How to get there: This trail begins at the end of our West Fork Black River Trail. This is located on F.R. 25 between the East Fork and West Fork at approx. 33.762849° -109.356457°. Alternatively, you can begin in the town of Alpine and drive this trail in reverse. This trail combined with the West Fork Trail makes a loop to Big Lake. If you’re coming from Alpine, head north on US-191/180 for 1.8 miles. Turn left onto Three Forks road. Continue east on the paved road for 5.3 miles. After a cattle guard, turn left onto the dirt road marked F.R. 81. The trail begins to the south here. Staging available just south of the road.
The trail: From the 4-way intersection at the end of the West Fork Trail (intersection of F.R. 24, F.R. 25, & F.R. 276), head east on F.R. 276. The road immediately parallels the East Fork of the Black River, passing a small bridge on the right as you head northeast. The road meanders as it follows the river through the narrow valley. At some points, the road gets narrower and passing another vehicle requires you to pull off a little. The trail remains uneventful but especially scenic. Stay straight at 1.9 miles as the road passes through a campground on the right. The road resumes following the river at 2.4 miles after the campground.
The scenery continues to amaze as the trail slowly climbs along the East Fork. Some Wallow Fire damage is visible around 5.0 miles. The road makes a left turn at 5.3 miles where there is another campground off to the right. After this, the valley walls becomes more pronounced. At 6.1 miles the road crosses a bridge across the East Fork before continuing northeast. The trail passes Diamond Rock Campground and then makes a right turn away from the East Fork at 6.7 miles. From here, the trial begins climbing to 8,500’ as it heads east. Ignore side roads as you continue to pass through Wallow Fire damage.
At 9.3 miles, the trail enters a meadow with numerous small tanks and streams depending on the time of year. At 10.3 miles at the end of the meadow, you’ll come to a junction. Continue straight on the more traveled road onto F.R. 81. To the left is F.R. 403 which heads back to Big Lake. The road comes to a large clearing and ends at the paved Three Forks Road at 13.0 miles. To the left is Big Lake. Continuing to the right will take you to Alpine. Alpine is about 7 miles away and has food, gas, and places to stay.
Summary/Trail Ratings: The 13 miles from the West Fork, up along the East Fork to Alpine should take about an hour. Allow more time to do additional trails in the area. You could easily extend your weekend by camping or staying at a nearby cabin. There’s lots of great sights and roads to drive on in the area, and really, your course will depend on your destination and what you want to see. All of this trail is an easy forest road. As some points it can be a little narrow and washboardy. We’ve rated it a ‘2’ out of ‘10’. Low clearance vehicles can do this from spring to fall. This trail is closed in the winter time.
Status: Seasonal | Trail Type: One way | Length: 13 miles one-way | Approx. Time: about 1 hour
On what might be one of the greatest drives in the state, head east along the beautiful East Fork of the Black River high in the White Mountains. The trail follows the river through a scenic valley before climbing to end at the small town of Alpine.
Page last updated: 7/22/2016