The Trotter Trail is a 10 mile long trail that begins at the Middle Fork Trail – Trail #157 to the West Fork Trail – Trail #151.
Trail Conditions: Good
From the Middle Fork Trail – Trail #157 in Trotter Meadows, cross to the south side of the creek. Although there is no official junction, follow the Trotter Trail – Trail #30, which is well-defined, into Swinging Cross Canyon.
The trail leads into the canyon for a short while before beginning to climb up its eastern flanks. This climb can be steep at points, but is relatively short and you should reach the top of the mesa in under 30 minutes. The next 1.5 miles are fairly easy walking, cruising atop the mesa. Enjoy the views over swinging cross canyon and of Lilley Mountain.
After about 1 mile, the trail turns back towards the canyon and then follows a small ridge downhill, cropping into Clear Creek. Considering the record winter, there was ample water in the stream, but even the previous fall, following an abysmal year for precipitation, the creek was flowing, so this should be a dependable water source.
The trail crosses Clear Creek and leads into a narrow draw that has occasional water. It climbs modestly to a junction with the Chicken Coop Trail – Trail #29. Stay straight to remain on the Trotter Trail, heading downhill into another small drainage. Also, be sure to lookout for wildlife. Here, we were lucky enough to spot a decent sized cinnamon black bear ascending the adjacent hillside.
Upon reaching the bottom of this small draw, the trail turns right and follows it upstream to a small divide. The trail once again drops down into another small valley, also with fairly reliable water fed by the Lilley Park Stream. The trail once again follows the small creek upstream through a pretty meadow with large, old-growth oak trees. Before leaving this small valley, you may spot a sign post without the sign that once marked the spring.
The trail meanders for the next 1.5 miles over a relatively flat mesa and leads to a small peninsula looking over the West Fork. Before dropping in and making the final switchbacked decent, you should be able to see the roof of the White Creek Cabin.Shortly after leaving the spring, you will arrive at Lilley Park proper, a good-sized meadow that should make an ideal spot to take a final rest before the final push. There is also a junction with the Lilley Park Trail – Trail #164. Go straight, continuing to follow the Trotter Trail to its terminus at the West Fork of the Gila River.
To the river, the trail makes long, slow switchbacks across loose stone. Although you might be anxious to reach the river, you will also be thankful the trail isn’t much steeper as the poor footing would be made next to impossible.
For more detailed information, see the trip report for Aeroplane Mesa-White Creek Loop.