The Best Hikes in Blue Range Primitive Area Wilderness

434 Triplog Reviews in the Blue Range Primitive Area Wilderness
Most recent of 112 deeper Triplog Reviews
6.12 mi • 2,027 ft aeg
Best scenic hikes in glacier nation...
Best scenic hikes in glacier national park
Original plan was to do a full loop on KP and Steeple. Figured ~15 miles or so. Was expecting some rough trail, but right off the bat, as I headed down North Fork KP, it was locust city. Expected the stuff right by the TH to be trimmed...

It was really pretty down there, but with all the locust, it was slow going. Took probably at least an hour to get to the KP trail junction. After the junction there was a nice clear stretch, but after a couple of creek crossings, it got messy again. Decided I didn't want to be out there for ~7 hours (the purpose of this trip was to have fun) so I headed back up.

About a half mile into the return, I saw what appeared to be game trails, and got the crazy idea to bushwack out of the canyon up to Steeple Trail. The biggest concern was that I'd get to something impassible and have to go back down, but the game trails made me feel OK about it. Over half way up, I came across who I think is the trail steward on this route - a black bear. Ol' Dmitri didn't want to pose for a photo, unfortunately, and was off right away. There were certainly stretches of this 1 mile, 1,600 foot off-trail climb in which I regretted my decision, but the feeling when I got to the top made it worthwhile.

Wanted to do some raspberry grazing, but some storms were rolling in, so I decided to call it a day and head up to Molly B's in Greer for lunch.
2.64 mi • 909 ft aeg
It had been along time since I hiked this underrated trail in the Blue. I have wondered since the Brigham Fire, how the trail had held up, but I never committed to checking it out, as I figured it was probably pretty fire damaged, due to the trailhead area being scorched. However, when I hiked the Red Mountain Trail earlier in the summer, I noticed that a good forest still existed in the Strayhorse drainage and the severity of the fire decreased significantly just a few hundred feet from the trailhead area, so I put it on the todo list for this season.

I finally got around to checking out the trail last weekend, on what will probably be my last trip to the range until perhaps the fall, or next year most likely. As mentioned, the trailhead is not promising. Nearly every tree in the immediate vicinity of the TH is scorched to include most of the trees on the western slopes of Rose Peak. The informational kiosk also burned along with the tree that had the trail sign on it, making the start of this hike pretty inconspicuous. In fact, you wont find much of a tread for the first 100 plus feet or so out of the trailhead. However, after that good tread appears and minimal fire damage accompanies you along the first mile to the cabin ruins, which survived. I am assuming they wrapped it and maybe conducted some back burns in the area, as the fire appeared to burn very healthy around the cabin and along the short stretch of trail to the cabin. Almost seemed too precision to be a natural burn down there, but I don't know enough about that stuff to make a claim either way. I just know I was happy to see the area survived. We had hiked Blanco seven miles the day before, so we did not continue past the cabin, however, I can confirm the trail is generally in good shape to the cabin, with only one tree across the trail and some standard post fire tall grasses, mullein weed, and etc, but good tread apart from the very beginning.
5.88 mi • 1,285 ft aeg
I made another little trip to the Blue Range over the week. I visited the usual haunts with my pups and the girlfriend's extra pup and made another excursion into the central Blue to try a new trail.

I was able to take advantage of the cooler temps from the monsoonal pattern and were able to hike in 3 miles down the AD Bar Trail, in spite of its “lower” elevation trailhead of 7,000 feet. The trail proved to be a pleasant trail and was generally in great shape, plus there was trickling water near where we turned around, so that proved to be a bonus. We did not reach the ranch, or any structures like a cabin if there is one, as marked on the map and labeled on the sign. However, it could have been just another 500 feet up trail, but we had already hiked a mile past when I though we would turn around and I knew the hike out would be a little warm on the pups, so we turned around at three miles on the dot.

I am starting to see some potential in these central Blue Range trails that I have sampled this year, but they are probably trails that will have to be explored sans dogs, or at least outside of summer. I would definitely be interested in hiking the full length of the trail to the HU Bar Ranch and river some day. But for now, it was nice to draw another line and fill in another blank on the Blue Range map.
45 mi • 0 ft aeg
Blue Range SE Loop
Made the long drive to Horse Canyon TH on Thursday arriving around 9pm. The last 3-4 miles of the road are rough. I would recommend high clearance 4wd or at least AT tires on 2wd high clearance. XXX ranch is super cool. You can stay in it you want but we opted for tents.

Day 1:
Went up the Blue River for 10.6 miles. Pretty incredible hike with tons of birds some narrows and a very intact ranch in the middle of nowhere. There is a trail up to Little Dutch Blue (which leads to Hannah hot springs) after that it deteriorates. It's pretty easy going regardless, no serious bushwhacking. Started the ascent up Cow Flat trail. The first mile or so up Ladrone Canyon is a really pretty riparian area with flowing water and wild flowers everywhere. After that it is completely exposed until Bear Valley. Very hot and tough climb to do in the late afternoon. Good views though. It is clear that a lot of people camp at Bear Valley. It is very pretty but the amount of trash around was a little off putting.

Day 2:
Head down Little Blue in the morning. The first 3 miles are in the canyon with flowing water and good shade. This area reminds me a lot of Gila. You climb out of the canyon to get onto Alma mesa which has incredible views of the Blues. Would be very hot up here midday. Met up with Alma TH then took off up Winter trail. I could find zero information on this trail so we were definitely hoping for the best. It was actually very well maintained in most parts. Only lost it once or twice. This is very exposed as well. Another hot day climbing in and out of very interesting sandstone drainages. BEWARE - when you get to Winter Cabin Spring DO NOT take the trail up out of Auguer Creek (as indicated on the map) to Little Dutch Blue Trail. It is not there anymore. We spent 2 hours bushwhacking up that mountain just to go down the other side. Stay in Auger creek and you will meet up with the Little Dutch Blue Trail at Auguer Creek Spring. After that ordeal, we headed into the Dutch Canyon Narrows which were the highlight of the trip for me. Rolled into camp around 6pm at the confluence of Little Dutch Blue and Hannah Creek. Set up shop and went up to Hannah Hot Springs for a well needed night time soak. Its so hot! You really need to jump in and out of the creek to be able to handle it for long.

Day 3:
Headed down Little Dutch Blue to the Blue River then back to the vehicle.
8.12 mi • 970 ft aeg
Well, I don't think they really want people doing this hike lol. I had just finished Escudilla in the morning and thought that Blue (at reported 3 miles rt) would be doable in the afternoon. I am on my quest for the 20 highest peaks in AZ. It was about an hour drive to the forest road (I think it was 184). I have a high clearance vehicle, but this road was not well maintained. I drove about 1.5 miles in and decided to pull off and park. So, then I hike the 2.5 miles to the trailhead. This part was pretty easy (and prob faster than me driving haha). The trailhead was well marked at the end of the road along with a register. The trail itself is 1.5 miles each way, gradual climbing to the summit. I did not have any problem with ever losing the trail even though it is not maintained (at all). Lots of fallen trees to climb over, around and under. The problem is the trail is very narrow, so not a lot of options. The trail also has very overgrown rasberry bushes, which, unfortunately, were not in season during my trip. I read the other reviews, so I was prepared and had long pants (because these things have thorns), which was very helpful. I would guess that at least 50% of the trail was covered in the bushes. At the top, the abandoned tower is there and the bottom section of stair planks have been removed, but it is still climbable :) . Beautiful views from the top and crisp, clean air. Probably a one and done hike for me though.
7.33 mi • 1,647 ft aeg
This is one of those hikes I first saw on HAZ many many years ago and always wanted to check it out but its far distance always put it too far out of reach.
Well no more excuses and after a weekend of shenanigans in the White Mountains and helping the Wilderness Boys with their annual spruce tip picking I set out solo further east to "The Blue".

No more hikers on the trail when I started around 3pm but the trail was still filled with traffic (deadfall).
The upper portion of the trail seemed to have the most downed trees and it became much easier on the feet as I made my way down.

Took a break at the confluence to bust out the new Manfrotto tripod which weighs as much as 10 bricks and doesn't even fit in my 55 liter pack but boy is it sturdy and immediately made a huge difference in my photos.
Although the quality of imagery on HAZ is not up to par and I've tinkered with the image resizing and dimensions many times but cant seem to get it right so if you want to see what my photos should look like please check out my website as it means a lot to me since I can see them full clarity and want the HAZ world to also. :)

Saw about two dozen or more Mule deer on the way out it was ridiculous and along with the howling coyote I got to watch in the morning behind a pair of binos it all made for a great wildlife experience.
25 mi • 500 ft aeg
Hannah Hot Springs and More
We camped the night before our backpack at the XXX Ranch. As we drove in we thought we saw three bears down by the River. Hard to be certain but they were dark colored and there were three of them.

In the morning after delaying our escape from the tents until it warmed some (it was around 25 degrees that night) we set off along the Blue River. We made quick work of the hike and soon we were at the Little Blue.

I had forgotten how beautiful the Little Blue Creek is! Especially went we got to the Box. We hiked thru the box with knee to thigh high water. I wasn’t too worried about the cold since we were going to the hot springs before bed!

We established our camp at the hot springs. Pete and I took the upper spot and J&C took the lower. Josh made a plug for the tub and soon it was full again! Nothing like a hot springs on a cold winters day!

We had a nice fire to keep us warm during dinner and for some time afterwards.

With the cold weather we decided we’d not plan a specific departure and just go once we were ready. That turned out to be a good decision because it was cold and in all we ended up spending about 12 hrs in the tent. Then we went on an outing. There is a trail marked on the map that goes from the junction of the Little Blue and Dutch Blue up and over the ridge to the Blue. We tried to find evidence of the old trail but I couldn’t see a thing, which seems strange as there were lots of rocks and if someone was using it as a trail at one point you’d think some of the rocks would have been cleared. Anyway we gave up and went to check out the cabin and a section of Dutch Blue. That night we enjoyed the hot springs again.

On the way out in the morning we decided to check out the chest deep pool that I had forged on my last christmas trip to Hannah. We were not keen on hiking in wet clothes so we stripped down and waxed through. It was cold but not too bad. From there we hiked back to the truck so that we could find some Chinese for our Christmas dinner!

Great trip - even with the cold!
10 mi • 1,200 ft aeg
KP Rim trail, to its "intersection" with 73 has many downed trees but is generally passable. Unfortunately the turn off for 73 to the north is not marked, and I spent 90 minutes thrashing through locust bush and fallen trees piled 10 feet high looking for it at its place on the map. Checking now that I get back, FOTG posted a route show the intersection in a different place. The trail, even where it may be, must be very faint. I didn't find anything resembling a trail 73, nor Long Cienega 305 trail in the area, but I did find the rest of the Steeple Trail back to Hannagan Campground from the trail 305 area, and upon reaching the highway, I took Ackre Lake trail back to my starting point.

Steeple 73 is nice from its TH near Hannagan Meadow to Grant Creek Trail and probably will earn you credit with your girlfriend, since it is a hike through mostly surviving forest, alongside ferns and flowers. Steeple 73 is primitive between Grant Creek and Cienega 305 "Trail" where it goes through a largely moonscaped area full of locust bush and a few grassy meadows. Steeple trail is godawful from 305 to trail 315, the area being a mess of downed trees and locust bush with no trail apparent. The Forest Service appears to have ignored everything south of Grant Creek Trail, possibly because they cannot find the trail.
12 mi • 1,200 ft aeg
KP South Fork, KP North Fork, Ackre Lake, then trying to loop out.

KP South and North Fork are clear of downed trees and the forest service continues to work on erosion control on these trails. In general these seemed to be in fairly good shape and I saw a trail crew when hiking, so the FS is continuing to try to improve the conditions.

Water in both forks and flowing nicely near the confluence. It dries up quickly moving up North Fork.

Ackre Lake is a lovely little pond, probably my favorite find of the trip. Trying to make a recommended loop out of Ackre lake proved a horrible decision, but I did make it back to the highway.
4.75 mi • 843 ft aeg
We did two smaller hikes a day in the Blue Range to preserve the pups in the unseasonably warm temperatures. This was the evening hike we did on day two. The goal was to visit Willow Spring and maybe locate the Long Cienega Trail.

I had remembered Willow Spring being a relatively pleasant area in an otherwise very fire damaged area when I had backpacked through there a few years ago and was interested in seeing the area again. The trail had its fair share of deadfall, but it was not horrible. Willow Spring is still a nice little area, but it was dry. In fact, it was very dry out there in general, with no real standing water to be found, not even at the Upper Grant Creek crossing/intersection. I had hoped to look around a little for traces of the Long Cienega Trail, but with no water out there and a still warm sun, we decided to head back. This area really needs some water and a little trail TLC.

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