October 29, 2014

See Spring Trail

A lot of people tell me that they would hike more, but that they just don't know where to go. This is no exception for me, either, and although many of my hikes look straightforward, there is often a lot of trial and error involved in getting them right. This is what I ran into this year in trying to select a Mogollon Rim fall color hike. I have posted before about Arizona fall color spots, but I had somehow neglected the fall color Rim hikes. Some of the Rim hikes are exceedingly long and steep, and some require 4WD to get to the trailhead. Also, the color can be a little more fickle than up in the Flagstaff and Sedona areas so you have to know where to look. The first few photos here are from the Horton Creek Trailhead picnic area. The creeping color up the Ponderosa Pines was stunning...

However, the actual Horton Creek Trail (which is lovely) didn't seem to have the fiery orange and red maples that I really wanted to see. Tonto Creek passes through here, though, and we saw some large Arizona Sycamores and some beautiful gold colors...

So we left this area and went a little further east along highway 260 to the Christopher Creek area. Turning left on the Christopher Creek loop, we followed this road until we came to the Tall Pines Market, and directly across from here on the north side of the street is the dirt Forest Road #284. You only have to go about a mile or so down this road before you will start to see the reds hit you dead on along the road...

We wasted a lot of time here, but there is more! Keep going! At the end of the road is the See Canyon Trailhead which is a circular turnaround where you can park. My initial reservation about coming to this trail at all was that the See Canyon Trail (#184) was listed as a "most difficult" hike with something like a 1,500 foot elevation gain. However, there is a nice little trail called the See Spring Trail (#185) which follows the creek and up a hill and is less than 3 miles. The fall color is everywhere around here right now (end of October) so act fast, and you don't have to go very far because the color starts right at the beginning of the trail. 


Length: 2.6 miles
Elevation gain: 500 feet
Time it took us: 2 hours with many photo stops
Dogs allowed: Yes
Fees: None
Directions: From metro Phoenix, take Highway 87 (the Beeline Highway) north up to the town of Payson, then turn right (east) on Highway 260 for about 20 miles until the Christopher Creek Loop which is just before mile marker 274. Follow this road left to the Tall Pines Market, and FR 284 will be on the left side of the road opposite of the market (very easy to miss it.) Take FR 284 to the end to the See Canyon Trailhead. It's a dirt road, but it is passable without high-clearance.