Another year, another awesome trip to check out Casner Mountain Trail! We've been pretty blessed to have been up the mountain 3 times now, once on a friend's trip, and twice leading it ourselves.
The trail is essentially a power line trail and is commonly used as a fire break (even as recently as 2021 with the Rafael Fire). The route runs over Casner Mountain itself and along some ridgebacks that split Sycamore Canyon (to the west) from the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness (to the east) in to two very distant geographies.
To help preserve the trail's condition, the USFS only allots 22 permits per year, limited to 10 vehicles/25 people per permit - so a pretty exclusive experience in Arizona, much less the greater region. It's a bit of a competitive process - but we prevailed!
In the image below, you can see my gorgeous wife (@Yodamom) posing with Casner Mountain, itself. Note the obvious power lines, and to the left of Michelle, you can see her pointing to the switchbacks that take you up the face of the mountain. This set of serious switchbacks helps you gain just over 2,000 ft of elevation in just under 2 miles. Vehicles equipped with low range can make easy work of it, however we had a Bronco Sport with us that seemed to do well in first gear without too much trouble (not equipped with low range).
All in all - the trail was in really good shape, having recently been graded for the Rafael Fire. The ultra low traffic helps as well, I'm sure. The rough monsoon we've been fortunate to have in 2021 and 2022 seemed to left Casner pretty unscathed as of our visit.
Below is some of our vehicle line up - overall pretty diverse. A JL, JK, 3 TJs, a baby Bronco, a full-size Bronco, and a Range Rover made this one of the most "representative" trips I've personally been on with ORP (except for Gala, of course!)
@English Al's JK, @Eugene's TJ, and @Sputternutz's sweet green Bronco pictured:
Here's @snoopy61's "baby" Bronco Sport:
Got to get a shot of my own rig in, of course! I might be a little biased... just a little.
Here's a nice shot of a monsoon storm DUMPING all over Sycamore Point in the Kaibab National Forest. You can see Bill Williams Mountain in the background, just left of the rain.
Our initial day started off gorgeous - maybe a tad warm at about 85 degrees. Massive puffy white clouds on the horizon, and our fair share of thunderheads. As we climbed the mountain and got deeper into the Coconino NF, we started to hear the distant rumble of thunder getting a lot closer.
Here's a nice shot of @Mike and Kristen Inkrott's well equipped Range Rover LR4. Gorgeous rig. I believe that is @rodrakejr's midnight blue TJ, followed by @Ladybug & @ob1jeeper in Gracie.
Another line-up, with @snoopy61 in the lead:
Another shot of @Ladybug / @ob1jeeper, @rodrakejr, and @Mike and Kristen Inkrott
We had several excellent views into Sycamore Canyon from a range of vantage points, thanks in part to the fire that cleared away a lot of brush and trees. Nice light in this photo due to a break in the clouds casting light on the western walls of Sycamore. Bill Williams Mt. makes another appearance on the right.
Once we broke for lunch, one of the storms was almost immediately upon us. Loads of lightning and some pretty vocal thunder. Then came the rain - which was constant for almost the entire duration of our time on the trails. It was a bit of a bummer, since we were sort of stuck in our vehicles - anyone who knows me know I like to socialize!
Another poser shot!
Here's another pretty dynamic look into Sycamore. Note the fire damage in the foreground - remnants of the Rafael burn scar. Bill Williams (again) on the right on the horizon. Quite a bit of rain in the air caused some nice "atmosphere" for this one:
Cows. In a field. Well - not really a field. This used to be a lake! Fry Lake, by name, long since drained and turned into a beautiful pasture with a ton of happy cows.
Another view from Fry Lake - wild flowers in full bloom - and some bovine buffet action happening in the background.
If you guys have any photos or videos to share - please do! We'd all love to see you point of view and hear about your experiences on the trail. It makes for great memories as well, looking back on past trips.