I've done the loop about Cottonwood Spring, where the spring is the eastern boundary of the loop, a number of times. So this morning I made an early start on this loop (with the Spring serving as the western bound of the loop). I opted to begin the loop about 1/2 mile south of the starting point of the GPS route posted by; and, as it turned out, this worked out just fine for me. This initial 1/2 mile through the Spring provided an unusually green and grassy trek and one would not imagine that the "desert" was only a few feet away. In fact, I would recommend, for the "Packsaddle" portion of this route, that the hiker remain within the Spring at all times and avoid the jeep trail, availing you of the opportunity to enjoy the scenery. Unfortunately, both paths are becoming subject to more frequent use by motorized vehicles and the accompanying morons who seem to feel that the desert is their personal trash bin. It never ceases to amaze me that there are those self-centered individuals who "appreciate" the outdoors and yet care nothing for its continued enjoyment by others.
Shortly after the turn south and up into the unnamed wash that will begin the return portion of this loop, I noticed a "hole" up in the slick rock south of the wash. There was a red ribbon tied to a tree at this point [approx. 33.51948N, 111.49602W] and it caused me to investigate. So, I climbed the slick rock, explored the "hole" and continued up to the top of the mesa that extended from this point. Crossing the small mesa brought me back toward the wash, and I thought the detour to have been worthwhile.
After continuing south there came the point on the GPS route where it was necessary to turn westerly and climb the northern ridge of Peak 2446. Though filled with loose rock and dirt, the trek up toward the saddle was not particularly troublesome; but, the descent down the other side was another story. It seemed to me that the steepness of the grade coupled with even more loose rock could only mean that I was off the designated route. Yet my GPS indicated to the contrary. So I continued to make my way down, weaving back and forth across the terrain to find better footing, and finally reaching the bed of yet another unnamed was that fed into Cottonwood Spring. At this point the GPS route required the climbing of another saddle and a descent which would presumably place me back on Packsaddle.
I decided to opt for a different route and headed south along the wash until I came to a lower saddle more directly parallel to my own initial starting point. There I was able to bushwhack east back to the vehicle. Continuing a bit further south along the wash would have placed me onto FR 1356 and an easy return to the intersection with FR 3512 (close to where I had begun).
I was glad that I had begun early and would recommend that this loop be completed in a counter-clockwise direction if you intend to be out when the temperatures exceed 85 degrees. The eastern border of this loop provides little to no shade.
Today the Spring sported numerous pools of water and a few spots where flowing water could still be found. The desert showed signs of blooming vegetation I and didn't encounter anyone until passing through the Forest Service vehicle gate at Hackamore Road.