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Hike #16 – Springs Trail #633 Loop

Springs Trail #633 Loop
Pond on Springs Trail #633 Loop

Location: From the Pinetop Post Office on SR 260 (map):

  • Drive east on 260 1.2 miles to the traffic light at Buck Springs Road.
  • Turn left on Buck Springs and drive 0.5 miles and turn left on Sky Hi Road (FR 182).
  • Drive one mile on Sky Hi and turn left into the gravel parking lot for Trail 633.
  • Park to one side out of the way.
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    Trail: Dirt trail, parts very rocky with loose rock and large rocks, parts deeply rutted from years of horse and hiker travel. The trail has two stream crossings with rocks to hop across.

    Trailhead and Directions: The trail begins next to the kiosk bulletin board. Walk through the gate and note that the trail forks immediately. You can go either way as it is a loop. The whole trail is signed with blue diamonds. If you start to the left, the trail goes a mile through an open pine forest, crossing a small creek, then reaching a clearing with two wooden bridges. The trail widens and continues along an open area where you can see houses to the left. The trail then dives back into the woods and soon comes to a signed fork. The left fork is the Old Hatchery Trail that leads to Hill Road and the bridge below the Arizona Department of Game and Fish. See the two car trail #17 to AZG&F. Continue walking now to the north-northeast for a mile through open pine forest to Billy Creek. After you cross the creek, you will come to a sign for the Little Bear Connector trail that leads up the hill to connect with the Blue Ridge Trail #107. Keep straight ahead along the creek, cross it again, and follow it along its southern bank , crossing it once more and then up the hill and back to the trailhead and your car. There are many side trails and logging roads. Be careful to follow the blue diamonds to stay on this trail, #633.

    Access: Hikers, bicycles, and horses. No motorized vehicles. Not handicap accessible. After rains, the trail will be very muddy. The trail is frequently used by guided horse trips, which can result in a very rough surface of the dirt sections along the trail.

    Distance: The full loop is 3.73 miles.

    Difficulty: Most of the trail is level and easy, but there are a few short rocky up and downhill sections and lots of loose rock and big rocks; you have to be careful with your footing to ensure a safe hike.

    Features: The trail passes through open marsh areas of both Billy Creek and Thompson Creek. In good seasons, the creeks can be wide in spots with many small ponds, or it can practically dry. There are many flowers on the trail that change with season. In spring, there are many New Mexico Groundsel, Prairie Smoke, Woodhouse’s Phlox, Golden Pea, False Soloman’s Seal, buttercups, Silver Leaf, and others.

    Yellow-rumped, Grace’s, and Red-faced Warblers are expected. Western Bluebirds, Dark-eyed Junco, nuthatches, chickadees, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Chipping Sparrows, Violet-green Swallows, Steller’s Jay, ravens and crows are common. While Elk, Coyotes, and Black Bears may be present, they are rarely seen.

    Connections: The Old Hatchery Trail and the Little Bear Connector to the Blue Ridge Trail #107 as mentioned above.

    Springs Trail #633
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