South Fork Trail #97

Area Status: Open
This area is Open
 

Cool water, great views and three seasons of use make the South Fork trail one of the most rewarding trails on the District. A round trip hike adds up to 14 miles so many people like to leave a vehicle at each trailhead. Click here for printable information and map.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Open, with advisory TRAIL NOT CLEARED OF HAZARDS, USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Please note that the campground has been converted to a day use area. No overnight camping is permitted.
Usage: Medium
Best Season: April through November, depending upon snowpack
Restrictions: Day use only
Information Center: Springerville Ranger District
(928) 333-6200
TTY: (928) 333-5397

General Information

Directions:

From the Eagar stoplight, travel west on AZ Highway 260 for 5 miles to CR 4124. Turn left (south) on CR 4124 for 2.4 miles. Once in South Fork Day Use Area turn right across the bridge. The trailhead is at the far end of the campground. Additional parking is off AZ Highway 261 at milepost 405.2 on FR 70B. This road is not maintained and may not be accessible for all vehicles.


General Notes:
  • The primary trailhead is located in the South Fork Day Use Area on the west side of the creek Parking is limited at this time.
  • Another trailhead is located on the north side of Mexican Hay Lake
  • The roads to that trailhead can be very muddy during the spring runoff and summer rains. If this is the case, park by the gate near the highway and walk to the trailhead
  • The trail is open to horseback riders, bicyclists and hikers

Parking:
  • Limited, 3 cars
  • No Trailers

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Activities


Bicycling

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Hiking

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Day Hiking

Cool water, great views and three seasons of use make the South Fork trail one of the most rewarding trails on the District. A round trip hike adds up to 14 miles so many people like to leave a vehicle at each trailhead. The lower trail follows the South Fork of the Little Colorado for 3.5 miles, through stands of cottonwood, sycamore, pine, aspen and oak. Several grassy meadows open up the scenery and make ideal picnic spots, offering a change from the steep-sided canyon that dominates most of the lower trail.

The South Fork of the Little Colorado is a fast running stream fed by runoff and springs. Many pools exist along its path where an angler can snag a fat trout or a footsore hiker can cool off. Look for signs of beaver; gnawed aspen stumps and intricately built dams are their trademark.

Views from the upper bench are spectacular. From the southwest to the northwest, Mt. Baldy, Greens Peak and all the mountains between are spread out, while the vast grassland to the north stretches all the way to the horizon. To the southeast, Escudilla Mountain rises near the New Mexico state line.

Mexican Hay Lake is a shallow, high elevation lake. A large meadow borders it on one side and an aspen and conifer forest on the other. The tall reeds that give the lake its name make it a magnet for waterfowl. Ducks and Canadian geese can be seen through most of the year and bald eagles winter there. Elk, deer, beaver and turkey are all common sights along the trails.

The trail’s northern portion follows the South Fork of the Little Colorado River for 3.5 miles. Several grassy meadows open up the scenery offering a change from the steep-sided canyon that dominates most of the lower trail. Mt. Baldy and Greens Peak can be viewed from the benches on the upper portion of the trail.

Elevation desc7,500 feet to 9,000 feet
Best Season: April through November, depending upon snowpack
Difficulty Level: Moderate

Horse Riding & Camping

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Areas & Activities

Location

 
  Area/Length : 
14 miles, round trip

  Latitude : 
34.07954167

  Longitude : 
-109.4131806

  Elevation : 
7,500 feet - 9,000 feet

 



https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/asnf/recreation/bicycling/recarea/?recid=64872&actid=50