The Hannagan Meadow Recreation Area is located in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona on US-191, the Coronado Highway. It is one of the most remote, unspoiled, and peaceful places in the state. The profound quietness is broken only by the occasional car on the road or the songbird. The nearest civilization is the hamlet of Alpine, 22 miles north. At 9,100 feet elevation, Hannagan Meadows offers cool summer weather and snow in the winter. Opportunities are excellent for summer hiking and winter cross-country skiing. There is trailhead access to the Blue Range Primitive Area, one of America's most remote and unspoiled wildernesses. You may stay at the National Forest Service campground or the historic Hannagan Meadow Lodge.
Hannagan Meadows, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, and the Blue Range Primitive Area offer miles of trails through rugged and remote heavily-wooded mountains, meadows, and steep canyons. Some trails are set up for cross-country skiing in the winter. The White Mountains experience a summer rainy season, making it advisable to hike early in the day during July and August if you want to stay dry. The rains produce beautiful summer wildflowers in the meadows and a huge variety of colorful mushrooms in the woods. Note: Never pick wild mushrooms unless you are an expert at identifying them!
Below are a selection of trails originating near Hannagan Meadow. (Photo, above: Acker Lake)
Acker Lake (Trail #17): The trailhead is at the Hannagan Meadow Campground, just south of Hannagan Meadow Lodge. (There is a connecting trail from the lodge.) The trail is a 7 mile round trip to the lake and back without any major ups or downs. It is completely marked for winter skiers (or snowshoers) - look for blue diamond markers on the trees. The trail goes through a dense forest of Douglas Fir and Spruce, passing through one alpine meadow before reaching the lake. Acker Lake is also located in a gorgeous alpine meadow. The lake feeds a stream which runs through the meadow. The lake may be fished for trout (Arizona license required).
Length: 3.5 miles; Use: Moderate; Rating: Easy; Elevation: 9,100 to 8,700 feet.
The main trailhead for Aker Lake Trail is just south of Hannagan Meadow Campground on Hwy. 191 south of Alpine. Those camping in the campground can access the trail between campsites 6 and 7.
(Photo Right, Amanita muscaria mushrooms are commonly called fly agaric or toadstool. Poisonings are rare, possibly because its unique and obvious appearance make it easily identifiable as a toxic mushroom.)
Hannagan Meadow Loop: The trailhead is on US-191, just north of Hannagan Meadow Lodge. The trail is a 6 mile loop north and east of the lodge, passing historic structures and flowering meadows.
Access to Blue Range Primitive Area: Head south from Hannagan Meadow Lodge. Turn left on FR-29, about a quarter mile from the lodge. The dirt road deadends at the trailheads in a half mile. There is a pit toilet and a horse corral. Note that the "Blue" is a wilderness area, and no mechanized vehicles are permitted. There are two trail options:
The Foote Creek Trail (#76) has recently been severely affected by post-Wallow Fire flooding for much of its length in late summer of 2011. The trail may be extremely difficult to follow, or become completely obliterated in some areas. It may be preferable to follow another route until work may be completed to restore the trail to normal conditions.
Foote Creek Trail (#76): The trail follows the ridge top for five miles in a dense forest of spruce, fir, and especially aspen (photo, left) while steadily dropping in elevation. These old growth forests shelter hidden, boggy meadows, called cienegas which offer good possibilities for viewing wildlife (including black bear), especially early and late in the day. Also, look for excellent wildflower displays in the cienegas. A good turnaround point for day hikers would be scenic P-Bar Lake, 3.5 miles from the trailhead. The lake is at 8,500 feet elevation, leaving a 700 foot climb on the return. The trail generally following Foote Creek Canyon and Mesa as it descends to the Blue River. It reaches the Blue Camp Trailhead on the Blue River Road in 15.3 miles, at 5,200 feet elevation.
Steeple Trail (#73): The 13 miles of trail demonstrates the broad diversity of the Blue Range. As with the Foote Creek Trail, it starts in the old growth spruce, fir, and aspen on the ridge top before working into the ponderosa, juniper and hardwood along Steeple Creek. As the trail descends through more open, drier area, the environment becomes desert woodland, featuring pinyon pine, juniper, and cacti. It eventually reaches the cottonwoods of Blue River Canyon and the Blue River Road.
Historic Hannagan Meadow Lodge (Part 1)