A blank spot on the map
The majority of the drive to get to Upper Burro Creek Canyon (UBCC) is on either private or state-leased land. It is imperative that you research land-ownership and understand which roads you should or should not take before attempting this journey. Since I posted a few of these photos on instagram this week, I've been receiving messages from many people asking about how the heck I got permission to enter and cross private land. The short answer is: I did not get permission. I also did not ask. I talked to someone who works at AZ state lands, and they told me that as long as I stayed on main roads through leased lands, I would be fine. As for private land, I had read that most gates in this area would be unlocked. I discovered that there's actually a registry with free permits that you place in your vehicle on the first unmarked jeep road you cross, heading north on Halfway House road. See my photoset for more details. Seeing that this permit system is done in agreement with the private land owners and with the AZGFS allowed me to finally breath a sigh of relief. I knew that continuing north on these ranch/jeep tracks would eventually get us to a section of BLM land, where we would leave our vehicle and eventually spend the night.
Suggested driving route:
From Bagdad, take Lindahl Rd, which becomes Campwood Road (County Rd. 68, aka FR 21) north and east. After about 19 miles, turn NW onto Halfway House Rd. After 3 miles, take a jeep track that heads NE (this is where you will find the registry, which is visible from Halfway House Rd). Continue north on this for one mile. you will reach a junction with FR 21a. Turn right onto FR 21a (and of course, there are no signs out here, good luck!). Stay on FR21a east for one mile. There will be a jeep track headed north. follow this for about .5 mile where you will pass through a fence. You are now on BLM land. continue for another .5 mile to another junction. From here, turn left and head N-NW. You will eventually descend down to Winter Camp Tank. Turn right at the SW side of the tank and follow the track to the NW side of the lake. Follow this track for another two miles. We parked on a flat area just off the jeep track, but if you continue .2 mile, you will be back on private land so make sure you have some points saved in your GPS. This section is part of the Baca Float. And I just always feel more comfortable camping on public over private land, if I have a choice. The last 10 miles out to the UBCC mesa is a 4x4low rock crawl. There's the possibility of deep mud and deep ruts on the roads.
NOTE: Please be respectful of private property. Close gates behind you, don't drive off the jeep tracks, etc.
Most people who visit this canyon will be wanting to see either Upper Burro Creek, Pine Creek, or both. Note that accessing the bottom of the canyon requires challenging bushwhacking. It is possible to hike in a drainage to access the bottom of the canyon, but many such routes have impassible dry falls.
The majority of our time was used in finding the best way into and out of the canyon, and then bushwhacking to make those routes happen.
It would have been nice to have had more time to explore within the canyon. Next time we do this, we will be entering Pine Creek Canyon from the wash that descends gently north of "Mikes tank." This cuts off about 30+ minutes of driving and creates certainty in accessibility to the canyon. Then we will follow Pine Creek to Burro Creek, and exit Burro further south, where Outlander did in 2011. We will camp on the rim, and then make the 6 mile trek across the mesa and back to the vehicle the next day. To achieve this very long first day, it would be necessary to begin very early in the morning.
To achieve this future route, I would spend Friday night off of Campwood Road, on the Prescott NF side. The drive is a little bit longer coming from Prescott, but Co. Rd 68 is in relatively great condition. You could easily get to the start of the hike in 2.5 hours from the Prescott NF boundary, and start your hike earlier.
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.
BLM Division Reports The 27,440-acre Upper Burro Creek Wilderness is located in Yavapai and Mohave counties, 60 miles west of Prescott, Arizona and 60 miles southeast of Kingman, Arizona. The small mining town of Bagdad is located 10 miles southeast of the wilderness.
This wilderness lies along the upper reaches of Burro Creek, a perennial stream and one of the few streams in Arizona to flow relatively undisturbed into the lower desert. Nine miles of Burro Creek lie within the wilderness. In this area, Burro Creek passes through incised bedrock where it runs deep, creating clear blue pools connected by small waterfalls. In other areas, the creek has backed up into long, marshy pools ringed with young trees and other water-loving vegetation.
Away from the stream corridor, the wilderness preserves an expanse of basalt mesas and the desert grassland found on their rolling upland surfaces. Negro Ed, a huge and colorful butte rising far above its surroundings, is also part of the wilderness.
Upper Burro Creek Wilderness offers outstanding recreation opportunities for hiking, backpacking, camping, sightseeing, hunting, rock collecting, and horseback riding. Swimming, birdwatching, and photography are special attractions all along the stream corridor.
Upper Burro Creek Access: Proceed to the town of Bagdad, AZ, and turn right on Lindahl Road. Follow the road to the junction with the Phelps Dodge Mine Access Road (about 3 miles) and turn right. Drive about 12.5 miles, following the signs to Camp Wood. Upon approaching a remote ranch headquarters, proceed west through the yard (Be respectful: drive slowly, leave gates as you find them, and don’t drive through when ground is muddy...the ranch owner currently allows people to cross private property without stopping for permission) and follow jeep trails for 14.5 miles west across Behm and Bozarth Mesas to the rim of Burro Creek Canyon. Go through the gates and drop steeply down into Burro Creek. At the creek, you have reached the eastern wilderness boundary. After fording the creek, you will see a line camp, consisting of corrals and a wooden building, all of which are shaded by large sycamore trees. This is public land, and is a good spot to park and/or car camp. This route should not be attempted within several days of rainstorms, or if the possibility of rain is in the forecast.
Six-Mile Crossing Access: Proceed to milepost 132 on Highway 93, located about 7.5 miles south of Wikieup, Arizona. Take the good unpaved road bearing east at this point. Follow this road for about 15 miles, until you reach Six-Mile Crossing, which is a fording of Burro Creek. Cross the creek, and just beyond, pass through a steel gate. Turn left after the gate, and follow the fence north for about 4.5 miles, paralleling Burro Creek. At this point you are near the southern boundary of the wilderness. This route should not be attempted within several days of major rainstorms, or if the possibility of rain is in the forecast.
Sycamore Camp Access: Proceed to milepost 132 on Highway 93, located about 7.5 miles south of Wikieup, Arizona. Take the good unpaved road bearing east at this point. Follow this road for 7.8 miles, to a road intersection located on top of a ridge. A sign at this point directs you to the left to go to Sycamore Camp. Follow this road north for 4.9 miles. At this point you will see a jeep trail on your right dropping into Cornwall Canyon, which is the southwest boundary of the wilderness. Hikes can be made from this point. Other access can be had by driving another 3.4 miles up the Sycamore Camp road. At this point a jeep trail along a fenceline will be on your right. Follow the jeep trail about 4.5 miles, turning right at the intersection encountered at 1.0 miles, to Black Willow Spring. You are now at the west boundary of wilderness. Park your vehicle at least one-quarter mile away from the spring. A third access possibility in this area is to follow the Sycamore Camp road to it's end at Sycamore Camp. After stopping in at the headquarters, you can proceed up this road onto Goodwin Mesa, eventually reaching Swale Tank. From Swale Tank, follow the instructions below (Goodwin Mesa Access) to reach the wilderness boundary.
Limitations With the exception of the Burro Creek Canyon, water is scarce within this wilderness unit, and where found, must always be purified.
No formal hiking trails exist within this area. Considerable "bush-whacking" may be necessary to negotiate the Burro Creek corridor or areas of chaparral brush.
The summer climate in this area is harsh, with temperatures in the daytime often exceeding 100 degrees. Temperatures are more moderate between October 1 and April 30th.
Several access roads to this wilderness have a high clay component to them. Following precipitation events, these roads can be impassable for a period of time.
Nonfederal Lands Some lands around the wilderness are not federally administered. Please respect the property rights of the owners and do not cross or use these lands without their permission.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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.