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 Gisela Ruins, AZ
Description 7 Triplogs 0 Topics
RatedFavorite   Wish List Region
 Payson South
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
Difficulty 1    Route Finding
Distance Round Trip 2.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,850 feet
Elevation Gain 240 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 3.7
Interest Ruins
Author Preston Sands
Descriptions 166
Routes 149
Photos 5,486
Trips 1,127 map ( 5,830 miles )
Age 37
Location Tucson, AZ
Rated Viewed All Mine Friends
3  2014-06-01 neilends
3  2014-06-01 neilends
1  2012-09-08 The NaviG8R
5  2011-01-22 Wild Bill
5  2010-10-25 Charger55
7  2009-10-04 andy_ellarby
17  2006-03-27 Preston Sands
Trailhead Forecast
Historical Weather
Map - Tonto National Forest - FS MAP
Forest Tonto
Backpack - Possible - Not Popular
Seasons - ALL
Alternative Routes
Nearby Hikes Area Water Sources
direct air miles away to trailhead
2.4  Black Mountain Ruin
2.9  Tonto Narrows
3.6  Del Shay Trail #41
5.2  Jake's Corner Ruin
5.7  South Fork - Gold Ridge Loop
5.7  Pocket Trail #38
[ View More! ]
     Salado Ceremonial Structure
     Salado Habitation
     Salado Structure - Unknown Fun
     Tarantula Hawk
     Devil's Claw

Walls of rocks at The Box
by Preston Sands

These Salado ruins along Tonto Creek just downstream of Gisela are described in Dave Wilson's book "Hiking Ruins Seldom Seen". Access to these ruins will not be possible if Tonto Creek is in flood stage.

Starting at the end of Tonto Creek Drive in the little village of Gisela, (just south of Buckboard Trail), follow the dusty 4x4 path through the cottonwoods and mesquite trees. Soon you will arrive at Tonto Creek, where, if it has not gone dry, you will find a nice swimming hole next to an unusual conglomerate rock formation. Look for a place where you can cross over to the east side of the creek (you may get wet), and go for it. On the east bank of the creek, there is a jeep trail that you can follow through the mesquite flats. There are many small roads criss-crossing this area, probably due to weekend parties . Soon the mesquite flat narrows, and eventually ends at a shelf of rock along Tonto Creek. Along here I came across the recent work of a beaver: a cottonwood tree cut down by teeth. Head downstream along the eastern bank for a short ways, and cross a dry wash coming in from the east (Cocomunga Canyon), until you reach the base of a hill on the east side of the creek. At the top of this hill is the ruin.

While hiking up the hillside, I came across several old rock walled terraces, with no apparent purpose. I wondered if these terraces were built by the Salado for dry farming. I continued the short climb up to the top of the hill through the jojoba bushes and junipers, and over to the rocky outcropping overlooking "The Box" on Tonto Creek. On top of this rocky granite hilltop, you will see chest high walls built of the red granite rocks that surround you. There is little to see here in the way of relics, but I did see of couple of rocks that could have been cutting tools. The big oval wall is the main attraction at these ruins, it is about sixty feet in diameter. After you have seen all you want, return the way you came. If there is water in Tonto Creek, this is a great hike to enjoy a way home swim.


    Directions Preferred Months Apr Sep Oct Nov
    Water / Source:Creek
    Preferred StartAny Cell Phone SignalYes Sunrise6:14am Sunset6:45pm
    Road / VehicleFR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay
    Fees / Permit

    Tonto Pass is a forest wide permit for recreational sites and campgrounds. Typically not for trailheads.

    To hike
    From Payson, head south on AZ highway 87 approximately 11 miles to the signed Gisela turnoff. Follow the paved Gisela road east about 4.4 miles to Tonto Creek Drive (the sign at the junction says Tonto Creek Shores), and turn right. Follow Tonto Creek Drive about 1.2 miles to its end, just past Buckboard Trail. Now you have left private land, so park where you wish. Begin hiking down the increasingly primitive Tonto Creek Drive as it heads towards Tonto Creek.
    Login for Mapped Driving Directions
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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