Here's a scenic trail that starts out from the bottom of the Blue instead of from the top. Actually, you can hike any of the rim-to-river Blue Trails from the canyon floor as well as from the rim, but this one is made for it. Starting out at the bottom means you're in a desert environment right from the beginning.
As with all Wilderness and Primitive Area trails, the Tutt Creek Trail (# 105) is open to hiking and horse use, but all types of motorized and mechanized travel are prohibited.
A good part of this trail is actually in a riparian or streamside habitat rather than a desert. Here you'll find narrowleaf cottonwood and a few well-off old ponderosa rather than cactus. Even when the trail climbs a saddle or follows a ridge, it's not in the same type of desert most people think of when they think of Arizona -- no saguaros, but you may see a road runner. On the lower hillsides and ridges of the Blue, the most noticeable vegetation is juniper trees. Look underneath them and in the exposed areas on dry hillsides and you will see some cacti, mostly prickly pear and an occasional cholla.
You'll also see wildflowers. Desert wildflowers are best in the spring. Look for various kinds of paintbrush and prickle poppies. There are a number of different kinds of hedgehog cacti here too, with some of the brightest blooms you'll see anywhere. Watch for movement among the rocks too. This area is home to a herd of Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep.
On the ridge between Tutt and Foote Creeks you'll get some big, broad views of the Blue Range and the canyon it shelters before you drop down into Foote Creek Canyon and trail's end at its junction with the Foote Creek Trail (# 76). At this point, if you've set up a shuttle, you can head down to the Blue by way of the Foote Creek Trail to complete a loop or head upstream on Foote Creek Trail toward the canyon rim 11 miles and 3,000 feet away.
0.0 Trailhead on Red Hill road, Forest Road 567
0.8 Follow jeep trail to the junction with Bush Creek. The trail crosses Bush Creek at this point and enters mouth of Tutt Creek
2.1 The trail leaves Tutt Creek and ascends a ridge to the left
3.2 Crosses saddle on ridge. Old wood stock feeder station on right
3.4 Cleveland Spring, developed as a livestock water source
4.2 Junction with Foote Creek Trail (# 76) at old wooden corral
USGS Maps: Maness
At a Glance
No mechanized vehicles (including mountain bikes) permitted in Primitive area.
Cleveland Spring and the various creeks in the area provide water suitable for stock animals only, u
Drive 14.5 miles south along US 191 to Forest Road 567 (Red Hill Road). Turn east and follow this very scenic back road 11 miles as it descends to a jeep road that branches off to the right. This junction is about 1/2 mile before you reach the Blue River. If you have a sturdy high clearance vehicle you can drive the 0.8 miles to the Blue Primitive Area Boundary. If not, you'd better hike it. In winter take the Blue River Road (Forest Road 281) to Forest Road 567 and turn right 1/2 mile to the jeep road.