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Hike Arizona: White Mountains

Mt. Baldy Hike and Car Camp, Greer, AZ

Hike: Baldy Peak
  • Distance: 7 miles one way, 14 miles RT.
  • Difficulty: Moderate.
  • Range of Elevation: 9200' to 11,400'
  • Special Attractions: Views of the White Mountains.
About the Hoyer campground: It’s in the Greer Lakes Recreation Area among Ponderosa pines. The campground is dedicated to a Forest Service employee who was killed in a forest fire in 1967. Programs are held Saturday evenings, Memorial Day thru Labor Day, in the ampitheatre. There is a guided nature trail walks. Firewood, ice, and battery charging are available. Some water sports will be available across from the campground in the access to Greer Lakes. Grilles and tables are available at each site. Fresh water, flush toilets, and hot showers are available.

This forest community is called krummholz, from the German word meaning 'crooked wood' as the spruce and alpine-fir trees are stunted and twisted just below the timberline.

The trail begins along the right bank of the West Fork of the Little Colorado River and climbs through wonderful blue spruce forest and alpine meadows where in summer aster, fleabane, penstemon, cinquefoil, and iris bloom. There is evidence of past glacial activity - glacial erratics, large boulders deposited by ice, lie along the canyon floor.

West Fork contains brook, rainbow, and cutthroat trout but the trail is only close to the stream near the trailhead. About 3 miles from the trailhead, the trail crosses a tributary to West Fork. The first 3 miles are through open meadows along the creek. Sylvia Prast spotted pack llamas tethered along the trail in 1997. At this point, we’ll enter the forest and shade.

In another 2 miles, it reaches the ridge leading to Baldy Peak. Then a mile from the summit, the East Fork Trail joins our route. As you near the summit, you are treated to spectacular vistas of the White Mountain Region.

Within 0.3 miles from the top, you reach the Apache Reservation boundary - the Apaches have closed the last section of trail to the top, so this boundary must serve as the turnaround point for most hikers. You might be able to secure a permit by writing to the Apaches. It’s not worth 'sneaking' to the summit, however, since several hikers have been caught and their packs confiscated. NOTE: We are attempting to secure a permit for the club.

Most of the trail is a gradual uphill, but didn’t get steep until the last mile or two. Hikers have many points along the way at which to turn around. Big trees, lots of wildflowers, open meadow, and a comfortable trail.

Weather: Greer

Drive: From Phoenix, take Hwy. 60 east through Globe to Show Low. From Show Low, proceed east on highway 260 (past Sunrise turnoff - which is approximately 39 miles east of Show Low). Go another 7 miles, then turn south (right) on highway 373 toward Greer. Follow Highway 373 for 3 miles to the Rolfe C. Hoyer Campground sign. Turn right into the campground. Time to allow for travelling from Phoenix = 4.5 hours.

Directions to Baldy trail: from the campground, follow Badger Creek Road (FR 87) 6 miles past Greer to the junction of FR113. Follow FR 113 for 2 miles to Sheep’s Crossing and the Baldy Peak signed trailhead.

Description: Escudilla Wilderness, designated in 1984 and containing 5,200 acres, lies atop Arizona’s third highest peak, Escudilla Mountain. Its 10,912 foot elevation provides marvelous vistas. It is home to several pristine, high elevation meadows which are comprised of relatively rare plant associations. Notable landmarks in or just outside the wilderness include Profanity Ridge, Terry Flat, Toolbox Draw, and the Punchbowl.

A trail takes the visitor to Escudilla Lookout where vistas many miles distant can be absorbed. Because of the relative scarcity of water and the small size of this wilderness, day use is encouraged.

Greer’s high elevation (approximately 8,500 feet) can cause altitude sickness — dizziness, nausea, severe headaches, sleeplessness, and lethargy that usually strike within 24 hours of arriving. If you experience this, avoid alcoholic drinks, drink plenty of water, and eat a high-carbohydrate diet.

For further information contact:
White Mountains - Mt. Baldy Trial
Greer, AZ from White Mountains Online
Arizona’s White Mountains Trail System Hiking Overview.

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updated February 10, 2012