As of early May 2016, the entire length of the Turkey Pen Trail has been cleared of logs and brushed by a volunteer trail crew. Some areas remain grassy or prone to grass overgrowth, but as this trail largely follows a historic logging road, it's not generally hard to follow in these areas.
Length: 3.14 mi
The Turkey Pen Trail can be accessed from three locations.
The southern terminus (31.86626, -109.34828) is along Turkey Creek Road (FR 41), 0.67 mile east of the National Forest boundary. There is a fee-free parking space along the road just west of the signed trailhead.
A little over halfway up the trail north of the southern terminus, the Fife Canyon Trail connects in from the north-northwest. (31.88603, -109.35107) This is a signed junction.
The northern terminus (31.89693, -109.33687) is along the Rock Creek Trail at Fitch Corral, 150 feet southeast of that trail's junction with the Fitch Corral Trail. There is a sign for that trail at this junction.
From the signed trailhead along Turkey Creek Road, the trail begins climbing immediately for about 100 feet before passing through a pedestrian gate (31.86645, -109.34844). It briefly levels out on a flat shelf above the road, and a large signboard lies to the east of the trail just beyond. 75 feet past the gate, the trail angles to the northeast slightly and begin climbing. In about 400 feet, there is a bend to the northwest, marked by a sign with an arrow (31.86761, -109.34798). The steep climb begins here, and for the next ⅓ mile the trail ascents through a switchback over occasionally very rocky terrain. Just south of a saddle, the trail comes to the Wilderness boundary and passes through another pedestrian gate. (31.87087, -109.35063)
It's less than 100 feet to the top of the saddle, which provides the last clear view from this trail into West Turkey Creek Canyon, and then it's ⅓ mile of downhill walking through several gradual switchbacks until the trail reaches and crosses the bottom of a small side drainage off Turkey Pen Canyon. (31.87381, -109.35004) It then heads northwest for a quarter mile, initially along the creek, before coming to Turkey Pen Corral (31.87615, -109.35308) and swinging north. Soon after it begins to parallel Turkey Pen Creek itself. A large number of rock check dams can be seen in the numerous side drainages through this area.
A little over half a mile north of Turkey Pen Corral, the trail briefly crosses Turkey Pen Creek (31.88275, -109.35220) and occasionally drops directly into the creekbed itself over the next 500 feet as it bends to the east. Before the creek curves back northwest, the trail climbs up the west bank (31.88382, -109.35157) and is quite wide, likely the remnants of a historical road. Bedrock pools and short cascades can be seen just below to the east over the next 900 feet. At the next large bend to the east, a sign marks the junction with the Fife Canyon Trail, (31.88603, -109.35107) which climbs steeply to the southwest before swinging north.
The trail is very easy to follow as it leaves the Fife Canyon Trail junction, staying on the north side of the creek for 1000 feet before crossing to the south side but staying close for 0.4 mile. It crosses again immediately upstream of a check dam across Turkey Pen Creek (31.88889, -109.34233) and begins climbing a steep slope. This climb is the worst condition segment of the trail and has washed away in places. After 800 feet it crosses a saddle (31.89077, -109.34145) and levels out, contouring along above Rock Canyon for a little over a third of a mile to another saddle (31.89476, -109.33900) before dropping down to Fitch Corral and its northern terminus at the Rock Creek Trail. (31.89693, -109.33687) This junction is unsigned.
Fitch Corral itself lies just to the north across Rock Creek, and the Fitch Corral Trail junction is 150 feet northwest along the Rock Creek Trail.
If you wish to make a loop back to the southern terminus of the Turkey Pen Trail, you can take the Rock Creek Trail west approximately 2.4 miles to the Fife Canyon Trail and take it south approximately 1.3 miles to reconnect with Turkey Pen for a total round trip hike of approximately 6.9 miles.
Alternatively, from the northern terminus of Turkey Pen you can head east on the Rock Creek Trail for 1.79 miles and turn right onto the (steep!) Saulsbury Saddle Trail for 0.4 mile and then take the Saulsbury Trail down from the saddle for 2.31 miles to its trailhead at the end of the Saulsbury Road (FR 632) and follow the roads back 0.59 mile to the Turkey Pen trailhead, for a total round trip hike of 8.25 miles.
Last updated May 3, 2017.