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Matt Marine

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Name:Arizona Trail - Horse Lake Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: Not rated yet
Type: Bike Difficulty: (Medium, based on length and high elevation. The two-track is rated easy and can be done by kids. No significant hills.)
Time: 2 - 4 hours Region: NE Arizona
Length: 14.4 miles (total out-and-back). You can do as much as you want or do more Elevation gain/loss/change: +160 / -30 ft / +0 ft (total out-and-back)
Type: Out-and-back Avg Elevation: 7150 ft
Best time to go: summer, late spring, early fall Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Medium Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: Medium
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: May, 2011
Short Description: A nice easy portion of the Arizona Trail up near Flagstaff
Geocaches: Tons of cool geocaches around. Here's just a few. Don't give a Hoot; Mighty Rough; Ashurst Cache
References / Contact Information: Arizona Trail Association: Mormon Lake Passage;
Points of interest: Mormon Lake, Upper Lake Mary, camping, hiking, fishing, Flagstaff
Special Considerations: Part of the Arizona Trail System. Higher elevation than some of us flatlanders are used to
How to get there: From Flagstaff, take Lake Mary Road south for about 17 miles. Turn left on FR82E toward Ashurst Lake. Drive for 0.8 miles until you reach the Horse Lake Trailhead on the left. Click here for directions.

Trail Description

This is one of the easiest portions of the Arizona Trail that I've been on. Although the elevations is high (about 7100 feet), it is very flat. A major portion of the trail is on two track which most children will find simple. At the time I rode this trail, the single track was very bouncy and rough. This was from the cattle using the trail in the mud. It wasn't difficult, just annoying.

General Information and History

This trail is part of the Arizona Trail System. The area is beautiful with large green meadows and pine trees.

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The Trail

The Arizona Trail Horse Lake parking area (Waypoint 030) is easily accessible by vehicle and has a large parking area. Park here and head north on the singletrack which leads to the Arizona Trail.

After only 0.2 miles (Waypoint 031), you'll come to the actual Arizona Trail. Take a right to go to Marshal Lake via Horse Lake (a left here takes you toward Mormon Lake. Within about 100 yards, the singletrack intersects a 4WD trail (FR129A). Take a left (a right will bring you back to Ashurst Lake Road).

Follow this two track for about a mile until you reach Waypoint 031A. This is a fast, easy section of the trail and perfect for kids learning how to handle their bikes on the dirt. This area has a wide open feel to it, with the trees scattered and some distance on either side of the road.

Keep going past the Mormon Canyon Tank on the right. You'll find one or two small rocky sections along this portion of the trail. At Waypoint 032MEADOW you'll come across another small tank (pond) on the right. Keep on the main trail as you pass Waypoints 032 (go through cattle guard) and 033 (keep left).

Soon you'll come up to Horse Lake on your left. Keep Horse Lake on your left as you go around it (stay left at Waypoint 034). You will come up to a gate and cattle guard at Waypoint 035. Go through the gate, keeping left on the main road. Follow the main road for another mile until you reach Waypoint 036. This is where the Arizona Trail splits from the 4WD trail. Although there is a small sign, it is not an obvious intersection and can be easily missed. Take a left here to go on the singletrack. If you miss it (or want to go another route), I will discuss this alternative later.

For now, we'll assume you turned left. Be ready for some annoying bumps (at least when I was there). This next section could be really nice except that the cattle use it quite often. When they do this after a nice rain, the trail becomes full of deep holes from their hooves. Nothing difficult, just bumpy, bumpy, bumpy for the next two miles

There's a cairn at Waypoint 037 (about a mile), continue on the main trail. Keep bumping along until you reach Waypoint 038. This is where the trail intersects FR9486Q. You can turn around here, or continue on, it's up to you. I also drove the Rubicon up to visit this area from the north. If you've got a 4WD, you can access this road (Waypoint 038dirt) from Lake Mary Road. You can make this in a high-clearance truck when the road is dry, but when it becomes wet and muddy, this road may become impassible. I parked my Jeep at Waypoint 038Jeep.

You can also take the 4WD roads back to Waypoint 036 if you want. This is a little less bumpy of a ride, but much harder to navigate and I'm not sure it's worth it. I will describe this route as if you kept straight at Waypoint 036.

After about 1/2 a mile, you'll reach Waypoint 040. Keep left at the intersection. You also want to keep left at Waypoint 041. After another mile or so, you'll come to a faint two track on your left (Waypoint 042) just before Vail Lake. This is the trail I took back to the main 4WD road. I believe there is a more widely used trail just a few hundred yards closer to Vail Lake that intersects this road, but did not verify it. After a little more than 1/2 a mile, this road will intersect the Arizona Trail at Waypoint 038.

There a TONS of forest roads in this area and route finding can be difficult. If you head off the Arizona Trail to explore some of these, I would make sure you bring a GPS to make sure you don't get lost.

Whatever you decide to do, I'm sure this ride in the cool, open forest near Flagstaff will be one of your highlights of the summer. Cat-dog really liked this trail and was ready for more fun. No prickers and she saw her first herd of deer on the trail. They were big and she thought twice about chasing them.

Have fun and be safe!

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