This easy hike follows Christopher Creek toward See Spring through a lush forest with a variety of deciduous trees (elder, maple, ash, and oak) and wildflowers, and ferns, and luxurious grasses, and ponderosa Pine. It will be an out and back of about 3 miles total.
An alternative for some of our hikers will be a longer trek up to the rim itself. The trail divides to the spring and to the rim about 3/4 mile from the trailhead. So some may take the easier trail to the spring while others may climb through Aspens toward the rim. A round trip to the rim would be about 7.5 miles.
Our hikes are generally at a pace conducive to social banter of interest to heathens, and allowing for time for photography of the local geology and wildlife. However, since this is an out-n-back trail route, hikers may choose their own pace and distance. We will all turn around and return at a predetermined, agreed upon time or, using walkie talkies, at whatever time we otherwise unanimously agree upon while on the trail. Expect this hike to last 3-4 hours
Here are photos from our hike here 5/29/11:
The Trail is named for Charley and John See, the father and Son who settled at See Spring around 1900.
Distance: 3-7 miles TBD
Time: 3-4 hrs TBD
Difficulty: easy – strenuous TBD
Trail: mountain side forest trails
Trailhead Elevation: 6100 ft.
Elevation gain: [masked] ft. TBD.
Parking: large gravel area with pit toilet
Entry fees: no
Dogs: OK on leash
Always carry and drink plenty of water!
Sunscreen and insect repellent is advised.
Supportive footwear is also advisable.
Water shoes can be helpful around rocks and water.
Have light rain gear available (we may hike in light drizzle).
(Scattered afternoon thunderstorms are common at high altitudes July – September.)
SAFETY FIRST… we have no medical provisions.
Hike at your own risk.
TO GET THERE… From Payson, drive east on AZ 260 about 21 miles... Then turn left (north) onto Christopher Creek Loop Rd.
Travel about 1 mile to FR 284 (a gravel road opposite the Tall Pines Market which is on the right (south) side of the road).
Turn left (north) onto FR 284 and drive 1.6 miles on gravel road to the trail head. The road is passable by passenger cars but watch for holes. We’ll meet at the trailhead (there is a pit toilet there).
ALLOW AT LEAST 45 MINUTES DRIVE TIME FROM PAYSON (from AZ 87/AZ 260). And watch out for radar photo speed traps on both sides of Star Valley. Star Valley runs about 3-5 miles from the AZ 87/AZ 260 intersection.
Google says it should take a little over 2 hours to get to the trailhead from Phoenix.
MESSAGE FOR CARPOOLERS:
Carpooling can save gas money but also enhance the social experience. If you’d like to carpool, you must contact others for arrangements. You could email members or post comments on this announcement page.
NOTE: If you are carpooling, please take mercy on your driver.
The following could be used as guidelines if no other arrangements are made:
An SUV when loaded with passengers and gear likely gets less than 20 mpg. But at 20 mpg, if gas price is $3.40/ gallon, the gas costs 17¢/mile. … At $3.60/gal., it’s 18¢/mi … etc.
Round trip mileage to the Parking lot from the 101 & 17 is 226 miles before any side trips ( .175 x 226 = $39.50 just for gas (not entry fees, nor wear and tear on the car).
… That’s about $13 for 3 passengers …. $10 for 4.
FOLLOWING THE HIKE.... we may have lunch and rehydration at the Zane Grey Steakhouse and Saloon at Kohl's Ranch.
Here’s the lunch menu from .
TO GET THERE… return to AZ 260 and travel about 5 miles back toward Payson to exit at Kohl’s Ranch Lodge Rd. Between mile markers 268 and 269, across from FR 289, turn left (south). The Lodge is only about 1/3 mile from main road (AZ 260).
AFTER LUNCH we may choose from a variety of afternoon activities:
1) a walk along the top of the rim.
2) A visit to the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery (Open from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. )
The hatchery is located north on Tonto Creek Road about four miles from Kohl’s Ranch on lands owned by the U.S. Forest Service and has been in operation since 1937. The hatchery was renovated in 1993 to modernize operations and produces and stocks approximately 140,000 catchable size rainbow trout each year, along with a smaller number of brook trout. Tonto Creek also hatches and annually raises approximately 100,000 native Apache trout to fingerling size.
Tonto Creek Hatchery has a visitor center, public restrooms, and a show pond where visitors can glimpse and feed trophy-sized trout.
Occupying 50 acres, located in a marvelous canyon, its riparian habitat along Tonto Creek is an excellent site to watch big game, especially elk.
There is a wide range of riparian birds year round including heron, belted kingfisher and osprey. Riparian breeding birds along the creek include common black-hawk, broad-tailed hummingbird, black phoebe, warbling vireo, American robin, bridled titmouse, Virginia’s and MacGillivray’s warblers, black-headed grosbeak, and occasionally indigo bunting. Merriam’s turkey, band-tailed pigeon, acorn woodpecker, nuthatches, towhees, and a variety of other woodland birds also frequent the area.
The hatchery raises Arizona’s state fish, the Apache trout, as well as rainbow and brown trout. White-tailed deer, elk, black bear, Abert’s squirrel, Arizona gray squirrel, and mantled ground squirrel are also found in the area.
Reptiles and amphibians inhabiting the hatchery grounds and Tonto Creek include Mexican garter snake, Sonoran mountain king snake, Arizona black rattlesnake, greater short-horned lizard, plateau lizard, many-lined skink, Arizona tree frog, and Arizona toad
Hatchery work areas are paved for self-guided tours.
The famed Highline Trail on adjacent Forest Service lands can be accessed near the hatchery parking lot for another hike if desired.
3) A visit to Shoofly Village Ruins
Located five miles northeast of Payson, Shoofly Village Archaeological Ruins offers visitors a self-guided tour back into another era.
At one time, the Rim Country was home to probably 1,000 different sites, the very heart of the prehistoric cultures in the Southwest. The people who lived in the Rim country -- known variously as Mogollons, Ancient Ones or Bunheads -- were literally surrounded by the Sinagua to the north, the Anasazi to the northeast, the Mogollon to the southeast, the Salado to the south, and the Hohokam to the southwest. The Village is believed to have been occupied between[masked] A.D.
Shoofly Village once had a total of 79 structures of which the rock outlines, once the base of the walls, are still visible. At the center of this site is where a larger structure once existed, believed to have been a building with 26 rooms averaging 37.4 square meters each, and part of this structure was perhaps two stories high. In clusters around the core area were 39 smaller structures and 14 more were scattered about the general area and at least one of these structures had a curved wall. The entire compound of approximately 3.75 acres (1.5 hectares) is enclosed by a small rock fence.
Directions to the Shoofly Indian Ruins: Take Highway 87 north from Payson to Houston Mesa Road and turn east. The parking lot is a short distance beyond the Mesa del Caballo subdivision just off the paved road. Picnic tables, ramadas, and toilet facilities are provided. Shoofly Village Ruins is easily accessible...a mere 100 yards off Houston Mesa road (all paved).
For those intending to do a final hike with us on Monday, there is lodging information posted at the end of the Hike # 2 description/announcement.
Likewise, dining information is there. … Perhaps some of those returning home tonight will enjoy dinner with the remaining group, prior to leaving.
This is the third of what may be from 1 to 4 hikes over the weekend depending on our hiker’s preferences. Hiker’s participating in more than 2 hikes are advised to use overnight lodging to avoid ill-advised long drives from Phoenix. It takes 2 hours or more to or from Phoenix and our hiking locations during non-traffic time… traffic can be heavier Friday night/ Saturday morning but especially Sunday evening.