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Cuff Button Trail #276, AZ

no permit
341 28 1
Guide 28 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Queen V NE
3.1 of 5 by 11
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Shuttle 6.98 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,205 feet
Elevation Gain 1,486 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,969 feet
Avg Time Hiking 4-5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 13.54
Interest Ruins, Historic & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
15  2018-12-13
West Pinto Cuff Button Wildcat
25  2018-04-14
Wildcat - Pinto - Campaign Loop
10  2018-03-31 wallyfrack
19  2018-03-03
Cuff Button Loop
6  2017-12-03 friendofThunderg
10  2017-04-08 wallyfrack
7  2017-04-08 Tortoise_Hiker
4  2017-03-27
Miles TH to Cuff Button Trail
Page 1,  2,  3
Author friendofThundergod
author avatar Guides 18
Routes 278
Photos 7,651
Trips 711 map ( 8,339 miles )
Age 37 Male Gender
Location AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn
Sun  6:09am - 6:28pm
Official Route
9 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
the Cuff Nasty Experience
by friendofThundergod

Brief Overview
Cuff Button offers hikers a chance to draw a line on their map through a seldom traveled area of the Superstition Wilderness. Cuff Button, like, many other trails in the Superstition wilderness started off as a road, apparently used to service the several, now in disrepair troughs, tanks, and springs along the route. Today, there is still certainly evidence of the old road along various sections of the trail. However, a lack of maintenance, its remoteness and accessibility have done their toll on the old Cuff Button road and it is severely overgrown and even difficult to follow in places.

This hike is probably a hike you would want to do with a partner and ultimately a GPS with a downloaded route to be safe. A partner would also enable you to make this a shuttle hike with one person leaving a vehicle at Miles TH and then driving together to Cuff Button TH. In terms of driving to the trail head, it may be the biggest challenge of day for some. The trail head is located just over ten miles by winding roads off U.S. 60, just past The Top of the World and utilizing the entrance of Pinto Mine. It can be a confusing ant-trail like network of roads with many turns and dead ends, during the final portions of the drive the road gets progressively worse and then eventually just devolves into a path up the creek bed, but by no means too much for most four wheel drive vehicles to handle. However, the overgrown road is a bad combination for nice paint jobs on newer cars, so one might want to park a little before trail head and walk a half to a mile or so extra in by foot.

This hike starts at the Cuff Button trail head and follows the generally southwestern route of Cuff Button to its ending point at its intersection with the W. Pinto Trail in the Oak Flats area. The first 2.5 miles of the trail are nothing like the bushwhack described in the overview. In fact, Cuff Button was definitely the recipient of some major trail maintenance rather recently. From the trail head to Cuff Button's most notable attraction, the post and rail corral, the trail is very wide, and easy to follow, complete with very large rock baskets marking/anchoring old fencing lines and gates. Along this section one will also pass what is marked as Burro Spring on the map, there was already seasonal water along this route, so its hard to judge the reliability of water at this spring, however, there were cat-tails. I did not look extensively for a trough or spring box, I assume Burro Spring amounts to a seep somewhere in the creek bed/wash near Burro Spring on the map. After reaching the post and rail corral, the trail gets progressively worse, and amounts to a bushwhack in many places as the trail makes its first real climb of the hike.

Once you reach the higher elevations of Cuff Button, the trail is much easier to follow and less overgrown, although, there are still several sections of the trail nearly choked off with acacia. Yet, the old road still leaves a heavy easy to identify tread that can be viewed far into the distance as it winds and dips across various ridges and draws/washes. Take a moment to try and pick up the trail's tread in the distance to gain a better idea of your route and future directions of travel. One can enjoy some very panoramic views during this portion of the trail, some notable terrain features include: Pinto Peak, Saw Tooth Ridge, Iron Mountain, and even views across the Lake Roosevelt area into the Sierra Ancha. You will pass multiple springs that will serve as frames of reference for you as you make your way across the higher elevations of Cuff Button. At about the half way point you will pass a random rock basket, this basket marks the old anchor for the gate entering Wildcat Canyon and the route of an old horse trail that heads south to the Miles TH area. If one is feeling adventurous, Jack Carlson and Elizabeth Stewart provide a hike description for this very old route to Miles TH in their book Superstition Wilderness Trails East. The authors also note that some of the springs along Cuff Button may be mislabeled or go by multiple names. For example, most maps will show two Cuff Button Springs, however, the one furthest east should be labeled Thicket Spring, rather than Cuff Button. However, most of this is moot, as all of these springs are in disrepair and amount to little more than hard to locate seeps and piles of old piping. The most notable spring and corral area along this portion of the trail is Sycamore Spring.

This spring and large tank was originally constructed by the CCC, however, according to Jack Carlson and Elizabeth Stewart, this spring was doomed from the start, as local ranchers said, its design was poor. After passing the Sycamore Spring tank and corral area, if you keep a close eye on trail once you cross the first major wash you will see an old metal trough/tub right off the edge of the trail in the middle of the wash, this is Tub Spring. I am assuming from pipes in the area that it drew its water from the same source as the tank at Sycamore Spring. You will also see several prehistoric sites and some pottery shards along this route, please remember rules and etiquette regarding prehistoric sites.

The trail will hit another pretty overgrown stretch as it makes its way down the final ridge into the Oak Flats area. This part can be really tough to follow in spots, you will know if you wandered off trail, if you have to cross a fence to make your final descent. The trail will slowly make its way closer to the major drainage that runs south into the W. Fork of Pinto Creek. The final section of trail will pass Jerky Spring as it hugs the western edge of the above mentioned drainage while it makes its way south to the intersection with W. Pinto in the Oak Flats area. I did not see any signs of troughs or even the possibility of a spring at the location of Jerky Spring. However, I speculate Jerky Spring, like, many others in the Eastern Superstitions is labeled or marked incorrectly. A more appropriate location would be further north up the wash where I spotted a concrete well and corral area, this however, is speculation and I assume both locations are not reliable water sources. In terms of reliable water, after completion of Cuff Button, approximately a half mile east down W. Pinto is a significant pool of water that seems to hold water year around, or at least when everywhere else is dry from my past experiences. My best guess to the name of this spring would be Oak Flat Spring, however, its again speculation, as my map seems to have Oak Flat Spring further west than the location described above.

Final Points to Consider
I would strongly recommend a GPS and downloaded map for this hike, likewise, if inexperienced in route finding this hike may not be for you, or I would consider taking a partner along. Similarly, the lack of water and reliable springs along this trail, certainly make it a candidate for the winter hiking season. Finally, everything from the trail to the trail head is rugged and remote. Therefore, a certain trail/outdoors savvy as well as an ability to be self-reliant, with some experience in route finding is necessary to complete this trail, as you will almost certainly not run into anyone else along the route.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2013-12-04 friendofThundergod
    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.

    Most recent of 14 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Cuff Button Trail #276
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    Wildcat - Pinto - Campaign Loop
    Wildcat Canyon has been on my radar for quite some time. The Miles Trailhead is just a tad over 100 miles from my house, so I like to make it worth the trip and find some other new areas to hit while out there. The decommissioned Pinto Peak #213 fit the bill for a loop. FOTG had already done this loop a few times so I didn't even need to draw up a track.

    A 7:15a 40ish degree start started us past the ranch building and a guy curled up next to a fire.

    Wildcat Canyon Trail
    To the first saddle, the trail is pretty straight forward. From this saddle, down to the wash area has a few areas that are thin and prickly, but quite doable. In the canyon travel is easy. we missed one of the bypasses that horse travel took, leaving the creek, when we dealt with getting around an exploring bovine. Staying in the creek bed was NP.

    On the Cuff Button #276 for 2.5 miles is mainly old FR 305.

    Decommissioned Pinto Peak Trail #213 follows a 2 track to the Wilderness boundary. It's an easy walk through some interesting territory. The Mormon Corral had all sorts of water. There were 3 full troughs and a 200-300 gallon metal tank that was 2/3rds full. After the Wilderness boundary,the trail gets thinner in some spots, but does come back if you have the GPS track. As FOTG mentioned the only catclaw section, is in the last 1/2 mile or so before reaching Campaign.

    The Campaign Trail #256 is cleared and 6' wide in spots all the way south to the Fireline trail. After here, there is less than a mile section that needs some love. The rest of the trail down to West Pinto, is decent with some nice views, We even saw some poppies.

    On the roller coaster of the West Pinto #212, just 2.5 miles back to the TH.

    Weather was just about perfect on this one.

    Saw some small poppies, lupine.
    Cuff Button Trail #276
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    This started to be an out and back but once I was half way along the loop it was better to continue on to Wildcat Canyon for the return. The Cuff Button trail is in good shape. There are new trail signs and there is a visible trail all the way to the Burro Spring turn off. Wildcat Canyon was decent but I lost the trail on the final climb out of the Canyon. I knew the direction so I just hiked until I picked up the trail again. There were no other hikers, some mandatory off trail (of course) and a band of coati encountered in Wildcat Canyon. The temperature was nice and didn't warm up too bad by my exit time of 1 pm.
    Cuff Button Trail #276
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    Cuff Button Loop
    This may be my favorite loop hike in the Superstition Wilderness.

    Brisk morning but it warmed up quickly, trail head was empty when we arrived. The hike up Trail 193 to the west gate at the saddle was the toughest part of the hike and really wasn't bad at all. We stayed high enough on the left side to avoid the ravine up/downs. Once at the west gate we continued down Trail 193 to Wildcat Canyon, which is very easy hiking, and made our way to the Cuff Button Trail junction and then over to the corral where we had lunch. From the corral to the West Pinto Trail was all new area for us. Really enjoyed this area as there was lots to see and the trail conditions were excellent. Spooked up one white-tail deer along the way. Crossed paths with only one backpacker on West Pinto who was heading out to camp on Cuff Button.

    Did I mention I really enjoyed this hike :D
    Cuff Button Trail #276
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    Got together with the group and headed out to the eastern Supes and started hiking from the Miles Ranch TH. I’ve done a handful of trails from this area but haven’t hit Wildcat Canyon and Cuff Button. Today was the day. We started with Wildcat Canyon and headed in. For the most part there is a good trail to follow with a mixture of cat claw. It took some work getting through but wasn’t horrible. The worst part is about a mile in where there are a variety of use / game trails. They mostly lead the same way with some heavy brush mixed in. Some route finding required through here. After a bit we reached Cuff Button and headed west. We knew some sections of this trail were cleared recently but expected heavy bushwhacking in the middle two miles. We continued hiking and found the trail completely clear to our delight! We topped out on a pass and then started down the western half that leads to the West Pinto Trail. This section was a bit hairy with cat claw and other brush to fight through as you descend a steep trail. We eventually hit the West Pinto Trail and took our lunch break in West Pinto Creek where some standing water was found for the dogs. From there it was less than an hour back to the TH.

    This turned out to be a great day hiking! We expected heavy brush but found very little. This kept us moving along and we finished at least an hour sooner than expected. For anyone wanting to hike Wildcat Canyon and Cuff Button now is the time! Go before mother nature reclaims these trails. Thanks Lee for driving!

    Cuff Button Trail #276
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    It looks like I will have to go back and amend my 2013 hike description for Cuff Button, it is no longer the nasty experience it once was. We hiked nearly all of Cuff Button today in a nice little rugged loop utilizing Wildcat Canyon from Miles trailhead.

    We were expecting some major bushwhacking today, but Cuff Button is now pretty clear for most of its length. There is a little section of acacia in the middle that seems to have been missed, but the majority of the trail has now been cleared and cleared well in some areas. With the clearing of Bull Basin and now Cuff Button, Miles trailhead is becoming and even more attractive destination in my opinion.

    The Wildcat Canyon portion was good in spots and a little overgrown in others but we cleared it pretty quickly and Cuff Button was a breaze as mentioned above. We found some water on West Pinto and ate a late lunch not too far from the trailhead. A good day out overall and I was happy to help a couple HAZers knock some Eastern Supes trails off their completion lists.
    Cuff Button Trail #276
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    This was originally planned to be an alternate route up to Pinto Peak. We started at 6 am and it was nice and cool at the Miles TH. Pinto Creek is still flowing but easy to cross. The first two miles of Cuff Button trail have been cleared and leveled. When we started the off trail route we ended up east of the route and topped out on Peak 5273. From Peak 5273 we made our way to Peak 5503. The route from Peak 5503 to Pinto Peak looked rough so we opted to return back to Cuff Button trail. We saw a few ruins along the way and went through so thick brush in route. The posted route to Pinto Peak is the best option as this one ends up adding more off trail which is very thick and very steep at times. The light cloud cover was enough to keep the hike cool and we finished before 12 pm. Apparently there were some turtle kryptonite plants along the track. Denny was hit with some allergies and pretty much passed out on the ride back. I hope you're feeling better Denny.
    Cuff Button Trail #276
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Cuff Button was the only trail I had not hiked in the Superstition Wilderness Area. The plan was to hike out Cuff Button trail return via Wildcat Canyon. The creek crossings along West Pinto trail were a little challenging but we stayed dry. Cuff Button trail started out nice and had a nice climb in the middle. The trail was mildly overgrown but that went to moderately then where is the trail for a while. We hiked the old road to the end of the GPS track and then returned to Wildcat Canyon. Wildcat is more of a trail and the washes on this side of the hills were very low. The hike was more enjoyable than anticipated.
    Cuff Button Trail #276
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I was just trying to be creative with an Eastern Supes loop and this was what I came up with. I went in Miles TH then took the Wildcat Canyon route to Cuff Button, some road walking then reentering the Supes via the decommissioned Pinto Peak Trail to Campaign Trail over the divide back down to W. Pinto Trail and the TH.

    I finally completed the Wildcat Canyon route to Cuff Button a hike that can be found in the Eastern edition of the Carlson and Stewart guide and a hike that was recently completed by hikerdw. In fact, he shared his route with me, something I was missing on my first attempt. I did get to the W. Gate the first time, but was unsure of route from there. This time it was pretty straight forward and once you hit Wildcat Canyon the trail becomes a highway by Eastern Supes standards, it might be better than many of the "maintained" trails in that area. The trail through Wildcat Canyon appears to get a lot of hunter traffic or ranching traffic, either way someone has kept the trail pretty clear and it has a heavy tread in most spots. It was probably the highlight of the day too bad it was only a little over three of my miles for the day.

    I took the decommissioned Pinto Peak Trail past Mormon Corral and the now pretty much defunct Mountain Spring which seems to have fallen victim to someone's poor repair or improvement project. The person who had a camera trap there for six months last year is most likely responsible I assume. Regardless, the once relatively robust and reliable spring is now barely dripping.

    I kept a pretty leisurely pace most of the day and limited my poking around for rock piles. Cup came along on this one and did not want to beat her up as bad as I did on my Tule loop, but she did just fine, no issues with the longer distance or rougher trails. We did not take many breaks due to the fact that we never really saw the sun until it set, if that makes sense. Tons of bear scat and other indicators to hint that they are really active in the wooded pine sections of upper Campaign. Saw a large pack of coati in Wildcat Canyon and several deer, no shortage of water out there, but a little less then I anticipated. I am going to clean up route through Wildcat Canyon and post to public, definitely worth the trip, nice little canyon.
    Cuff Button Trail #276
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    Wildcat Canyon to Cuff Button Spring
    This was trip 32 in the Superstition Wilderness Trails East book by Carlson/Stewart. A great day hike in a seldom visited area. Although the majority of the hike was off trail it really didn't feel that way. The hike from the barn to the first ridge (two pine trees) was very well defined and seems to get a lot of traffic. From there to the fence the trail is a little tougher to find but fairly easy to re-locate as long as you keep your bearings headed in the north/south direction. As mentioned in the book description it is worth the effort to locate the west gate at the fence line just before you drop into Wildcat Canyon, or at least find that ravine. Very easy travel from there to the canyon bed. Once you are in the canyon, other than the boulder hopping, travel is fairly smooth other than busting through some low hanging tree branches once in a while. Cuff Button to the corral is the only official trail we traveled on. Once at the corral we bushwhacked our way back to the Cuff Button Spring. Well worth the effort as the location was very scenic. Plenty of water at both the Oak Spring and Cuff Button Spring.

    Started and ended the hike to an empty trailhead.
    Cuff Button Trail #276
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    West Pinto Creek 212 - Cuff Button 276 Loop
    Been wanting to get out to this area.
    All accounts I'd read pointed to "Blood Bath" for Cuff Button. Joe assured me that he'd heard this trail had been trimmed. So with about as little planning as we'd done before, we were off to the Miles Ranch Trail head.

    Starting from the TH at a balmy 36 degrees, we went counter clockwise, walking downstream on the West fork of Pinto Creek. Water flowing a good portion of the way, we followed use trails (mainly Bovine). This is a real pretty area that I'm surprised does not get more hiking action. There is nothing real tough going through here, but it is slow going. We were in and around the creek bed for a bit more than 5-1/2 miles before we made the turn west on to FR 305. We were able to make up some time on the 2-1/2 mile walk to the Cuff Button TH.

    At the TH area was the Exterra of A Boy and his Dogs. (Sans HAZ Sticker [-X )

    Joe was right... There is evidence of recent trail clearing, turning the next 2-1/2 miles into a superhighway! We made our way into the corral area, which itself had been clear cut!

    We are now on the home stretch, making the turn....... where's the trail ](*,). It went from smooth sailing to hamburger arms in no time. Without a track, this would have been near impossible to follow. All my friends were there. Mr Manzanita, Cathy CatsClaw and Yucca McShinpoker all made appearances. Joe was nice enough to "Encourage me" to lead the way taking off the thorns and pokie things in my arms for him.

    From the Cuff Button TH, we'd seen signs of Lee and his dogs. They were in the area on a long Backpack trip. Part way through the Cat Claw playland, we stopped seeing his tracks. He evidently was smarter than we were. I'm guessing at some point his dogs refused to go through that crap.

    Finally down on the West Pinto and it's clear sailing back to the TH right at dark. I really enjoyed this side of the West Pint trail as well as the off trail jaunt on the east side of the TH

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To Horrell Trailhead
    From Hwy60/FR287-Pinto Mine Road, continue thru the Pinto Mine area on FR287 continuing north on FR287 to the historic Horrell Ranch area at FR287/FR305. Turn left(west) onto 4WD only FR305 and proceed on this sometimes difficult to follow FR305 to the trailhead.

    Please Note: It is highly recommended to review, download, then upload in a GPS Receiver, the GPS Route Drive to THs for TR276 and TR213.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) - 84.8 mi, 1 hour 44 mins ( add a good half hour to all times... slow road )
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) - 119 mi, 2 hours 30 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) - 228 mi, 3 hours 46 mins
    3 pack - loud whistle
    go prepared
    help comment issue

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