As of mid-April 2018, the Pole Bridge Trail has several blown out sections in the lower mile, plus over 200 trees down along its length, with over 60 of those in the area of the old Johnson Peak fire.
Length: 3.7 mi
The Pole Bridge Trail is accessible from three locations.
The lower elevation northern terminus (31.86151, -109.33800) is on the south side of Turkey Creek Road (FR 41), a quarter mile west of Sycamore Campground and a tenth of a mile south of the Mormon Ridge Trail trailhead. There are several single-car pulloffs along the road near the Pole Bridge trailhead. There is a large sign at the trailhead.
The John Long Trail connects in from the southwest at Pole Bridge Saddle. (31.83986, -109.34435) This is a signed junction.
From the trailhead along Turkey Creek Road (FR 41), the Pole Bridge Trail heads south along the drainage bottom. Several bedrock pools and short waterfalls can be seen just off the left side of the trail. The lower end of the Pole Bridge Trail was fairly heavily burned and impacted by post-fire flooding, and the condition of the trail in the first ½ to ¾ mile is not always very good. ¼ mile beyond the trailhead, a side drainage crosses the trail and has covered it with a gravel flow. Rock cairns and flagging tape mark the correct route through the obscured stretch.
After another 0.4 mile, the trail having entered largely unburned forest and its condition improving somewhat along the way, it begins a steep climb out of the drainage bottom. The next ⅔ mile remain switchback-free but climbing nearly the entire time. Seventeen switchbacks follow over the following mile. The climb is largely shaded, but fire has made some openings in the canopy and created viewpoints where a wide range of scenery can be observed, from Cochise Head to Fly Peak.
The trail emerges from its climb at Pole Bridge Saddle, (31.83986, -109.34435) where the John Long Trail connects in from the southwest, marked by a sign and a partially collapsed fence. The Pole Bridge Trail crosses the saddle and exits to the southeast.
The feeling of the trail changes here as it crosses to the other side of the ridge and contours along the top end of John Long Canyon. Ascending still but much more gradually, the trail swings to the south after ⅓ mile and climbs through a final pair of switchbacks. Another 0.1 mile and it emerges onto another saddle, the site of an old burn. (31.83587, -109.33895) Bleached white dead trees are still standing everywhere, a site once common along the Crest Trail, and thousands of very healthy looking pine and fir saplings are growing up to replace them.
Heading east out of the saddle, the trail remains in the burned area for the next ¼ mile. Due to the numerous dead trees, expect frequent deadfall across the trail. The sight of the lush green new growth is well worth it, however.
After exiting the burn, (31.83575, -109.33493) there's only a slight climb left, then it's a gradual descent over the final ⅔ mile to the Turtle Mountain Trail junction. (31.82812, -109.33342) This is marked by two signs and is a short distance east of a small unnamed saddle. To the right, the Turtle Mountain Trail swings south and heads down towards the peak it's named after, and eventually Sycamore Canyon off of Rucker Canyon. To the left, it heads northeast to the Morse Canyon Trail and eventually ends below Monte Vista Peak.
Last updated April 18, 2018.