by Bob Gregg
Bees buzzing in cottonwoods and the screams of redtail hawks will greet hikers in the spring along this trail, but keep your eyes and ears pealed for diamondback rattlesnakes. Though drought has had a major impact on wildlife you may still encounter javelina, deer, gila monster, skunk, antelope ground squirel, collared lizard, feral burro, and a variety of birds. Octotillo burst into life after a summer rain, and barrel cactus have a healthy reddish glow. The Hieroglyphic mountains loom on the near horizon as you wend your way through a variety of classic sonoran desert terrain.
From the trailhead hike west along a well worn path and cross over Cottonwood Creek (CC). Follow the trail up the embankment and onto a plateau. Shortly the trail forks - bear right to follow the main trail or bear left and take a scenic side trip(see below). Either way you'll end up on the same trail heading west toward the Hells Canyon Wilderness. After bearing right at the fork hike past ancient mesquite trees until the trail meets up with the sidetrip trail - then bear right(west). From this point follow a single track west crossing numerous washes along the way. At about 2.5 miles cross a little used ranch road and enter the Hells Canyon Wilderness. The trail will take you very close to the base of the high peak which dominates the western horizon - a great opportunity for peak baggers.
This trail winds its way up, down, and all around on its way to God's country so you'll have to pay attention while hiking it. My grandson calls it the zigzag trail, but there is a tread most of the way and where it fades cairns mark the way.
The scenic sidetrip trail - bear left at the fork and cross over CC wash. As you head west along the south side of CC wash search for indian rock art on your right. A large boulder with geometric design can be seen from the trail, but other petroglyphs, including very faint bighorn sheep figures, must be searched for. Pass by a grove of cottonwoods and a small frog pond then look across CC wash and see the trail climbing up a redrock embankment. Stay on this trail. The main trail will intersect it within 200 yards.
2008-02-10 Bob Gregg
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.