Turkey Butte Lookout Loop
Kachina Village, Arizona (Coconino) Technical Rating: 1-5
Last Updated: 11-17-2016
Coconino National Forest
Turkey Butte Lookout Loop Highlights
If you like fire lookout stations and muddy roads, you'll love this trail. While the southern portion is muddy and rocky, the funnest part of this trail is easily accessed until you reach the gate that stops you from driving all the way to Turkey Butte Lookout Tower. The remaining trip to the tower will require hiking up a steep dirt road, and depending on who is manning the tower you may or may not be allowed a tour.
Technical rating: (1-5) Easy-Moderate
Rutted and/or rocky road. No shelves. Rocks up to 12" and water crossings up to 12" with possible currents. Passable mud. Moderate grades to 15 degrees. 6" holes. Side hill to 20 degrees. 4WD required. No width problems.
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Directions to Trailhead
You can find Turkey Butte Lookout Tower in the deeper parts of the western portion of Coconino National Forest. The easiest way to get through the maze of forest roads in the area is to take Woody Mountain Road / FR 231 from Flagstaff, south onto FR 538, then continue south to 538D. You can also get there from Highway 89A via FR 535 then Fry Lake Trail / FR 536, which will drop you off right at the intersection with East Pocket Road / FR 231 and FR 538.
This off-road dirt trail that is often muddy, and in some spots very rocky and rutted. It can even be snowed over during winter months. Four-wheel drive is recommended to help keep you from getting stuck in the mud, and high clearance is needed on the southern portions of the trail. The most challenging part of the trip - unless you like hiking - is the optional climb up to the lookout tower.
1: FR 538 North Intersection (0.0mi)
Head east from this intersection. This is also the northern most portion of Jerome Road.
2: FR 231A Intersection (0.6mi)
Continue straight past this intersection as it curves to the south. To the north is Fernow and Tram Tanks Trail
4: FR 6146 Intersection to Tower (1.2mi)
Continue straight at this intersection to continue on the trail. Optionally you can stop by the gate, and hike your way up to the tower.
5: FR 6233 Intersection (1.3mi)
Continue straight past this intersection. Heading east will take you towards the high voltage power-lines and dispersed camping areas. Turkey Butte Tank is also near-by.
6: Rough Hill (1.5mi)
This is a rough, muddy, rutted, and rocky hill. Take it slow as the rutted mud-puddles will hide some very rocky terrain.
7: FR 538 South Intersection (1.7mi)
You can head north to at this intersection with FR 538 / Jerome Road to complete the loop.
Camping and Lodging
There are plenty of disperse camping spots in this area, including along the southern portion of the trail; however, but the best are going to be at the southern end of East Pocket Lookout Road / FR 231 on the edge of the Mogollon Rim.