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East Fort Trail #31 - Prescott NF - 7 members in 16 triplogs have rated this an average 4 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Apr 20 2019
Nightstalker
avatar

 Routes 75
 Photos 5,527
 Triplogs 744

51 male
 Joined Apr 25 2011
 Phoenix, AZ
Horsethief Basin East Fort South Fort Loop, AZ 
Horsethief Basin East Fort South Fort Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Apr 20 2019
Nightstalker
Hiking5.60 Miles 1,230 AEG
Hiking5.60 Miles   3 Hrs   32 Mns   2.10 mph
1,230 ft AEG      52 Mns Break13 LBS Pack
 
Partners partners
Gallydoll
SCA
Beautiful day to be in Crown King! Had the full harem with me today for the long ride up to Horsethief Basin. Road up to Crown King was in excellent shape and from there to HTB was in really good shape as well.

Kept it simple and just did the East and South Forts. Didn't see anyone on the trail today, not I have in the past either. Could see the snow capped peaks of the San Francisco range in Flagstaff to the north and Lake Pleasant to the south. We were picking up trail trash on the leg between East Fort and South Fort. I bagged an empty can of Miller Lite and Gallydoll scored an empty tube of Astroglide. There was no end to the butt jokes :)

Lunch at the Mill in Crown King afterwards with a stop at the General Store to pick up some of their world famous fudge.
Culture
Culture
Gallydoll Pose
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Wildflowers Observation Moderate
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Aug 05 2017
Hansenaz
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 Guides 4
 Routes 164
 Photos 6,358
 Triplogs 376

67 male
 Joined Apr 06 2005
 Phoenix, AZ
East Fort Trail #31 - Prescott NFPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Aug 05 2017
Hansenaz
Hiking2.64 Miles 651 AEG
Hiking2.64 Miles   1 Hour   21 Mns   2.01 mph
651 ft AEG      2 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Headed up to Crown King for the pines and ambience. Continued past on the increasingly bad roads toward the East Fort trailhead. We stopped a little short of the trailhead just to quit riding and start walking. My companions were not at all happy with that rough road but it is Subaruable; the ride takes about 45min beyond Crown King.

Short walk to the fort which is a really cool with preserved walls and a great view from the top of the Bradshaws. Brought along Charlie, my son's new dog from the pound that he picked up the day before. He did fine.

Downtown Crown King was crowded with an auction going on or something. So we went across the road to The Mill for a nice lunch and the most hummingbirds I've ever seen.
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Apr 29 2017
Nightstalker
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 Routes 75
 Photos 5,527
 Triplogs 744

51 male
 Joined Apr 25 2011
 Phoenix, AZ
Horsethief Basin East Fort South Fort Loop, AZ 
Horsethief Basin East Fort South Fort Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Apr 29 2017
Nightstalker
Hiking6.88 Miles 1,653 AEG
Hiking6.88 Miles   4 Hrs   15 Mns   2.17 mph
1,653 ft AEG   1 Hour   5 Mns Break14 LBS Pack
 
Third time back in as many years to Horsethief Basin. The views are spectacular, I get to use my Jeep for what it is intended, lunch at the Mill afterwards, and fudge from the Crown King General Store; it is the quadfecta hike trip!

Gathered up my hiking harem at the McDonalds at I-17 and Carefree highway for the 2 hour drive up to Horsethief basin. I originally planned this as a beat the heat of Spring hike, but a cold front set our trailhead temp between 37 and 40 degrees. Luckily, we were prepped for the cool start.

The road up to Crown King is bladed and graded and high speed in the Jeep. The initial part of the road from Crown King to Horsethief Basin has recently been graded and is nice and smooth. It doesn't last long until you're bouncing your way through rocks and ruts on your way to the Recreation Area and toward the Fire Tower Lookout. If you leave Phoenix early enough, you will have little to no traffic to contend with on your way up the hill.

There's room for 2 cars on FS52 at the trailhead for East Fort Trail #31. We decided to do something different this year. We started our day with a hike up FS52 to the Horsethief Lookout Tower. The attendant passed us in his Suzuki Samurai on the way up, but was in no hurry to climb up the expanded metal steps and open the tower for visitors. That's OK, we were anxious to get on the trail and get out of the chilly early morning winds.

I was looking forward to Coal Camp Spring Trail #203 as it would cut some roadwork out of this already jeep road heavy loop. To quote The Eagle from his 2012 trip log, "Coal Camp #203 to Jim Creek #235 - Nice little Connector to both Willow Springs and Jim Creek TH's from the Lookout. Route not bad, GPS Track helpful" and Hansenaz from 2016, "After the overlook I needed some IT help. (Invisible Trail) But not too dense and easy enough to keep heading the right way. This whole area has burned and though it's much more green than black these days I think the net effect is that some old roads have disappeared. Eventually I hit a Jeep Rd / ATV track and took that to South Fort." From the lookout tower, there's a sign and the trail starts nice enough with some deadfall and wild flowers (weeds), but the footpath is easy enough to follow. The romance with #203 didn't last long though and we found ourselves searching for the path of least resistance through the dense fields of cat claw. Undeterred, we pushed through the pain for a little over a mile before coming out on the road to Jim Creek Trail and ultimately, South Fort Ruins.

It was a nice reprieve to be out of the cat claw and picking up the pace down the road. We were rewarded with beautiful purple snapdragons lining the roadway. For as windy as it has been over the past week, we were afforded great views south over Lake Pleasant, Cardinals Stadium, and South Mountain.

Coming back down from South Fort and heading north on FS696 toward Willow Springs trail saved us the brutal ascent up the fire cut doing the loop in the opposite direction as we had done in the past. There were a couple of slips and falls as we dropped off the hill but no injuries were sustained.

reaching the bottom of the hill we turned right on East Fort Trail #31. Nature has started reclaiming this trail at spots and despite having been on the trail twice before, there was a couple of sections that left scratching our heads for a moment. The snow capped San Francisco peaks were visible to the north and blooming hedgehog cactus were littered throughout the ruins. After enjoying some caffeinated jelly beans and relaxing on the warm rocks, we made our way back up to the jeep.

On the way back out, we stopped and took in the sites around Horsethief lake and then down into Crown King for a delicious lunch at the Mill and a round of fudge at the Crown King General Store.

What a wonderful day only 75 miles from Phoenix.
Flora
Flora
Claret Cup Cactus
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Wildflowers Observation Extreme
Snapdragons abound!

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Coal Camp Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
Running water and pools

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Horsethief Lake 76-100% full 76-100% full
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Aug 06 2016
Nightstalker
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 Routes 75
 Photos 5,527
 Triplogs 744

51 male
 Joined Apr 25 2011
 Phoenix, AZ
Horsethief Basin East Fort South Fort Loop, AZ 
Horsethief Basin East Fort South Fort Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Aug 06 2016
Nightstalker
Hiking5.53 Miles 1,170 AEG
Hiking5.53 Miles   4 Hrs   15 Mns   2.27 mph
1,170 ft AEG   1 Hour   49 Mns Break16 LBS Pack
 
Partners partners
Gallydoll
After 1 year and 3 months I returned to do this loop again with 3 hiking buddies. Even though Crown King got 5 inches of rain this week (according to the woman at the General Store), they got no rain yesterday and the road up to Horsethief Basin was in good shape (not much mud). Went to both East Fort and South Fort. Both are same condition as my last visit with East Fort being the more interesting site and South Fort affording excellent views south towards Lake Pleasant. We saw 5 horny toads on the trail and a deer on the road to Horsethief Basin.
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Apr 16 2016
Hansenaz
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 Guides 4
 Routes 164
 Photos 6,358
 Triplogs 376

67 male
 Joined Apr 06 2005
 Phoenix, AZ
Bradshaws Fort Loop, AZ 
Bradshaws Fort Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Apr 16 2016
Hansenaz
Hiking8.54 Miles 1,982 AEG
Hiking8.54 Miles   4 Hrs   36 Mns   2.06 mph
1,982 ft AEG      27 Mns Break
 
1st trip
A while ago Bruce the Eagle gifted me with a custom made GPS loop he thought I'd like - thought I should give it a whirl.

The road to the trail head is pretty rough, definitely high clearance required. The Kentuck trail up to Horsethief Overlook was nice. Looked to me like the attendant was away...maybe a Saturday in town.

After the overlook I needed some IT help. (Invisible Trail) But not too dense and easy enough to keep heading the right way. This whole area has burned and though it's much more green than black these days I think the net effect is that some old roads have disappeared. Eventually I hit a Jeep Rd / ATV track and took that to South Fort. The rocky outcrop has a commanding view and is a natural defensive site but just a single stacked wall.

From there I followed another track to East Fort. This one is much more impressive with some extensive high walls - better than I expected. This fort overlooks Perry Mesa - maybe it's considered part of the line-of-site communication network thought to be operative 700 yrs ago. I saw just a couple small pottery pieces there.

Continuing on from East Fort there were more IT problems and a lot of deadfall in the places the old road could be seen. But again I soon hit another Jeep Rd and looped back to the start.

This hike was quite a change of pace for me. The granite strewn country is nice (though being more ATV than hiking trail-dominated detracts) and the whole walk occurs, more or less, on top of the mountain. I'd sort of been planning a beer and burger in Crown King on the way out, but the timing was wrong and the center looked crowded (this is a relative term), so I just headed back.
Named place
Named place
Horsethief Lookout Tower
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1 archive
May 27 2015
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

64 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
East Fort Trail #31 - Prescott NFPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar May 27 2015
AZWanderingBear
Hiking2.10 Miles 568 AEG
Hiking2.10 Miles
568 ft AEG
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
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AZBeaver
Last hike of the day for us, and the best. Saw two deer through the manzanita. They'd move a bit, but stop to peer at us through the foliage. Once entering the wilderness area, the trail was a pure pleasure. Nice views and interesting flora. The manzanita were blooming nicely. Love the red color of their trunks.

Once up top we checked out the nice ruins. The haze limited the views to simply spectacular as opposed to they usually amazingly spectacular.

Hiked back to the Jeep and made the short drive to camp at Hazlett for some well earned libations. Great way to end a good day in the Bradshaws.
Named place
Named place
East Fork Castle Creek
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Wildflowers Observation Light
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All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
1 archive
May 17 2015
Nightstalker
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 Routes 75
 Photos 5,527
 Triplogs 744

51 male
 Joined Apr 25 2011
 Phoenix, AZ
Horsethief Basin East Fort South Fort Loop, AZ 
Horsethief Basin East Fort South Fort Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar May 17 2015
Nightstalker
Hiking5.84 Miles 1,332 AEG
Hiking5.84 Miles   3 Hrs   53 Mns   2.31 mph
1,332 ft AEG   1 Hour   21 Mns Break16 LBS Pack
 
Partners none no partners
I was looking to bag East Fort in the Castle Creek Wilderness for quite some time now. My buddy Dodson was in town from Pennsylvania and a trip to Crown King and Horsethief Basin seemed to fit the bill.

The drive up to Crown King was good. The section of road from Crown King to FR52 was really bad. FR52 out to Horsethief Basin was muddy in spots (it rained and snowed on Friday) but was generally in better condition then the short stretch from Crown King. You totally need a high clearance vehicle past Crown King right now.

We parked on FR52 and hiked down the old access road to East Fort Trail #31 as was suggested in the previous trip logs. That was a good thing since the road going in quickly turned impassable, as least for me and my Jeep! Following Trail #31 was easy enough, it is well worn and well cairned in the rocky sections. We saw at least a half dozen horned lizards between the Jeep and FR696. Returning the way we came we followed a fire break straight up the side of a hill that eventually turned into FR696. Once on top, FR696 turns into a nice jeep road and descends gradually to the South Fort Trail. South Fort trail is super short and easy to follow. We then followed FR696 back to FR52 and the Jeep. Great loop! Awesome views! Perfect weather! Headed up to the fire tower and chatted with the Ranger. Then into Crown King General Store to pick up some of the best fudge in the state and off to the Saloon for some burgers and beers. It doesn't get any better than this!
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Wildflowers Observation Substantial
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May 16 2015
capcyclone
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 Guides 1
 Routes 3
 Photos 54
 Triplogs 75

47 male
 Joined Jan 26 2011
 Phoenix, AZ
East Fort Trail #31 - Prescott NFPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar May 16 2015
capcyclone
Hiking2.40 Miles 382 AEG
Hiking2.40 Miles   1 Hour   30 Mns   1.60 mph
382 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Took our time on a nice out and back to East Fort on a very rainy day. The trail was muddy in spots - and the rocks were slick - but the views - even on a cloudy, rainy day were amazing.

Very tough roads to get to this trailhead, but I enjoyed the trail.

WATCH for snakes! I was lucky that it was quite unusually cold and rainy for this time of May. Just as I was climbing the last few "steps" to step up into the remnants of East Fort - a rattlesnake let itself be known it was very near underfoot. I never saw him....but he was very close as his rattle was quite loud.
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2 archives
Oct 06 2014
Stoic
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 Routes 212
 Photos 4,871
 Triplogs 410

44 male
 Joined Dec 30 2007
 Avondale,Az
East Fort Trail #31 - Prescott NFPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 06 2014
Stoic
Hiking2.60 Miles 504 AEG
Hiking2.60 Miles   1 Hour   50 Mns   1.93 mph
504 ft AEG      29 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Took the dogs on a morning adventure. Spent a few minutes at Horsetheif Lake, then continued to the trailhead. With HazTracks not working with my IOS, I was lucky to find the area.
I did start the hike, further down the 4x4 road off Horsethief rd. This road requires high clearance and 4x4 capabilities. I drove it a short distance and decided to start hiking. Im glad I stopped, the road gets worse. It was a nice short hike, with great views.
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Sep 03 2013
nancyesan
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 Routes 4
 Photos 94
 Triplogs 8

73 female
 Joined Jul 28 2011
 Phoenix, AZ
East Fort Trail #31 - Prescott NFPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 03 2013
nancyesan
Hiking2.10 Miles 388 AEG
Hiking2.10 Miles
388 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners partners
PhotogHiker
East Fort trail is the only hike in the Horse Thief Basin area that we've tried that isn't choked with thorny bushes. It is wide and steep downhill for the first half mile to the wilderness gate, then much narrower and easy up hill the rest of the way. While the narrow trail is somewhat overgrown with manzanita bushes, which don't have thorns, there are cairns placed frequently on the boulders marking the way. The trail across the boulders near the top is also well marked with cairns. To reach the 360 degree view you have to step up through the ruin wall to the flat area above it.

It took us nearly an hour and a half to drive our Jeep 9.3 miles from Crown King to the well marked trailhead sign. The road is so rough there were very few places where we could go faster than 5 mph. Since the trail is only 2.2 miles round trip, after the hike we drove further south on the road and took FS696 to the Jim Creek trailhead to check it out. 696 has a steep hill that does require 4WD to get back up it. Jim Creek trail starts out as a road up to the wilderness fence, then a narrow path after going through the gate, and quickly becomes choked with thick bushes so we decided it wasn't worth continuing. Back in the Jeep, we started driving further south on 696 to check out the Willow Creek trail but quickly came to a steep, badly washed out hill and decided it wasn't worth the risk, especially not knowing what lay ahead. A short visit to the lake in the center of Horse Thief Basin was a nice respite during the grueling ride back toward Crown King.
September 12, 2019
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May 04 2011
JuanJaimeiii
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 Routes 563
 Photos 7,695
 Triplogs 1,629

52 male
 Joined Jan 30 2011
 Chandler, AZ
East Fort Trail #31 - Prescott NFPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar May 04 2011
JuanJaimeiii
Hiking2.00 Miles 382 AEG
Hiking2.00 Miles
382 ft AEG      40 Mns Break
 no routesno photosets
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
While up near Crown King to Hike the Big Dipper we did a nice hike down to East Fort. Clear skies and awesome views. Not sure if I liked this one better by day or by night. It was really cool to see the city lights in the distance the last time I did it.
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Apr 17 2011
JuanJaimeiii
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 Routes 563
 Photos 7,695
 Triplogs 1,629

52 male
 Joined Jan 30 2011
 Chandler, AZ
East Fort Trail #31 - Prescott NFPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 17 2011
JuanJaimeiii
Hiking2.00 Miles 382 AEG
Hiking2.00 Miles      45 Mns   2.67 mph
382 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
So my Buddy Will and I decided to come across 260 today after doing Barnhardt Trail and hit East Fort on my Mission to do the 60 in 60. By the time we crossed over and went South on I-17 and headed up the 34 mile dirt road past Crown King it was almost dark. No stopping us however we were on a mission. We got to the Trail Head (now with zero sunlight) and headed out. Good news is that it was a full moon or darn close. Either way we made it to the top of the rocks at the look out point and saw Phoenix, and I-17 all lit up in the dark of night. Pretty cool actually but now I want to do this one again in the day light. It is just one heck of a drive to get to the trail head.
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Feb 05 2011
The_Eagle
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 Guides 5
 Routes 793
 Photos 9,480
 Triplogs 1,151

64 male
 Joined Jan 20 2009
 Far NE Phoenix,
East Fort Trail #31 - Prescott NFPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 05 2011
The_Eagle
Hiking2.00 Miles 382 AEG
Hiking2.00 Miles   1 Hour   15 Mns   1.60 mph
382 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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joebartels
Having made the long drive out here, and failing to do our Southern Bradshaw loop today, we drove over to East Fort trail to do this short hike.
Culture
Culture
Fire Lookout Structures
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There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
Dave Barry
1 archive
Feb 05 2011
joebartels
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 Guides 229
 Routes 826
 Photos 11,386
 Triplogs 4,469

50 male
 Joined Nov 20 1996
 Phoenix, AZ
East Fort Trail #31 - Prescott NFPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 05 2011
joebartels
Hiking2.00 Miles 382 AEG
Hiking2.00 Miles   1 Hour   15 Mns   1.60 mph
382 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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The_Eagle
This is a nice easy hike with excellent views. This would be a good family hike if camping in the area. I wouldn't suggest driving out just for this as the drive from the valley is taxing. Albeit practically overlooking the valley you could drive to Sedona or the Catalinas in the same amount of time. Thanks Bruce
Named place
Named place
Mazatzal Peak
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Jun 26 2010
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

64 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
East Fort Trail #31 - Prescott NFPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 26 2010
AZWanderingBear
Hiking2.00 Miles 382 AEG
Hiking2.00 Miles
382 ft AEG
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Late log on this one. Hiked it back in 2010 but didn't realize it was a trail on HAZ. Fantastic views and I always love the old ruins.
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All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
Jun 02 2010
The_Eagle
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 Guides 5
 Routes 793
 Photos 9,480
 Triplogs 1,151

64 male
 Joined Jan 20 2009
 Far NE Phoenix,
Horsethief Lookout, AZ 
Horsethief Lookout, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jun 02 2010
The_Eagle
Hiking6.60 Miles 1,061 AEG
Hiking6.60 Miles   4 Hrs   7 Mns   1.60 mph
1,061 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Partners partners
Ladyeagle
This is triplog 2 of 3 from the Prescott Nation Forest including Horsethief Basin Rec Area and the Castle Creek Wilderness.

This hike included two marked trails:
#217, Kentuck Trail TH 34.1750 -112.2768
#31, East Fort Trail TH 34.1630 -112.2615

About 2 miles further up FR52 from Horsethief Lake is the Kentuck Campground and the TH for the Kentuck Trail.


The description I found says "The trailhead is located on the inner circle of Kentuck Springs Campground between camp spaces #14 and #15." I saw no indications that showed camping space numbers.


Through parts of this trail you see indications of the fires in 2008, but the area seems to be coming back. The trail itself is faint in spots but is cairned and taped for the most part. I'd recommend a GPS track to help you. I lost the trail for about 1/4 mi. once I got to the ridge that goes to the Tower, but you can see the tower at this point, and that is your first destination.

The views at 6702' from the Horsethief lookout are just incredible in all directions. The sign said they were open at the time I was there, but there was no answer and a lock on the hatch when I tried going up. You get a pretty good sense of the damage the fires out here caused.

Here's a somewhat shaky 360 from the Lookout.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohzY8a1TA-Q

From here I hiked down the FR .8 mile to get to the TH for the East Fort Trail #31. This hike starts on an old 4x4 track which ultimately dead ends at the Castle Creek Wilderness gate and a nice trail getting to the top. It is a bit over a mile long to get up from the TH. I'd swear the area back in here is right our of an old cowboy movie. This is the place all the Bad Guys went to hide out. Once again the views at the top are great. At the top are the East Fort ruins. It's basically a series of rock walls that are up to 12' tall in sections and run about 40' long. I spent 20 minutes or so playing around and exploring at the top, taking pictures, turned off my camera, and then started down.

I took 2 steps off the top and came face to face (20' away) with my first Mountain Lion!!!!

I took me 2 or 3 seconds to take in how cool this was, and by the time I even thought about getting the camera out, he turned around and scampered back down the mountain. I was really bummed that I got no pictures, but happy I'd seen one, and that he went back down the mountain instead of coming closer!

The rest of this portion of the hike was uneventful on the loop back to the car.
Culture
Culture
Fire Lookout Structures
_____________________
There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
Dave Barry
average hiking speed 1.99 mph

WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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