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Steeple Trail #73 - Blue Range - 4 members in 15 triplogs have rated this an average 3 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Jul 02 2017
nonot
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 Guides 93
 Routes 236
 Photos 1,969
 Triplogs 476

male
 Joined Nov 18 2005
 Phoenix, AZ
KP Rim LoopAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 02 2017
nonot
Hiking10.00 Miles 1,200 AEG
Hiking10.00 Miles
1,200 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
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.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light

dry Willow Spring Dry Dry
Dry where steeple crosses grant creek, though I didn't venture up the meadow to check on the source.
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3 archives
Jun 16 2017
friendofThunde
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 Guides 18
 Routes 278
 Photos 7,692
 Triplogs 715

37 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
Steeple Trail #73 - Blue RangeAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 16 2017
friendofThundergod
Hiking4.75 Miles 843 AEG
Hiking4.75 Miles   2 Hrs   22 Mns   2.24 mph
843 ft AEG      15 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
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.

dry Willow Spring Dry Dry
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Jul 16 2016
hikeaz
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 Guides 5
 Photos 341
 Triplogs 214

63 male
 Joined May 13 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Upper Grant Creek Trail #65 - Blue RangeAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 16 2016
hikeaz
Hiking4.00 Miles 1,600 AEG
Hiking4.00 Miles   2 Hrs   45 Mns   1.45 mph
1,600 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Not having been on this 'trail' since before the Wallow burn I was overdue. Well..maybe it should be re-named the 'Boot-camp Trail'. Although ruggedly beautiful, it was a full-body workout climbing up, over and around all of the dead-fall - especially with an overnight backpack. The upside of this rough travel (keeping fisherman impact to a minimum) is that the fish are abundant.
We started down the Steeple Trail 73 toward Grant Creek, originally planning to form a loop using the 65 trail downstream to the 305 trail to return. But after the blistering average down Upper Grant 65(< 2mph) and expecting the same on the 305 we decided to head out the 306, 75 and 76 trails.
306 is well-constructed and mostly undamaged by fire - beautiful. Once on the 75 it was still undamaged at the lower end but the upper reaches were fire-damaged with some dead-fall - although by Trail(?) 65 standards it was clear-sailing. The 76 trail to the west is about 80% fire-damaged but there ARE areas where you can see remnants of its former glory. Workarounds for dead-fall are straightforward.
We were visited by a 20 minute hail-storm and deluge at the end of the hike, offering a welcome coolness to the air.

NOTES: Although labeled here on HAZ as Trail 74, on maps and signage Grant Creek Trail is labeled as 75 - Important as most maps of the Blue list just the trail number, not the name.

One in our group short-cutted down Trail 326 and reported that it was pretty clear sailing and a pretty hike.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
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kurt
13 archives
May 23 2015
friendofThunde
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 Guides 18
 Routes 278
 Photos 7,692
 Triplogs 715

37 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
Upper Grant Creek Trail #65 - Blue RangeAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar May 23 2015
friendofThundergod
Hiking14.50 Miles 2,897 AEG
Hiking14.50 Miles
2,897 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
I made my favorite five hour drive this weekend. The destination was none other than my beloved Primitive Blue Range. I planned a weekend of exploring new trails, a little fishing and gathering some much needed data on the area to share on HAZ and use for own personal planning. There is simply not a lot of beta floating around for the P.B.R and the several trails systems in the area.

The first day was designed to be a light creek fishing day with the incorporation of two new trails for me: Upper Grant Creek Trail #74 and Long Cienega Trail #305. Both the Upper Grant Trail and Long Cienega fall under the forest service's primitive trail designation. The Upper Grant Trail was actually a very pleasant little trail, with signs of trail maintenance and a nice setting among the upper stretches of the perennial Grant Creek. I saw my first Apache Trout in a small pool at 7,700 feet from there on one can witness several shy trout darting in and out from the danger of the well lit water to the safety of the shadows and depths of their pools. The trout are actually ubiquitous to some small sections of the stream here, however, the nice trout are much further down stream and require a considerable amount of effort to reach.

On our way down stream while trying my luck in a new hole and with Cup by my side attentively watching Blanco stirred up a bear that was probably not 20 yards from us. I think until Blanco stirred him up, the bear's strategy was probably to just wait us out. Blanco gave the bear a strong initial effort, however, nothing beats a bear scurrying up the side of a bank in heavy brush, could not even get a picture, but a real treat none the less and my first bear sighting in the B.R. Meanwhile, the fishing proved to be great once again.

We ended up going off trail down stream much further than I had anticipated, imagine that I low-balled the miles total, that never happens to me. Anyways, making our way down and up stream off trail was some pretty nasty terrain for Cup, so I decided to forgo Long Cienega. I had finally looked at the trail closely on a map and I noticed its terminus was in a real nasty burned out area I had hie through the year before. The aforementioned coupled with the fact that the beginning of the trail did not look all that enticing, led me to opt for the known trails out and a much nicer exit for the dogs.

Less than a 3000 foot climb out, but a tad strenuous in spots. The climb out was pretty uneventful, however, the trails were generally pleasant.
Fauna
Fauna
Apache Trout
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4 archives
Jun 21 2014
friendofThunde
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 Guides 18
 Routes 278
 Photos 7,692
 Triplogs 715

37 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
Blue Range Primitive Area, AZ 
Blue Range Primitive Area, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Jun 21 2014
friendofThundergod
Backpack41.79 Miles 9,841 AEG
Backpack41.79 Miles3 Days         
9,841 ft AEG
 
Made another pilgrimage east to the Apache-Sitgreaves, more specifically the Primitive Blue Range area, or as my map says the Blue Range Wilderness and Primitive Area. However, even the latter is a bit of a misnomer, as currently the Blue Range has not achieved wilderness status in the eyes of Congress and to this day remains the last "primitive" designated area in the United States. Not sure what any of that means, however, anyone who knows me, knows that I would have a natural attraction to any area with the word primitive in its title. Similarly, since my first visit about a year ago, this area has really intrigued me. It was in this are that Aldo Leopold (arguably the founding father in American conservationism and ecology) obtained his first position working under the federal forest service. Leopold saw much in his day, he spoke fondly of the "mountain" in fact, one of his most famous written works, "Thinking Like a Mountain" is based off of his expediences in and around Escudilla and the Escudilla Wilderness area. So the question for me: could I find what gravitated Leopold to this area and transformed him into perhaps America's first conservationists, but 100 years later and after the greatest forest fire the Southwest has seen in contemporary times? Spoiler alert the answer is a resounding yes!

A chance encounter with a game warden around 10:00 p.m. on Friday changed my plans slightly for the three days. He had personally just conducted a "shocking" and fish count of Grant Creek and gave me some pointers on where all the trout were congregated. However, if I were to hit these areas, I would have to modify my original route of Grant Creek Trail which stays high above the creek until crossing around the lower elevations where the Game Warden officer told me all the fish had been killed or can no longer exist due to warmer water temps caused by the destroying of their natural shade and the naturally warmer water at lower elevations. So from the intersection of trails #76 Foot Creek and #75 Grant Creek I took trail #306 down to Grant Creek and decided I would just fish and hike the whole stream length off-trail to its southern intersection with trail #75. If the fishing and beauty of Grant Creek were not as great as they were, this might have turned out to be a negative experience. Movement down stream was very slow at times, however, as I stated earlier the fishing was amazing and the creek beautiful so it negated the slow moving pace of boulder hoping, and down climbing water falls complete with three day pack and pole in hand, oh and along with keeping Blanco floating and upright through some of the deeper pools and obstacles. From there I made good time to the Blue River, passed through a little bit of civilization as I walked the forest road that connected my ambitious loop. I took the first opportunity to camp at a place marked the "box" on my map. This was one of first areas where there were not a dozen no trespassing signs or signs proclaiming the owner's willingness to shoot me if I stepped foot on their property. Day one turned out to be a little over 17 miles, camping was nice, but not spectacular, ate well, slept well.

I thought day 2 would be a much easier day, however, that did not turn out to be necessarily true, thanks in part to some of my decision making. I hate to give a negative trail description, because with trails everyone has their own opinions, and I would not want to steer someone away from an area. However, Steeple Trail #73 is probably a trail one could leave off their to do list for the time being. The upper sections of the trail have really been damage by fire and the trip across KP Mesa is enough to make one yearn for a very quick change of scenery. However, that is simply not the case as you seem to hike forever to simply cross KP Mesa's fire damaged landscape where one can easily see areas that suffered 100 percent devastation from fire. From Steeple Trail #73 I took trail #70 into the KP Creek area. However, this trail got no better! In fact, I will give a fair warning, if you do not have a G.P.S route for this trail or sound topo reading skills, I would avoid this section of trail all together. One can safely say to some degree that this trail ceases to exist in several spots, littered with dead fall, washed out and very faint in the good spots. Nevertheless, we were doing just fine, traversing the several drainages leading to K.P. when I had the great decision to cut a mile or so off route and explore some off-trail sections of K.P. Creek. The whole situation reminded me of something my friend Jim always says when I am pondering short-cuts and more direct off trail routes. He always says, "if that way is shorter or easier, that would be the way." Well in this case that held to be 100% true. I could tell from cliffs along opposite side of creek that there was potential for not being able to cut down to creek and man did that hold true, cliffed out once, then took a side drainage only to come to an impassible pour-over so intimidating that I did not even snap a photo, Blanco and I finally broke through down about a 4-5 foot wide scree shoot, hit the creek where Blanco drank profusely and I silently chastised myself. One would think at this stage in the game I was done making those kind of mistakes, but something tells me that won't be the last time. We slowly made our way up the lower section of K.P Creek where the trail is a little tough to follow and made camp at a superb location.

The final day was just an easy hike up K.P. Creek to K.P. Rim Trail, back to the upper section of Steeple Trail and back to the TH. Everything on this hike went well except finding my short connector trail to complete my K.P. Rim loop. Similar to the hike description, the turn-off for the trail is very hard to find and the forest fire certainly did not make it any easier. In fact, the author wrote had we not had the route downloaded we would have never found the turn-off. Unfortunately, the author failed to post "said" route to description, I guess his way of adding a little excitement for the next guy, we found it but you are on your own I guess. After accepting defeat I was reserved to back-track and make the less than 2 mile trek down 191 to my TH. However, this whole thought was leaving a bitter taste in my mouth, almost like a surrender, or a walk of shame in my mind. First a small voice contemplated just going off-trail the whole way until I found something to walk on. However, this voice was quickly drowned out by about 1000 sane other voices in my head who still had yesterday's folly fresh in their minds and they quickly and probably for the better got that thought out of my head. I then looked down and could clearly see the meadow I needed to get to, but no trail to get there. I said to myself I will go exactly .25 miles to meadow look for Steeple Trail #73, if I don't find, I turn right around. As luck would have it, after about 100 feet off trail I ran into my long lost connector trail.

The trail now ran in a complete opposite direction of the trail featured on my G.P.S! Oh well no time to curse and dwell, I was happy to be on trails and heading back to car, went through some pretty bad burnt out sections, but oddly enough found some beauty in them. Whether it was the stubborn trees that refused to burn or the half million or so 5 to 15 feet tall Aspen blowing fiercely in the wind and the numerous reinvigorated meadows and cienegas, I found beauty in it all.

Even with the adventure in finding my connector trail, Blanco and I still hit TH by 11:30 in morning.

Final Notes:

HAZ Appreciation I used a hike description from Arizonaed written in 2004 and it turned out to be pretty much spot on. Which is something to say, as he obviously wrote pre-Bear Wallow Fire. Route might need some small adjustments, but overall great hike description!
Geology
Geology
Mud
Named place
Named place
Aker Lake
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2 archives
May 30 2011
GrottoGirl
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 Guides 3
 Routes 304
 Photos 10,947
 Triplogs 1,252

44 female
 Joined Sep 18 2009
 Tucson, AZ
Hannagan Meadow Grant/KP Creek LoopAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Backpack avatar May 30 2011
GrottoGirl
Backpack36.00 Miles 7,401 AEG
Backpack36.00 Miles4 Days         
7,401 ft AEG39 LBS Pack
 
no photosets
1st trip
Great trip, however there were definitely some forces of evil working against me. Maybe it has something to do with starting the trip just off the "Devil's Highway".

Day 1: We started at the KP North Fork trail and continued on the KP Trail for about 5.5 miles. About 3 miles in, my camera went crashing to the ground after taking pictures of poison ivy. Camera Lens Error... So much for carrying about 1 pound of extra accessories for my camera. Canon PowerShot S5 IS - you were the BOMB! RIP!

We did find a good campsite along KP Creek and the temperatures were just right for sleeping!

Day 2: Great day, but really long (12 - 13 miles). We got great views of Sawed Off Mountain and the surrounding area. The trail along the KP and Steeple Mesas is very rocky with very little shade. If the view at the end of the mesa looking down in the lower part of KP canyon wasn't so awesome I'd have a hard time recommending this hike. I got to test out my birthday present, the Solar Dome Umbrella. Really awesome when there is no shade! Too bad it didn't protect me against heat rash on the backs of my legs. We did spend a fair amount of time relaxing in and near the Blue River. It was very nice to cool off!

As we walked between the Steeple trail and the Grant Creek trail along a dirt road I found my next dream job: Postal Worker at Blue, Arizona. The office is only open 3 times a week - sweet!

We again found another great campsite about a half mile from the Grant Creek TH. I had a special treat - I saw a javalina near camp.

Day 3: We hiked up long a ridge where you could look down in to part of Grant Creek Canyon. The view of the Red Saddles was pretty cool.

We hiked through Paradise Park - the devil had been there in 2010 and burned the heck out of the area. However, the elk had been working hard on trying to spread out some fertilizer to help promote revegetation. We ended up camping between Paradise Park and the Grant Cabin Trail Jxn. This area had also been burned but all the Ponderosa Pines had survived. I just did some research and found that the Paradise fire had been caused by a lightning strike on June 7, 2010. At this campsite, it was impossible to maintain any cleanliness. In fact, I still have dirty hands! That day it was windy and many of us either saw or heard trees going down not to far away.

Joel and I decided to go down the Grant Cabin trail to check out that area in case there might be good campsites for the future. On the way down, there was one section where it was burnt to a crisp and there was like an inferno heat. Half way down a gust of wind came up and branches from a live tree came flying towards us. When we were down near the Cabin, the wind just wouldn't stop. I was off looking around and heard a crash. I got back to where Joel was by the creek and he told me he saw a live tree go down not far from him. The wind was howling like out of a scary movie! That was probably the most scared I've been while in the wilderness. I felt the need hurry back up the trail to our camp. In total that day we did between 10 - 11 miles.

Day 4: We got started at about 6:30 AM. We were smelling smoke as we were ascending up to P Bar Lake. Half way through the ascent we could see smoke coming up a neighboring canyon that had connected with ours. It was impossible to tell where the fire was so we made sure we didn't slow down. We hurried up to P Bar Lake where the smoke wasn't as obvious and took a break. As we hiked out the temperature seemed to keep dropping which help speed us up! We completed our 5.5 miles before 10 AM. As we left the Blue, we saw a lot of fire fighting equipment (trucks, planes, etc). We learned at a gas station that the Wallow fire had started.

Overall, awesome trip. It will be nice to return in a few years to see how the forest changes after the fires. Too bad I won't have a bunch of photos to use for comparison. Maybe next time, the evil forces will leave me alone!
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max White Oak Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Both Rubbermaid troughs were full and some water was spilling out onto the ground.
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May 30 2011
RedwallNHops
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 Guides 1
 Routes 7
 Photos 237
 Triplogs 943

44 male
 Joined Dec 22 2003
 Tucson, AZ
Hannagan Meadow Grant/KP Creek LoopAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Backpack avatar May 30 2011
RedwallNHops
Backpack36.00 Miles 7,401 AEG
Backpack36.00 Miles4 Days         
7,401 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
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Oct 03 2009
Xiled1
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 Photos 105
 Triplogs 12

45 male
 Joined Feb 26 2009
 Mesa, AZ
Steeple Trail #73 - Blue RangeAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Backpack avatar Oct 03 2009
Xiled1
Backpack15.00 Miles 2,000 AEG
Backpack15.00 Miles2 Days         
2,000 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
This past weekend my wife and I took an overnight backpacking trip in the Blue Range primitive area. We were hoping to see some wolves but only ended up hearing them on Friday night. We hiked a loop consisting of the #73 (Steeple Trail) to #74 (Paradise Trail) to #65 (Upper Grant Creek Trail) to #305 (Long Cienega Trail). We started out Saturday morning and headed down the Steeple Trail. At its intersection with the #65 trail, there were a couple of backpacking tents setup in a nice meadow. I think this would be a good place to camp on a Friday night if you were arriving late.

After 65 we started to climb though meadows and forest that is recovering from a fire. The area is thick with young 4-6 foot aspens, almost as though they were a weed. Most of the leaves had changed to yellow/orange but were only just starting to fall. At 2.8 miles we came to the intersection with the #305 trail and #73 turned right up the hill to the KP rim. At the rim you get some great views. After hiking along the rim for short while we began the long downhill along Steeple Creek. So far the trail was relatively clear and looked like it was recently maintained. As we descended the trail slowly degraded from firm ground to loose rock combined with lots of fire debris. Whoever maintained the trail saw fit to cut the young trees off 4-6 inches above the ground and they make for great trip hazards. A little farther down you add in the thorn bushes, wear pants. We came to a downed tree that looked like it was blocking the trail, but there were actually some switchbacks going down to the creeks edge, water was flowing near the bottom. That's where the trail all but disappeared. We had to bushwack for about a mile, finding and losing the trail numerous times. Route finding was easy, just follow the creek. The trail cleared up shortly before reaching #74. Along the way we did find a spooky pile of old backpacking equipment including pack, tent, bag, and a pile of empty food cans; strange.

#74 is a well maintained trail which gently climbs away from Steeple creek and over to Moonshine Park, a small meadow in a depression. We camped there for the night. In the morning, it was back on #74 following along Grant creek which was flowing nicely. This turned into #65 and kept following the creek. We reached the canyon where I THOUGHT #305 was supposed to be, a small amount of water flowing in the stream. Due to my poor map reading skills, I thought we were supposed to hike directly up the drainage, but #305 was actually a little ways past the canyon exit. So we bushwacked up a short ways and then climbed out of the canyon and stumbled onto the trail - Hallelujah! We had considered turning back. This trail is a little less maintained, but not hard to follow. It takes you up the stream drainage, thru some thick forest so its well shaded. Water flow was intermittent throughout the trail. This trail had been recently cleared as well. Its about 3.5 miles from #65 back to #73 and you get to gain all the elevation you lost. The last ¼ mile of the hike opens up into a long meadow where the trail disappears. We just hiked to the other end and the trail resumed, dropping us at the 73/305 intersection. It seemed like a short hike back to the car from here compared to the slog up #305. We got back to the car enjoyed a cold bottle of Gatorade and some football on the radio.

This was a pretty difficult hike for us since we don't get many chances to go out. But well worth the effort. We got to enjoy some fall colors, cooler weather, and great views.
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Substantial
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
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Aug 02 2008
Vaporman
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 Guides 2
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 Photos 8,687
 Triplogs 931

40 male
 Joined Mar 28 2005
 SLC, Utah
KP Rim LoopAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar Aug 02 2008
Vaporman
Hiking15.00 Miles 3,800 AEG
Hiking15.00 Miles   11 Hrs   15 Mns   1.33 mph
3,800 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Partners none no partners
I did a little bit different variation loop hike than posted. I went from the KP Rim TH thru the semi-burned ridge, but continued straight on the Steeple trail down the creek and then swung right around the rim into KP creek above a possible 'narrows' section and continued up the North KP trail back to my vehicle. The burnt ridge was a tad disheartening and difficult to navigate but i kept pushing and enjoyed the great views across the canyon. Steeple creek was rather pleasant but the real treat was hiking along KP creek with all its many mini-falls, berries, flowers, mushrooms, and massive trees. This place is definitely worth another visit just for this creek section. :bigth:
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Yea, canyoneering is an extreme sport... EXTREMELY dramatic!!! =p
1 archive
Oct 06 2007
JoelHazelton
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 Guides 16
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 Triplogs 406

33 male
 Joined Mar 22 2006
 Phoenix, AZ
Steeple Trail #73 - Blue RangeAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 06 2007
JoelHazelton
Hiking15.00 Miles 3,920 AEG
Hiking15.00 Miles3 Days         
3,920 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Partners none no partners
The trip began at the Hannagan Trailhead, across the street from the Hannagan Lodge. We didn't arrive at the trailhead until 4:30 pm on Saturday. The first night we only made it about 4 miles, camping just shy of P-bar lake off of trail 76. That night we heard loud, frantic howling sounding from close-by. Coyotes? Mexican Gray Wolves? Day two we turned south at P-bar lake, traversing Paradise trail 75 down the steep drainage to Grant Creek. Grant Creek was definitely the most beautiful portion of the trip. The narrow trail skirted the edge of the precipitous canyon, where the rocks slipping from beneath my feet and tumbling down the steep canyon walls to the creek made the hike all the more interesting. We eventually made our way up the canyon walls and passed through Moonshine park, which has some perfect campsites. After passing through Moonshine park, the trail makes a sharp 180 degree turn and proceeds to drop down to Steeple creek.
After the 180, however, the trail begins to degrade at some spots.

Unfortunately, we fell victim to the degrading trail. We lost the trail somewhere near where it drops to steeple creek, and ended up hiking cross country down the side of a canyon to reach the trail. Happy to finally hit the trail, we went on our merry way- that is, until Dennis noticed a plant he had recognized from quite a bit earlier. "Dude, we need to turn around, we're going the wrong way," he informed me, with confidence. "What?" I exclaimed. What followed was a long string of expletives that perfectly defined my mood and state of frustration and confusion. Finally, because my Walmart compass constantly told us we were going northwest, even though we had clearly changed directions numerous times, and because the landscape surrounding us did not seem to line up with the contours on the map where I thought we were supposed to be, I had to resort to relying on Dennis' instincts and noted broken reed to get us back on track. Luckily, he was right. About a mile or two later (of trail we had already covered), we figured out exactly where we had lost the trail, and discovered a large cairn about 10 feet past that spot. Why is it that cairns are always a few feet out of my vision? Anyway, we continued down to Steeple creek, and found a very, very nice campsite on the north side of the creek near Mud Springs. Although this should have been the most fun and recreational portion of my trip, a combination of no sleep the previous night and horrible allergies (which I'm very prone to) drove me right into the tent. As I lie there and closed my eyes, all I could think about was my constantly running nose, itchy throat, incessant pile of phlegm behind my tongue, and the fits of 8 or 9 sneezes that hit me every couple minutes and left me feeling worse every time. The original plan was to camp the next night at KP Creek and then hike the north fork up to the 191 and then back to the Hannagan trailhead, but the option of trekking straight up the Steeple trail and back to the car the next day was becoming more and more appealing as I sat there sneezing and blowing snot rockets. Finally I proposed the idea to Dennis, who readily agreed.

The next morning we broke camp and started up trail 73. Whew!!!!!!! This trail was a damn huffer! In the 2 miles following Mud Springs, the trail rises in elevation from 6900 feet to 9200 feet, is literally carpeted with poison ivy much of the time, requires almost constant bushwacking and sometimes no real path at all, and has an abundance of fallen trees that occasionally required legitimate climbs to surpass. We finally reached the top though... And it was one of the happiest moments of both of our lives. Actually, near the junction of 73 and 315, with 6 or 7 more miles of trail and numerous canyons between us and the car, we sat on rocks and had an intensely relaxing conversation about the undeniable beauty of the area and how we had both been humbled by the previous few hours of hiking. Apparently something that grew near the creeks was triggering my allergies, because at the top of the mountain, with nothing to worry about but bear crap, bear tracks (SOOOOOOOOOO many of them) charred pines and expansive, awe inspiring views, my head was suddenly clear of phlegm, stress, and everything negative. Now THIS was why we went on this trip.

We finally got our lazy butts up and continued on our way. It wasn't long before Dennis saved the day. I was sure we had passed the turnoff and suggested that we turn around and retrace our steps to see if we could find the fork. Dennis insisted that we go a little farther first- 20 feet later, a sign for the Steeple trail and the Rim trail stared right at me. Thanks, Dennis. At this point, the most difficult aspect of the trail was all of the deep footprints and bear crap we had to dodge until we reached Grant Creek, where there it seems to be more frequently hiked and maintained. From there it was about a 600 foot climb and 2 more miles back to the car.

At the gas station in Alpine (pump before you pay, by the way, if anybody needs to steal gas), the very nice lady that worked inside informed us that
A. It had reached the 20's the past couple nights
B. Turkey hunters had been complaining that there haven't been any turkeys around, although we had seen and heard plenty near where we camped at Steeple Creek
C. The Blue doesn't see many backpackers, or at least she doesn't.

We also learned that those 4 dollar turkey sandwiches that you always snicker at in the freezer at gas stations are freaking amazing after 3 days of canned fruit cocktail, energy bars and iodine-filtered creek water.

All in all, in spite of the lack of photos and dreadful experience in Steeple Creek canyon, it was an adventure and experience to remember.
_____________________
"Arizona is the land of contrast... You can go from Minnesota to California in a matter of minutes, then have Mexican food that night." -Jack Dykinga

http://www.joelhazelton.com
Jun 06 2007
Grasshopper
avatar

 Guides 42
 Routes 458
 Photos 8,104
 Triplogs 508

74 male
 Joined Dec 28 2006
 Scottsdale, AZ
Steeple Trail #73 - Blue RangeAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 06 2007
Grasshopper
Hiking13.40 Miles 3,920 AEG
Hiking13.40 Miles   7 Hrs      1.91 mph
3,920 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
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During my 10 day camping/hiking trip to the Hannagan Meadow area, this LOOP HIKE, starting out on the Steeple Trail#73 turned-out to be the one I most enjoyed of the five day hikes I was able to complete during my stay(5/30-6/8/07) at the Hannagan Campground.

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Hiking Route: From the Steeple Tr#73 / Foote Creek Tr#76 Trailhead(off Hwy#191 near MM231.5), begin on Steeple Tr#73 for 1.3mls down to intersection with Upper Grant Creek Tr#65; hike #65 down 4mls to intersection with Paradise Tr#74; hike #74 up 1.9mls to intersection with Grant Creek Tr#75; hike #75 up 2.6mls to intersection with Foote Creek Tr#76; hike #76 for 3.6mls ~level terrain back to the beginning TH and parking area; This wonderful and manageable 13.4ml LOOP HIKE has a total accumulated elevation of: 3838ft;
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Prior to doing this hike, I spent almost half a day on 6/5 having fun looking at maps and planning this above LOOP HIKE. Prior to leaving home for the trip, I discovered this "inner trail" called the Paradise Trail#74, so I already knew that one hiking day that I HAD TO MAKE IT TO THIS TRAIL..regardless!...I figured that any trail named PARADISE had to be worth whatever effort it took to get there :) ! It turned-out that I was correct...the scenic views and old forest growth on this trail section were great! This Paradise Tr is 4.2mls long, but on this planned loop, I was only able to include the upper 1.9mls of it for this trip, but I will be back one day to do the 2.3ml balance of the South/SW trail portion. Also, this loop included a most pleasant surprise with my inclusion of the 4 mile Upper Grant Creek Tr#65 which is "not" passable during the rainy seasons(usually not a problem in June). This trail desends a beautiful steep & deep, narrow canyon with huge old growth forest, beautiful & unusual dense (almost "rain forest like"..) vegetation along a very active, running creek. This primitive trail is somewhat difficult to follow at times, crossing over the creek numerous time, and would be almost impossible to follow when the creek water is HIGH. A lucky seven of us encounted much Bear scat and Elk signs while hiking this beautiful 4 mile trail to its end at the Paradise Trail#74 intersection.

Also, this loop hike was the same day that 81MPH WINDS were clocked on the top of the Forest Service FIRE TOWER on ESCUDILLA PEAK! (see my Escudilla Tr trip log..dtd-6/7/07). For our afternoon 3.6ml hike on the Foote Creek Tr#76 back to the TH, we were actually having to "dodge and run over/under" falling trees due to these major high winds in the forest canopy..it was actually pretty scary at times, but we did all get back safely.
_____________________
(Outside.. "there is No Place Like It!!")
Jul 02 2006
Crocodile Ryan
avatar

 Guides 1
 Photos 58
 Triplogs 27

36 male
 Joined Aug 16 2005
 Tempe, Az
Steeple Trail #73 - Blue RangeAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 02 2006
Crocodile Ryan
Hiking2.00 Miles 3,920 AEG
Hiking2.00 Miles   1 Hour      2.00 mph
3,920 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
the blue crew is camped out along the botoom of this trail and they are cutting new trail and clearing where it was washed out due to the fire
_____________________
An adventure is merely an inconvience rightly considered
Sep 05 2005
Crocodile Ryan
avatar

 Guides 1
 Photos 58
 Triplogs 27

36 male
 Joined Aug 16 2005
 Tempe, Az
Steeple Trail #73 - Blue RangeAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 05 2005
Crocodile Ryan
Hiking13.20 Miles 3,920 AEG
Hiking13.20 Miles   8 Hrs   30 Mns   1.55 mph
3,920 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
steep the entire distance, really rough in long stretches = lots of bushwacking, more bear tracks than i have ever seen before in the area, good shortcut if you dont want to do an entire kp creek loop
_____________________
An adventure is merely an inconvience rightly considered
Oct 23 2004
BelladonnaTook
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 Guides 12
 Routes 9
 Photos 1,291
 Triplogs 58

72 male
 Joined Aug 26 2002
 Lakeside, AZ
Steeple Trail #73 - Blue RangeAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 23 2004
BelladonnaTook
Hiking13.80 Miles 3,920 AEG
Hiking13.80 Miles   8 Hrs   15 Mns   1.67 mph
3,920 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
My favorite part of the Blue Range Primitive Area is the high country bounded by Highway 191 on the west, Forest Road 567 on the north, the Blue river on the east and Mogollon Rim on the south. While this is not the Blue's most remote real estate, it is the most extreme terrain and, to my mind, the prettiest with many year-round streams, large grassy cienegas and thousands of acres of old growth forest. Emenating from trailheads on three sides, paths intersect in a welter of combinations for single or multiday, loop or point to point treks. Fire closed the northern reaches in summer of 2003, and the KP fire of 2004 closed the remainder. The entire area was finally reopened just a few weeks ago, and we were eager to checkout the changes.

We started from the KP Rim trailhead on Highway 191. Signs of fire were evident from the beginning, becoming more extreme as we moved east. At the top of the ridge classic firestorm conditions had reduced the forest to acres and acres of charred, branchless snags. At the junction with Steeple Trail, we followed it a half mile back west and then branched right on to Long Cienega Trail. The Forest Service designates this a primitive route, meaning they don't maintain it. We were last through here about three years ago and the trail doesn't seem any worse. That will change soon though because much of this area burned, and when the dead trees start falling, walking through here will become quite a challange. Where Long Cienega trail terminates at Grant Creek, we went right on Paradise Trail and followed it past Moonshine Park to Steeple Creek. This area had experienced some fire but no real damage and the trail is in good condition but needs traffic to keep vegetation from encroaching on the path. It was on Paradise Trail that we began seeing bear droppings. Lots of bear droppings. Lots of very large fresh bear droppings. We rejoined Steeple Trail now miles east and far below where we left it earlier in the day. Ascending Steeple here has always been tough because its a three mile constant slog up 2000 feet, and to be at this point one has to have already walked many miles through tough country. It just got much worse. The 2004 fire killed all the trees and removed all the vegetation from the canyon sides. Monsoon rains produced flash floods down the denuded slopes that completely blew out the trail for much of the way. Where there was trail, there are now boulder fields. Passage through here required much more time and effort than we anticipated; but we eventually topped out, turned back onto KP Rim Trail, and returned to the trailhead exhausted. We had walked mile upon mile without seeing a single live mature tree. I will miss, especially, the big old firs that appeared to have been there forever. And I don't see how Steeple Trail can be rebuilt because there's nothing left to build it on.
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May 31 2004
Tim
avatar

 Guides 10
 Triplogs 366

58 male
 Joined Feb 25 2002
 Scottsdale
Steeple Trail #73 - Blue RangeAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar May 31 2004
Tim
Hiking8.10 Miles 700 AEG
Hiking8.10 Miles   3 Hrs   30 Mns   2.31 mph
700 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Carolyn and I did this short hike earlier in the year before the fire. We were staying at the lodge at Hannigan Meadows and wanted to take a quick hke to see what the area had to offer. (We'll be back!) We just did a simple 8.1 mile loop starting from the Steeple Trailhead, (trail #73), to the intersection of the KP Rim Trail, (trail #315), which was at the 3.3 mile mark. We returned on the KP Rim Trail 2.2 miles to its trailhead. From there we were planning on taking a non Forest Service tail that followed the highway on the west side back to Hannigan Meadows but we couldn't locate the darn thing. We ended up "hiking the road" back to the Steeple Trailhead 2.6 miles which was nothing too exciting, although is was a pretty day and the temperatures were wonderfully cool. The loop took just under 3 1/2 hours and gave us a taste of this area. The alpine meadows are really pretty and just open up out of nowhere.
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average hiking speed 1.81 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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