Friday, February 26, 2016

Four Peaks and Apache Trails in One Day


We have been looking at doing a very long trip that starts with the Four Peaks Trail east of Mesa.

and returns via the Apache Trail to Apache Junction.

Getting to the Four Peaks Trail.

We left around 8:15 and at the north end of Coolidge we drove west on 87 to Gilbert Road (about 20 miles). Here we drove north through the town of Gilbert (about 25 miles).Where we picked up Highway 87 again N/E of Mesa. As we were driving along, six trucks carrying ATV's came on the highway at an on ramp.

 We ended up in the middle of them. I figured that they were probably going to the same place we were. We continued east on 87 and just before mile post 204 all the trucks turned off at the Four Peaks trail. We followed them to a large staging area where we stopped to air down.

On The Trail.

After airing down we headed out the trail. It started out as a wide gravel road.

After a while the gravel changed to graded dirt.

Along the road are some interesting rock formations.

At a high point we looked back toward the Mesa/Phoenix Megalopolis.

Eventually the trail becomes smaller and winds through granite mountains.

We crossed a couple of very small streams.

We noticed that there were signs of grader work on the road. Eventually we passed this sign.

I'm not sure if the grader guy was trying to make the road smoother or more challenging.

Eventually we caught up with the grader and passed it.

We could still see signs of his work but the road was a little smoother.

Others on the trail.

Eventually we caught up with a group of Jeeps and ATV's.

We followed them for a while but the dust became too much so we stopped for a while and let them get way ahead.

Interesting Rocks.

As we went along we saw some interesting rocks.

This one reminded us of wax lips.

 This one kind of looks like a pioneer woman in her long dress and bonnet.

Snow on the Mountains.

As we climbed further up the mountain we could see snow on the peaks to the south of us.

A Split in the Trail.

We came to a place where the trail splits.

The left fork goes to an overlook. The right fork drops down the east side of the mountains to Roosevelt Lake and Highway 188.

We took the left fork and the trail climbed to over 6000 feet. We even found a little snow on the trail.

Interesting Mixed Forest.

The trail goes through a mixed forest with several kinds of trees.
There are Long Needle Pines.

Short Needle Pines.


Alligator Cedars.



And Others.

Lunch at an Overlook.

We followed the trail for about six miles until we came to an overlook, we stopped here for lunch.

From here there is a good view of Roosevelt Lake.

Coming Down off the Mountain.

After lunch we drove back to the main trail and started down the mountain toward Highway 188.

Here is a view of the Four Peaks from the trail.

 Here is a view into the valley.

We drove around this interesting round about.

Change of Plan.

Once we got to the Highway I was really tired and decided not to take the Apache Trail so I aired the tires up.
We drove south on 188 along the west shore of Roosevelt Lake and came to the bridge crossing the output of the lake.

Apache Trail.

Just across the bridge, Highway 88 (The Apache Trail) turns off to the east toward Tortilla Flat and Apache Junction.
We stopped at an overlook below the dam and took some pictures.

Okay, so I changed my mind again and decided to take the Apache Trail after all.
I only wish that I had not aired the tires up. The road starts out paved for about a mile. Then becomes a graded dirt road. I don't know when it was graded last but this time it has some of the worst washboard that I have seen in a while.

Apache Lake.

The road follows Apache Lake. The lake is very long and goes through some beautiful scenery.

The road enters a steep canyon.

As we crossed this bridge we could see a big cave on the other side. If you look closely you can see the effects of years of fires in the cave, showing that they were occupied for centuries.

The trail narrows and climbs the canyon.

At the top the canyon opens up and you drop into a valley and the old mining town of Tortilla Flat.

By this time we were getting pretty barn sour and didn't want to stop.

After going through Tortilla Flat the road goes along the shore of Saguaro Lake.

Eventually we got to Apache Junction. After a bit of confusion we finally got onto Highway 60 and headed for Florence Junction. At Florence Junction we got onto Highway 79 to Florence. Here we got on Hwy 78 and drove to Coolidge.
We stopped for dinner at Tag's Restaurant and were home by 7:30.

The whole trip took us eleven and a half hours.
It was a long ride and I don't think I would want to do it  again.

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