This 27.4ml one way passage of the Arizona Trail
starts off Freeman Road (between Florence & Oracle, AZ)and heads north ending at the Gila River (at the Kelvin-Riverside Bridge R.R. Crossing on the Kelvin-Florence Hwy).
It's going to take me three day hike visits to this AZT Passage 15 to complete it all as in & out hikes. On this 1st visit, we started at the Gila River north TH and hiked south for 8.5mls to the large Ripsey Wash area. This ending point will allow for a good access & starting point for the 2nd day hike visit since Ripsey Wash has a two track access road which connects a few miles NW with the Kelvin-Florence Highway.
I didn't have very high expectations for this hike and passage after recently spending three very enjoyable day hikes on the most scenic AZT-Passage 16(in the White Canyon Wilderness area), but
I have been wrong before and was proven wrong again today.
Hiking south from the north end TH of this passage 15, the AZT follows the Kelvin-Florence Highway SW for 1.1mls(mostly hard dirt road) then turns south for a ~1.0ml gradual up hill on a un-numbered two track road. After this rather blasé ~2+ mile segment, the enjoyment factor really
start to pick up! The AZT Association website states this Passage 15 as now being completed and I can confirm that the trail segment for this first 8.5ml in hike was in great condition..easy to follow, well cairned & marked, well groomed, and with very little if any trail overgrowth and not that rocky either.
What I was most impressed with was the amount of high trail ridgeline hiking on this segment that offers wonderful near and distant views in most all directions. Our TH start for this hike was at 1780ft elevation and we reached a high point of 3575ft elevation. I took a number of pics of such grand views looking north and northwest into the distant White Canyon Wilderness with its many high and rugged buttes. The Fraley
clouds & blue sky were just wonderful for today's pics..just wish I could have had some a little closer to me! Also, the views east into Kearny,AZ, and further east into Preston Sands'
country with a snow-capped view of Troy Mountain at 4951ft was very
sweet indeed! Now looking forward to day hike trip number two in the near future.
Please see my pic set with captions for a more visual of the actual..
(Note: Unfortunately, while hiking this day and continually grabbing my camera in & out of the protective case, my camera mode settings inadvertently "moved"(from AUTO & P to TV mode) which I did not discover until much later in the day, so some of my pics appear to have been taken with two different cameras.