The Mogollon Rim is a great place to hang out. We’ve been hiking every day, and with the exception of yesterday we’ve been able to walk to the trails from our lovely free site along the rim.
A couple times we hiked part of the General Crook Trail, Arizona’s first designated State Historic Trail. It’s 113 miles long and was built by Gen. George Crook in the 1870’s, during the Apache War. The couple miles we were on went through several meadows where we hoped to see some elk, but had no luck.
One day we descended the Drew Canyon Trail, which actually goes just below our site. We weren’t sure how long the trail was, but after about 2 miles and a 1000’ descent, we decided to make our way back up. Jim has a new app on his phone, and so far it seems to be very accurate at measuring our distance and elevation change on the trails.
The rim from below our site.
The steep, rocky trail finally leveled off a bit as we made our way into the red rock canyon.
We think this is manzanita. It’s been a while since we’ve seen any.
We made it back up and it was a good workout.
Yesterday we drove a few miles to Woods Canyon Lake. The woman in the Visitor Center told us there was a pair of nesting bald eagles with two babies on the lake trail. On weekends a biologist is stationed there with telescopes for people to view the nest. The trail is a 4.5 mile loop around the lake, with the eagles maybe a mile from the start near the picnic area.
At first, all we could see was the mother, but then we spotted one of the babies to her right. The other stood up to her left a couple minutes later.
Wonder what she was telling him.
They were about 50 yards away, and the area nearer to the tree is closed off to keep people from disturbing them. As this was our first time seeing eaglets in the wild, it was nice to have the biologist there to be able to view them through the scopes. He said they are 6 weeks old but won’t begin to fly for another 4-6 weeks.
As the trail continued around the lake, we had to cut through the Spillway Campground, which was full of families and made us happy not to be there. Ah, the downside of summer.
A guy at one of the sites pointed out several elk too us, right by the camp host site. In fact, one of them was chewing on the canopy in their yard. So far besides the lone elk we saw in downtown Alpine a couple weeks ago, these in the campground are the only others we’ve seen.
Just past the turn to Woods Canyon Lake there is a Forest Service dump station with water and trash bins. It costs $7 to dump and $3 per bag of trash, but water is free. We took a giant bag of trash, the first time we’ve actually paid to dispose of our garbage. But if you stay in one of the fee campgrounds it is free. With it’s proximity to Phoenix and much cooler temperatures due to the 7,500’ elevation, this area is very popular on the weekends. We are so happy not to be in a crowded campground.
A few days ago we made the 30 mile trip to Payson to pick up some mail and a couple things at the grocery store. Hwy 260 descends the Mogollon Rim just after the turn west off the Rim Road. It’s a really scenic drive, as Payson is surrounded by national forests. The elevation at Payson is only 5,000’, so it was much warmer there. Looks like it would be a good area to explore in the spring or fall.
I had read some reviews about a Thai restaurant in Payson, so we stopped for lunch at the Ayothaya Thai Café. They had lots of good vegetarian dishes and we had plenty left over for the next day. Payson seems like a nice little town, big enough for a Super Wal Mart, PetSmart, and a couple other grocery stores, but small enough to have very little traffic.
I forgot to mention that although our phone signal is weak here on the rim, we are getting Verizon 4G internet, a real bonus when you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. And we’re picking up quite a few over-the-air TV stations. This is definitely on our “must come back to” list.