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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.

Copper Camp Loop, AZ

no permit
151 20 2
Guide 20 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
4 of 5 by 5
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Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 22 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,918 feet
Elevation Gain 2,436 feet
Accumulated Gain 5,875 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 14 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 51.38
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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10  2018-10-21
18  2014-03-29 The_Eagle
4  2014-03-29
Copper Camp - Cypress Ridge Loop
9  2013-04-06 joebartels
20  2012-03-10 johnlp
15  2012-03-10 wallyfrack
6  2011-04-10 topohiker
15  2010-04-03 topohiker
Page 1,  2
Author topohiker
author avatar Guides 13
Routes 112
Photos 4,377
Trips 1,731 map ( 27,689 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Sep, Jun, Oct, Apr → Early
Seasons   Late Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:24pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
29 Electrons with No Charge Circling Camp
by topohiker

Likely In-Season!
You should only consider this hike if you can do the Grand Canyon rim to rim. This hike involves high miles (22 miles), elevation gain (5,850 feet), route finding skills and a couple miles of bushwhacking.

First thing, there been some road damage on the FR to the Mormon Grove TH. There was a land slide that has covered about half the road and about 2 feet on the other side of the road has washed away down the drop off. I have an unmodified Jeep. I was OK going up. It was a little dicey for a couple of seconds. I do not recommend any non 4x4 vehicles for this road until the forest service fixes it. You should be an experienced 4x4 driver to get past this section. The other parts of the road had some minor wash outs and two creek crossings.

We (two Mikes and me) started hiking about 7:40am on the Saddle Mountain trail (91). This is an old Jeep road that leads to the Story Mine. The trail was soggy. We came to the trail intersection of Saddle Mountain (91) and Sheep Creek (88). We turned down the Sheep creek and descended to McFarland Canyon as we past the Thicket Trail (95) intersection. The creeks were flowing pretty good, but they were still passable. We hit the Sheep Creek (88) and the Copper camp (87) intersection and took off on the Copper Camp trail. We would be returning on the back to this point via the Sheep Creek trail.

The trail starts to slowly climb out of the creek bed and becomes harder to follow. The trail eventually comes to an open area. You can see a big valley with Bartlet lake, Horse Shoe lake and the Verde river in the background. This is one cool area. It is remote with spectacular 360 views of the area. The trail climbs up higher and then level of for a bit. Now you descend at a very fast rate. The trail turns very faint and then disappears at times. There are 3 to 4 foot cairns to guide along the way. You just hike from cairn to cairn. If you get off-trail, just stop and look for the next cairn. It will be there. Now you go down to a creek bed. You'll pass an old fireplace (33 degrees 57.721'N , 111 degrees 34.132W) from some old house. Now the trail goes in and out a creek bed. Things get tricky now. The trail gets pretty hard to follow and the pricker bushes don't help you. If you take is slow and look hard for the cairns this section is doable. You'll pass an old fence posts. You will need to eventually be on the left side of the creek, so look carefully for the creek crossing. The copper camp is at 33 degrees 58.083N , 111 degrees 35.151W. This is good place for a light snack. I wouldn't recommend eating a big lunch yet, because you have to climb / bushwhack up the Cypress Ridge. Now you leave the trail and start the bushwhacking section of the hike. The biggest difference is that there no more cairns to guide your way. I higher recommend downloading the GPS track for hike and following it. You cross the creek and start hiking up the ridge. You go through two rock scrambles before you reach the top. We use the following waypoints to guide us up the mountain in this order:

33 degrees 58.219 N, 111 degrees 35.031 W
33 degrees 58.344 N, 111 degrees 34.484 W
33 degrees 58.466 N, 111 degrees 34.313 W
33 degrees 58.688 N, 111 degrees 34.178 W (this is top)

There are two or three cairns along the way, but you don't see them until you pass them up. Once your at the top, stop and study the terrain. You need to wind up at 33 degrees 59.760 N, 111 degrees 32.996 W. This waypoint is straight ahead and a little to right from where your standing. From our previous experience, your better off going to the meadow to your far left. You will move allot faster in the meadow as appose to go through brush, downfall and the gullies. We went through meadow, then we climbed down a hill. We then went to another meadow to the left. The meadows were wet. The groups consensus was to take the path of least resistance and worry about hitting the waypoint when we get closer to the Sheep Creek trail. We left the second meadow and climbed a hill. I keep on an eye on my GPS the whole time watching where the waypoint was. On this hill we could see the old corral with a concrete water box(this is our waypoint). We headed down to it. We were finally back on a "trail". In hind sight we should have stayed in meadow longer and avoided the climbing and descending of the last hill.

This part of the sheep creek trail sees very little use. The trail is overgrown, but there are good cairns to guide you along. The trail has numerous creek crossings and some of them are tricky. We had two spots where the group had to spend 5/10 minutes looking for the trail. One section was so bad that we put up some cairns to help the next people through. Now the trail climbs and climbs. The trail levels off and we where glad, but that didn't last! The trail then climbs again. The payoff is awesome views of the valley below. The trail does eventually stops climbs and levels off. The trail is level for a little bit, then there's a steep climb down and we wind up at the Sheep Creek (88) / Copper Camp (87)intersection. This is where we start the loop section of the hike in the morning. By now it's dark so we break out the flash lights and return back to the car the same way came out. We reach the car by 9PM. I had packed 6 liters of fluids for the day and drank all of it. We had tried this hike three times and finished it twice.

But wait the adventure is not over. Remember the landslide section of the road? When we got to it, the ruts where pretty deep. I got stuck in the ruts. The two Mikes got out, dug some of the clay and built up the ruts to give me more clearance. With them pushing , I was able to get through this area.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a more difficult hike. It would be unwise to attempt this without prior experience hiking.

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

2008-03-03 topohiker
    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 11 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Copper Camp Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    This year’s Copper Camp Loop went off pretty good. This time we stayed on the right side of the Copper Camp creek for as long as we could before crossing at the actual camp. I think it was easier than zig-zagging in the creek.

    We made the long climb up Cypress ridge to the lunch spot. As we finished eating Joe turned on his used car salesman's charm and starting talking about an easier shortcut. The shortcut would cut at least a mile and 500 feet AEG from the hike. There might have been mention of a soda machine along the way. Joe had me at 500 less climbing.

    We were told there was a false ridge, but Joe claimed it was good looking ridge after that. I agreed if there was no climbing involved. Well after the 3rd or 4th rock pile I put on the climbing gloves. The terrain turned nicer once we started to descend a bit, there were trees and dirt. The ridge line wasn't that bad. We pop-out almost exactly where the Sheep Creek trail pulls out of the creek bed. This was nice not to deal with the cat-claw fields. Karl and Joe did a great job scouting out the way up and down the Cypress ridge. We never hit any big drops. One interesting note is that we found a cairn about 2/3 of way across Cypress ridge.

    The shortcut across the ridge actually added about 700 feet to the AEG :? !

    It was a fun hike with some new territory and good company. It was nice meeting Bruce.
    Copper Camp Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    My first hike with topohiker Ken and why not start it off with one of his classics, the Copper Camp Loop.

    07:30 Start - Mormon Grove TH

    09:30 - 5 miles in to my cache spot at 87/88 intersection.
    A pleasant stroll on Saddle Mountain #91 and Sheep Creek #88 (also AZT-22).
    The birds were chirping, butterfly's fluttering and the Temps are perfect.
    Big views from up here. Down in McFarland Canyon area, where the AZT splits off to the Thicket Spring Trail #95. There was plenty of pooling to filter from.

    10:00 - 6 Miles in to begin the drop to Copper Canyon Camp (5,450' - 3,100')
    This was my favorite part of the hike. (Mile 5 to Mile 9).
    The views were killer. Lion Mountain looks to be an Interesting destination... Been up on top of that one Richard?

    12:00 - 9.25 - 10.25 Miles Medium to thick Cat claw starts
    You run into another Riparian area in this section. Also the worse Cats Claw you'll encounter... but it's short-lived.

    12:30 - 10.25 miles in, start to climb to lunch on Cypress Ridge (3,100' - 4,900')
    The first 2/3's of this climb is not too bad. The last 1/3 took it out of me.

    14:15 - 12 miles in, lunch
    Pretty lunchtime views, and the Sales Pitch for the "Short Cut" begins.

    14:40 - Start the 3 miles across Cypress Ridge to Sheep Creek #88
    Nobody said No. It wasn't bad or scary... just a lot slower going than anyone planned.
    Views were killer. Ken found new stains and cuts on the tops of his shoes that he had not noticed before. This was a variation of Ken's Loop that I don't think he'll be doing next year.

    18:00 - 15.3 Miles in, back on a trail again (Sheep Creek #88)
    I remember this from the last time back here. This trail gets a bit steep in places.

    19:12 - 17 miles in, back to the Cache spot at the intersection of trails 87/88.
    I'd been running low and actually Ken loaned me half a Gatorade. We all filtered water at my cache spot. I guzzled a liter. Temps were now cool at 54.

    A five mile walk back to Karl's truck couldn't end quick enough.

    21:23 - 22 Miles, back at the Mormon Grove TH

    A short Video :next:

    Great meeting you Ken.
    Thanks for Driving and the Barley Pop Karl!
    Copper Camp Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Copper Camp - Cypress Ridge Loop
    Ken's annual Copper Camp Loop with a twist. Everyone enjoyed the hike heading down. Ken wanted to stay out of the creek this year and attempt to follow the trail on the right. A hearty maintence crew would need to reestablish it as the creek environment has swallowed the old trail.

    Hiking up and off-trail to Cypress Ridge is always a blast. Once there the dreary task of descending and going around the ridge is at hand. I mentioned riding the ridge out as an alternative for a future year. Shockingly the idea turned to this year and no objections surfaced.

    The ridge was a bit longer than anticipated. Karl & I thought it was nifty. Ken & Bruce didn't share our enthusiasm. The constant low key scrambling was not their style. Karl & I waited and admired views with greater consistency across the ridge. Unfortunately Ken never really got to see the incredible views as he was concentrating on the terrain. Karl & I recalculated our options several times along the way. While I regretted ever suggesting the ridge, it all worked out.

    Back on trail we started up the monster ascent back to the trailhead. While the hike had varied reviews I enjoyed the diverse company of the group. I look forward to finding a balance of terrain we all can enjoy!

    4 quarts
    Copper Camp Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    This year’s (8th annual) Copper Camp loop was ~9 miles longer due to the locked gate. We saw fire damage from the Mormon Grove TH all the way to the Sheep Creek / Copper Camp intersection. Joe had it right with "BBQ Loop". The silver lining to the fire is that now you have longer views into the area. I could see new areas that I couldn't before. It also helped by reducing the route finding in McFarland canyon.

    This year we found 2 bed frames and barrels next to the Copper Camp creek. We spent a little more time in the Copper Camp creek bed than other years. There was an awesome cool wind blowing as we climbed Cypress Ridge. We did a great on the off-trail. The route was slightly modified and we had no issues. The temps were very agreeable for most the day. It was a bit warm on the lower section of the Copper Camp loop.

    Good hike with good company. 4 people started and 4 people finished!
    Copper Camp Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    The Cheops daily double left me psyched on life and extremely exhausted. After missing Ken's annual CCL I couldn't let this year slip away. With FR25 still closed from the 2012 Sunflower Fire 9.6 miles was added to access.

    #87 and the off-trail to #88 was new territory for myself. After an unexpectedly nice pine stroll on #87 the views looking down towards Lion Mountain are stellar. Like my first Four Peaks adventure (the southern terminus of the Mazatzal range) the feeling was refreshingly uplifting.

    There is some bushwhacking and more serious catclaw on this loop. Typical lightweight nylon/poly hiking pants provide enough protection. Nothing required gloves.

    We were blessed with perfect weather. It only felt hot during our lunch break at the low point sitting in full sun. I dipped my spare shirt in the creek and joined Dave1's Blanco Diablos for the off-trail hike up to Cypress Ridge. My ears were cold and I was chilly at times.

    Based on everything I heard from Fan, she really wanted a longer hike. It was great to meet Mike and finally hike with Ken.

    Upset black-tailed rattlesnake & a young gopher encountered in midday heat. One mylar balloon. Consumed almost 4 quarts, Mike downed 7-8!

    Gooding's Verbena, Primrose, Southwestern Lewisia, Annual Townsend Daisy, Desert Phlox, Gilia, Wiry Lotus, Bluebonnet Lupine, Desert Globemallow, Blue Dicks, Desert Mariposa, Fairy Duster, Banana Yucca, Eaton Penstemon(?), Desert Chicory, Mexican Gold Poppy, Arizona Grape, New Mexican Thistle, Western Wallflower, something white I couldn't id, lots of unknown yellow patches
    Copper Camp Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    This was my seventh and best hike on the Copper Camp Loop. I got to meet John J, John, Richard, Amy, Liz & Katrina and hike again with Wally.

    Like usual the route finding and the cat's claw was interesting along the Copper Camp Creek. I swear I never have done this section the same way twice.
    The descend into the Sheep Creek / Sheep Creek Cabin was perfect. The Sheep Creek had just a trickle of water in it compared to other years.

    I was amazed how the group galloped up the Cypress Ridge and the side of Sheep Creek MNT.

    Thanks to all who joined me on this hike.
    Copper Camp Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Wow, it's been a while since I've done anything this intense! I thought they were kidding when they said the bushwhacking wouldn't be bushwhacking, but the on-trail would... :o holy ridiculosity, Batman! What a gorgeous area, though. The views and company totally made up for each little thorn or blister (yay for duct tape!). Next time I do something like this, I'll have to get more than 40 min of sleep.. that made for some interesting visions, and some not-so-interesting conversations later on.. :zzz: It was great to see John, Richard and Wally again, and fun meeting everyone else! You guys rock. Now to get Katrina a HAZ account.. :)
    Copper Camp Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Awesome group of hikers! Good thing because this is one tough hike. About half the hike is over difficult terrain or fighting through brush and catsclaw. Very enjoyable scenery and company made up for the difficulty. The first third of the hike is very easy. Nice trails and little elevation gain, which you pay for later lol. Wally, John, and I checked out a copper mine and got buzzed by a bat going in and out. :o Had a great time meeting and talking with the group along the way. Thanks Ken for setting this up. Nice meeting Richard, Fan, Katrina, Amy and Ken for the first time, and seeing everyone else again. Thanks Amy for the post hike refreshments! Hit the spot. And thanks to John for doing all the driving.
    Copper Camp Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    We started hiking at 7:30. There was 1 to 2 inches of snow on the trail. The snow really slowed us down. Down in the canyon the melting snow was falling from the trees and it looked like it was snowing! The snow didn't go away until we dropped below 4,200 on the Copper camp trail. We had the usually route finding issues by the Copper Camp creek. I think next year I'll bushwhack above creek bed and avoid the cat's claw overgrowth. We found an old piece of farming equipment by the creek. The climb up Cypress Ridge was not that hard this time. This year I stayed to the far left on descending the Cypress Ridge. Not only did it put us in grassy fields, we also had an easy crossing point of the Sheep Creek. We crossed Sheep Creek right at the Canyon with the former cabin. We went to where the cabin used to be and they headed back. The rest of the hike went just like clockwork. All of the snow on the trails was melted away by now.

    we saw one rattlesnake :o and 8~10 deer running around.

    This is still one of my favorite hikes. I'm exhausted by the end of this hike.
    Copper Camp Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    This was our annual Copper Camp loop "aka: heli-hike". This was our fifth time out. We started hiking at 7:45am. We made very good time to the old cabin on the Copper camp trail. It was great to see all the flowers and the cactus blossoming. It looked like someone rolled out a green blanket over the mountains. I've never seen this area so green. The Plateau Overlook was very green as well. With the abundance of flowers came the overgrowth (or the explosion) of cats-claw and thorns. We came to a slow crawl when we reached the Copper Camp creek. The trail was overgrown or sometime eaten up by the overgrowth. We've done this trail enough to know where the trail, but the cats-claw changed that. We used the GPS track as a rule of thumb, but it was easier to go off-trail to avoid the thorns. This time I saw evidence of some trail maintenance and fresh boot prints. So my suspicion of being the only person who hikes in the area was false. We had a small break at the actual Copper Camp. The climb up Cypress Ridge was warm and long. This time we found a horse trail with cairns leading around the second rock pile to the ridge. This made the hike a little easier. I saw my first snake of the season on the way up the ridge. We had lunch on the ridge. We had a hundred (or so it seemed) little gnats fling in faces ever since we left the copper camp creek. The gnats didn't leave until we hit 5500 feet. As we traveled along Lion mountain, we startled or woke up two little deer about 10 feet from us. By the time we realized what happened, they were gone. The Sheep creek trail also had cats-claw over growth in the lower section. It was not as bad as the Copper Camp lower section. At the Sheep Creek / Cornucopia intersection we came across a couple camping. We only had to use our headlamps for about a half hour this time. Maybe next year we can do this hike without the headlamps :sl:

    This is one of my favorite hikes. No matter how often I go out in this area, I'm impressed with the views.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To Mormon Grove Trailhead
    Driving from Phoenix, take the Beeline Highway (87) North toward Payson. Take the Sycamore Creek exit (just past mile marker 222), turning left across the divided highway and down the paved road 'Old Highway 87' for 1.2 miles to FR201.

    Turn right over the cattle guard onto the gravel road (FR201) and proceed 1.2 miles to cross another cattle guard just before a split in the road at FR25. Take the sharp left turn downhill (FR25) and proceed 2.6 miles to a Y in the road. Stay left again and downhill on FR25 (the right leg takes you onto FR25A). Proceed uphill for 2.2 miles (switchbacks) to the Mormon Grove Trailhead.

    Both FR201 and FR25 are gravel roads - FR25 is slow/rough- loose & hard packed rock, steeper climb up/down than FR201.

    The Mormon Grove Trailhead is not signed but is obvious since it is where FR25 ends at an old wooden corral.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 66.6 mi - about 1 hour 21 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 164 mi - about 2 hours 42 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 145 mi - about 3 hours 10 mins
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