Times Spent Outdoors: Priceless!

Off-Road Sites Near Apache Maid

Check Them Out This Summer

During the Covid lockdowns John and I weren't really too bothered because everything we like to do is outdoors. Our son David and his wife Elizabeth were getting cabin fever, so we decided to take them on a little off-highway adventure one day in June 2020. They have a Four Runner and David and I both had our ham radio licenses by then, so we decided to head for the hills.

Choosing A Destination

My favorite way to choose a destination for John and me is to go immediately to Trailsoffroad.com and click on the map. But since Elizabeth hasn't had much off road experience, we decided to drive around near Apache Maid. I had seen a map notation near there that said "Coulter Cabin" and I wanted to check that out, plus there was a spring down the road from the cabin and I love finding springs.

Kelly Road

Just south of Flagstaff there's a sign for Kelly Road and this trip was the first time we'd ever been on that road. Not too far in there is a sign for the Kelly Road OHV trail system. Kelly Road is also FR700 and we stayed on it for a bit then turned east on FR236A, which we followed as it turned south. On FR133 we made a turn to the east and it looped around and headed north past Antelope Park then it T-boned into FR132, which we turned west on.

After a short distance FR132 made a Y with 236, which we turned west on. In a very short distance there was a small road that headed toward the cabin. At this point I was navigating solely on the TopoMaps App. We came to a fence with a big gate and walked from there.

Coulter Cabin

I kept my app open and we walked all over the place looking for that cabin. At one point I got exasperated and said, "according to the map, we should be right on it!". That's when David pointed to a pile of debris that had once been a hearth. We actually were right on Coulter Cabin, but there was nothing left but soot and a bit of debris. A disappointment for sure, and I felt like a failure as an off-road guide.

There's always a bright side, and in this case it was the weather. We were at over 7000 feet, we were in the forest, and it felt great. So we hiked around a bit more and decided to head to Weimer Spring and have a picnic lunch.

Weimer Spring

We hopped back on FR132 and took it past where we had gotten on it, and took it all the way to where 132A drops off it to the south. According to my app, the spring was right across the road, so we got out, let all the dogs out (they have two), and walked across the road to find the spring.

I have never been one to pass up a spring if I see one on the map even remotely close to where we are, so I've seen LOTS of springs. Some are breathtaking, some are mud holes, some have been tapped and piped for cattle troughs. Weimer Spring was one of the muddy ones. No crystal clear water trickling out of the rocks for this one – just a muddy area in the grass with some dirty water in it and a couple of big pipe-like metal things. This one had obviously been changed for and by cattle. Oh well. Like I said, the forest was beautiful, and it was a LOT cooler than Phoenix!

We crossed back over the road and had our lunch standing up behind the vehicles. Beautiful butterflies kept landing on the Jeep and on David's Four Runner which made me and Elizabeth very happy. The dogs were all being friendly to one another and having a blast, so in spite of the non-cabin and the bum spring, it was a good day. We weren't ready for it to end so we decided to go see Kinnickinnick Lake. John and I hadn't been there in years.

Mormon Lake

As we drove south on Lake Mary Road we stopped at the Mormon Lake overlook. The lake was full and gorgeous. The breeze was incredible, and David and Elizabeth told me they had had a wonderful day so far. I know the dogs did! And honestly, I enjoyed it too. There is a little bit of stress when you are guiding someone, but they're family and we love each other.

Kinnickinnick Lake

After leaving Mormon Lake we continuedsouth to the lake turnoff, which is clearly marked. The road to the lake was a lot longer and less scenic than I expected. But we finally reached Kinnickinnick and we ladies were grateful to see that there were restrooms.

Remember I told you this was during the Covid lockdowns? Well they had not only locked the bathrooms, they had boarded them up and bolted them shut. But there was a stand of junipers just beyond, and there was ample evidence that everyone had been using them as a bathroom. So much more sanitary than a bathroom, right? As long as you watch your step.

They also had signs all over the place warning you to keep six feet between people. There was one fisherman there so we went over and talked to him and I'm pretty sure I wasn't six feet away, but he didn't seem to mind, so what the heck. He hadn't had any luck. I felt the same, actually.

The Big Tree

After we left the lake, it was back onto Lake Mary Road south to Stoneman Lake Road, where we turned west to go back to I-17. On the west side of the lake there is a little rest stop and picnic area where we always stopped with the granddaughters. There is a tree right by the drop-off to the lake that they always called The Big Tree. It IS big when you're like three feet tall! Anyway, we stopped there and filled our coffee mugs for the trip home and enjoyed the weather for a bit before heading home.

Lessons Learned

One thing I did right was bring along my walkie talkies. I gave one to Elizabeth so we could talk to each other as we drove, which is handy if someone wants to stop and look at something. The ham radios were never necessary. Also, I learned that even though John and I like to go to new places on every trip, we should have picked someplace that we already knew was awesome instead of taking them to a burnt down cabin and a mud hole. LOL!

I still love that entire area around Apache Maid and Stoneman Lake, and there are some dynamite back roads around there. It's easy to get to, close enough to Phoenix for a day trip, and always a lot cooler. Check it out this summer – the main roads are easily navigable in a passenger car.

 

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