piece of a 1942 plane wreck a few feet off the trail (see Al_HikesAZ's 2007 trip report for a link to the history of this wreck (I was 20 days old on the day of this wreck). There was some snow remaining at 10,500 feet and above that did not interfere with the hiking. The last mile or so of the East Baldy trail follows the East Fork of the Little Colorado and reaches the East Baldy trailhead where we continued onto the Crossover trail. After 15 miles of hiking I was not looking forward to this trail. This was my second Baldy loop hike and I viewed the crossover only as a way to get back to my car.

But we were in for a delightful surprise. After a mile or so the trail crosses a meadow. In the meadow was a large herd with more than 70 elk including about a half dozen young-uns. It was about 4 PM and many were lying down in the meadow and some were in the water in a nearby pool. Taking pictures from far away using various zoom levels I managed to get some shots of the elk in this natural state before they sensed our presence and got spooked. In a short while they did sense our presence and went into phase 2 in which they all stood up and gathered in a group. Finally as we hiked along they trotted off in a group and scooted into the forest. What an impressive scene. See the photos I have posted of this sequence.

More notes about this hike.
FR273 is open for 8 miles to the starting point of the hike on the temporary trail and is the preferred approach coming from Show Low/Pinetop.
The mileage and the deadfall make this a very strenuous hike.
There are no trail signs at the intersection of the East and West Baldy trails.
About ½ half mile from the East/West intersection the trail disappears for about 1/4th mile. You must find where the trail continues after that.
A short distance into the East Baldy trail, this trail also disappears for about 1/4th mile and may be covered in snow there. Again finding the continuing trail is necessary.
There is a similar difficult 1/4th mile on the Crossover trail so good navigation skills and/or GPS with track loaded is needed.
There are many good hikes that can be done there that do not involve doing the entire loop. Just walking along the West Fork of the Little Colorado is magnificent and impressive.
Fauna
Fauna
Elk
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gpsjoe's
128 Photosets

  2009-02-27
  2009-02-22
  2009-02-06
  2009-01-17
  2009-01-15
  2009-01-08
  2008-11-23
  2008-11-14
  2008-10-31
  2008-10-20
  2008-10-15
  2008-10-02
  2008-09-26
  2008-06-17
  2008-04-30
  2008-04-21
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  2008-02-14
  2008-01-11
  2007-12-22
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