Full of colorful history, this obscure and less traveled ~6.75ml one way trail starting from across flowing Tonto Creek east of Hwy 188N on the private property 76 Ranch (at 2700ft) and ending in the remote Sierra Ancha Mtns at the "Del Shay Cabin" (at 4820ft) has been on my radar and in my HAZ wish list for a few years. I could never seem to find the right time to schedule it.
Shawn and I had originally planned to hike the Bull Springs TR34 to try and locate the historic Bull Spring Cabin, but hiking in and back from the Baby Doll TH west of Payson to and from would have been a 20 mile hike from this Baby Doll TH locked gate. We had hoped to cut it down to a ~14ml R/T by obtaining gate access permission from the ranch property owners, but no way.
Having such unseasonable pleasant hiking conditions this week we both knew we wanted to be hiking somewhere this day. For a backup plan we both reviewed our HAZ wish lists and for me this Del Shay TR41 was like a neon sign going off and on and with Shawn also interested, I again reviewed Preston's hike description, posted trip logs, discussed logistical details of this trail with some who had previously hiked it, and then used our HAZ TrailDEX Map-"Route Mgr" to draw and load a GPS track with key waypoints which were needed for later route finding. I knew that we had little chance of completing this entire ~13.5ml R/T hike this first trip, so we agreed that the perennial-riparian Gun Creek Canyon trail crossing area would be a perfect lunchtime ending destination and it certainly was!
From the Phoenix area, if you desire to enter this hiking area via the more popular way through the private property 76 Ranch vs
the present hike description driving directions and entry point, then the most difficult part of this hike is--> GETTING STARTED
Hopefully with my now posted GPS Driving Track w/info notes, GPS Hiking Track w/info notes, and geocoded picset with info captions and tagged notes, your first time drive and hiking trip to this area will now be much less confusing starting off and on trail than it was for us.
It is unfortunate that this historic, remote, and scenic trail does not see more hiking activity. Hopefully, now it will.Note
: Driving across Tonto Creek during our seasonal spring snow melt/heavy runoff period is not recommended. Crossing Tonto Creek requires a high-clearance 4WD vehicle and after crossing parking is at a premium off unsigned 4WD FR894(1-2 vehicles only.. http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=193300