The day I was there it was picture perfect, and I wished that I had brought everyone I knew out there with me to enjoy it. Im not sure exactly how long this trail is, because I misplaced my pedometer, so I relied on the Springerville Ranger District Trail Guide which states this trail is five miles to include Trail #630. Trail #630 has no name, but is a short loop at the end of the Thompson Trail.
The guide book doesnt state whether the distance is one way or the total there and back. I got so enraptured with the trail that I couldnt tell you how far it felt like I hiked. The guide book also doesnt state how long the loop part is, but looking at the pages distance scale, it kinda looked the better part of a mile.
The White Mountain Independents Summer 2000 issue of the Take A Hike trail series states this trail is 6.5 miles round trip. So there you go, two references and they are not even close in how long the trail actually is.
The Thompson Trail follows the West Fork of the Black River and passes through some of the most beautiful country Ive seen while out on one of my numerous hiking ventures. Yellow, purple, red flowers everywhere and butterflies flittering around most of the way.
To get to the trailhead, take State highway 260 South of McNary to State highway 273 (Sunrise Ski Resort turn) and follow this toward Big Lake. Be forewarned: This road becomes the worst rode youll ever want to be on as it is littered with potholes and is in incredibly bad shape.
Look for FR 116 (Reservation Lake) and turn there. Follow this road toward Reservation Lake and youll see the big trailhead sign with parking lot on your right. The actual trail is across the road down just a short distance. Easy to spot.
The trail starts off on a closed road, but in 10 minutes splits off to the left where it becomes a foot path that runs along the river. Horseback riders and bicyclists have to stay on the dirt road portion as they are not allowed on the foot path.
There are no signs along the trail, so keep alert. I found it easy to follow, but a couple of times when crossing the long grassy meadow area, I missed the trail, but came back out on it. I started my hike at 10:15 a.m. and was at its end at noon. I took a couple of short breaks along the way. Who wouldnt with such tempting beauty to enjoy?
I was going to hike the short loop portion, but the clouds were heavy and black overhead, so I had to turn back. Good thing, as it did start raining on my return trip. It is always smart to lather oneself up with mosquito repellent and take water and a rain poncho with you. Wearing hiking boots rather than tennis shoes is a good idea, as there are several creeks to cross, and you are more apt to keep your feet dry in hiking boots than in tennies.
5+ miles round trip
Limited trailhead parking
Nearest Town: Greer