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Horsethief Canyon Trail #30, AZ

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Guide 10 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Prescott > Black Canyon
4 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 5 of 5
Distance One Way 2.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,970 feet
Elevation Gain -1,299 feet
Accumulated Gain 130 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 2.63
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8  2016-03-19
Dipper - Horsethief - Recreation - Algonquin
8  2016-03-19
Dipper - Horsethief - Recreation - Algonquin
22  2014-09-20
Algonquin - Horsethief Cyn - Twin Peaks Loop
20  2011-05-30 paulawolf
30  2011-05-14
Algonquin / Horsethief / 201 Loop
6  2011-05-14
Algonquin / Horsethief / 201 Loop
18  2010-09-18 skatchkins
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
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Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov
Sun  6:14am - 6:33pm
Official Route
6 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Culture Nearby

Overview: The Horsethief Canyon Trail acquired it's name from the Horsethief Ranch, where several noted outlaws made this ranch headquarters for the trafficking of stolen horses.

Trail #30 runs south to north starting at about 6000' and descending 1000' into the Castle Creek wilderness. At mile .2, The Recreation Trail #201 intersects from the West. Trail #30 continues to where it joins up with the Algonquin trail #225. The Algonquin trail at this point continues past the Algonquin Mine and to FR 259 to the north(,N34 13.060 W112 18.485) or SW to FR 52 (N34 10.537 W112 19.749). NF trail sheet states that #225 to the SW is "extremely difficult and should be traveled with caution. Trail #225 is not maintained and has many areas of loose rock, is overgrown with brush in places, and is generally in poor shape".

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2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot

    One-Way Notice
    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.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Horsethief Canyon Trail #30
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Dipper - Horsethief - Recreation - Algonquin
    Check out Bruce's triplog loaded with details!

    Still love this loop. We last hiked the exact loop five years ago.

    Wore pants on a whim. It would have been brutal without. There is a little catsclaw, not really the issue. The killer brush is shin height, more of a low lying gauntlet of swords. It jabs right through thin pants that ward off catsclaw.
    Horsethief Canyon Trail #30
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Dipper - Horsethief - Recreation - Algonquin
    Big Dipper
    Finally hit the Big Dipper for the first time. Easy to get there with only minor rock hopping. Kept dry easily.
    Such a pretty area. The mSD Card in my phone self destructed, so I have no pictures. Hopefully Joe got some.
    I can see why this place is popular. We got there early enough in the day that noone was there.

    Horsethief Canyon Trail #30
    This is a favorite of mine in the area. The creek has been flowing every time I've been there. This trail in the past has seen very little traffic, but it seems to be getting a bit more now.

    Recreation Trail #201
    I'd remembered this one as being hard to follow. The last time all we had to follow was a trace from the TOPO maps Those are notoriously inaccurate. This trail actually is not all that bad to follow, when you are on it... The track that I posted is spot on for all but the first 100 yards on the east end. I adjusted out our "exploration" and used RM/Satellite predict where it actually starts on the east. It may in fact start a little farther South than I show it.

    Senator Highway #52
    We had a 2 mile road walk on this to get to the Algonquin Trailhead.
    Kind of a busy day with 4x4's, ORV's, and Motorcycles.

    Algonquin Trail #225
    The start of this one is all but impossible to find without a track. I'm sure the fire took out the old TH sign. This one needs some love. There are numerous downfalls across the trail. Joe and I put a dent it it by clearing the ones we could and adding some appropriate Cairns. There are some real nice views from this one. I saw a red headed wood pecker on this trail.... without a body. :o

    Back down by Horsthief Creek we were mostly in the shade w/ a light breeze. Perfect.
    4 or 5 other groups had signed in after us, but we saw no one the whole day.

    Another very enjoyable day in the Castle Creek Wilderness!
    Horsethief Canyon Trail #30
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Algonquin - Horsethief Cyn - Twin Peaks Loop
    Joe and I are in a small group that are hooked on discovering what the Bradshaws have to offer.

    We have a few more trails to discover out there. Today was to find out if the section of trail between the Horsethief Canyon Trail #30, going east, still existed.

    For this hike, long pants and a GPS track is helpful. The route is cairned throughout, but gets sketchy at some of the many creek crossings. If you are hiking just the Algonquin to and through the Horsethief Canyon, you will have water opportunities the entire way. For the route we took, we were next to water probably 70% of the time.

    Down the Algonquin #225 from the road to Crown King. All of the entries provided warnings to go back and get your long pants. The majority of the hike included knee high grasses/weeds interspersed with catclaw, locust and other things that liked to cling to you. With long pants on all you had too worry about, was the crap that clung to your socks.

    You pass the old Algonquin Mine building along the way. This is quite an interesting area. Someone spent a lot of time shoring up the walls that created the road to the mine. Just past here, the Algonquin Trail veers off to the west and the Horsethief Canyon Trail #30, continues to the south. The Horsethief Canyon walls are steep and close to you, adding to the wow factor on this hike. The climb out of the canyon is a steep one. Just south of leaving the Wilderness area, you'll hit the western start of your next trail.

    The Twin Peaks #240 Trail was flagged to be cleared by the forest Service, maybe 2 years ago. These flags made it possible to follow this trail. The brush was not too thick except for one section where we lost the flags. I hope they do come back to clear it. Along the way on this trail we found the burned remains of trail sign, indicating trails 800 and 801? (could not read the names) There were cairns going off to the Northeast. I've never heard of these, or seen them on any Topo maps. Sounds like another trip to this area.

    On the way down from the Twin Peaks area, I finally checked out and named an unmarked pond, that's had my curiosity the last few times out there.

    To round out the first time experience, we went in through the Turney Gulch CG area to pick up the southern end of the Horsefthief Canyon Trail #30. It follows an abandoned FR52F, past the old Rec Hall Ruins? and the old Sewage plant ruins, before finally turning into trail.

    Another fun day in the Bradshaws!!

    Video :next:

    Some trees are starting to turn yellow
    Horsethief Canyon Trail #30
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Algonquin - Horsethief Cyn - Twin Peaks Loop
    We headed out with a pleasant 75° forecast into terrain known to be a winner. The drive in showed lush tall green grass blanketing the mountains.

    6:55am trailhead
    Despite many visits this trail would be difficult to find without the carsonite post hinting the way. Recent record rains have turned this transitional zone into a jungle. Three entries in the register offered a suggestion to wear pants. Bruce advertised the event as "17+ miles and some blood" so luckily I came armed with pants.

    The first and last four miles of our lasso loop hike had some unpleasantries. In addition to random catclaw there was miracle grow grass nose high in areas. Three species seemed to dominate. The shorter variety was seeding out. Not itchy just made Italians envy your legs. The minor annoyance was one of the tall hay bundle wannabes. Seeds plumed out in passing. The worst of the worst was a half mile stretch through wet sugar type sticky vegetation.

    75° was probably the low, perhaps the forecast should have read 75% humidity...

    enough of the negative
    The rewards out weighed all the above. Ivy is out of control. Wildflowers had me thinking it was spring. Vertical terrain is the star of the show. Each hike out on the Horsethief Canyon Trail #30, especially heading back, leaves me in awe. It's friggen awesome. I love it, I love it, I love it! Due to the trail condition most will despise this gem never looking up from their feet.

    fear no evil
    We finished off the western end of the Twin Peak Trail #240. Albeit 75% evil end to end there is a gift for the persistent hiker. The fire didn't plow the tall pines down. It reminded me of Ballantine above Rock Tank in the southern Mazzies.

    Bruce showed me where Denny used to take dance lessons. We yodeled in his honor, square danced with butterflies and headed home.

    Box Elders in a pocket up near Turney are getting a two day jump start on Autumn.

    Smaller white and purple daisy varieties are out in mass. Other ground cover and such varieties I'm clueless on identifying.
    Horsethief Canyon Trail #30
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Did Joe and Bruce's lasso hike - pretty cool, especially if you like route finding challenges. Horsethief Canyon had isolated trickle flows between reasonably clean pools. If you want to visit this rugged stretch of the Bradshaws you should do it soon, as nature is hard at work erasing some of these little-used trails.
    Horsethief Canyon Trail #30
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Algonquin / Horsethief / 201 Loop
    The Algonquin Trail #225 has been on my "To Do" list for quite some time now. I kept putting it off because I thought the entire trail looked like the Southern TH. I had nightmares of head high Cats Claw and climbing over 100's of burned fallen trees. Today was the day and decided to make it a loop and pull in a couple of other little traveled trails up there (Horse Thief Canyon #30 & Recreation Trail #201).

    First of all, the road to Crown King was in the best shape I have ever seen it. This made the 25 miles of driving off of I-17 much more pleasant than in the past. We hit the TH at a smidge after 7am and were the first car there. I'd always read the stories of how painful the drop down the Algonquin Trail to Poland Creek was (More importantly, the trek back up). It was not as bad as expected. Poland creek was running nicely and surprisingly, Horse Thief creek was even nicer. There were a few spots on the way to the Horse Thief / Algonquin intersection, where the trail was thin, but following the trail and Cats Claw was not bad at all. The trip up Horse Thief as well was not bad, but finding the Recreation 201 trail would be near impossible with out GPS. If you are doing it with out GPS, hang a right up the hill at the Castle Creek wilderness sign and follow the fence line. That will get you close and you should cross the faint trail in spots. It's only a short 1.6 miles on this until you reach FR52.

    From this point you have a 2.2 mile road slog. Something to cover your mouth would be handy on this section because of the smattering of car, quad, and motorcycle traffic. The road is quite dusty.

    Now you turn on the Algonquin Trail again to start the hike back. This section is 6 miles and drops from 6,900' to 4,400' into Poland Creek. This part of the hike reminds me of the Wilderness of Rocks trail down in Tucson.

    If you do this loop, it is suggested to do it Clockwise. The Algonquin Trail drops about 2,000' in 2 miles and is steep and loose in spots. I would not want to climb up this.

    On the feared climb out of Poland Creek to the trailhead we saw a Black-tailed buzzworm sunning himself in the middle of the trail. We waited a bit and talked to another hiker that had just come back from the Big Dipper. The hike up was nothing like what I'd feared. It really was not bad at all.

    I'm glad to have this one knocked off my list. The Creeks and the Cabin area were way cool, as well as the ruggedness of this little traveled area. This is a very nice hike, in temps 25 degrees cooler than the valley. Thanks to Joe for joining me on this one. Whine factor today was in full force.
    Horsethief Canyon Trail #30
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Algonquin / Horsethief / 201 Loop
    Bruce threw together this loop and I was excited to see some new terrain in the Bradshaws. While at the same time expecting horrid catclaw based on our Twin Peaks loop last June, in addition to what others have reported.

    This turned out to be a nice loop. The worst overgrowth is from Poland Creek for a mile or so to a tributary of Horsethief where #30 ascends out of the creek. To be honest it really isn't that bad. I didn't come home blood nor scratched up. Being the jewel views of the hike your attention is diverted anyhow.

    The cabin area was cool. We looked around for the mine without success. Did find some mining equipment. While Bruce went for another look I realized sitting by the cabin it may be more of a workshop. The door on the end has a huge pipe making it a sliding door. The construction is metal too. Gotta check up on the history. Very cool that spring seeps out under the tree next to the structure.

    I was surprised to see Horsethief Creek flowing mid May in this dryer than normal year. Such a cool area that nobody seems to checkout. Heading up on #30 we lucked out as it was flagged maybe a year ago for a good portion going up and cairned along the way. While the fire damage is sad, it still offers great views. This is a true rugged mountain loop with very apparent mountain grades. It must have been phenomenal before the fire. The trail is trenching in steep parts due to uncontrolled runoff, yet I've seen worse in the Phoenix Preserves.

    With only one hour sleep due to some unknown site outage issue I was dragging big time once we hit trail #201. 201 is pretty much gone and would not have been possible without Bruce's GPS route. Our loop had a little road walk in the middle that I looked forward to relaxing. Of course it was all up

    Shortly onto the upper Algonquin Trail Bruce found a shady spot for lunch. I was beat and desperately needing the break and food. Refueled, finally heading down and the ibuprofen circulating I started feeling better. Once again the views are awesome. This trail wasn't a bad bushwhack either. It does head straight down without switchbacks on unsure footing. Sections have survived the fire giving you hints of yesteryears.

    We finished this one up with some nice shady stretches. The dreaded climb out lacked the pain we feared most and this hike turned out much better than I anticipated. Thanks Bruce!

    Wildflowers where moderate throughout with some substantial areas. Not large flowers that photograph well with point and shoot cameras. Beautiful to view in person.

    Looking back it's been just over 10 years since I hiked from this Algonquin trailhead to the Big Dipper. Until I read over my notes just now I forgot all about a bad experience. The Big Dipper page is titled "Mean Fall". I didn't fully explain out of pride or something. On that trip I was jumping boulder to boulder and slipped backwards falling on my hip and hitting my head to unconsciousness. Not sure how long I was out. Seems like it was around a half hour. Then I woke up dazed and in an odd position partially submerged. Apparently luck was on my side that day!

    Permit $$

    Prescott Forest
    Prescott National Forest Pass

    Only trailheads with six "amenities" have fees. Amenities are picnic tables, trash, toilet, parking, interpretive signing and security.

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    From I-17, exit at Bumblebee and take FR 259 to Crown King (27 Mi). From Crown King take FR 52 south-southeast for 7.5 miles to the Turney Gulch Campground turnoff (52F). Proceed 0.25 miles north past the campground. Low clearance should park here; parking for 5 vehicles. From here FR52F becomes 4WD or High clearance for 0.5 miles to the trailhead.. FR 52 and 52F are graded dirt roads suitable for most vehicles in fair weather. (I'd recommend high clearance)
    page created by The_Eagle on Jun 05 2010 11:05 am
    $17 3L Hydration Bladder
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