We walked part of the Beale Wagon Road on another trip to Williams when we went to Laws Spring. This trip we decided to hike the section on Government Prairie.
Following the reasonably good dirt road from Old Route 66, through the small settlement and across grassland covered in wildflowers
we arrived at the parking area which is marked by a stone marker. The marker tells how Lt. Edward Beale was charged with developing a wagon road from Fort Defiance (now in Arizona) along the 35th parallel to the Colorado River. Beale used camels to determine their suitability for use in the deserts of the American South West, Beale loved the camels the cowboys hated them. However, with the advent of the Civil war the experiment was dropped.
Following our trusty trail guide we headed off along the trail passing the remains of an old building
before arriving at the wooden trail marker. At this point the trail we were following left the wagon road heading out across the open prairie to the forest where after just over a mile the trail came back onto the wagon road on the prairie.
Checking our compass we headed off in what, according to our guide, appeared to be the right direction, no sign of any trail or trail markers anywhere, we retraced our steps
And set off at a different angle, still no trail markers, so back we went to our original spot.
We thought third time's the charm so we'd try what we thought was totally the wrong direction and guess what it was! So once more back we went to our original spot beside the marker.
Hmm……. so now what? We could see the afternoon monsoon clouds starting to build and one thing we have learned in all our years of hiking in the US is that forests here are huge so we feel much safer if we have a proper trail to follow.
The trail is there, somewhere, but unusually for us we just couldn’t see it, I bet if we come back another time we’ll find it straight away, this time however we decided to give it a miss. Good job we weren’t in charge of a wagon train!
Have fun, we are!