Nov 07 2014
From The Arizona Republic
Unless you are prone to taking long detours down bumpy gravel roads just to see what's out there, you're unlikely to stumble into Young. You have to want to go there.
Young — population about 600; elevation, more than 5,100 feet — is on State Route 288 between Payson and Roosevelt Lake. It's where elk hunters go for shelter on cold autumn nights, where hikers escape the summer heat of Phoenix, where anglers unwind after trying their luck on nearby streams, where dudes go to ride horses.
It was the site of one of Arizona's bloodiest feuds, the Pleasant Valley War. The dispute between the Tewksbury and Graham families began with the killing of a hired hand in 1887 and ended with the slaying of Tom Graham in 1892. Pretty much everyone in both families was dead by the time it was over.
To the south of the tiny community is the Sonoran Desert. You'll cross the Salt River and pass through the Sierra Ancha Mountains on a twisty road that takes a few hours to traverse.
To the north is a long, twisty road that connects to SR 260 east of Payson. Whether you approach from the north or the south, take your time and enjoy the views. Half the fun of going to Young is getting there.
Every July, Young celebrates its history with Pleasant Valley Days, a weekend festival that includes historical presentations, food, drink, a roping event and beer garden. Whether you visit to fish, hike or just smell the pines, Young is a worthwhile destination.
Things to do
Canyon Creek: A favorite among trout fisherman, the creek winds through a mountain meadow under high bluffs.
In the section above the OW Bridge, which is just before the signed Canyon Creek Hatchery turnoff, you can fish with bait and keep up to four fish. Most of these are rainbow trout and get fished out by mid-autumn. Below the bridge, it's catch-and-release fishing with flies or lures with single, barbless hooks. This section has small, wild brown trout (with a few big ones). Browns can be notoriously moody and tough to catch, so have patience.
The lower reaches of Canyon Creek were hit hard by the Rodeo-Chediski Fire in 2002. You can see the devastation from the fire — plenty of scorched tree trunks — but some nice areas of recovery as well.
To get to Canyon Creek, go about 45 miles east of Payson on SR 260, then turn south (right) on Forest Road 512. (The road also is known as Young Road, Young-Heber Road and From the Desert to Tall Pines Scenic Road. Whew.) Continue south for 3 miles, then turn east (left) on FR 33.
After about 3 more miles, you'll come to a fork. Turn right to get to lower Canyon Creek, about another 3 miles ahead. Or turn left at the fork and you'll come to a fish hatchery and Airplane Flat Campground after about 2 miles.
Details: 602-942-3000, www.azgfd.gov/w_c/CanyonCreekRiparianRestoration.shtml.
Canyon Creek Hatchery: The fish hatchery, which raises about 240,000 catchable-size trout and more than 500,000 fingerlings annually, is open for self-guided tours. If you're lucky, you may see the fish being fed. You also can learn about the Arizona Game and Fish Department's fisheries program. An easy trail near the hatchery moves upstream from OW Bridge.
Details: 928-535-5475, www.azgfd.gov/h_f/hatcheries_canyon_creek.shtml.
Hell's Hole Trail, No. 284: This is a challenging outing for well-prepared hikers.
It begins with a gradual ascent on a wide trail with a shady expanse of oak and juniper. After a while, the trail narrows. You'll bypass a ranch on the left, then descend to Workman Creek. From here, the trail climbs to an open ridgeline. After about a mile it begins to drop steeply into Hell's Hole, circling back to Workman Creek, where you'll find smooth granite boulders and plenty of shade.
Take a break there — you deserve it. There are a few campsites for backpackers. Some are a little beat up, so be sure to take out your trash. To return to the trailhead, go back the way you came. Carry plenty of water for the climb out.
To reach the trailhead from Globe, take SR 88 about 15 miles northwest to SR 288. Turn right and drive north on the mostly gravel road for about 27 miles to the trailhead, which is on the left near the Reynolds Creek group campsite.
Be aware that rough roads can make access difficult, and trails on older maps may no longer exist because of wildfire, neglect and other factors.
Details: 928-402-6200, www.fs.usda.gov/tonto.
Haigler Creek: This perennial stream has a couple of small campgrounds and day-use areas near Young. Haigler Canyon and Alderwood campgrounds have sites near the creek. Neither campground is very large, and services are pretty much limited to pit toilets. For an easy hike, take the trail from Fisherman's Point, off FR 200. It's about a quarter-mile to the creek. Arizona Game and Fish stocks Haigler with small rainbow trout during the summer.
Details: 928-402-6200, www.fs.usda.gov/tonto.
Braswell's Chuckwagon: Gifts, cards, fabrics, antiques, quilting supplies. Key chains, jams, honey, books. Outside, an old-style chuck wagon lets you know you've found the place. Inside, a 1917 Model T truck is surrounded by arts and crafts, quilts and other items. The store also has a good selection of books on the Pleasant Valley War.
Details: On SR 288 in Young. 928-462-3661.
Where to stay
Cherry Creek Cabins: If you're going to Young to get away from it all, this is the place.
The cabin has a kitchen, living room and bedroom. You'll want to spend time on the front porch, listening to the rain, watching the hummingbirds. A grill and picnic tables make outdoor dining easy. The cabin also has satellite television, a fireplace, ceiling fans, Internet access and a hammock where you can contemplate life's mysteries. Such as: Why is it called Cherry Creek Cabins if there is just one cabin?
A washer and dryer are available. Rental is $159, and $99 for a second night. About a mile off SR 288; you'll get directions when you make your reservation.
Details: 480-420-4515, cherrycreekcabins.com.
Dead Broke Saloon and Lodge: Ever wished you could drink a cold one in your own Wild West saloon? The Dead Broke gives you that opportunity. It's a bed-and-breakfast with a common area where guests can play cards, shoot pool, cook and knock back a few beers at an old-fashioned bar. Just bring your own beverages. The place doesn't have a liquor license.
Owners Robin and Karla Alborn have built an authentic-looking saloon with salvage materials from a house, water tanks, scrap, whatever they could find. In back of the saloon are two guest rooms, a balcony and a kitchen. There also is a detached guestroom with kitchen and bath.
Rooms cost $90 for two people, $15 for each additional person.
Details: On SR 288 in Young. 928-462-4022, deadbrokecorral.com.
Pleasant Valley Inn: This may offer your best odds of getting a room. With 10 units, Pleasant Valley is the closest thing Young has to a motel. We tried to have a look around but the innkeeper wasn't available when we poked our heads in. $72-$80. Reservations are recommended.
Details: On SR 288 in Young. 928-462-3593.
Valley View: Two cabins with kitchenettes are on the south end of town. Valley View is perfect for bargain hunters: Rooms cost $50-$55, with an additional $5 per person if you have more than two people. It's popular among hunters during the fall. Cash or checks only.
Details: On SR 288 in Young. 928-462-3422.
Cherry Creek Lodge: This high-end dude ranch has horseback riding, fishing, a gun range, archery and other activities.
Rooms range from the cozy Queen Anne with a queen bed and shared bathroom ($165) to the spacious Owner's Hideaway with a fireplace and patio ($300). A bunkhouse with kitchenette sleeps nine. The property, which once belonged to a member of the Tewksbury family, has a large living room with a fireplace, plus a grill where you can cook dinner.
Cherry Creek is a working cattle ranch. Guests can take part in roundups. The ranch also has chickens, goats and horses.
"We're a beef-producing ranch," manager Sheri Bentley said. "We have chickens, so we have fresh eggs every morning for our guests."
Details: About 5 miles off SR 288 near Young. 928-462-4027, cherrycreeklodge.com.
Where to eat
Antlers Cafe and Bar: This comfy little cafe has lots of deer mounts, barbed wire, lanterns and other Western decor.
The menu features burgers, sandwiches, salads, appetizers and dinners. The Messy Pork sandwich is pulled pork with a 20-spice barbecue sauce, and Trish's Greasy Patty Melt is an 8-ounce burger with grilled onions, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing on toasted rye. Each costs less than $10. Desserts are made from scratch. The flourless chocolate cake begins with 36 eggs and four pounds of chocolate. You won't walk away hungry, hon.
Outdoor seating is available. Antlers is closed Mondays and Tuesdays and is not open for breakfast.
Details: On SR 288 in Young. 928-462-3265, or find the restaurant on Facebook.
Getting to Young
Young is on State Route 288 southeast of Payson and northwest of Globe. Much of the driving is on graded, unpaved mountain roads. In good weather, conditions are suitable for most cars. The road can be treacherous or impassible after rain or snow, so check weather conditions before you go. You may prefer a high-clearance vehicle in any weather.
From the north: Take SR 87 north to Payson, then SR 260 east for about 45 miles to Forest Road 512. Go south (right) on FR 512 for about 26 miles to Young.
From the south: Take U.S. 60 east to Globe, then SR 188 north toward Roosevelt Lake. After about 15 miles, miles, turn north (right) on SR 288 and drive 47 miles to Young.
This article was originally published in The Arizona Republic.