Where there's a lookout you know the views have to be good. Unsurpassed panoramas, a touch of wild history, and access into one of the Blue Area's largest side canyons are some of the attractions offered by this steep, high country trail.
Like all Wilderness and Primitive Area trails, # 71 Trail is open to hiking and horseback riding, but motorized and mechanized travel is prohibited.
Where there's a lookout you know the views have to be good. Unsurpassed panoramas, a touch of wild history, and access into one of the Blue Area's largest side canyons are some of the attractions offered by this steep, high country trail. The trail begins about 0.6 miles below the lookout but you'll want to hike up to the summit of Blue Peak to enjoy the panorama. The Blue Range and Blue River Canyon, Eagle Creek, Mount Graham and the Pinalenos to the south, the Mogollon Range in New Mexico and the canyon of the San Francisco River are just a few of the sights you can see from this vantage point.
When you hike this trail be sure to bring along a map for the Gila National Forest in New Mexico as well as an Apache-Sitgreaves map to help you identify all the landmarks. If you can get a map of southwest New Mexico and southeast Arizona, you might be better off. The views are that big.
When you can tear yourself away from the views at the trailhead and start back down the trail, you'll find you're in for a steep trip down a switchback staircase. The first stop along the descent to KP Canyon is an old cabin that was once used as a home by the lookout. It was also once used as a hideout by a bank robber.
The fellow held up a bank in McNary in 1921 reportedly to secure money the bank refused to loan him to bring his mother to the US from Germany. Neither his altruistic intentions nor the fact that he was about to give himself up was enough to avert the tragic course of events the robbery set in motion. One member of the posse that came to apprehend the unfortunate soul shot him down as he stepped out of the cabin with his hands up. If you're ever on Forest Road 249 at the west end of Williams Valley you might notice his crude grave marker. The posse buried him there on the trip back to town.
From the Blue Lookout Cabin, the trail drops down a steep drainage into KP Canyon to join the KP Trail (# 70). The going gets a bit rough here, so wear some good shoes with ankle support. As you're scrambling down those switchbacks and reaching for things to steady your balance, you'll probably notice there are quite a few bigtooth maples here. That should make this a good place to visit in the fall, especially if you like to see some reds and pinks to add to the gold of the aspens in the high country.
0.0 Trailhead at McKittrick Trail (# 72).
0.9 Junction with Blue Lookout Trail (# 321), site of old cabin.
2.9 Junction with KP Trail (# 70).
USGS Maps: Strayhorse
At a Glance
May through October
No mechanized vehicles (including mountain bikes) permitted in Primitive Area.
Drive south from Alpine 29 miles on US 191 to Forest Road 84 (Blue Lookout Road). This is the first left after the road to the Salt House Trail and it is signed "Dead End." Drive east on this primitive road about 6.5 miles to an open flat where the road is closed and there is a dirt parking lot. From this point follow the McKittrick Trail #72 one mile to its junction with the Blue Lookout Trail.
Backcountry Access: You can also access the blue Lookout Trail via the KP Trail from KP Cienega Campground. It's a 5 mile hike from the campground to the junction of KP and Blue Lookout Trails in KP Canyon.