First we stopped for a quick group shot. The trail began as long, gradual slope down the side of the ridge, through thick forests of ponderosa pine and fir. Through the trees we caught a glimpse of the large mine complex at San Manuel with its two smokestacks. The trail circled the basin and then switch backed steeply down the mountain.
There is a slight uphill trek before the trail leveled off and dropped into a ravine where we saw water trickling. The ravines were beautiful with a few butterflies hovering around. After climbing out of the ravine, the trail wound along the side of another hill and then dropped into a larger ravine. We lunched on the trail and rock outcroppings above Novio Springs.
The trail crossed the creek and we began to climb out of the canyon. (Note: “A side trip to a 1957 F-86 Sabrejet crash site was too remote to remove wreckage that can be found about 200 yards off the trail.”) We didn’t find the Sabrejet crash site. The trail switch backed steeply out of the canyon, where we saw scrub oak and fir trees.
We stopped briefly to catch our breath at an overlook of the San Pedro River, visible as a line of green down on the plains below. At one point we were threatened with rain, we even felt a few sprinkles. Some of the group climbed atop a large boulder long enough to have their photo taken from a distance. Until a thunder clap shooed them down in a hurry!
The trail was a steep but gradual climb, with a few areas of very steep climbing. We felt it took longer than we expected but then we were back to civilization at the Palisades Ranger Station, and our shuttle car! Returning home, some of us stopped at Dairy Queen for a quick treat while others made plans to stop for dinner. It was a great hike.
Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated September 13, 2016