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  1. #1
    Team Tortuga
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    Big Lake, Thompson Trail

    Took a little vacation last weekend at Big Lake in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest. Spent the weekend fishing, swimming, kayaking, hiking, and even found a little MTB treat while we were there. We took the Thompson Trail out along the West Fork River for a short ways. This is a mellow trail for the most part that follows a fire road but the scenery was awesome. Riding next to a river is peaceful in so many ways. It looks like there are plenty of little off shoots that could be explored but we had to save the deep exploration for another trip due to time constraints. Here are a couple pics, maybe some video to follow later. Enjoy!

    P.S. - I was sad to find out when we returned that all the time we spent looking at Sunrise in the background it had actually opened but we thought it was closed....that was the only sad part of the trip.

    crAZy Irish
    Big Lake, Thompson Trail-chris-2-mtbr.jpg

    Found a nice little waterfall along the way. It is actually on the hiking only trail that follows next to the river.
    Big Lake, Thompson Trail-lil-waterfall-mtbr.jpg

    Trailhead Post
    Big Lake, Thompson Trail-th-post-mtbr.jpg

    I love this sign.....
    Big Lake, Thompson Trail-user-conflict-sign-mtbr.jpg

    West Fork stream
    Big Lake, Thompson Trail-west-fork-stream-mtbr.jpg

    The Thompson trail follows a fire road for a while before it splits off into singletrack.
    Big Lake, Thompson Trail-thompson-trail-mtbr.jpg

    West Fork TH, I absolutely love that they are constantly including the MTB group!
    Big Lake, Thompson Trail-west-fork-th-mtbr.jpg

    West Fork River
    Big Lake, Thompson Trail-west-fork-river-mtbr.jpg

    Angry Scott (actually on the hiking trail, for picture purposes of course )
    Big Lake, Thompson Trail-scott-1-mtbr.jpg

    Now for a little cool down with some kayak time.
    Big Lake, Thompson Trail-kayak-time-mtbr.jpg

  2. #2
    Lone Wolf McQuade
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    Nice!

    Matt
    I should be out riding....

  3. #3
    mtbr member
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    Big Lake is hands down my favorite AZ destination for all the above mentioned activities. Thanks for the stoke, I'm headed up there at the end of the month.

  4. #4
    Trail Monger
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    Kool! That looks like fun!

  5. #5
    Explore More
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    Quote Originally Posted by EZSHUM_331
    Big Lake is hands down my favorite AZ destination for all the above mentioned activities. Thanks for the stoke, I'm headed up there at the end of the month.
    Be up there the 19th - 21st. Take Saturday and ride the trails around Pinetop. Then, Sunday and Monday doing a bikepacking trek starting at Greer up to the Big Lake area and camp somewhere off the streams by Crescent Lake. Then Monday head back thru Mexican Hat down one of those NEWS fork trails (been looking over tracks and images for so many areas I can't remember what's what at the moment! I can see the satellite images and routes, just can't remember the names of all the trails and FRs, etc...).

    Looking forward to the trip. Haven't been in that area, since '91. And that was just passing thru, taking the scenic route to Tuscon.

  6. #6
    Scott in Tucson
    Reputation: Krein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DesertDog
    Be up there the 19th - 21st. Take Saturday and ride the trails around Pinetop. Then, Sunday and Monday doing a bikepacking trek starting at Greer up to the Big Lake area and camp somewhere off the streams by Crescent Lake. Then Monday head back thru Mexican Hat down one of those NEWS fork trails (been looking over tracks and images for so many areas I can't remember what's what at the moment! I can see the satellite images and routes, just can't remember the names of all the trails and FRs, etc...).

    Looking forward to the trip. Haven't been in that area, since '91. And that was just passing thru, taking the scenic route to Tuscon.
    Sounds like quite a trip. There are trails between Mexican Hat and Big Lake? Isn't there a lot of res in there? I'd be curious to learn more about your route and how it goes. Got a GPX?
    Author of TopoFusion GPS Software. MTB+backpacking = bikepacking.net. Ride Diary.

  7. #7
    mtbr member
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    Nice Picts Irish!

    Harv
    out
    Brian "Harvey" Roberts

  8. #8
    mtbr member
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    Excellent!

    I hooked up with Paul B and Epicrider and some other peeps a couple years ago for some really kewl riding near Eager.

    One shuttle we did started at Mexican Hay Lake and spit us out a the South Fork Campground.

    Here's a blog post with a few more deets: Not the Phat Tire Fest: White Mountains, AZ

    And here is a video of the South Fork Trail:



  9. #9
    Team Tortuga
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    There really is a lot to explore up there, it is a shame it is 6 hours away or it would get a couple more visits a year from me. We also ventured onto the reservation for a moment and were guided to a secret waterfall. It was amazing how the forest seemed to change when you get on that side. I don't know if it was real or perception but it was fun. Here are a couple more pics of the trip.

    Nice little waterfall on the White river? It may have been the Black river? Either way it is on the reservation and you should have a permit to venture there. Pic is a little bit crooked but that because I had my dog in hand and he tends lean over the edge too much.
    Big Lake, Thompson Trail-apache-waterfall-mtbr.jpg

    Sunset on Big Lake
    Big Lake, Thompson Trail-big-lake-sunset-mtbr.jpg

    Yummy Breakfast!! Added a lil bit of fried potatoes and BAM!
    Big Lake, Thompson Trail-breakfast-mtbr.jpg

    My buddy Beau playing wolf in a snow bank!
    Big Lake, Thompson Trail-beau-playing-wolf-mtbr.jpg

    Some friends that liked to walk through camp.
    Big Lake, Thompson Trail-camp-friends-mtbr.jpg

  10. #10
    Kathleen in AZ
    Reputation: DurtGurl's Avatar
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    Nice to see some AZ besides the usual suspects that we all visit and love. Thanks for sharing! Looks like a great place for the next campin, kayakin, bikin, hikin, swimmin, explorin long weekend!!

  11. #11
    im4Gsus
    Reputation: kaboose's Avatar
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    nice post. those trails look like my kind of trails - mellow xc.

    Quote Originally Posted by DurtGurl
    ...Looks like a great place for the next campin, kayakin, bikin, hikin, swimmin, explorin long weekend!!
    if only work didn't demand so much of our time...
    "If God is your co-pilot you're in the wrong seat!" S Barrington

  12. #12
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    Reputation: DesertDog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krein
    Sounds like quite a trip. There are trails between Mexican Hat and Big Lake? Isn't there a lot of res in there? I'd be curious to learn more about your route and how it goes. Got a GPX?

    Even Better. I have the tracks for the trip, plus lots of tracks for the Pinetop and Show Low trails and 2 routes to connect the Pinetop and Big Lake areas. For my trek, it's about 40m a day, 80miles for the trip. Using the data I've got there, someone like you could make a great 200+ mile adventure/race route.

    The attached pic shows all the trail data in the gpx file. Even has the long Tour of the White Mountains (70m) ride. I'll email you the file either thru here or bikepacking.net If anyone else wants the gpx, contact me with an email address. It's too big a file right now to attach in a post. I'll have to see what can be done with attachments in a PM here.


    None of the routes I have fall into Apache Reservation lands. The reservation is all to the S, SW, W of the trail networks. Here's a outline of my route.

    Day 1:
    Start thru Pine Knoll and Squirrel Spring Recreation areas to Greer.
    Thru Greer to TH and West Fork Trail (Tr #49).
    Apache Railroad Trail (#601) South to Big Lake.
    Thru Big Lake complex and up to lookout tower.
    Down lookout tower trail to Indian Spring Trail.
    Indian Spring to West Fork Trail (#629)
    West Fork to Thompson Trail.
    Thompson to forest roads and find camp for the night.

    Day 2:
    From camp ride back to and thru Big Lake complex.
    North on 261 to Overland Trail.
    Overland to short connector trail to and across 261 to Mexican Hay Lake (I've been calling it Mexican Hat).
    Lake to TH and down South Fork Trail.
    Take roads back to 260 and just use 260 to get back to start point.


    It'll be a busy next few weeks. Got this the 18th - 22nd (bookending with a couple Flagstaff rides). Then, going up to Dixie the 25th - 27th, though not doing the 311 or Lite, and make a weekend out of the Markagunt and Sevier segments. Then for the long weekend over the 4th, going up to the Ruby Mountains in NE NV for some cross-country backpacking in the Lamoille Canyon area and a day of trail riding up around Ely. Have to see what the area looks like for the Lamoille-Secret 60 mile bike-friendly trail project that the Ely folks have gotten the FS to ok and start work on the first 10 mile segment from the canyon! New routes!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Big Lake, Thompson Trail-pinetopbiglaketrailsmap.jpg  

    Big Lake, Thompson Trail-bikewithpacksandbackpack.jpg  

    Big Lake, Thompson Trail-rubymtnteaser.jpg  


  13. #13
    Scott in Tucson
    Reputation: Krein's Avatar
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    Ah, Mexican Hay not Mexican Hat! Makes more sense now. I am definitely intrigued now... your data looks mighty interesting.
    Author of TopoFusion GPS Software. MTB+backpacking = bikepacking.net. Ride Diary.

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