U-Bar Trail We need this wild life! A trip to Zane Gray’s hunting cabin.

The Proper Function

Cure Your Cabin Fever

There will be no Cabin Fever on this Proper Function! We set out on the U-Bar Trail to explore a portion of the historic Cabin Loop Trail System. This trail system served as a pathway to fire guard the Coconino Forest during the early 1900’s. It adventures through some of the most spec-tac-ular country as you encounter lush vegetation, diverse landforms and  fresh water springs. Lastly, you get to step in the ruins of a cabin once inhabited by Zane Grey


U-Bar Trail

The U-Bar Trail courses a 6.5 mile stretch between Pinchot and Dane Cabin, but does continue deeper to join the Barbershop Trail. Park at Pinchot Cabin Trailhead. Appreciate the treasure of the Pinchot Cabin that sits shortly down the draw through the green gate. This cabin was used by and named for Gifford Pinchot, the father of the US Forest Service.


“I need this wild life, this freedom.” – Zane Gray

A sign reads “U-Bar Trail” towards the beginning of Houston Brothers Trail, it is best you hike back toward the parking area and you will see a dirt road ascend the mountain. The U-Bar Trail is pretty well maintained and if you start to lose the trail, look for the trail blazes which will guide you the entire distance. Not sure how to read trail blazes? Check out the Railroad Tunnel Post to learn how. Like a motion-picture, you will continue through Dick Hart Draw – note the large brown water tank on your left.



The trail travels across FR 96 and descends gradually until you reach the limestone lip of Barbershop Canyon. The trail and canyon is named after a local sheepherder who was known for his shearing (aka barbering) skills. Before reaching the bottom, there is a rock on the right which is inscribed ‘U.S.F.S 1920″ by one of the original trail architects! It’s a rock that launches this function into a proper status!


You will eventually reach FR141 which you will cross. The wrestling of switchbacks will begin as you descend/ascend Dane Canyon.  At the bottom of Dane Canyon, there is a beautiful campsite that sits in a lush green meadow. As long as you have water in the draw and there is no report of storms, this is a perfect place to pitch a tent or just stop for lunch. As you ascend in full eagerness, the Dane Cabin gently comes into your view.

Dane Springs Cabin

Dane Cabin is said to have been Zane Grey’s hunting cabin at one-time, though I have not found a legitimate resource to confirm this statement. Regardless, it’s what makes this voyage a legitimate Proper Function. Imagine the cabin shortly after its construction. The year is1920 and you are sitting in this cabin, perhaps with Zane Grey? Candles illuminate the fresh cut logs as you sip rye whiskey.  Imagine it for awhile. Go there!


Dane Springs is fed by a metal pipe leading from the old cabin well. This has been a very reliable water source, but it is always smart to waypoint other options such as: Houston Draw, Barbershop Canyon, McClintock Draw and Dane Canyon. It is recommended that you filter all water in the backcountry. Five minutes of filtering or five days of bloody diarrhea associated with vomiting – you choose.

In Memorandum


Personally, I struggled wildly on whether or not to include this within the function. But, it continues to affect me on a very deep level and while I strive to make my posts proper, sometimes mother nature has other plans. At Pinchot Trailhead, I met a group of backpackers. We had shared similar experiences and their souls were all full of energy as we were to embark on The U-Bar Trail. While we had plans to stop at Dane Cabin, they were going to continue onto the Barbershop Trail.

During this function, we were all hit by an enormous storm on a day that called for clear weather. Thunder rolled on top of us like a steam locomotive as we quickly setup shelter from the fierce lightning, rain and hail. The other group was struck by lightning, leaving one dead and several others injured. TPF sends its prayers out to everyone affected both physically, emotionally and spiritually by this terrible event.

In memory of Christine Garcia.


Zane GreyCabin Loop Trail
1_WidePhotoPearl Zane Grey (January 31, 1872 – October 23, 1939) was an American dentist and author best known for his popular adventure novels and stories associated with the Western genre in literature and the arts; he idealized the American frontier. Riders of the Purple Sage (1912) was his best-selling book. In addition to the commercial success of his printed works, they had second lives and continuing influence when adapted as films and television productions. His novels and short stories have been adapted into 112 films, two television episodes, and a television series, Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater.
1_WidePhotoThe Cabin Loop Trail System is the link between the earliest fire guard cabin network in this area of the Mogollon Rim and has its roots in the beginning of the Forest Service era here. The trail was developed between the General Springs Cabin, Pinchot Cabin, and Buck Springs Fire Guard Station. Administratively, the cabins were part of the Bly Ranger District, now the Blue Ridge Office of the Mogollon Rim Ranger District.
This Proper Function
(Approximate Data)
Party Cloudy
2,315ftElevation 13.7hrsDistance From You
State, RegionArizona,Northeast
Coordinates34.432967°, -111.215359°
DirectionsView on Google Maps


Dan is an explorer for The Outbound and founder of The Proper Function, an outdoor editorial. He is passionate about exploration and can’t stay put for more than a week.