October 2 - 4, 2020

Mount Baldy is the fifth-highest peak in Arizona, ensconced in the White Mountains near Springerville. We've seen bears ambling through the high meadows, and have heard bugling elk and howling wolves in the dense forests surrounding our campsites over the past ten years. What will this eleventh year bring? Please join me for a two-night backpack to this wonderful, high-elevation, forest-covered wilderness.

The Plan

We'll start early on the 250-mile-drive to the Sheep Crossing Trailhead in the White Mountains on Friday morning. We'll stop for a quick lunch in Show Low before we get to the trailhead. Once we do reach the trailhead, we'll hike for just over five-and-a-half miles, starting on the West Baldy Trail and crossing to the East Baldy Trail via the Crossover Trail. We'll set up our first camp along the East Fork of the Little Colorado River.

Along the East Baldy Trail On Saturday, we'll pack up our camp and head up Mount Baldy. There's no need to leave too early. The hike to our highpoint should only take 3-4 hours. We can't actually get to the peak - it's on the White Mountain Apache Reservation, and is permanently off-limits - but we can get to the highpoint of the ridge for lunch. After near-summiting at 11,200 feet, we'll head down the West Baldy Trail for just over five miles to our second campsite on the West Fork of the Little Colorado River.

After spending one last night in camp on Saturday, we'll pack up on Sunday morning and strike out for the trailhead, which is less than three easy miles away. Once we've reached the end of the trail, we'll climb into our vehicles and head back to Tucson.

The Prep

This trip is planned for a limited number of only four or five people. There is no charge and no permit required for the trip. Of course, vehicle expenses will be shared.

You'll need food for one breakfast, one lunch, and two dinners. We'll stop for lunch on the way there and have breakfast at Bobbi Jo's in Pinetop on the return trip.

The Elements      Spot Forecast

There should be plenty of water in both forks of the Little Colorado River. No worries, but I'll verify with the local ranger station before the trip if there are any doubts or concerns.

The weather may be a bit brisk since our elevation is quite high. We've experienced sun, clouds, winds, and rain. We even had snow a couple of years ago! You can probably count on daytime highs in the 60s with lows in the lower 40s or upper 30s. Remember that both of our campgrounds are at about 9,500 feet! It's going to be quite a bit cooler than Tucson, perhaps by as much as 30 degrees. Pay attention to the weather forecast using the link above. You may be able to use a light bag, but will probably have to opt for a colder weather sleeping bag.

The Hike

day miles elev gain destination
Friday 0.0 / 0.0 0 ft / 0 ft Sheep Crossing Trailhead; West Baldy Trail #94
Friday 1.3 / 1.3 250 ft / 250 ft Jct with Crossover Trail #96
Friday 3.5 / 4.8 750 ft / 1000 ft Jct with East Baldy Trail #95
Friday 1.0 / 5.8 450 ft / 1450 ft Campsite on the East Fork of the Little Colorado River
Saturday 5.0 / 10.8 2450 ft / 3900 ft Mount Baldy
Saturday 5.2 / 16.0 200 ft / 4100 ft Campsite on the West Fork of the Little Colorado River
Sunday 1.0 / 17.0 100 ft / 4200 ft Crossover Trail Jct
Sunday 1.3 / 18.3 150 ft / 4350 ft Sheep Crossing Trailhead

The End

Once we arrive at the trailhead, we'll get out of our boots, change to cleaner clothes, and head for a late breakfast in Pinetop. From there, we're homeward bound.