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Hike #5 – Chihuahua Pines Connector to 637 Buena Vista

Location: From the Pinetop Post Office on SR 260, drive northwest 9.2 miles on 260 to the Traffic light at Woolford Street and turn left. Drive 1.2 miles to the four-way stop and turn left on Whipple. Drive 0.8 miles on Whipple to 260. Turn left and drive 2.9 miles southwest on SR 60 towards Globe. Turn left on FR 300, the dirt Rim Road, and proceed about 100 yards to the large cinder/gravel parking lot on the left. Park one car here. Drive the second car back north on 60 about 0.6 miles and turn right on Summer Pines Road. This is the second exit into this subdivision. Drive down Summer Pines to a T and turn left on Pheasant Trail and continue to the end. Park on the left, off the road.

Trail: Much of the trail is a rough dirt road and part is a dirt trail. The roads and trail can be muddy after a rain. The road is rough but suitable for four-wheelers, but we rarely see any.

Trailhead and Directions: From the parking area at the north end of Pheasant Trail, walk north through the fence and bear right on the dirt road. Work your way along the dirt roads heading northeast, then east, but not up towards the houses, until you come to a more heavily traveled dirt road with blue diamonds on the trees that comes in from the northwest. This is part of the Chihuahua Pines Connector to the Los Caballos Trail that is on the west side of SR 60. Follow the blue diamonds to the east and turn left following the blue diamonds up the short steep hill. On the right after 100 feet up the hill, you will see several wooden signs marking the trails. Turn right on to the narrow hiking trail that is a connector to the Buena Vista Trail. Walk this trail until you come to a second dirt road. At this point you will have walked 0.8 miles from your car. From here you have two options.

Option 1. Continue south across the road on the trail marked with blue diamonds. The trail climbs up a relatively steep hill to the summit. At this point you will have walked 1.22 miles. The trail continues downhill to the southwest and connects with Trail 637. From here, turn right and walk to the west-northwest until you reach a dirt road. This is the road that anyone taking Option 2 will be on coming from the north. Turn left and go down the hill. You will come to a right turn with a sign that says Trailhead. You will have walked about 2.0 miles at this point. Turn right and note the field on the right (Hansen Tank that is sometimes full of water, but more often full of weeds and flowers) and follow this road back to your first parked car.

Option 2. From the second dirt road after 0.8 miles from your car described above, turn right and follow the dirt road to the west. This road bends left to the south and goes along well behind the houses in the subdivision and comes out on Trail 637 without having to climb over the hill. Walk south until you come to the sign that says Trailhead, turn right, go by Hansen Tank, and up hill to your first car. See the map.

Access: The dirt roads may be traveled by four-wheelers, but the narrow trail over the “mountain” is accessible only by hikers, bikers, and perhaps horses. The trail is not handicapped accessible. We have never seen four-wheelers, but have seen their tracks.

Distance: Option 1 over the mountain from car 2 back to car 1 is 2.56 miles. Option 2 along the road is 2.21 miles.

Difficulty: Walking the roads is easy. The climb up the hill and down the other side is moderately difficult. A walking stick is useful on the downhill as there are many large rocks and loose ones as well.

Features: The area around the beginning and the end of the trail in Option 1 and the whole area in Option 2 were thinned in summer 2015 making the area open with long distance views. The birds are easier to see moving among the trees. Although the forest is thinner, the monsoon rains will encourage wild flowers to grow among the trees. In subsequent years, this should be better for botanists. The trail goes through a mature Ponderosa Pine - Gambel Oak forest. If you climb the hill, there is a lot of Point-leaf Manzanita and some large Twoneedle Pinyon, One-seed and Alligator Juniper trees. Flowers include Mexican Woolywhite, Arizona Cudweed, Toadflax, Beardlip, and Mt. Graham Penstemon, Birdbill Dayflower, Western Spiderwort, and many other flowers in season. The usual forest birds are present. We have seen a number of wild horses that are relatively tame, lots of Abert’s Squirrels, some Mule Deer, but no Elk although we see their tracks.

Connections: You can access the full Buena Vista Trail, the 637 Shortcut, the Chihuahua Pines Trail, and the Los Caballos Trail in 4.5 miles from this trail. For these longer trails, consult the maps of the Tracks trail system.

Chihuahua Pines Connector to 637 Buena Vista
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