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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Big Creek Trail #320A, AZ

Guide 37 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
  4.3 of 5 
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,040 feet
Elevation Gain 760 feet
Accumulated Gain 823 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.32
Interest Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
8  2020-05-17 friendofThunderg
6  2019-09-13
Big Creek Trail
41  2017-09-18
Frye Fire 2017 Aftermath
10  2017-05-06
Mount Graham 10,720
10  2016-10-20
Mount Graham 10,720
15  2016-06-23
High Peak Road #507
14  2014-05-19
Mount Graham 10,720
4  2012-06-20 PrestonSands
Page 1,  2,  3
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 169
Routes 148
Photos 5,617
Trips 1,516 map ( 7,711 miles )
Age 43 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jul, Jun, Aug, Sep → Early
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  5:31am - 7:20pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 2017 Frye Fire48.4k
🔥 2004 Nuttall30k
🔥 View All over Official Route 🔥

Big trees, little creek, and squirrel envy
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
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The Big Creek Trail (trail #320A) is an old logging road that runs up the Big Creek drainage to the Mt. Graham ridgeline. It has no official name, yet it is in better shape than many of the "maintained" trails in the Pinaleno Mountains. The Mt. Graham Red Squirrel Refugium closure affects the last couple of hundred yards of the trail, where it joins forest road/trail #507 (see Graham Ridge #507 hike description). The Refugium closure area (above 9800 feet) prevents one from legally making a lovely loop hike by connecting with the Graham Ridge #507 trail. The Big Creek Trail may be a trail to nowhere, but the lush forest it travels through makes up for it.

The most difficult part of the hike is locating its starting point, marked by a closed to all vehicles sign. This sign is surrounded by trees, and is barely visible from the Swift Trail highway. To the right (south) of the sign, an ancient logging road is blocked by a fallen log. A couple of small cairns lie in the road. Follow this old road into the forest. It soon becomes a narrow footpath, although the grade of the logging road is still apparent beneath the overgrowth.

At about 0.25 miles, the trail crosses over to the north bank of a seasonal creek. The half-mile point finds the trail ambling among scattered old-growth douglas-firs, whose massive trunks dwarf the surrounding trees. A short distance later, the trail begins a steep climb up the mountainside that terminates around the 9500-foot level. At this point the old logging road suddenly becomes a meadow covered shelf and arrives at a switchback marked by several cairns. There is a road junction here, at about the one-mile mark. The left (north) fork contours over to Big Creek itself, 0.1 miles away. It will most likely have water. The right fork is our road. Follow it south.

The trail passes through a tree tunnel on its way to a small saddle at 1.25 miles, where it makes a 180-degree turn to head north. There are some limited views and a small campsite at the saddle. Another overgrown logging road leads downhill to the east. However, the main logging road (trail #320A) continues north. After gently climbing for a third of a mile, it turns east and enters spruce forest.

As the old logging road nears the 9800-foot contour, another overgrown logging road splits off to the left and heads downhill. Keep going straight.

At about 1.6 miles the forest suddenly opens up into a beautiful meadow. It's quite a treat and tempting to enter, but, unfortunately, it is in the forbidden Red Squirrel Refugium! Law-abiding hikers should turn around here and return the way they came.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2008-01-16 PrestonSands
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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.

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
From Safford, head south on U.S. Highway 191. Turn west onto state highway 366 (Swift Trail). Follow Highway 366 for approximately 22.75 miles to the unsigned trailhead at milepost 137.17 (this point is 0.15 miles after the Treasure Park turnoff, and 0.1 miles before Hospital Flat Campground). On the east side of the highway, there is a small cairn on the shoulder of the road. Barely visible in the trees just east of the cairn is a large CLOSED TO ALL VEHICLES sign. This is the starting point for the trail (see description).
Trailhead GPS coordinates: 32.66671 N, 109.87275 W
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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