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Mount Baldy Loop
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mini location map2020-09-20
9 by photographer avatarkyleGChiker
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Mount Baldy LoopAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Backpack avatar Sep 20 2020
kyleGChiker
Backpack21.30 Miles 2,725 AEG
Backpack21.30 Miles3 Days         
2,725 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
Went out with my mom for a three-day hike in the Baldy Wilderness. Our family had hiked the West fork many years ago, and the East fork last year, but this was our first time doing the whole loop!

If this is your first time reading about the Baldy Wilderness, please be aware that the summit of Mt. Baldy is on the Apache reservation, and they do not permit access to the summit. Please be respectful of their religious beliefs and land rights by refraining from hiking to the summit.

Here’s a brief summary of the trip, highlighting the details:
Trail condition: Very good—mostly dirt, with few rocks or tree roots. New since last year: quite a few downed trees across the trail.
Wildlife: Elk sighted on the forest road to Winn campground the day we started our hike. Elk were heard bugling at all hours of the day and night throughout the whole trip. The only other exciting wildlife sighting was an owl catching a small rodent about half hour after sunset.
Water: As always, plenty of water for filtering in the East and West forks of the Little Colorado River. Baldy spring was dry at the trail crossing, but had plenty of water for filtering at the source if you hike up to it. All three drainages in the West fork (~5 miles in) had water flowing. Lee Valley Creek on the crossover trail also had plenty of water.
Weather: Perfect at this time of year! Low 40s at night and 60s to 70s during the day, depending on cloud cover
Scenery: We like the scenery in the East fork better…the hoodoos are spectacular!
Crossover trail: The crossover trail was a treat because the aspen trees were just starting to change to yellow foliage.
Crowds: This is a popular hiking destination. We met about 10 other backpackers on the trail, but there was never anyone near our camp. The backpackers do a pretty good job of spreading out throughout the wilderness. We met around 20 day hikers doing the full loop in one day, and probably another 20 day hikers near the trailheads on our first/last days of hiking.
Free time: Obviously this is a super short hike to spread out over three days. We hiked slowly since my mom is affected by the high elevation. We also took all the luxuries, including frisbees, Quiddler, Yahtzee, Backgammon, and Pass the Pigs.
Food: We made a new recipe on this trip—curry couscous. It is very simple and was simply delicious! We will certainly bring this one on future trips. Of course, you can suit the recipe to your tastes, but what I did was:
8 oz. couscous
2 oz. dried veggies
2 oz. sliced almonds
2 oz. raisins
1/4 tsp. curry powder
Salt to taste
Way too much food for two people! We ended up eating this for dinner, and then again for breakfast the next morning. Probably 5 oz. couscous would be better. Do you have a favorite backpacking recipe you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about it, as I’m always looking for new recipes (trying to get myself off Mountain House and Backpacker’s Pantry!)
Question: Does anyone know why there are so many dead/fallen trees in the Baldy Wilderness? It seems the area has never been burned by a forest fire. Bark beetles? Perhaps it’s just a really old forest?

Be safe out there, and make sure you look for forest fires before you go hiking somewhere!

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Lee Valley Reservoir 51-75% full 51-75% full
Not sure what maximum capacity is, but there was a lot of water!

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Mount Baldy Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
I believe this is the spring near the airplane crash site. Normally, there is a small creek flowing under the trail through a culvert. This was dry. However, hiking up to the actual spring, there was plenty of water to filter, about 1 quart per minute.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max West Fork LCR - Upper Tributary @ Trail #94 Light flow Light flow
We camped near here in the large meadow to the east. The LCR was around 2-3 feet wide and several inches deep. Plenty of water for filtering. Also, the two drainages to the northeast were both flowing.
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