We really were blessed with the weather we got for this hike, as well as the hike itself. The recent rains kept the temps warm, but bearable. Seeing snow on Four Peaks so up close was an amazing sight during the opening weekend of a summer in AZ.
For the majority of the hike, we were in two groups: the speed hikers (Wally and Joe) and the slow guys (me and tonyp). Going up Oak Flat was the exception as Joe ran out of steam about a mile in and I was second behind Wally at the junction with the 4Peaks-AZT.
the Oak Flat Trail was very steep, but only 1.6 miles and very clear. If you do this hike, definitely do it counterclockwise and get the elevation gain out of the way early. Then you can spend your energy on the bushwhack thru the thickets on sections of the 4Peaks trail. There are only sections that are bad (the one in particular just before the junction with Chillicut). for the most part, its not too bad. the views of Four Peaks along this section of the trail I would have to say make this section of the trail arguably the best. We spotted the junction with the Alder Saddle trail, but no tral marker was seen for the Alder springs trail. At Black Bear saddle (we think) we got some nice pics of the peaks, but never saw (or really thought to look for) the Alder Spring Trail junction. The trail stays mainly level at about 5500'. This has been realigned and no longer goes to the top of Buckhorn Mt. At Black Bear saddle it angles to the north of the ridge there and remains mostly level, albeit somewhat bushwhacky in spots.
The Chillicut Trail was very useful as a way to get back to the car without having to redo the hike the way we came. Some maps show this trail fading away once it gets to Baldy Canyon. This is NOT the case. The trail in fact seemed to be easier to follow at the higher elevations than once we got to the bottom. We were prepared to bushwhack 2 miles downhill to the pick the trail up where it fades away, but thankfully once we got to the spot where our GPS's showed it should be, a very clear trail junction was there, complete with marker. There weren't many views in Baldy Canyon but the springs were running and the sounds of the running water was nice. (We could also hear the streams running from the snowmelt while we were on the 4Peaks trail).
Before we descended down the Chillicut, I had to complete my intel reconnaissance to map out the missing section of the 4Peaks-AZT from that junction to my ending point of my hike 4 weeks earlier. I took both mine and Joe's GPS's so we would both have the tracks. Joe and Wally decided to take a break and wait while I did this. Tony came about half way and got tired of the bushwhack and waited. I thought my GPS crapped out on me but once I downloaded my track, everything was fine. My total mileage according to my GPS was 13.2. on the computer the track downloaded as 12.53, so I go with the longer mileage. my spur hike to finish the mapping was 1.2 miles RT, so that would make the hike an even 12 miles if you do it normally (close enough to Joe's 11.7). We started at 3680' and on my computer the high point was about 5900'. I would guess then we only really did 2200' of real elevation gain, but I'll take Joe's word for the 3557' since his GPS is better than mine.