logo Arizona Trailblazers
Outdoor Links
Hike Arizona
Trip Planning Guide
Trip Report Index
Calendar of Events
AZT 27 Blue Ridge Passage Day Hike
Mogollon Rim
September 22, 2018
by David French
Dave’s   GPS Map 
Dwight’s    GPS Map 
Dwight’s   Elevation 
Jane, Michael, Quy, Dwight, Joann, Heather, Dave, Jim

David French hike leader (southbound). Dwight Schaal deputy hike leader (northbound).

This hike continued my quest to hike as much of the Arizona Trail as possible on a day-hike basis. A few weeks ago, Dwight and I, along with some others, had hiked the southern portion of this passage from FR 123A to General Springs Cabin and FR 300. Dwight knew the way to the southern starting point for our hike and graciously agreed to be the deputy hike leader. That was his first venture into hike leadership for the Arizona Trailblazers. I also want to welcome Joann and Jane who were guests and the first time hiking with the club.

This hike covered the northern portion of AZT 27 from FR 123A to the Blue Ridge Trailhead just south of SR 87 between Clint’s Well and Happy Jack. To reach the southern starting point, you must drive 11 miles from SR 87 on FR 300 (the Rim Road) and then 6 miles north on FR 123 and a half mile northwest on FR 123A. All those Forest Roads are unpaved but passable by most vehicles. High clearance is certainly recommended. To reach the northern starting point, continue north on SR 87, past Clint’s Well, past the Blue Ridge Ranger Station, and turn south on FR 138 that is signed for Moqui Campground.

Given the long driving distance between start and ending points, we had to do a key swap. Eight Trailblazers and guests met at the Target parking lot in Fountain Hills before 7 AM. We loaded into two cars and headed to Payson and on northward on SR 87 to FR 300. There we stopped, exchanged cars and took the group photo. The northbound group headed by Dwight drove my car to the southern starting point, and I drove Joann’s car to the northern starting point.

Car exchange: make sure you have everything you’ll need. [photo by Quy]

I will describe the hike for the southbound group. Thanks to Quy for providing lots of great photos. Dwight provided great photos of the northbound group and I included those at the end.

The Blue Ridge Trailhead is marked by the standard large metal Arizona Trail sign. From that sign you can go either to the left or right. The left will take you northward across SR 87, so we went right to head south.

Southbound hikers at the Arizona Trail sign.
And away we go! [photo by Quy]
Heather says it’s dill.
We pass through a meadow in the forest. [photo by Quy]
The tank is almost dry.
We cross a plateau along the trail. [photo by Quy]
Burn to start Sept. 24.
The early part of the trail is pretty flat but has a nice forest and some meadows. We passed by the Blue Ridge Campground and found the AZT signage to be a little confusing but we managed to get through it OK. Because an area designated for recreation was fenced off, a bypass route for equestrians and hikers with dogs was provided.

We encountered a modest climb after the campground and reached a higher plateau. After crossing a few unpaved forest roads we came to the trail junction for the Rock Crossing Campground Trail. We turned right to stay on the AZT, and soon met the northbound group. We had hiked over 5 miles in a little over 2 hours. The northbound group had hiked about 3.5 miles. The long unpaved road to reach the starting point took them longer than our driving a greater distance on SR 87. We found some rocks and logs to sit on and enjoyed a deserved rest and snacks, exchanged keys, took a second group photo, and headed on.

Haven’t we seen you before? [photo by Quy]
You see, it’s this way.
Snack break.
Snack break.
Time to move on, wouldn’t you say?

After less than a mile, we started the descent into East Clear Creek valley. The creek bed was sandy with no water in sight. The south side of the valley is steeper and the forest is thicker and more lush. Once we reached the rim of the valley, it was a fairly short hike through a gate and onto FR 123A. The road appears to be quite passable by high clearance vehicles but is lightly used. We hiked about a mile and a half to where Dwight had parked my car. The sight of my blue Subaru was most welcome, because we all knew some cold beer awaited us.

Quy and Jim cross the mighty East Clear Creek.
Climbing out of East Clear Creek. [photo by Quy]
A gnarly rock. [photo by Quy]
Ah, the reward! [photo by Quy]
View from FR 300, the Rim Road. [photo by Quy]

We then drove back out to FR 300 and the 11 miles back to SR 87. The road mostly follows the edge of the Rim and provides some great views, but the driver must keep his eyes on the road. A week earlier, four men in an ATV had careened off the road and the Rim, met their death, and started a forest fire. The results of the fire were visible from the road.

We arrived at THAT Brewery in Pine and got a table for 8. The northbound group arrived a few minutes later and we all enjoyed a cold drink and some food.

Handsome creature! [photo by Quy]
THAT Brewery in Pine. [photo by Quy]
Wildflowers brighten our hike. [photos by Quy]

Dwight reports that the northbound hike went without any notable incidents except they were lucky enough to spot a deer. See his photos below.

Northbound hikers: Dwight, Jane, Joann, Michael
We’re ready to roll. [photo by Dwight]
Through the gate and on to East Clear Creek. [photo by Dwight]
Yay! We made it to East Clear Creek. [photo by Dwight]
Now that is a weird rock. [photo by Dwight]
This forest needs to be cleared. [photo by Dwight]
Michael takes in the view. [photo by Dwight]
tree tree
Gnarly tree. [photos by Dwight]
Northbound hikers cross the plateau. [photo by Dwight]
Do we have a gatekeeper? [photo by Dwight]
The Arizona Trail goes across a meadow. [photo by Dwight]
We spotted a deer. [photo by Dwight]

According to the AZT website, the hike is 8.5 miles long. We all measured the hike as a little longer. I got 9.1 miles, Jim got 9.5 miles and Dwight got 8.8 miles. We will go with 9 miles in about 4 hours and 40 minutes. Averaging Dwight’s and my GPS readings, the southbound group had about 1200 elevation gain and 950 elevation lost. The opposite would apply for the northbound group.

      top Top of Page
Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
Comments? Send them to the AZHC .

updated September 24, 2018