The ever popular camping / hiking trip to Mt. Graham will be held the second weekend of August this year. At over 10,000 ft, Mt. Graham near Safford is one of the highest peaks in AZ. It offers spectacular scenery and unique flora / fauna you won't see elsewhere else. We'll be camping at 9300 feet elevation (you'll need a jacket at night). And being far away from the tourist Meccas of Flagstaff, Payson, and Pinetop, we will also have the mountain mostly to ourselves.
There's plenty of hiking to be had in the Pinaleno mountain range, but my favorite is Ash Creek Trail. It runs next to a perennial stream lined with pine, aspen, wildflowers, colorful wild mushrooms, and a spectacular waterfall. During one of my visits, we witnessed an entire family of coatimundi and even saw a mountain lion. Last year, I saw some rare twin spotted rattlers. Of course, there are the Mt. Graham red squirrels.
Ash Creek Trail runs 8 miles (1-way) from the dense forest atop Graham to the desert floor, an elevation differential of 5000+ feet. However, the lower half of the trail has been damaged by the Nuttall Fire. We are NOT going to do the whole thing (unless conditions have improved). The BEST parts of the trail are near the top. Anyone hiking can go as far down as they'd like and then come back up.
Other shorter and easier trails abound. There's an observatory and even a lake on top of the mountain for those who don't want to hike. We can also do another hike on Sunday prior to returning.
The plan is to drive up on Friday night 8/8. We'll camp out and then hike on Saturday 8/9. We'll camp again Saturday, returning to Phoenix on Sunday 8/10. It takes roughly 3.5 hours to drive there (comparable to Pinetop), so plan for it accordingly.
Meeting Place: Friday 8/8
2:30 pm - Burger King (SE corner Power and US60)
6:00 pm Columbine Corrals (1st choice) or Soldier Creek CG (backup)
Campsites are first come first serve, look for my blue Jeep Cherokee
Directions (in case you are driving separately):
US60 east to Globe, US70 east to Safford, turn south on US191.
About 7 miles after leaving Safford, turn right onto AZ 366 (Swift Trail)
Drive up Mt. Graham on AZ366 (~25 miles), some graded dirt (OK for cars)
Look for Columbine Corrals on right (just past Columbine Visitor Center)
Soldier Creek Campground is about 1/2 mile farther up the mountain
All your food, drinks, hiking snacks, and water for the trip.
Cold weather clothes (sweats, jacket, etc.)
Tylenol (if altitude bothers you easily)
Normal camping / hiking gear, camp stove, chairs, firewood
Rain gear (emergency poncho, umbrellas) just in case
Hiking shoes AND sport sandals (in case the creek is high)
Sun gear (sunblock, hat, bandana, etc.)
Some $$ for the campground (last I checked it was $10/night/site)
High clearance vehicle (cars should make it fine, but it's choppy)
Dramamine if you easily get car sick (the road is really twisty)
Please let me know if you'd like to join in on this adventure.
Hope you can make it.