The Half Moon Lake Trail is positioned within the Williams Valley Winter Recreation Area of the Apache National Forest and falls underneath the jurisdiction of the Alpine Ranger District. The Half Moon Lake Trail is the longest within the path system, roughly 10 miles and affords 12 months round recreation for mountain climbing and biking through the summer season and x-nation/again-nation snowboarding within the winter.
Directions: Approximately 4.5 hours from Phoenix, Tucson or El Paso. From the intersection of US191 & US 180 in Alpine, Arizona. Travel north on US 191 roughly 2 miles to the Forest Road 249 turnoff. During the summer season the signal reads “Big Lake” with an arrow pointing west and within the winter the signal is flipped down and reads “Williams Valley Winter Recreation Area”. Turn west and journey 3.Four miles to a large spot within the street with a Forest Service kiosk slightly below the street berm (south facet). This locates you in the course of the Williams Valley Winter Recreation Area. The space is closed to motorized journey. N3351.760′ & W10913.205′ – Elevation 8675′.
Head due south throughout the meadow, climb a slight incline and head for the tree line. You will choose up a path generally known as the Valley Loop. Head west on this straightforward to comply with path because it meanders by way of the forest, veers south, passes a gate and opens up into Lookout Meadow. N3351.615′ & W10913.775′ – Elevation 8800′. The Lookout Meadow Loop is a good quick outing in itself, maybe 1 1/2 hours and again to your car. However, when you have a couple of additional hours, veer to the proper (SW) and bust a transfer uphill for a half mile or so. You will come to a fork within the path with an indication designating the proper fork as Up & Over. There isn’t any trickery right here, the path actually goes up and over and is just about 1/Three of a mile lengthy. Once you might be “over” – you can be on the Isolation Meadow Trail. N3351.430′ & W10914.155′ – Elevation 8770′. Take this path to the southeast for an extended uphill slog, you’ll go a cool little water tank that is so much deeper than it appears to be like! Continue uphill and you’ll arrive at a woodpile within the path with a gate simply past. Travel although the gate roughly 200 yards and to the northeast you will notice a “blue diamond” as a path designation connected to a big aspen tree. N3351.050′ & W 10914.055′ – Elevation 8980′.
For the following 3/Four mile you can be heading in an easterly course and slowly climbing – the path is established, however search for the blue diamonds within the timber to maintain you on route. Eventually you’ll come to a two-monitor street. N3350.975′ & W10913.635′ – Elevation 9020′. Follow this two-monitor uphill to the northeast, the blue diamonds will nonetheless information you alongside. Once you “top-out” the path will start to meander by way of the forest with the odd undulation and occasional meadow. You will go a path named Ya Hoo, this path will drop you again all the way down to Lookout Meadow in the event you’re operating quick on time. However, the following couple of miles is one of the best a part of the day because you at the moment are on the Half Moon Lake Trail! Within a 1/Four mile in your left (east) shall be Half Moon Lake itself. N3350.765′ & W10912.840′ – Elevation 9200′. For many of the 12 months the lake is dry and is just about a “mud hole”, however after the spring snow soften and through monsoon season the lake does refill with water. This is a good tenting vacation spot and a favourite hang around for large bull elk.
After leaving Half Moon Lake the path is fairly straightforward to comply with with blue diamonds within the timber each few hundred ft. You will keep on high of the mountain (a part of South Mountain) for a mile after which the path will drop off again west. You will come to an open space and for lack of a greater time period an “intersection”. There shall be a blue diamond in a ponderosa pine with an arrow pointing west. N3350.560′ & W 10911.935′ – Elevation 9350′. This is now a two-monitor street once more, comply with it for 3/Four mile and it’ll make a gradual descent. To your left (SW) you’ll discover a meadow forming by way of the timber, it is best to chop by way of the timber and into the meadow. However, in the event you keep on the 2-monitor it’s going to drop you halfway into the meadow. This is the beginning of three “Hanging Meadows” that drain the north slope of all the space. This is likely one of the most lovely and distant location in Alpine… additionally it is the locals favourite space for snowboarding since there are quite a few telemark ski hills and nice sunny picnic areas.
Continue to journey to the west and comply with the meadows edge (both facet) downhill. You will come to a different water tank, which can also be deeper than it appears to be like! N3350.805′ & W10912.535′ – Elevation 9200′. To the south and uphill of this tank is one other massive meadow which is enjoyable to discover on skis or mountain climbing – it is also loaded with nice camp areas. As you look downhill and to the west, you will notice the final of the three Hanging Meadows. Continue downhill and go up and over a Forest Service berm. This path is sort of rocky with unfastened scree; it is an amazing place for mountain bikers that favor “rock gardens”. Within a half mile you’ll go the decrease path head of Ya Hoo, one other half mile and you’ll drop into the japanese fringe of Lookout Meadow. N3351.275′ & W10913.425′ – Elevation 8880′. You will go one other gate and proceed alongside the 2-monitor street which is on the northern fringe of Lookout Meadow – one other half mile and you’ll acknowledge your authentic level of entry into Lookout Meadow a couple of hours earlier than.
The route described is over 10 miles and can take 3-Four hours mountain climbing or 2 hours to bike or ski. Keep a detailed watch on the climate, particularly throughout our July-September monsoon season, it rains virtually each afternoon with frequent lightening strikes.
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