The west side trailhead for the 60-plus mile Jug Trail is located almost due north of the Four Peaks Mountains and high enough above Roosevelt Lake to afford a visitor excellent views of the peaks themselves.
Supposedly named for a rock formation in the Salome Creek drainage, the trail is situated in the foothills of the Sierra Ancha Mountains. The trail leads into Boyer Canyon and the narrow gorge that contains Salome Creek. At the southern entrance to the canyon, the impressive escarpment of Boyer Ridge looms high overhead as it juts up over the trail's beginning in the form of a massive granite wall known as Dutchman Butte.
At the bottom of the gorge, the creek rushes down to a wide floodplain that eventually drains into the lake several miles to the west. Panoramic views of the Four Peaks Massif and the sprawling lake below them abound. Midwinter to late spring is probably the best time to make this hike as the area is far too hot and exposed at other times of the year.
The sounds of rushing and gurgling water soon reach your ears as you make your way down from the trailhead to the creek.
Leaving the rocky, somewhat barren foothills behind, a visitor enters a landscape typical of this part of the Tonto Basin. True Sonoran Desert vegetation borders both sides of the trail. Giant saguaro cacti stand along side, each one a unique combination of limbs and trunk.
Beavertail and organ pipe varieties of cacti, the occasional ocotillo plant, and the ever-present scrub brush, add to the desert landscape.
Farther along the trail, the land levels off and riparian growth begins to emerge near the creek. Deer, javelina and smaller wildlife are common inhabitants of the canyon. Cattle also roam freely in the Salome Wilderness.
Beginning at the parking lot of the trailhead, the trail passes around several deep ravines as it makes its way along for the first 1.5 miles. At the end of this part of the trail, you will encounter a gate in a fence where the Forest Service has erected a sign indicating that you are entering the Salome Wilderness.
From this point on, the trail is less defined than on the other side, but it is still relatively easy to find.
It soon begins to parallel the left bank of Salome Creek as it heads into the heart of Boyer Canyon. For the first .75 miles, the creek lies deep in the gorge and several vistas along the trail afford visitors excellent views of the creek as it races downstream over boulders and through narrow chutes. After another quarter mile, the land flattens out and the trail provides easier access to the creek.
There are a number places along this stretch of its course where you can stop for a break or a quick snack, while enjoying the melodious sounds of the water.
As this is a very long trail, hikes of varied lengths can be taken, depending on time and interest. The trail eventually leads all the way to the Reynolds Creek Campground and trailhead.
A vehicle shuttle could be set up by leaving a vehicle at the trailhead at the Reynolds Creek Campground on Highway 228 (to Young). This road can be reached by continuing southeast on FSR 60 until it reaches Highway 288 near the A Cross Administration Site.
Turn left on Highway 288 to reach the campground. It is approximately 20 miles from the first trailhead. Other sections of the trail lead out of the Salome Wilderness and alternate routes can be taken. The Sierra Ancha Wilderness can be accessed from the Reynolds Creek Campground as it begins across Highway 288 and to the south. A trail from the campground leads into that wilderness.
To Get There
From the intersection of highways 87 and 260 in Payson, proceed west on Highway 87, through town, to the intersection with Highway 188 (to Globe). Turn left onto Highway 188 and continue on it until you past through Punkin Center.
Watch for Mile Marker 255 about 5 miles past the Center. Turn left onto Forest Service Road 60 (FSR 60), which is just past the bridge over Ash Creek at the mile marker. Follow this part gravel/part paved road for 2.25 miles. Stay on the main road and bear right until you reach the turnoff to Indian Point Recreation Site.
Turn left at a FSR 60 sign and continue on for another 7.8 miles. Watch for a small sign on the left just above the road that reads, "A Cross."
The parking lot for the trailhead is on the left side of the road just beyond the sign.