addressalign-toparrow-leftarrow-rightbackbellblockcalendarcameraccwcheckchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-small-downchevron-small-leftchevron-small-rightchevron-small-upchevron-upcircle-with-checkcircle-with-crosscircle-with-pluscrossdots-three-verticaleditemptyheartexporteye-with-lineeyefacebookfolderfullheartglobegmailgooglegroupshelp-with-circleimageimagesinstagramFill 1linklocation-pinm-swarmSearchmailmessagesminusmoremuplabelShape 3 + Rectangle 1ShapeoutlookpersonJoin Group on CardStartprice-ribbonShapeShapeShapeShapeImported LayersImported LayersImported Layersshieldstartickettrashtriangle-downtriangle-uptwitteruserwarningyahoo

West Fork of the Little Colorado River – Mt. Baldy Wilderness Trip ~ 15mi RT

  • Jan 3, 2014 · 6:00 PM
  • This location is shown only to members


Ok, so this trip was originally posted as the New Year Snowshoe for The Thompson Trail #629.  However due to a few unexpected events, I am modifying with this posting.  Please note that snow conditions have been mixed at best and we may not even have enough snow in some areas to snowshoe…that said, if you don’t have snowshoes, hell…come on out anyways!  We’ll have a blast!


The biggest reason for the change is that I want to make this as accessible as possible to as many as possible, yet with just getting into all of the winter fun, I don’t want to over-do it…not this weekend at least!


One reason for the change is that with the 273 closed at Sunrise, there would have been significantly more mileage to cover…instead of hiking the few miles from the 273 and 116 junction, we would have to hike a total of 14 miles just to get to the trailhead.  Granted, the trail is short and the spot I was thinking of camping at is just 1.5 miles in, which would still leave us with a whole 15.5 miles to hike out on Sunday…and then the drive back to the valley.


Another reason for the change is that with the snow reports mixed at best, we are going to have the best chances of finding suitable bedding for our snowshoeing at a bit of a higher elevation.  The West Fork segment that we will hike is 1,000ft above the Thompson Trail area…so we are that much more primed for good (at least better) snow.


The Plan

We’ll get together Friday evening and proceed to the Sunrise Ski area just outside of Greer.  This usually takes about 4 hours from the valley, but with it being winter, you never really know.  That said, I know I will be driving the 87 up to Payson, then taking the 260 into Show Low, then cutting through Pinetop/Lakeside to get to the area.  I prefer this way vs. going the 60 and having to go through Salt River Canyon in winter conditions.


Once we turn onto the 273, we will drive as far down as we can (there’s a gate if memory serves me correctly), and conditions permitting, we will park right here.  As a backup, we may have to park at the actual ski area and then hike a little bit longer on the 273.  
Anyways, Friday night we will start out on the 273 and after we go past the closure, we’re going to hike just a bit to get to a suitable camping area.  Yes, this will be at night…have your headlamp and all that good stuff easily accessible.  This will not be bad though, as we will be on the 273, and will only be hiking just over half a mile, just until we het to a nice flat spot along Hall Creek.


Saturday we will get up, break camp, and continue on the 273 for almost 4 miles, then we will come to the Mt. Baldy Wilderness Boundary, where the West Fork of the Little Colorado River Trail begins.  From here we will just be hiking a few short miles until getting to a nice, wide basin area just below Mt. Baldy itself.


Because of where we will be camping, and the reduced hiking distance, after setting up camp Saturday we can even do an optional summit of Mt. Baldy.  I figure if we’re already all outfitted for winter, what the hell?!?!  Could be fun!


Sunday we will have a nice and easy 7.5 miles out and back to the cars, we can stop for brunch/lunch in Pinetop/Lakeside if there’s interest, and then head back to the valley…super simple!


The topo map of our route can be found at:   http://hikearizona.com/map.php?MY=5660&M=6

Join or login to comment.

  • Poochie

    First time snowshoeing...AWESOME! Great area to be trekking in too...we'll be back for sure!

    January 5, 2014

  • Poochie

    Will,
    You're up in Flagstaff, correct?

    Michelle,
    Where in the valley are you located?

    January 1, 2014

    • Will

      Sounds like a plan. I'll try to stick to the outside of the parking lot. I'll have my Black Jeep Wrangler. It's hard to miss as it's muddy, and has big ugly chrome tube bumpers and a winch, with a tan hard top. I'm a tall blond dude with a goatee. I'll put up a comment or something when I get there.

      January 2, 2014

    • Will

      I have arrived. I'm in the back row in my Jeep.

      January 3, 2014

  • Will

    The 273 closes off at a gate about one mike past the ski resort turn off and right at the end there's a large parking area. From there it's easy going to the trailhead and if you want you can probably camp back towards the treeline. It's funny because I had also been looking at this exact same route and was planning on suggesting it as an alternative to Thompson. you still get to meander with a stream and if you go up high enough you will end up finding snow suitable for shoeing.

    1 · December 31, 2013

  • Poochie

    How are you guys on your winter gear...? Do you have your snowshoes (not sure how much they'll be needed), trekking poles, and all the extra warm goodies you'll need? If not, let me know...there's still time to get things together!

    December 30, 2013

    • Will

      I am solidly set with winter gear. Layers, snowshoes, ice trekkers, 0 degree bag, etc.

      December 30, 2013

  • Will

    I was wondering if there was even going to be enough snow to snowshoe, but this storm gave up some promising totals. 7-8 inches fell in Flagstaff, 14-15 inches fell in Bellemont. I'd expect that there will be a foot or more of fresh snow in the area we're headed out to. I can't find any sources on whether the AZ 273 is open or closed, but it isn't noted as closed on AZ511. An Article from late November claims ADOT was planning on closing it Dec 31.

    December 20, 2013

    • Will

      It will be easier to make camp if there's some low snow or snow free areas as well. We'll have to see how it is when we get there. I'm just glad to get out of town for a weekend and see someplace new.

      December 30, 2013

    • Poochie

      Agreed! Even though I've been there before...never at this time of year. It's gorgeous up there, so I'm a 'go' either way!

      December 30, 2013

  • Poochie

    I just scored a major deal on a pair of 25" Komperdell Alpinist Snowshoes from Sierra Trading Post... Great rated and reviewed shoe for less than $78:00! Oh yeah, that includes the fact that shipping is free and there's none of that pesky 10% sales tax!

    December 18, 2013

    • Poochie

      Forgot to mention...STP also had Black Diamond Adjustable Compressor Ski-Poles for $44.xx... They are in the style of their z-poles (like my current hiking poles) so they are very compact and a breeze to handle! You can find them under their closeout section...great price for some snow-worthy trekking poles!

      December 18, 2013

  • Will

    I just got some backpacking snowshoes when they were on sale last spring. Looks like I get to finally break them in! I have a 4wd Jeep Wrangler. I can transport 2 others and their gear.

    November 20, 2013

  • Chris R.

    I've RSVPed yes but its a bit tentative right now. I really enjoyed this area in the summer and I wanted to do a snowshoe trip this winter, but there's some uncertainty about my availability for that weekend. Still, wanted to put my name on the list to stay informed about this trip.

    November 7, 2013

    • Chris R.

      My job is in flux right now, so hard to answer on which weekend. By late December things should be settled down. BTW I do not have a 4WD vehicle, but I don't have an issue roadwalking in.

      1 · November 8, 2013

    • Poochie

      Sounds good... Because I know they plow up to sunrise...but there may be the added few miles if we don't have 4wd. Hell, if that's the case, we could cross-country ski to the trailhead then snowshoe to the river junction (or the closer spot we saw). Greg has 4x4 if he goes, but we have plenty of time to decide for sure which way we'll go. Hey, are you available for that speaker at REI next week on that part of the state in winter? I think we'll get a lot of good information from that.

      November 12, 2013

2 went

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy