Battleground Ridge

Payson, Arizona (Coconino County)

Last Updated: 07/09/2021
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Highlight: Battleground Ridge
In 1862 some White Mountain Apache warriors, led by Na-tio-tish, got into an altercation with, and killed, several policemen in San Carlos, Arizona. Some 80 warriors, chased by U.S. cavalry, crossed the Tonto Basin and climbed onto the Mogollon Rim. They laid a trap for the pursuing cavalry on a rugged side canyon of East Clear Creek. The cavalry's scout ferreted out the trap. The fight raged for an afternoon until a severe afternoon thunderstorm halted hostilities. The warriors escaped in the night and returned to the reservation leaving behind 20 dead Apaches and two dead and six wounded among the cavalry troops. Nearly lost to history, today a lonely marker stands on the site and the entire area is called Battleground Ridge. Battleground Ridge, also known as FR 123, is a distinctive trail for two reasons. First is the obvious connection to the obscure bloody battle fought here. Secondly, an aqueduct that pumps water from the C.C. Cragin Reservoir down to the city of Payson runs along a portion of the trail. You can see the access points roadside, round metal covers every hundred or so yards along the trail. A small powerline brings electricity to the pump station near Waypoint 10. But take a step away from both the history and the modern and you overwhelmingly sense the remoteness of this place deep in the uplifted country of the Mogollon Rim. The wind, as it always has, sings through the upper branches of the tall Ponderosa Pines. Elk bugle on the ridges and down in the deep canyons. Huge flocks of shy wild turkey scratch the forest floor for a meal. Gazing across the deep canyon at the end of the trail to the distant forest blanketed ridgelines of this wild landscape, both the past and present seem very far away.
For individual use only, not to be shared.