I was looking for something to do in Prescott, and not coming up with anything, so whipped this together the night before: Hike up to the tunnel, take a bypass trail to the Rim, follow the contour west along the Rim, pick up Gen. Crook Trail #130 to General Springs cabin, then drop down Col. Devin Trail #290 back to Washington Park.
On the drive to Washington Park, I noted that two small bridges were being constructed to bypass the Houston Mesa Rd. East Verde River crossings, one of them at the hairpin. Kind of surprised to find no one at the trailhead.
I got started about 8:00 a.m. (After getting ****ed by my crappy Garmin 62S … again. ) The trip up to the tunnel was pleasantly shady. The Rim did not look all that much higher than the trail. Certainly not the looming mass I expected. (Made me feel like this would not be the death march I expected.) The split off Col. Devin Trail #290 towards the tunnel got a bit steep, and gravel slippery, but was no big deal. The trail was marked by charcoaled arrows. I was kind of disappointed with the tunnel. I looked around a bit, and seriously contemplated calling an audible and heading straight up the Rim behind the tunnel: It’s not that much higher and, while steep, did not look dangerous. A solid hiker would not have a problem doing so.
Instead, I dropped back down to what I call the “bypass” trail, which is on the east slope of the canyon, as opposed to #290 which is on the west slope. I saved about a half mile and several hundred feet AEG by doing so. The “bypass” was a nice trail: I got up it quicker than I later got down #290.
Once up on the Rim, I headed towards my first OP (observation point), which had good Rim views do to a previous burn leaving it devoid of vegetation, except for some young manzanita. After leaving OP1, I picked up an old firebreak just off FR 407, which took me across a small hill. I descended to a narrow, rocky ledge, which was OP2. Even better views from there. Windy as hell all along the Rim. Many large patches of Arizona blackberry.
After leaving the ledge, I crossed FR 300 / Rim Rd., and up FR 123, looking for where the Gen. Crook Trail #130 crossed it. According to the topo I was right on it, but like Sergeant Schultz, I saw nuthink. Instead, I dropped into a wash, which I figured would empty out near General Springs cabin. The wash was clear sailing, not being choked by flood debris in many years.
General Springs cabin was sweet. I would have killed for that — figuratively speaking — in Bosnia. And clean too: The cleanest of any remote structure I have seen in Arizona. Unfortunately, camping is not allowed. After that it was half mile back up to the Rim, then down the steep and rocky Trail #290 back to the trailhead.
My first Rim ascent — — and, honestly, it was not that bad at all.
Note: There were *TONS* of butterflies on this hike. Highly recommend you get out there soon, while they are still in season. I saw lots of small blue ones, a couple of small yellow ones, many somewhat larger black ones, and even several medium sized orange ones (not Monarchs). At one point I saw a small flowering bush with probably twenty various butterflies on it. (Unfortunately, by the time I got my camera out, started up, and focused, only two were left. )
GPS File: Mogollon_Rim_Railroad_Tunnel
Distance: 8.20 mi.
AEG: 1,901 ft.
Time: 3h 58m