The Secret is Out

I set out to solve the mystery of the elusive Secret Trail. This time I started out at the Sunset parking Trail head off Shultz Pass Road. This Trailhead is the start of many trails.

I actually need to return here to do the Rocky Ridge Trail!

The Secret Trail actually started right at the trail sign and continued to cross several forest roads and the Arizona Trail. I even passed a guy sleeping in a hammock suspended in the trees. This trail was rerouted in several areas. I’m not sure why, but I was thankful they made the old trail obvious by filling it with dead tree branches.

Some of the old trail signs remain in place but thankfully the areas they pointed to were obviously now non existent.

This sign pointed off the trail and into the forest at large.

The temperature was in the low 60’s with a chill in the breeze. My favorite hiking temperature!

The overlook on the trail was beautiful. I enjoyed photographing the rock formations.

As I walked I came across the Newham trail which is one I passed on my last attempt to find the sunset trail. Alas, come to find out I was on the Sunset trail past this point but had no idea due to lack of signage. Deciding to complete the trail as I started out to do I continued on til I came across a guy sitting in a camping chair, on the side of the trail, reading a book.

” There is going to be about 100 people on bikes coming up this trail in about 30-45 minutes”, he said.

What?!!The signs for the bike race and bike ride today didn’t mention the Secret Trail. But it did mention the Rocky Moto Trail that connects with it. Ugh. So I continued hiking until I was forced to turn around before being forced off the trail by bikers. My timing was perfect, just as I passed by the guy in the chair again he said, ” look behind you” and sure enough the first three riders were just about 25 feet behind me. They were turning off onto another trail so the rest of my hike was in peace.

Thankfully there was beautiful scenery to enjoy and I figured after crossing back and forth the end parts of the Secret Trail four times qualified as completing it.

The total mileage for this trip was 8.2 miles.

As you can see, no wrong turns in this out and back hike.

All and all I’d say it was a great day for a hike !

Then again, everyday is a great day for a hike !

I’m going to call the forest service and commend them on a great job of marking and maintaining the trail. That is , up until and leading to , the Newham trail from the other direction . Oh, I might also suggest removing old Trail direction signs as to avoid confusion. If they’d let me, I’d be glad to do it. I’m signing up for the next sponsored Trail Day and give back to those who work so hard to allow hikers like me to enjoy the beautiful forests that surrounds our city.

The mountains are calling,

K

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Government Prairie

A 15.2 mile bike loop. That is, if you can find it!

Directions to this destination are almost impossible to find. No signs or markings, and a forest road only fit for high clearance vehicles, make this prairie a hidden gem inside Parks, AZ.

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This flat, though rocky trail can take you in several directions via faded wooden signs at intersecting trails. I never found the  15.2 mile loop but did take several smaller loops that actually provided more variety of scenery than expected.

Views of the Peaks, remnants of wild flower patches, cinder cones, an abandoned horse camp, field birds, a huge galloping lone elk, a circling helicopter, and not one other biker, hiker, or vehicle to be seen in this vast prairie.

I will put this one my calendar to explore next spring when the flowers are in full bloom, the weather is cooler, and I plan for an all day exploration with time to sit under the shade of a tree and take in all the sights and sounds this hidden gem has to offer.