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Shake Trail #309, AZ

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Guide 16 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
3 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 8.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,685 feet
Elevation Gain 3,120 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,151 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 6-7 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 24.26
Interest Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Possibly Connect
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
10  2018-04-25 cactuscat
4  2018-01-05 cactuscat
4  2017-10-22
Swift Trail (State Hwy 366)
20  2017-01-25 cactuscat
14  2016-12-08 cactuscat
18  2007-08-04 PrestonSands
9  2007-01-12 PrestonSands
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Apr, May, Sep → Early
Seasons   Early Spring to Early Winter
Sun  6:07am - 6:18pm
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Do you want flies with that?
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
One of the Pinaleno Mountains' many mountain climbing trails, the Shake Trail #309 climbs some 3000 feet in a little over 4 miles. With a trailhead at both ends, the Shake Trail offers the opportunity for a shuttle hike as well as a round trip hike. One can start at the upper trailhead in summer, or the lower trailhead if the Swift Trail is snowed in. The lower trailhead is signed, but the upper trailhead has no markings whatsoever. This lightly traveled trail is poorly marked and rather faint in some places, so allow yourself plenty of time in case you lose the trail. I recommend bringing a topographical map on this hike. This description is of a bottom to top hike on the Shake Trail.

At the lower trailhead at the Stockton Pass Campground, there are a couple of small signs indicating the start of the Shake Trail. The trail takes off towards the main mass of the Pinaleno Mountains, initially passing through an open grassy area surrounded by oak and juniper woodlands. High above on the Pinaleno ridge line, the barren gray rock of peak 9315 rises up like an oversized gunsight in the midst of a blanket of forest. Just out of sight below the peak lies the upper trailhead along the Swift Trail.

After crossing Stockton Wash, the Shake Trail begins a steady, unrelenting climb upward through brush and granite boulders.

At mile one, you'll pass by Shake Spring. This spring consists of a pipe dripping into an open metal tub, and a sign saying non-potable water. This tub was full of clear water when I hiked past it, but check with the forest service before relying on it as your water source.

Continuing upward, the Shake Trail climbs through a forest of Mexican blue oak and alligator juniper, while the southern portion of the Pinaleno Mountains (a.k.a. the Greasewood Mountains) seem to shrink in height behind you.

As the trail climbs higher, it crosses over to the west side of Stockton Wash and begins to enter forest. Oaks and junipers begin to give way to ponderosa pines and douglas firs.

At the 8300 foot level the Shake Trail crosses a little bench before arriving in a small saddle around the 8500 foot contour. One of the highlights of the hike lies here at the saddle: a beautiful meadow perched on the side of the mountain. During summer this meadow is filled with bracken ferns and wild flowers which completely obscure the trail.

Leaving the meadow on its north side, the Shake Trail begins a final 200 foot climb up the southern slope of the 9315 foot peak. The trail then climbs atop a little ridge coming down from the peak, which it follows for several hundred feet before arriving at a large pull off area along a curve on the Swift Trail.

Return the way you came, or for a much longer return hike, head east to Ladybug Saddle and take the Bear Canyon Trail back.

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2007-08-07 PrestonSands
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 Triplog Reviews
Shake Trail #309
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Finished Shake trail by hiking 1.6 miles down from the top to the Meadow where I turned around on my longest bottom up hike.
Nice hiking, beautiful area, ideal weather, perfect solitude ... A++
The upper trailhead shows some burn damage, but as soon as you start down the trail, that is all left behind.
Found my first ever shed antler - the cutest little antler - laying in the middle of the trail like a gift.
Looked for one geocache - not too hard - and DNF.
Visited a hummingbird that I observed building a nest last week ... nest is now complete and Mama is (presumably) sitting on tiny eggs. :)
Saw, but did not photograph, my first Grace's Warbler.
When I got home, I stopped by the Lake and unexpectedly added 3 more pretty good to pretty darn good birds to my life list in 15 minutes! :y: Gonna throw those photos in too.
Shake Trail #309
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With its easy access, free parking, and sunny southern exposure, Shake Trail from Stockton Pass is a natural for a mild Winter day. I intended to hike all the way up to Swift Trail and back, and I would have if not for doing a decent hike yesterday ... by the time I rested in the meadow 3/4 of a mile below Swift Trail, I was getting tired and the lure of an easy downhill hike, followed by a short drive to beer and burger won out.
Trap Spring was a highlight - the path is pretty obscure, but worth seeking out. I love the shady, oaky areas around Shake and Trap, and Trap in particular has nice views and lovely seating in the shade or sun as desired. I thoroughly enjoyed watching a mixed flock of little birds preening and sunning in the trees and visiting the Spring for drinks and baths ... they seemed so joyful. Saw western bluebirds, pink-sided juncos, and many others I couldn't identify offhand.
Entered the pine forest right at 7k feet ... I may have said this before, but I am pretty sure the scent of warm Ponderosa Pines in the sun is a natural anti-depressant.
Ran into a gang of cows guarding the hiker gate by the parking area - luckily the barbed wire fence was easy to duck under, so I didn't have to come up with the password.
Shake Trail #309
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Met up with Chad bright and early after another all-nighter working at the telescope on Mount Graham, and we started up the Swift Trail. The focus of the day was to tour the Pinalenos and see first hand the effects of the Frye Fire of June 2017. Our first stop of the day was at a small canyon that I had passed so many times without ever stopping to explore it. This little hidden gem was loaded with changing maples and flowing water.

As we passed the top end of the Shake Trail, we entered into the main burn area of the Frye Fire. Pitchfork Canyon looked like it had been skewered by the Devil’s flaming pitchfork. A mountain side of black sticks where a lush stand of mature firs had once provided dense shade. The Arrow Tree still stood.

Stop 2 was at Snow Flat. Most of this area had fared well, with the exception being the back road to Treasure Park (Treasure Park via Snow Flat hike is charcoal city). Hospital Flat had some damage but is still beautiful, I think.

Stop 3 was Grant Hill Trailhead. Grant Hill was almost entirely consumed in a crown fire. Hopefully aspens will thrive here in the coming decades, but it looks pretty bad right now, and the trail loops on it are closed for the foreseeable future. We talked with the Squirrel Girl here, and heard the latest Red Squirrel census, which was pretty grim (35 found during the post-fire count, I heard).

The Grant Creek area didn’t look too bad, with only moderate fire damage, as we approached Stop 4: Cunningham Campground, next to the western trailhead of the Cunningham Loop. We talked with some
Forest Service employees briefly, and checked out the the Grant Creek Trailhead before continuing on. The Moonshine Creek area fared well, with fall aspens and ferns adding some color.

The Fort Grant overlook revealed Grant Creek Canyon to have a mosaic burn pattern, with plenty of green forest left intact.

Approaching Columbine through the singed spruce-fir, we turned down Bible Camp Road toward the Deadman-Highline Trailhead. Bible Camp Road had seen mosaic burn, and while there was heavy damage in places, there were some patches of surviving spruce-fir. I knew that much of Deadman had been thoroughly torched, but I had hope that my trail sign might have survived. As we rounded the first corner of Deadman, there was the trail sign I had made in 2010, perfectly undamaged among burned logs. I couldn’t believe it, and it was one of the few sights that day that made me smile. I unbolted my soot-covered creation to bring it home, as Deadman-Highline, my favorite Pinaleno trail, will probably not ever reopen.

The next stop was one Chad and I were both apprehensive over: Columbine Corral/Ash Creek Trailhead. We had heard that Ash Creek and Webb Peak were severely burned and a sea of black sticks. Sadly, that was true. The jewel of the Pinalenos was completely devoid of green, save for some small aspen and raspberry sprouts in places. Heartbreaking. On to the next spot...

Soldier Creek Campground looked great, just like old times.

As we drove toward Chesley Flat across the black skeleton slopes of Webb Peak, we wondered if any of the top was untouched by this mega-fire. Fire damage beyond Chesley Flat was less severe, and finally ceased at the turnoff for Riggs Lake. There is some ground fire evidence on the east side of Riggs, but very minor. We walked around the lake on the Lakeshore Trail, finally able to see a healthy, familiar favorite.

We continued down the last mile plus of the Swift Trail through the unburned forests of old, to the Clark Peak Trailhead, where we started the CP Flat Loop hike. The west end of the Pinalenos was deserted and we enjoyed a great hike through the aspens and mixed conifer woodland.
The rugged cliffs of Grandview Peak above Hell’s Hole looked amazing with a small strip of golden aspens clinging precariously.

Making our way home, I pulled over at Chesley Flat to check out the upper end of the Blair Canyon Trail and the old “spooky woods” area. This area was on the edge of the Webb Peak inferno and sustained heavy but not total damage. Still some survivor trees, including the tumor tree, and the ancient Blair Canyon Trail sign.

We continued back down the mountain, discussing our findings and thoughts on the matter, and made one final stop at the upper Shake Trailhead to see trees caked in red retardant from the fire.

Back on the straightaway at the base of the Pinalenos, Chad headed for home, and I grabbed a sandwich at Mount Graham Market for dinner on the road to home.

A few observations, which are totally my opinion...
Most of the burn area, which includes the majority of the top of the Pinalenos, appeared to me to have about 50% tree mortality. Of that 50%, a large portion of these trees were covered in dead needles with no sign of green (heat scorched trees, rather than burn, maybe?). The most severe burn areas appeared to be Pitchfork Canyon, Grant Hill, Ash Creek, and Webb Peak. The least severe/most green areas appeared to be Snow Flat, the area north of Hospital Flat, and Grant Creek watershed. The top of Graham Ridge between Shannon Campground and the summit of Mount Graham was severely burned, with almost total tree mortality. Severe erosion scarred most of the drainages and creeks on top. I won’t discuss my personal feelings here, other than to say the burn was worse than I had feared. I still love the Pinalenos, and always will, but they sure do look rough right now. I might post a photo set.

Chad, thanks for another great adventure! Much better to see sights like this with a like-minded friend.
Shake Trail #309
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My final trip up to the top of Graham to survey the damage left from the Frye Fire before the November 15th winter closure. I met up with Preston and together we headed up the mountain as we have done so many times before. Plan was to survey as many sites as we could and also get in a hike at the end of the Swift Trail. We drove the entire road to it's end and this is what we saw & know .....

We first stopped on the way up for a quick trek up "secret canyon" for some fall colors, looked good and is only gonna get better. A return trip up will be made soon.
Second stop up was made at Ladybug Saddle to show Preston where & how I dislocated my shoulder last week, I was in need of some sympathy.
Then around to the backside/top and into the burn -

Snow Flat - Road down to the CG hit with med intensity burn, campground unaffected and beautiful.
Treasure Park CG - Road down med burn, meadow and CG mostly unaffected and beautiful, the "back" CG hit hard and now gated with "forest closed" sign.
Cunningham CG - Intact, but high burn all around CG. The trail-head for Grant Creek & Moonshine has "closed forest" sign. We could see golden aspens down in Moonshine and a later overlook view showed that lower Grant Creek from Ft Grant TH was unaffected, the upper trail has burned. At Cunningham we talked with a high up Forest Service employee who gave up permission to hike a bit into Ash Creek for a look a little further up the road.
Soldier Creek CG - One of my favorites and I was very happy to see an intact CG with minimal burn around it. The Grant Goudy Ridge (and Ice Caves) TH is open with the standard "caution burn area" sign.
Deadman-Highline Trail - The feel good story of the day! We drove down Bible Camp road to see if the trail-head sign that Preston made and posted back in 2010 made it through the fire. We hiked a bit up the trail through a hard hit area to find burn all-around the perfectly intact sign! It damn near brought a manly tear to my eye to see Preston's joy that it made it through -
[ photo ]
Columbine Corrals CG - From the happiest part of the day to the saddest. We parked at Columbine visitor center and hiked in across the road to the corrals. This whole area is closed including Webb Peak & Ash Creek due to high intensity burn. As stated earlier we had permission to hike a bit in. We took the trail just to where the switchbacks start down and that's about as far as you can go. Of all my trips up since the re-opening, this one punched me in the chest the hardest. I just could not believe I was looking down Ash Creek Canyon ..... black sticks as far as I could see down and on both sides of the canyon. We were told by Forest Service earlier at Cunningham that a decision was made to close and not work on Ash Creek & Frye Mesa Trail (where the fire started) for at least the next 3 years. Webb Peak is also black sticks, but was told that a loop may be re-opened next year.
Riggs Flat Lake - After Ash Creek we continued down the road through much more burn until finally reaching Riggs where the west end of the fire came to an end. We drove down to the lake that does have some minimal burn down, then through the campgrounds & ended with a nice hike around the lake on the Lakeshore Trail. Riggs Lake area for the most part was unaffected by the fire. Merrill Peak was hit on top and I'm sure the backside was too. There is a "burn" sign posted for the Jesus Babcock Trail behind the campground.
CP Flat - Finally on to the end of the road to hike CP Flat. A very needed break from fire damage with an autumn walk through Letty's Grove. I knew we were late for the golden aspen leaves up high, but just as beautiful hiking on the golden leaf road!
Blair Canyon - On the drive back out we stopped at Chesley Flat to see how Blair Canyon fared and as expected ..... not well. High burn and I'm sure Chesley Flat to Webb Peak looks the same.
Quick last stop at the Shake Trail to show Preston the red slurry covered trees at the start of the trail, this entire trail survived and is one of the very few left unaffected.

Our trip ended on the straightaway where Preston dropped me off at my truck, we said our good-bye's & I drove home still processing what I saw on top.

I have now seen the entire top of Graham and have a good understanding to the condition of the majority of the forest & trails. As stated in other logs - I am still shook, bitter & angry over this fire. The damage is much worse then I ever expected. There is still a lot of green up there and I have found a few places that still holds some un-burned beauty that will keep me looking for more. I have spent my entire life going up that mountain and this will take many years to come to peace with ..... I just hope someday I will get there.
I understand that most don't want to read about others personal hardships as I honestly don't like reading them myself. What has happened has happened and I cannot change it only move on - This will be my last log about the Frye Fire of 2017!

To close I just want to thank Preston for taking me up the mountain to view the destruction with me. Seeing it with a good friend made it more bearable. There will be many more great trips up & around Ole' Graham my friend!!!
Shake Trail #309
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This will be my 2nd to last trip up Graham to survey the Frye Fire damage.
Plan was to check out the Snow Flat area and spend some time down in the campground.

Snow Flat Rd 90% down to the campground Med severity burn. Mostly brown needles with a few black trees.
Snow Flat Campground 98% untouched ..... I couldn't believe it ..... it looked great!
Snow Flat Trail also looked great ..... some flooding and the fire did come down both sides of the canyon right up to the creek in some spots. Mostly brown needles, a few black trees up high.

I then spent a few hours back at the campground. I packed in a grill and cooked pork chops for lunch, practiced a few outdoor skills, wrote a little & just relaxed. I watched 3 deer drink from the pond and listened to turkey gobbles up in the hills (never spotted them).

Treasure Park from Snow Flat - There is now a permanent gate put up with a "forest closed" sign. I hiked just a bit up to the top of the hill to get a better understanding why. 100% black sticks as far as I could see and I'm sure all the way to Treasure Park. The worst hit area I have now seen on top.
After leaving Snow Flat I next hit up the Shake Trail.
There is a fire damage caution sign at the trail head for some reason?
Other than a bit of red slurry on trees the first 100 yards ..... this trail was untouched by the fire. I hiked it just to the "big meadow" a mile down and this area looked great, No Damage!
Back at the TH I crossed the Swift Trail and a bit up Twilight Peak.
Destroyed ..... 50% brown needles/50% black trees ..... I could barely make out the trail.

Was very happy to see Snow Flat & the Shake Trail as I've always seen them.
The back trail to Treasure & Twilight are sad to lose.
This is still very hard for me to deal with, I will actually be glad this year for the Nov 15th winter closure. 1 more trip up and I will be done with the top of the mountain until next April 15th after the winter closure is over.
It's like a big car wreck up there ..... I don't want to look, but I have too.

Wildlife - Another unbelievable day for deer, I counted 22 along the way. Many Abert's, heard gobblers, lots of butterflies & saw deer/turkey/coati/bear tracks at Snow Flat. Several javalina crossing the road lower down and a baby rattlesnake.
Shake Trail #309
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Great day to be hiking on the Shake Trail!
I was a bit surprised to see patchy scattered snow at the Pass ... but it didn't become pervasive until above Shake Spring, and I didn't go high enough to need snow shoes (which I didn't have) or Microspikes (which I did).
Temps varied from around 40-60 depending on sun and elevation. I did well with layering and handwarmers and hot tea ... only time I got too cold was when off trail in the snow searching for Alder Spring ... was on the edge of too warm more often.
Just before Shake Spring I met a nice older couple hiking with a nice Golden Retriever ... they had stopped and turned back a few minutes before - wondering where the Spring was. I should have checked Route Scout and told them it was just right around the corner! Oh well, they had a nice day hiking anyhow.
Shake Spring is cute, with nice camping and area I want to explore when it's warmer.
Trap Spring same.
Immediately after Trap, took the left towards Alder, but not being familiar with it, I lost the trail right away. Tried to follow gps, and apparently was all over the Spring, but didn't see it buried in snow.
It's interesting to look at my route on the (Summer) satellite view now - looks a lot different on the ground in the snow! Also, there appears to be a good trail roughly paralleling Shake Trail just to the West?
Headed down, very pleased with my day and reached the car in no time.
Shake Trail #309
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Motivated by the day before rain I watched hit the upper mountain, I headed up high to the pines .....

Shake Trail - Started the day with an out-n-back down to the meadow hoping for the yellow sunflowers that usually fill up this area in summer. I was not disappointed, a good sea of yellow with much more to come!

Twilight Peak - From the Shake TH a walk across the Swift Trail took me up the "secret/hidden" Twilight trail. The trail has some new tape markers that made it a lot easier to find my way up to the saddle than my last trip! At the saddle, I decided on peak 9592 rather then Twilight. I payed the price on this idea bushwacking the ridgeline north to the highpoint I believe was 9592? There was blood, cussing & the "why" question on this never again adventure.

Ladybug Peak & Bear Canyon Trail - On the way back down I hit up the mandatory Ladybug Peak for this time of the year. True to it's name, there were thousands on top! Within minutes I had them in my hair, up my shorts & down my shoes. Signed the register, took my pics and climbed down removing ladybugs all the way down to the Bear Canyon spur.
I then out-n-backed upper Bear Canyon down to Dutch Henry to finish the day. Only had time for the short upper section, but any section along Bear will always be on my Pinaleno Favs list!

Sunset was had at Ladybug Saddle along with a nice little thunderstorm hitting north over the Gila Mountains.
Wildlife spotted - 4 Does, 2 Abert's, Turkey Vultures, Spiny Lizards, Fungus Beetles, Hawk, Many species of Butterflies & the highlight - 4 nighttime skunks running alongside my truck down the Swift Trail!
Wonderful day on Graham, painful day on Graham, rewarding day on Graham!
: rein :
Shake Trail #309
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All of the Pinaleno climbing trails always kick my pumpkin and today I woke up in a kick pumpkin mood! Decided to once and for all complete the entire Shake Trail from bottom to top. The first 2 miles were through all the now dry grasses leaving my socks & shoes full of needles, it's gator season in the foothills. I then made a couple of short side trips to the Shake & Trap springs which were both dry. Then the real climbing started! At 7000 feet I encountered the first pine tree and a 1/2 mile later I was in the forest. At 8000 feet the elevation really took a toll on me and I was now in total I think I can, I think I can mode. Finally I rounded the last switchback at 8600 feet and up over the hill walking onto the Swift Trail!

I ate & took an hour nap on top in the 3pm mid 60 temps before returning back down and finally checking this nice challenging trail off the list!
Wildlife today was awesome - 6 javelina on the drive in, 6 white-tail does in the forest, 1 black bear in the transition zone & a Mojave rattlesnake on Stockton Pass road on the drive out! One of my best hiking trips this year!!!
Shake Trail #309
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Plan for today was to hike up the trail to the 1/2 way mark and then hike the other half down from the Swift Trail once the flowers come out. That's just what I did along with 3 side trips to Shake spring, Trap spring & 2 failed attempts to locate Alder spring. Lots of bees and hot weather the first mile up but patches of snow and cool breezes once I made it up to the pines.
Shake Trail #309
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After hiking the bottom portion of this trail back in January, I had been wanting to finish it. A spur of the moment decision on a dark and stormy morning brought me back to finish the Shake Trail. I started at the upper trailhead and went down through many a cloud to about where I turned around back in January, while keeping an eye on the developing storms. Hiking back up was quite sticky, with almost overwhelming humidity. The meadow near the top of the trail was the best part, I hadn't expected that. I made it back to the top, surprised that the black skies hadn't unleashed Hell and then some. If not for the clouds, the views would have been awesome for sure! I'll have to come back again to get my fill of big views.

Permit $$

Coronado Forest
MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
Lower Trailhead: From Safford, head south on U.S. highway 191 for about 17 miles to the junction with state highway 266. Turn west onto state highway 266. Follow highway 266 for approximately 11.9 miles to the Stockton Pass Campground on the right (east) side of the highway. Turn right and follow the dirt road (forest road #198) for about 0.1 miles to the Shake Trail sign, just before crossing over a cattle guard into the campground. The Shake Trail heads away from the sign towards the mountain.

Upper Trailhead: From Safford, head south on U.S. highway 191. Turn west onto state highway 366 (Swift Trail). Follow highway 366 for approximately 18 miles to a large paved pull off area on the left (downhill) side of the highway (milepost 132.4). There is a faint trail heading down the ridge below the pull off area that goes to a couple of campsites. At the farthest campsite (about 300 feet from the highway), the Shake Trail turns left and drops off the ridge. There are no trail signs here.
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