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Goldfield Hi Country via Gateway Cyn, AZ

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473 30 1
Guide 30 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Mesa NE
3.6 of 5 by 8
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,425 feet
Elevation Gain 927 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,150 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 13.75
Interest Seasonal Creek & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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33  2019-01-23
Goldfields: 2 Peaks and 3 Arches
18  2018-12-15
Goldfield Mountains Arches Hike
5  2018-01-05 fdv75
30  2017-10-22 adilling
4  2017-08-02 gummo
5  2017-07-26 gummo
8  2017-07-25 gummo
25  2017-03-04
Trans Goldfield
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author johnr1
author avatar Guides 4
Routes 17
Photos 8
Trips 340 map ( 1,764 miles )
Age 72 Male Gender
Location tempe, az
Co-Author tibber
co-author avatarGuides 21
Routes 574
Photos 25,460
Trips 834 map (10,369 Miles)
Age 63 Female Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Feb, Apr → 8 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:08am - 6:36pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Gateway to the Heavens
by johnr1 & tibber

An area of this hike is closed Dec 1st - Jun 30th.

The Goldfield Mountains live in the shadow of their much younger and much more famous neighbor the Superstition Mountains. The Goldfields are a pleasurable alternative to the crowds of the Superstitions and provide many unique and varied vistas without a lot of other hikers to distract. This hike takes you to the even less visited river high country with its connecting ridgeline vistas of the lakes, rivers and mountains. Along the way are a variety of colorful rock formations and canyon foliage lining Gateway Canyon which opens up into a large, surprisingly level, plateau that is the staging point for further explorations or a destination of its own.

The hike begins at Blue Point Trailhead (N33 33 04 W111 34 54) which has small parking area on the south side of Bush highway. The trailhead is just west of the Blue Point Bridge. After crossing the fence into the NF, there is a Forest service map and a jeep trail that leads south to Bull Dog Canyon. However, we take an immediate turn to the left (east) onto a trail that heads towards the mountains we will climb. This trail shortly turns onto a jeep road that goes south east for about 0.6 miles until you reach a drop off to the south flood plain of the Salt River(N33 32 46 W111 34 32). The view towards Saguaro Lake/Stewart Mountain Dam from the top of this drop off is quite colorful in the winter when the trees are turning colors.

Head down the steep road to the bottom and then follow it shortly to the east until there is an old corral on your left. Turn just past the gate where the fence is down and begin the adventure of picking your way through the forest of trees that line the bank of the river. There are many jeep and horse trails through this mesquite forest and the only rule is that you should stay to the river side in order to avoid climbing up and down the hills to the south. This is important to remember on the way back too. If you are climbing or swimming you did something wrong. We have seen wild horses, javelina and many birds in this area. The tall grass will no doubt provide happy hunting for snakes in season. It is also interesting to see the wide variety of clothing lodged in the trees courtesy of the tubers.

The goal is to head east about 1.5 miles until you cross under a high-voltage power line where you turn (N33 32 59 W111 33 11) towards the south looking for a small wash between two hills (N33 32 57.6 W111 33 04). The wash is pretty well hidden from view by mesquites so some searching may be needed. This small, flat, steep-sided and brush-free wash serpentines between the two hills for a short distance before opening up into a wide valley. Just past the opening (N33 32 49 W111 33 04), there is an easy to miss cairn or two on the right marking the departure of the trail from the wash. The narrow use trail goes west up a small hill and then turns south to follow the ridgeline (N33 32 46 W111 33 06). The trail is well cairned and the view into the drainage on your right is impressive. We found running water and small falls accented by huge cottonwoods when we passed by in March.

The trail you are on leads all the way to the high country while crossing the drainage once to get to the east side of Gateway Canyon. You will pass the mouth of Rhyodacite Canyon on the West at about the point where the trail becomes steep. As you follow the cairned trail up Gateway Canyon canyon, you look across at numerous caves and colorful rocks. These provide something to examine while you are pausing to rest during the climb. High and east along the skyline you will see what appears to be a large vertical arch that is really just a chock stone. Oh yes, and while looking west, you may see the Fountain Hills fountain spouting its recycled water.

After about 0.5 mile of steep climbing you reach the destination of the high country plateau (N33 32 19 W111 32 11) where you can picnic, turn around or head off to the many destinations that the high country offers. You don't want to miss the Delicate Arch which looks like 2 elephant trunks touching; this arch is on the overlook just to the north east.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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.

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

2010-03-10 johnr1 & tibber
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    Closure Map
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
Goldfield Hi Country via Gateway Cyn
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Last year we hiked up Gateway Canyon and went left, yesterday we went right. New terrain so we spent some time route finding but we both really enjoyed this area and saw more than enough to justify a trip back. Other than a trio of hunters we ran into along the river we saw no others.
Goldfield Hi Country via Gateway Cyn
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Our second annual Pre-Thanksgiving Goldfield Mountains hike. We both really enjoyed this hike as it has a lot to offer. Once we reached the "Hi Country" we set off to check out Delicate Arch, Precarious Arch, and then Sky Island. The views from Sky Island where drop the hiking stick stunning. As we were taking in the views and refueling, the gears in my head were spinning as I was thinking up new hike ideas around the surrounding area. Great day out on the trail.

Happy Thanksgiving to all HAZ members!
Goldfield Hi Country via Gateway Cyn
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Aside from Pass Mountain, I haven't hiked in the Goldfields. The route taken by Johnr1 and Tibber looked like a good introductory hike so I gave it a go. The route description is spot on.

After yesterday's Flatiron hike, I was glad to have a few miles of flat terrain before ascending to the high country via Gateway Cyn. The mesquite forecast near the Salt River was interesting, as was my first experience getting so close to the Salt River. I didn't realize there was so much water flowing through here.

The highlight of this route, though, was the hike up Gateway Canyon and the views up top. The Elephant Arch with the Salt River and Red Mountain in the background was very cool. From the elephant arch, I continued up the hill to a saddle, then made a short loop above the eastern side of the plateau before heading back down.

Very nice hike. The views from up top were awesome.
Goldfield Hi Country via Gateway Cyn
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I always underestimate the beauty of the Goldfields. Once I get into their canyons they have as much of my admiration as the Sups. The trail is hard to stay on but as long as you familiarize yourself with hike description it is hard to get lost. Saw a fresh set of horse tracks and then immediately saw some wild horses. We watched them for a good while and they seemed to tolerate us, they tolerated us more once they crossed the river. We got a bunch of pics of them grazing on the banks of the Salt River. That was the highlight of the trip but even without the chance sighting, Elephant Arch holds it's own. Very charmed with this one if not a little on the sore side.
Goldfield Hi Country via Gateway Cyn
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We hiked along the river for a while, but turned up the canyon before we should have, resulting in some hellish bushwhacking. Finally we figured out where we should be and it made the climb a little easier. But the heat was more than I prefer. We tried to take a break in a shaded cave area, but I'm a lot more skittish about the smell of cat piss since my Aravaipa encounter, and there were some very well used game trails in the area. I'd be very surprised if there's not a lion that lives or hunts in this canyon.

We gave up a little bit before the saddle and headed back down to the river to cool off. Managed to interrupt two couples who were taking a break from tubing to get in touch with their, uh, natural selves, before making our way back to the car via a longer route than the way we had taken on the way in.

A hot day, but still nice to get out and the river makes for an easy cool off. Oh, and nice to know that I'm not the only one who jumps and lets out a startled scream when I almost step on a rattlesnake. :o
Goldfield Hi Country via Gateway Cyn
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After a couple PMs describing this proposed new hike from the Tenney book :wrt: , John persuaded me to join him on this adventure. After waking up every hour on Saturday nite expecting to hear the rain so that we would have to cancel :zzz: , I met John at the TH at a 7:45AM : rambo : . We headed mostly east on a nice jeep road. Soon we would see the mighty and full Salt River. After following the road for a little while, we made our way down the hill, saw a bright red cardinal in a tree, walked past a corral and then headed toward the river.

We wove in and out along/near the river bank enjoying the scenery for the most part. It is very important to stay close to the river if you want to avoid going up and over hills/washes. We stopped a couple times to watch 1/2 dozen or so herons flying in and out of a tree filled with nests. It was quite the site. Per the hike description in the book we continued under the power poles a little way before turning south. You have to zig-zag a little around the trees until you find the opening for the serpentine wash... well we didn't know it was serpentine-like until we started walking through it ;) . Once you get through the scenic wash it opens up and is cairned/ribboned where to make the turn west and then south again up on to the ridgeline.

This is a nice wide ridgeline with a bit of a trail that meanders toward the Canyon. Sometimes the trail becomes faint but if you look around, you'll see it again. You will want to stay on this trail the best you can as once you start the climb up, the cairns will direct you to the easiest route. There's plenty to look at as you make your way up including a good-sized cave to the south, the river behind you as well as another canyon and the fountain. Once you get to the top, the plateau opens up with several mountain vistas and ramps and such :DANCE: .
Short video:
We had our lunch by a what we called a booth-shaped rock (you could your back against it while sitting) which is slightly south of the destination cairn you should see.

Just as we were finishing our snacks, the rain started to come down. We could have headed back but I always figure, once you've come all this way, you need to make the most of it. Also, when John is along, he's gotta climb something :wlift: so we decided to check out a saddle to the southeast and the mtn to its north. It was a steeper climb than it looks (short though) but we made it up the saddle and went to the edge of the northern mountain. There is another little mountain top to the south and west that looks like it would be fun to climb as well.

As it started to get a little windier and wetter, we headed back down to the wide open area and despite the rain, we headed west (just north and west of the destination cairn) over to what I think is called delicate arch in the book or Elephants Arch. Though the rain was still coming down, it was a picturesque moment as you could take all sorts of creative pictures using the Arch :y: . Thank goodness for the Elephants Arch as it made the rain-filled trip back so worth it.

I was pleased that the route down, though full of little puddles here and there and very wet with water-filled brittle bush, was not slippery. Every once in a while the rain would let up but only for a couple minutes. Once we got back down to the ridge line, the walking conditions were a lot more pleasant. I even got to stop a couple times to try to get some pictures of the wildflowers and of the very deep drainage on the west side of the ridge line. Now you could hear the rush of water coming down.

The last couple miles were pretty brutal coming through the rain as we were drenched :( . I kept thinking of all the rest of you that got caught out in the rain/snow this year and now I could relate... I'm not particularly fond of that relating though. As we approached the river bank, we spooked a couple javelinas. For the rest of the hike, I pretty well-kept my head down and followed John's legs/feet. Once again, you have to keep in mind to stay as close to the river as possible to avoid the hills. The rain did preclude us from staying close to the river once so we had to back track a little to continue making our way west back to the TH. By this time, we had to make our way around lots of big puddles and up the little hill with water-filled ruts ](*,) .

I think this is a great hike with lots of rewards. The hike description is quite good and if the fluorescent ribbons are still up, between those and the cairns, you should do well. Of course, having the GPS route will help. I hope some of you try it and let us know what you think. Photos and video to come :D .

Permit $$

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
Take Bush highway east from Thomas or Usery to trail head just west of Blue Point Bridge or take Bush highway from Saguaro lake West to just accross the Bridge. Multi car parking in small lot just off the highway
page created by johnr1 on Mar 10 2010 12:31 pm
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