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Steeple Trail #73 - Blue Range - 5 members in 23 triplogs have rated this an average 3.2 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Aug 27 2022
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39 male
 Joined Nov 30 2015
 Phoenix, AZ
North Fork KP Trail #93Alpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar Aug 27 2022
ShatteredArm
Hiking6.12 Miles 2,027 AEG
Hiking6.12 Miles   3 Hrs   34 Mns   1.81 mph
2,027 ft AEG      11 Mns Break
 
no photosets
1st trip
Partners none no partners
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.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max KP South Fork - KP Confluence Medium flow Medium flow
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Aug 21 2021
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39 male
 Joined Nov 30 2015
 Phoenix, AZ
Paradise Park loop, AZ 
Paradise Park loop, AZ
 
Run/Jog avatar Aug 21 2021
ShatteredArm
Run/Jog18.29 Miles 3,014 AEG
Run/Jog18.29 Miles   6 Hrs   6 Mns   3.39 mph
3,014 ft AEG      42 Mns Break
 
no photosets
1st trip
Was going to go down to the Pinalenos, but had to make a last minute change of plans, so headed up to Hannagan Meadow. I'd been meaning to check out the Blue Range area for awhile, but the last couple of trips out there, fire deterred me. Started out on Foote Creek trail, and took that to P Bar Lake. Saw what I thought was a bear running across the trail ahead of me at one point.

Turned south on Grant Creek Trail, and followed it down to Paradise trail. Paradise trail was slightly harder to follow, but still nice. Got down to Grant Creek, where there was decent flow and a nice campsite. Continued on Paradise Trail and ran up on a bear that was probably napping. Nothing to worry about there either, all I saw was his backside.

After Moonshine Park, started hitting the burn area, and the trail got more overgrown. A couple of harder to follow spots on the Steeple Creek side. Steeple was all moonscape. Heard a wolf howling when I got to the creek, but didn't get a visual. The climb up Steeple trail seemed like it was like 10 miles long, but at least it has been cleaned, and had minimal deadfall and not too much locust. In the higher elevation raspberries started appearing, and I probably ate a couple pounds of them along the way.

The connector trail through the upper Grant Creek basins was all moonscape, but despite the tread being nonexistent in places, it was pretty easy to find the way. Burn got a little less severe after crossing the main arm of Grant Creek.

Good day overall, and a decent first Blue Range outing.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Grant Creek Medium flow Medium flow
Good flow at Paradise and Steeple trail crossings

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 P Bar Lake 76-100% full 76-100% full
A little flow into the lake

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Steeple Creek Light flow Light flow
Flow part of the way up along Steeple trail
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Jul 28 2021
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40 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
Steeple Trail #73 - Blue RangeAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 28 2021
FOTG
Hiking4.40 Miles 772 AEG
Hiking4.40 Miles   2 Hrs   7 Mns   2.20 mph
772 ft AEG      7 Mns Break
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
One final little stroll in the Blue with the pups. The trail was in excellent shape and there was good water at Willow Spring. The ferns were as tall as me in spots and the flowers were plentiful along several sections of the trail. A perfect hike to end our little trip to the Blue.
Named place
Named place [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Willow Spring
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Willow Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
water report recorded in the field on our app Route Scout Full and trickling over.
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Sep 05 2020
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 Guides 6
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male
 Joined Mar 12 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Grant Creek - Primitive Blue Range, AZ 
Grant Creek - Primitive Blue Range, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Sep 05 2020
John9L
Backpack14.75 Miles 2,700 AEG
Backpack14.75 Miles2 Days         
2,700 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
As the holiday weekend approached, I contacted Lee to see what he was up to. He said he's going back into The Blue for an easy backpack with Katie & the dogs. He invited me & I'm glad I joined.

We would car camp on Friday night and then headed over to the trailhead and started in. Steeple was in great shape and we connected onto Grant Creek Trail which was slow & overgrown. We took our time as we descended the canyon. The sun was out and it was hot. We kept at it and worked our way over and around dead fall and we were able to follow the trail whenever it existed. We finally hit the cabin and decide to set up camp.

After camp was set up we decided to go for a day hike as dark clouds moved in. We headed for Moonshine Park as a light rain started to fall. We followed a good trail that was cleared recently. It was easy going and we enjoyed the park. We walked around the area and took a variety of pics and then the skies opened up. Thunder roared and the rain grew heavy. We started our return and put our heads down and cruised back. Once we were back at camp we climbed into our tents and waited an hour for the storm to pass. As soon as it cleared, Lee & Katie built the fire and evening set in. We dried our gear & ate dinner.

We woke on day two and took our time packing up & headed out around 9am. Our return climbed almost 2,000ft but went well. It's a respectable climb but the trail is in good condition. Once things leveled off, we took a short break and then headed the last few miles back to the trailhead. There were a handful of downed trees to climb over. Once back to the car we talked about our options and decided to get some food in Hannagan Meadows and then return to Phoenix.

This was a nice hike and I'm glad I drove out. I wish we spent another night so we could have explored more. Its a good reason to return another time.
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Sep 05 2020
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 Guides 29
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40 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
Grant Creek Overnight Backpack, AZ 
Grant Creek Overnight Backpack, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Sep 05 2020
FOTG
Backpack12.00 Miles 2,000 AEG
Backpack12.00 Miles
2,000 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
I ended my summer in the same area my summer began, the Primitive Blue Range. Katie myself, John and our pack of four completed a nice little overnight trip to Grant Cabin along Grant Creek.

Day 1:

The first mile or so along Steeple was pleasant as usual. Upper Grant Creek Trail is trying its hardest to return to its primitive nature, despite being cleared a year ago, but the trail is still generally in good shape. It just tends to drag a little towards the end and the going always seems to be a little slower than expected. After setting up camp at the cabin, we headed off for a side trip to Moonshine Park. We left to the beginnings of some light rain. Moonshine Park will not blow you away, but its a pleasant area and worth the side trip. As we left Moonshine, the rain picked up in its intensity as did the thunder and lightning. We nixed a plan to explore Paradise went straight to camp, getting pretty drenched along the way. We then had to retreat to the tents for an hour or so. After the rain ended, it was the usual camp chores, a fire and trying to stay up past 8:30.

Day 2:

We took our time the morning of day two and left camp a little after nine. From camp you pretty much start climbing and you don't really end until a little over two miles and an elevation of approximately 8,900 feet. Luckily, the trails were in great shape and the grade was thoughtful, so the climb did not really prove to be that bad. A little warm at times, but manageable. From P-Bar Lake it was a very pleasant hike through some nice stands of surviving forest along great trail all the way to our beginning trailhead and the completion of our loop. Another fulfilling trip to the Blue.
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Sep 04 2020
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37 male
 Joined Dec 09 2014
 Gilbert, AZ
Intro to Blue, AZ 
Intro to Blue, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Sep 04 2020
jacobemerick
Backpack56.85 Miles 10,461 AEG
Backpack56.85 Miles3 Days         
10,461 ft AEG9.8 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
First time to the Blue. Out of laziness admiration I simply copy/pasted FOTG's earlier trip this year and stuck to the trails.

Day 1
Caught a few hours of sleep before cruising down Steeple/Upper Grant Creek. Upper Grant was okay, intermittent tread with a few obstacles, travel was slower than expected. Swung over on Paradise and gawked over the hints of big views through the trees before connecting with Grant Creek. Grant Creek served as a dividing line for complete devastation and untouched pines for awhile before succumbing to the burn and wandering sadly through a field of ferns.

Stopped at White Oak Spring to spook a buck and flock of turkeys (and filter some water) before tumbling down the rest of Grant Creek Trail. The exposure was hot and my poorly-fitting boots were starting to annoy me, so when I reached the creek itself and saw more signs of burn damage (flood damage and young, greedy growth) I rushed forward and crashed at the trailhead. Bottom of the Blue felt like a darn furnace after the cooler, shaded mountains above.

A hot, dusty forest road did a great job at burning through my water and I was very thankful to find Lanphier Creek flowing at the Largo junction. Trudged uphill on Largo, enjoying the little park beyond the first ridge and Dutch Oven area and mostly cursing my boots. Found some interesting pens that seemed to be protecting the source of Largo Creek, though they were all opened, and the wildlife had obviously been digging deep to find water here this summer. Crested and dropped along the Little Blue Trail to find a very talkative man camping at Bear Valley for a few weeks with his mules, ended up camping at a nice tent pad another half mile on his suggestion.

Day 2
Woke early and hobbled along the rest of the Little Blue, admiring the geologic structures by the twin light of mostly-full moon and slowly-waking sun. Cut over on 609 (which was labeled Horse Mountain Connector by a sign), which was faint yet easy, before bumping into Cow Flat. This trail was fantastic and won the Trail of the Day award. It has variety, several awesome rest spots, and very creative construction. There was also little shade and rolly rocks and catclaw, but hey, this is Arizona.

Aside: there was a feed bag at Ladrone Spring, within a few feet of the campfire ring. This seems bad.

The furnace was alive and kicking when I entered the wide riverbed of the Blue River, and between that and the intermittent trail and the sand and the rock-hopping on sore feet, the next three hours were No Fun. The flow itself was dark and silty, and the tributaries were mostly dry, so I had to filter the questionable river and hope that the aftertaste was 'charm'. When I exited the trail I was immediately yelled at by the landowner who claims there is no way to reach the northern trailhead without trespassing. Anyways, reached Cole Flat by 2pm, thought about heading up Steeple, looked at the gathering storm clouds above and my stupid boots below, and crashed. The next few hours were a delightful mix of reading in a hammock, munching on snacks, and napping in the tent under the patter and rumble of storms that most of Arizona seems to have missed out on this year.

Day 3
Another early start. Yesterday's extra rest proved well worth it, as I was able to zip up the first few miles of Steeple quickly, not letting the sun touch me until I was on KP Mesa. This trail was in great shape and I trotted along easily, enjoying the big views. Mud Spring was totally dry so I pushed on to the next marked spring on the topo to water up. My original plan was to cut over on Paradise and retrace Upper Grant Creek, but the thought of cutting a few miles and completing Lee & Katie's full loop was tempting, so I stuck to Steeple.

That drainage lasted an eternity. Every hundred yards or so there'd be a long patch of locusts to push through, and there was deadfall too, but I only lost the trail once, so I was happy about the condition. The sun and lack of wind were the real pain points on this section - otherwise, this trail is in no worse shape than some of the nightmares in the Mazatzal or Sierra Ancha. I crested in two hours and cruised the final miles happily, already planning future revisits.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Auger Tank 51-75% full 51-75% full

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Bear Valley Cabin Spring Dripping Dripping

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Bear Valley Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Great pools for filtering.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Dutch Oven Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Happy little trough.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Grant Creek Light flow Light flow
Flowing along most of the last few miles of trail, only drying up for the final mile.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max KP Creek Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Ladron Spring Gallon per minute Gallon per minute

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Lanphier Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Dry at mount, flowing at Largo Trail junction.

dry Mud Spring Dry Dry
Spring was dry, creek was dry. Did not venture down creek of topo locale. Springs another half mile upstream had several pools of water.

dry Raspberry Creek Dry Dry


dry Tornado Canyon Dry Dry

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 tanks were overflowing.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Willow Spring Dripping Dripping
Muddy pools of water below the trail.
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Jul 19 2020
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 Guides 29
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40 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
Long Cienega Trail #305Alpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 19 2020
FOTG
Hiking5.65 Miles 776 AEG
Hiking5.65 Miles
776 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
I decided to finally check out the Long Cienega Trail on my last day in the Blue Range with the pups. The forest service list the trail as impassable and it was a trail not suitable for stock prior to the Wallow Fire, so I was not expecting to find much. I had also seen the bottom section of the trail where it meets Grant Creek and it did not look great, but my interest in the trail was still a little strong after walking by and identifying the meadow where it starts a few months ago with Katie.

The KP Rim Trail definitely got a face lift recently, but there was still a little deadfall and the locust is coming back fast. The same for the Steeple Trail. The old trail maps do not accurately reflect the intersections of KP, Steeple and Long Cienega anymore. I do not know when things were rerouted here. But KP Rim Trail intersects with Steeple about four-tenths of a mile before where the old trail is marked and what the forest service references in older descriptions for some of those trails. This might explain why I struggled so much finding the intersection with Steeple when I did my first backpack through here in 2014.
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


I now realize that the trail I hit after going cross country was Long Cienega and then I took that right up to Steeple Trail, never realizing my mistake until yesterday. I knew something was up when Katie and I initially struggled to find the intersection using an older route as well, but now with a freshly cleared Steeple Trail, there is no doubt the intersection has moved.

We only did a short portion of Long Cienega, but I was pleasantly surprised. The meadow area alone is worth the detour. It was a bit of a log hurdle to get to the cienega, but there the trail was most clear and there were occasional blazes on the trees. The dogs loved the big open area and there were several signs of this area being heavily frequented by a lot of wildlife. Some large trees lining the cienega survived and the ferns were plentiful, making for a pleasant little stretch of trail. There is no sign at the junction for Long Cienega, but there is a large rock cairn and a faint trail is noticeable. A clear path leads through a grove of aspen and then some deadfall needs to be negotiated

We returned the way we came to some rumbling clouds in the distance, but sunny skies above us. I will give Long Cienega two stars until I can further explore it.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
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May 22 2020
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 Guides 29
 Routes 329
 Photos 9,686
 Triplogs 920

40 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
Return to the Blue, AZ 
Return to the Blue, AZ
 
Backpack avatar May 22 2020
FOTG
Backpack61.50 Miles 10,500 AEG
Backpack61.50 Miles5 Days         
10,500 ft AEG
 
1st trip
I have envisioned this backpack, or variations of it for several years now. But ambitious summer trips, climbing, terrible trails and dogs always prevented the idea from coming to fruition. However, the stars began to align for a proper return to the Blue earlier this year when my interest in the area was reignited by a quick weekend trip there in the spring and when I got word that some of the upper trails had been cleared.

Day 1: 13.1 miles

Our backpack began and ended at the Steeple/Foot Creek Trailhead. We started off on the Steeple Trail #73 and cruised down to the junction for the primitive Upper Grant Creek Trail. Steeple endured some winter deadfall, but the trail showed signs of having been worked on and was generally in great shape. The Upper Grant Creek trail has been transformed since the last time I saw it and is in great shape. It was definitely not the trail Blanco and I turned around on dejectedly several years ago while trying to reach the Grant Creek Cabin. From the Grant Creek Cabin, we took the always pleasant Paradise Trail to Paradise Park and the Grant Creek Trail. We made a stop at White Oak Spring along the way and then I showed Katie some granaries I had found in the area a few years ago. My memory of where the granaries were remained good, however, my memory of the distance was not so good. I told Katie about a tenth of a mile off trail and they proved to be about a steep and loose half mile off trail. My favorite camping spot along lower Grant Creek was taken by a local family, so we resorted to camping among the cows and their feces.

Day 2: 15.75 miles

After wading through a few hundred herd of cattle we reached the Blue early on the second morning. The road was mundane and a little warm despite the early start. It was familiar trails to Bear Valley and they all were in great shape. We enjoyed a nice afternoon in the valley of the bears and a long night of sleep.

Day 3: 12 miles

We began day three with the short, but stunning section of the Little Blue down stream of Bear Valley. After that we took for my first time an informal trail just numbered 609 on my map to the Cow Flat Trail. Trail 609 proved to be more than just a number and was actually quite pleasant for the majority of the trail. Cow Flat was a lot greener than the last time I hiked it, so that was nice, but I still found the trail a tad mundane and it seemed to drag on a little in the heat. After a stop at my favorite spring and waterfall, we finally started making our way up the Blue. We were a little beat upon hitting the Blue and took a couple of extended breaks along the way with some swimming. We ended up calling it a day near Tornado Canyon and made camp by the old barn.

Day 4: 13 miles

We got an early start on the fourth morning to go explore a side canyon that was alluded to in an archaeological report written about the area in the early 1900s. Apart from being referred to as a geological wonder, the canyon was said to house at one time the largest known prehistoric ceremonial cave in the southwest at 10,000 square feet. Everything written about the canyon long ago was true.
...a canyon which, though short and shut in by very steep walls, contains scenery worthy of the highest admiration for its combined beauty and grandeur.


A trickling three-tiered slick rock waterfall guarded the entrance to the canyon and we had to take a bypass just to reach the interior. By this point we were already satisfied with our exploration, as we were immediately able to confirm that the window we saw in a distance from the Blue was actually a very large arch. Naturally, we made the scramble to the base of the arch to investigate. The scramble was steep and loose and required a little class four climbing to reach, but it was worth the effort. The arch was tall and dramatic and a pretty stunning feature to stand under. Further exploration up canyon revealed the cave to us. Like any cave, the cave was hard to capture, but stunning to stand in. The cave had been pretty badly picked over by ranchers and pot hunters over the year, but some crumbling walls helped the imagination. We spent as much time in the cave as we could and I found some other crumbled walls under many overhangs throughout the canyon, but we knew the hardest part of our day loomed ahead, as we still needed to begin our relentless climb of the Steeple Trail.

The climb up to KP and Steeple Mesas was as relentless as I had remembered. However, a few years of recovery and a much greener backdrop, led to the climb being more scenic than I had remembered. We ended our day at Mud Spring. The spring´s name did not inspire much faith in the area being nice, but overall it proved to be a very pleasant destination. The spring had good camping and was flowing nicely. The area represented an almost exact line of where the forest had suffered near 100 percent devastation and where a pocket of trees had survived. Luckily, the camping and trees were under the pocket of trees that survived.

Day 5: 8 miles

We had two options to complete our backpack. There was the Paradise Trail option back to Moonshine Park and then the same stretch of Grant Creek we began on to finish, or a commitment to nearly four miles of unknown trail via the Steeple Trail back to the rim. We went with the Steeple finish because I had never traveled that section of trail and I was interested to know if Steeple went cleanly all the way to the Blue. As it turned out that stretch of Steeple was by far the worst trail we encountered in our five days. The New Mexican Locust has literally devoured the trail in spots and it was a constant bushwhack to the rim. The locust was so bad in spots that we had to detour to the burnt hillside for awhile to bypass it. The tread however, was still generally there. There is just a tremendous amount of overgrowth on and across the trail. Through a little grit though we finally reached the intersection with the KP Rim Trail where the FS had quit with their maintenance of Steeple a year ago. From there is was cruiser to the trailhead.

Final Notes:

It was nice to finally knock out the entire length of the Steeple Trail. The trail is not impassable from Mud Spring to the KP Rim intersection, but I would not recommend it. If making a loop with rim in this area, the best bet most likely seems to be utilizing the Moonshine Park route back to Grant Creek.

Upper Grant Creek Trail is a worthy destination again. The trail is still considered a primitive trail, but the FS has that one in great shape again.

The cattle are ruining lower Grant Creek. I have never seen so many cattle in the Blue before. They have eaten everything green down there except the poison ivy. How is having this many head of cattle grazing there helping with restoring Grant Creek post Wallow Fire?

Eastern Trails were in great shape.

The Blue is back. Well not all the way, but I know for myself I am not excited to get back out there and continue to utilize some of these newly cleared trails. Likewise, the forest is finally starting to rebound at a more noticeable level. The aspen are coming in nicely in spots and there are far more signs of green life than when I started going to the area in 2014.

Katie is really into birds. I am becoming a reluctant birder. I am only really into hawks and eagles. On this trip we saw a: Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Ferriginous Hawk, Red Tailed Hawk and a Common Black Hawk.
Fauna
Fauna [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Wild horse

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Auger Tank 51-75% full 51-75% full
Deep pool of water in natural, ¨tank¨

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Bear Valley Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
Large section of canyon and spring is flowing nicely.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Dutch Oven Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
full

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max KP Creek Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Ladron Spring Gallon per minute Gallon per minute
Same steady, consistent flow as always.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Ladrone Canyon Light flow Light flow
Flowing from spring to Blue

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Little Blue Creek Light flow Light flow
Flowing nicely for a mile or so out of Bear Valley

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Maple Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Mud Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
Creek bed is flowing near spring, and mud bank is dripping steadily. Good camping near spring.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Raspberry Creek Light flow Light flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Strayhorse Creek Light flow Light flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 White Oak Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
Two over-flowing troughs

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Willow Spring Dripping Dripping
A few deeper mud puddles, but I would not count on for water.
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Jul 02 2017
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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
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
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 Guides 29
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40 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
Steeple Trail #73 - Blue RangeAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 16 2017
FOTG
Hiking4.75 Miles 843 AEG
Hiking4.75 Miles   2 Hrs   22 Mns   2.24 mph
843 ft AEG      15 Mns Break
 
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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
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 Guides 6
 Photos 341
 Triplogs 223

66 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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"The censorship method ... is that of handing the job over to some frail and erring mortal man, and making him omnipotent on the assumption that his official status will make him infallible and omniscient."
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW
13 archives
May 23 2015
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 Guides 29
 Routes 329
 Photos 9,686
 Triplogs 920

40 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
Upper Grant Creek Trail #65 - Blue RangeAlpine, AZ
Alpine, AZ
Hiking avatar May 23 2015
FOTG
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 [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Apache Trout
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4 archives
Jun 21 2014
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 Guides 29
 Routes 329
 Photos 9,686
 Triplogs 920

40 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
Blue Range Primitive Area, AZ 
Blue Range Primitive Area, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Jun 21 2014
FOTG
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 [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Mud
Named place
Named place [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Aker Lake
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2 archives
May 30 2011
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 Guides 1
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47 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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May 30 2011
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 Guides 3
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 Photos 11,812
 Triplogs 1,452

47 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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Oct 03 2009
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 Photos 105
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48 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
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Wildflowers Observation Isolated
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Aug 02 2008
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 Guides 3
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 Photos 8,687
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43 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
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 Guides 16
 Routes 10
 Photos 986
 Triplogs 407

36 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.
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"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
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 Guides 47
 Routes 495
 Photos 9,166
 Triplogs 560

77 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 triplog..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.
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(Outside.. "there is No Place Like It!!")
Jul 02 2006
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 Guides 1
 Photos 58
 Triplogs 27

39 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
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An adventure is merely an inconvience rightly considered
average hiking speed 1.85 mph
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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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