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Bull Spring Trail #34, AZ

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Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson W
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 7.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,377 feet
Elevation Gain 1,860 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,460 feet
Avg Time One Way 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 15.5
Interest Historic
Backpack Yes & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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47  2019-05-07
Red Hills - AZT #24
51  2018-12-05
Upper Mazatzal Loop
15  2017-12-29
Fuller Seep Loop
26  2016-05-11
AZT #24 City Creek to Doll Baby Ranch
24  2016-04-09
AZT: Roosevelt to Washington Park
52  2016-03-12
AZT Trail: Picketpost to Pine
22  2015-02-14
Mount Peeley to Twin Buttes
31  2014-11-07
Mazatzal Divide-AZT#23 & Red Hills-AZT#24
Page 1,  2
Author jacobemerick
author avatar Guides 31
Routes 71
Photos 795
Trips 96 map ( 1,037 miles )
Age 34 Male Gender
Location Gilbert, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, Nov, Dec
Sun  6:13am - 6:24pm
Official Route
10 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Long Haul to a Hilton
by jacobemerick

Tough haul up from East Verde River into the remote, rolling hills of the northern Mazatzals. Half of this trail is part of the AZT and is well-maintained and easy to walk, the other half requires constant attention and long pants. For the few that travel its full length there is a rustic cabin with large trees waiting at the end.

The entire length of this trail was damaged by the Willow Fire, which heavily impacts route-finding beyond the AZT.

Reaching the start of the trail is a two-part process. First, getting to Doll Baby Trailhead can be a muddy slog depending on the condition of FR 406. Second, the road is gated at Doll Baby, and hiking Bull Spring Trail means a 3.6 mile walk down a rocky two-track (aka FR 406W). However, if you're doing a longer trek along the AZT, chances are that this road walk will not be necessary and you'll start as it connects with either Brush or Saddle Ridge Trails.

The eastern end of Bull Spring Trail makes a quick climb from the road over a wide, rocky grade as it ascends the side of Copper Mountain. Ignoring the rolling rocks underfoot, this can be a pleasant section, with junipers on each side and pleasant views back towards LF Ranch and the East Verde River. At 0.4 miles a saddle shows up and the grade lessens, and then at 0.7 miles there is a slight drop near Bullfrog Canyon. The junipers began to fade as the fire damage of '04 takes over and the rest of the hike will be through shortened vegetation with no shade.

The real climb begins on the far side of Bullfrog, just over a mile in. In 2.3 miles the trail gains 1700', though the tread is wide and footing solid, most likely the result of a road from yesteryear. A few of the drainages have small stands of trees that have sprung up since the fire that could provide meager shade for breaks. More interesting are the views along the climb - the Mogollon Rim is clearly visible, as is the northern mesas of the Mazatzals. At 3.3 miles the AZT heads south along Brush Trail and, after some more climb, the less-traveled half of Bull Spring Trail finally ascends a saddle and heads west in earnest.

Beyond the AZT junction the trail narrows into a single-track and becomes more difficult (at times) to follow between the crowding brush on each side. As of 2018 there were no cairns to assist, just the lonely track to hunt. Once past the first saddle the wide, barren basin at the start of Red Metal Canyon shows up. The trail swings along the north side of this basin and passes near an old mining prospect and dry tank. At 4.7 miles the trail leaves this basin, enters another, smaller one, and then at 5.6 miles the final saddle is reached and an expansive view of Bull Basin shows up below.

The descent is quick along a shallow ridge before it swings next to, and then crosses, the rocky drainage of Bull Spring Canyon. The trail continues to follow this drainage, never straying more than a few dozen yards from it, making the rocky bed a good navigation aid when the tread inevitably fades away. At 6.5 miles Bull Spring shows up just off trail and makes for a great water-up spot. Alternatively, Bull Trap Spring is located at the end of the trail right next to the LF Line cabin. From here one could set up camp, go back the way they came, or ambitiously continue west on Wet Bottom Trail.

Water Sources
The eastern half, with the AZT, doesn't have much to offer outside of a unreliable Bullfrog Spring and, a bit north of the trail, the East Verde. On the far western side are two more reliable springs, Bull Spring and Bull Trap Spring.

The area around Copper Mountain, with the stands of juniper, could make for an okay campsite. Otherwise there are a few flat spots west of the AZT, and, of course, a great location and fire ring at the LF Line cabin.

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.

2018-12-20 jacobemerick

    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 of 13 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Bull Spring Trail #34
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    Fuller Seep Loop
    This was supposed to be a three day backpack, sort of a reverse Midnight Mesa Loop, but the lack of water out there forced me to turn around early. So I guess it turned into sort of training dayhike?

    Mazatzal Divide #23
    Car camped at City Creek Trailhead to the hum of Doll Baby Ranch. It was teeth-chatteringly cold out when I started at 5:30, definitely below freezing, and I didn't stop shivering until I was two miles up the trail and I got away from the lowlands. Trail is in great shape, as expected. The grade is constant and easy to maintain a decent pace going either up or down hill, although my uphill rate was annoyingly slow thanks to my pack weight.

    Red Hills #262
    The first two miles were breathtaking (literally, the temp must have dropped twenty a short distance into valley). This spared forest is beautiful and beats The Park hands down. Trail conditions continued to be great even after leaving the AZT on the far side, where footprints faded and horse tracks took over. Another stand of mostly-untouched pines lurk right before the drop off. Speaking of, that drop is ridiculously steep and I didn't look forward to climbing back out at all. Path was easy to follow all the way to the old corral and there was barely anything trickling through Fuller Seep. Took a quick break here to filter water and eat an early lunch.

    Getting slightly worried about water conditions I pushed onwards, enjoying the easy trail to Midnight junction (which seemed to be in great shape from here) and beyond. 500 yards further west (at the saddle) is where things started to get dicey, and it did so slowly. First it got overgrown with some deadfall, though the tread and cairns were still easy to pick out. Then it got more dicey. A thousand yards to Wet Bottom Creek, while dancing along the ridge, is when elk tracks and two sets of cairns all diverged. Eventually I found a way down and found the anticipated majestic pool of awesome all but dried up.

    This was the breaking straw. If this was dry, I figured there was no way that the branch of Sycamore Creek along my route or Dutchman Grave would have water, so I probably wouldn't see water again until Mountain Spring. That was too far out of my comfort zone, especially as my planned camping (and cramping) site was near Sycamore. Drank some water and turned around, slowly hauling my way back to Fuller Seep for an afternoon snack. Climbing up the overgrown hillside was no fun, and then climbing up the steep drop on the way back to Brush junction even less so.

    Brush #249
    First mile was beautiful and gave me a few good views north, then the second mile got a bit steep and rocky and I had to slow down. Bumped into two AZT section hikers near Brush Spring (there are other people who hike in the Mazzies?!?) and had a quick chat before starting those little climbs out. Sun fell while we were chatting so I only had a third of my loop to do after sunset, he he. Managed to reach the saddle between 5556' and 5610' before I finally gave in and pulled out my headlamp and sweater. Then it was some steep switchbacks in the moonlight until the next junction. All in all this trail was easy to follow, had some good views, and with the exception of that one steep rocky section during the first half, downright enjoyable.

    Bull Spring #34
    Had braced myself for a tough downhill on this trail and was pleasantly surprised to find it sandy, gradual, and easy on the knees. The views seemed good too, from what I could make out in the moonlight. At this point I was starting to get a bit heads-down so I'll have to hit this section again (heard the LF Hilton takes walk-ins). Last mile got a bit rocky and hard to track by headlamp, especially the little hop over Copper Mountain.

    Doll Baby Road
    Did not like. Those rocky sections were worse than anything on the last two trails, and the repeated little climbs after so many miles was just mean. Had to keep my headlamp on to help with navigating all the rocks and only turned it off once I hit Doll Baby trailhead. Speaking of, the road between City Creek and Doll Baby was impeccable compared to City Creek and the pavement - if you're willing to drive your vehicle of choice to the humble City Creek trailhead, the extra mile to the much more established Doll Baby is nothing.

    Mazatzal Miles: 196/275 (71%)
    Bull Spring Trail #34
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    AZT: Roosevelt to Washington Park
    April 9th
    Miles: 19
    AEG: 6,413 ft

    We started the climb from the 188 around 7:30 AM. The goal for the day was to make it to Pigeon Springs. The weather was great, and the views of Roosevelt Lake got more spectacular as we climbed out of the basin. After taking a break at Buckhorn Spring, the trail climbs relentlessly before topping out and contouring the mountain.

    Eventually we turned a corner and BAM!, the four craggy peaks were staring us right in the face. Quite the view! The trail through the Four Peaks passage is very well maintained, except for a small stretch where we were pushing through overgrowth that nearly obscures the trail. Despite the large swaths of burned forest, this passage was one of my favorite so far. Eventually we reached Pigeon Springs and found a relatively flat spot to set up our tents.

    April 10th
    Miles: 19
    AEG: 2,196 ft

    The morning began with a clear sky. After packing up the gear we headed for Pigeon Springs Rd to begin the long road walk. I'm usually not a fan of road walks, but this was an exception. There were great views on either side of the Superstitions, Sierra Ancha, and Lake Roosevelt. The immediate area itself was very beautiful as well. Around 10 AM we could see clouds beginning to build on top of Browns Peak, and a storm hitting the Supes.

    We stopped to take out the rain jackets and a white mini-van rolled up and asked if this road would take them all the way back to the 87. I pulled out my map and told them it looked like the road ended well before reaching the 87 and that they needed to turn around and take El Oso or the other forest road. The wife sitting in the passenger seat seemed concerned that we were about to be backpacking out in the rain. :roll: By 11 AM it was lightly raining, which was initially quite exciting (I needed to test the rain gear anyway).

    Just as we reached the Boulder Creek drainage the storm began to give us its all. Heavy rain, wind, and thunder! By the time we reached Sunflower, the trail was a muddy slip and slide, my phone was soaked and unresponsive (may it RIP ](*,) ), and we were slightly chilled.

    We waited under the 87 underpass for my brother to arrive, who was picking us up so I could take an exam for an online class I'm taking before returning to the trail the next day.

    April 11th
    Miles: 12
    AEG: 2,643 ft

    After finishing up my exam, we were back on trail around 1 PM. Under the 87, we did some last minute gear prep before heading out and ran into three other hikers, Giltch, Kegel, and Minus. They were 17 days into their thru-hike and were excited to get into Pine for some much needed beer. We were all aiming for McFarland Canyon for the night.

    We started up Saddle Mountain and enjoyed all the green scenery in the area. Just before reaching camp, we passed the half way mark for the AZT and celebrated with the thru-hikers before settling down for the night in McFarland Canyon.

    April 12th
    Miles: 21
    AEG: 5,249 ft

    The thru-hikers were up and leaving camp just as we were beginning to pack up. We weren't sure if we would ever see them again. The trail gets a little hard to follow just after McFarland Canyon to Thicket Spring. The Guthooks app says to head straight up a wash but apparently there is an alternative route that is clear of brush and well defined that you can take at the first junction past McFarland.

    Once we reached the junction for the Peeley TH we stopped to take a break and ran into Joe, a gentleman I had met at a trail maintenance event about a month earlier. Quite the coincidence, if we would have left a minute earlier we probably would have never seen him. He was meeting up with another fellow to remove some downed trees along the trail.

    The views along the Mazatzal Divide from Peeley to Y-Bar were my favorite for the entire trip. The rugged peaks of the Mazatzals and expansive views on either side were exciting to see. We ran into Minus again at the Bear Spring junction taking a lunch break. After taking our own lunch break at the spring, we headed for Horse Camp Seep.

    As we approached Horse Camp Seep, we ran into the three thru-hikers again. There was another hour or so of light, so they continued on, we decided to call it a day where there was water. Horse Camp Seep was a sweet spot and had great camping.

    April 13th
    Miles: 18
    AEG: 2,907 ft

    The goal for the day was to make it to the East Verde River, a relatively easy day that was mostly downhill. We made our way along the Divide trail and passed "The Park", an inviting stand of pines and great campsites. We stopped to take a lunch break at the Red Hills seeps. From here the trail descends steeply to the East Verde River. Not very fun for the knees.

    We camped just across the river and enjoyed the warmest night of the trip. We were now done with the Mazzies, and I felt the proposed "overgrowth" was kind of blown out of proportion, or there has been a lot of trail work in the past couple of months. Probably a bit of both. ;) I never felt like the trail was hard to find (except for the stretch between McFarland and Thicket) or that I had to deal with excessive brush that I wouldn't expect on most wilderness trails.

    April 14th
    Miles: 23
    AEG: 4,196 ft

    With burgers and beer on our minds, we got up early to make it into Pine with sufficient time to hit up THAT brewery and the market. The rocks along Whiterock and Hardscrabble Mesas were annoying and it felt like I was constantly stubbing my toes or rolling my ankle. Otherwise the area is quite beautiful and welcoming. The rocks put these two passages high on my list of "one and done" passages.

    We reached Pine around 5pm with plenty of time to get burgers and beer. Lo and behold, we run into Minus, Kegel, and Giltch at the brewery along with another thru-hiker, Thomas, who was taking a zero in town. We joined them and enjoyed the comradery. Thomas decided to join us at camp for the night near the Pine TH while the others reserved the cabin in the back.

    April 15th
    Miles: 17
    AEG: 3,303 ft

    We woke up with frost all over our gear. :yuck: After packing up, Thomas headed for the Highline and we headed for breakfast at the Early Bird. Just before we finished up eating we ran into Minus who was getting some breakfast himself.

    We headed for the Highline. It was nice to be climbing on a well graded trail with less rocks, especially because a hole was beginning to develop in my right shoe. I could feel every rock under my foot on that spot.

    At Red Rock Spring we made a quick stop and finished off the last bit of the Arizona Trail Ale we picked up the night before at the market.

    Once we reached Webber Creek we caught up with Thomas who was drying out all his gear. We stopped to take a break, and eventually Minus came strolling down the trail to join us. Minus decided to hike with us for a stretch after the break. The Rim gets right up in your face along this stretch and red dirt contrasting with the green pines and cedars made for great scenery.

    We were about 9 miles from the finish and a little antsy to finish up. Eventually Minus stopped to take a lunch break and we continued on after filtering some water. Now with only 5 miles left, we kicked it into high gear and made for the Washington Park TH. Clouds started to build along the rim.

    We reached the trailhead and got ready to hunker down for a few hours of inclement weather before our ride would arrive. However, after a few snow flurries, the clouds broke. Eventually Thomas and the other three thru-hikers caught up with us, we exchanged information, and said our goodbyes. All of them were very enthusiastic about Arizona and couldn't stop commenting on the diversity of the state and how we had a pretty cool home.


    Besides my foot issue due to my failing shoe on the last day, I felt great this entire trip. I never woke up sore or feeling exhausted. I listened to my body, and I was proactive about keeping my feet and knees happy. It really paid off and made the trip that much more enjoyable.

    This concludes all of Southern and Central Arizona passages for me. I'm looking forward to the easy walking on the plateau to the UT border!

    Lots of lupine in the middle elevations, not much at the highest and lowest elevations.
    Bull Spring Trail #34
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    AZT Trail: Picketpost to Pine
    I was kind of looking to see where I was at for another big trek this summer and Karl was looking to experiment with a lighter weight higher mileage backpack, so I proposed Picketpost Mountain, or the beginning of section 18 of the Arizona Trail to Pine and the end of section 26 of the Arizona Trail. Karl was down for four days and had a somewhat flexible plan for ending his trip when he needed to. Meanwhile, I was about 50-50 if I could do the entire hike and was content with just seeing how far Karl and I could get and then playing the rest of my trip by ear, or I should say by body.

    Day 1: 29.92 miles 6268 aeg

    We made it to our planned first night's campsite on day one, Walnut Spring. Section 18 really exceeded my expectations. This is about the best time of year to be walking though that desert right now and Whitford proved to be a real treat with the flowing water and abundance of green. The climb was grueling and relentless but it offered some very solid views of the area and was really made manageable by liberal use of switchbacks. Karl was so confident with our performance at that point in the day that he insisted we bag Montana Mountain while we were up there. I agreed, but only because I was born in Montana and I said it had to count it as our break. Reavis Ranch looked like Daytona Beech and I had not apprehensions about making the short trip past it to my cozy little campsite at Walnut Spring. Got to Walnut just at headlamp time. Blew through camp chores, made a fire, ate and got to bed as soon as we could.

    Day 2: 25.67 miles 6392 aeg

    We came up a little short on our proposed campsite on this day, but the hiking was great so no worries. No stranger to the Eastern Supes, but Sunday still offered me all new areas after Two Bar Ridge. Cottonwood Canyon was great! No shortage of water in there and some cool little sites in this random little riparian jungle in the far corners of the northwestern Supes. A little bit of road and then it was the traverse from hell along the 188 waiting for that damn bridge to come into sight. From the bridge it was up the stairway to heaven. Where fittingly we had a trail angel waiting for us with tons of snacks and H20. After our sugar, hops, and caffeine binge at Mills Ridge we decided to just push for Buckhorn Creek. However, on that side of Four Peaks, pushing for a few extra miles usually entails a nice chunk of aeg as well, so we earned it. I did find a set of Indian ruins though along the way, so that was cool. We were both excited to learn that after carrying all that fresh water from Mills Ridge, there was water flowing in Buckhorn Creek. Oh well no filtering to do, quicker camp set-up, quick fire and in bed even earlier than previous night.

    Day 3: 31.24 miles 5239 aeg

    Day three was all new ground for me. Four Peaks makes you work, but alas the beauty of nature is enhanced by the ardor of the journey. I really enjoyed this section, an instant new favorite! I hiked through perhaps one of my nicest sunrises in a long time and marked several rock pile sites along the trail for future exploring. This section just kept getting better for me as we neared Four Peaks and started contouring towards Pigeon Spring. The lingering and previous snow had some of the creeks flowing nicely along this stretch and the trail got very nice as we approached its end. The road felt a little like Mad Max with the amount of Jeeps, trucks and atvs out. However, I must say not one negative experience with any driver and I do not think I have been offered as much water in such a short amount of time as I was along that 11 mile stretch of road. One guy asked, "is there anything else I could give you?" I said I could use some sunscreen and he offered up the whole bottle. The hike down into Sycamore was also very nice, again a great time to be in the lowlands, a little water, some flowers and green. However, it was hard to appreciate at times with the fatigue and anxiety over coordinating a last minute drop off of some additional things I felt I needed, if I was going to have any chance of reaching Pine. The drop and pick went smooth, a small adventure, but relatively smooth. We did not get an ideal spot to camp, but spirits were high after our resupply.

    Day 4: 24.7 miles 6297 aeg

    This was the day Karl and I would be saying our goodbyes. Karl decided on a Peely exit and I would push on to Bear Spring from there. More new trail for me to start the day and again I was not disappointed. The canyons on the way up to Saddle Ridge were picturesque, there was a lot of water and signs of some pretty extensive trail work in spots. I will admit things got a little dicey after we left the quaint McFarland Spring area, but we endured. The trails definitely need some work in there. I found myself kind of embracing the ruggedness and challenge the area presented. However, I could see that area becoming another hiker's hell if they were not expecting it. Karl and I parted at Peely. Losing Karl sucked, as he and I had a good thing going the first few days. Karl was keeping our pace in the areas where I tend to day dream and I was doing what I could do to keep us at a respectable place for some of the more stout climbs. But no time to dwell, I was solo now and needed to reach Bear Spring, just another 2000 feet of aeg and a shade under ten miles. There is no sense harping on the point, but the Divide Trail is getting nasty along there and I did make it to Bear Spring before head lamp conditions, but I was obliterated from that last little push from Peely. I replaced Karl with another Carl at Bear Spring. I am going to assume he spells his with a C. Anyways, I ran into Carl, better known as Spiced Rum on HAZ. He was on the final night of a backpack to gather some information for future work in the area. We chatted it up for awhile and I am not ashamed to admit I took some extra snacks from him. He was leaving a day early and I could not believe the amount of food I was going through on these long days, so I had no problem taking the charity. Superb stuff too, some great dried fruit, trail-mix and a Rice Crispy treat. Good guy all around and a source of wealth on some other major trails that I am interested in. And what a nice little spot to camp near Bear Spring, that saddle is great, I see why toughboots is fond of the place.

    Day 5: 26.9 miles 4051 aeg

    This was my make or break day. I had my city creek trailhead bailout option if needed, or I was pushing for the East Verde via the dreaded Red Hills and making my final push for Pine from there. The divide trail has its ups and downs, both in terrain and condition, but overall it was pretty smooth going. There is a section of Divide Trail that is now immaculate from about the intersection with Brody Seep to the intersection with Barnhardt. Kudos to that trail crew. I stopped for way too long to soak my legs and filter water and then realized I was looking at about ten more miles to include the worst part of the Red Hills and it was nearly three. My rational side said, "set up camp here, hike out LF or Saddle Ridge tomorrow," however, my other side said, "quit making excuses and finish the original plan." I am not sure what it was, but I was really dreading the last half of the Red Hills. Out of paranoia of being too exhausted to complete the entire section and having to dry camp somewhere I carried way too much water. This weighed me down and annoyed me even more as several of the creeks and main valleys I crossed had running water in them. As it turned out, while my worries were warranted, I did just fine and to be honest felt the area did not seem as bad as it had before and I must give props to the horse(s) whose tracks I followed through the entire Red Hills section, a doable stretch, just may require more time and detail. Camped at the Verde where I was serenaded to sleep by cows, frogs, chickens, maybe peacocks, cats and perhaps even a species of monkey. A very lively river at night.

    Day 6: 23.08 miles 4329 aeg

    This was the one I was waiting for, the "easy" day. A nice early start, I don't think there is a better place to be in the world than a half hour before light in the mountains somewhere, just pure serenity. There were ankle breakers abound on this day of Whiterock and Hard Scrabble. A nice steady pace was all I tried to keep and I followed a liberal break plan, as I crawled into Pine. The final two sections were not my favorite, but they were also the last two sections of a 160 mile trek so they would have had to have been perfect to really capture my imagination. Nevertheless, I got through both of them and endured the lava rock tread and bland road. I did find the last few miles to be more redeeming with the scenic Oak Spring and Bradshaw tank area. It was a reunion at the trailhead with Jackie and the pups, Del Taco and then home.

    Final Notes

    I need to work on a better nutrition plan for these big ones. I simply did not bring enough caloric energy for the type of days I was doing and the amount of energy I was putting out. I need to go healthier and more efficient, just a good lesson to learn.

    Karl played a huge role in getting me through those first four days, very glad to have him through there, he was missed later.

    A good song to have stuck in your head while hiking is Passion Pit, "Take a Walk."

    I can definitely go lighter on these ones too, I packed light, but by no means did I make any attempts to go ultra-light. In the future, that may be needed to knock out some of these more ambitious multi day treks.

    The hardest days by far were Day four with its nearly 7000 feet gained and day five with its 27 legit miles through the Mazzies without as much as a foot of road relief until the very end.

    About normal to not so great, to really good in spots. Most action in the first few sections though.
    Bull Spring Trail #34
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    Mount Peeley to Twin Buttes
    I have been meaning to do hike since last Spring when I saw the sign just off Twin Buttes that said Mount Peeley 48 miles. The idea of a north to south or south to north trans-Mazzie hike really appealed to me and it would give me a chance to cover several areas of new ground in the Mazzies. There was also the added bonus of knocking out a couple sections of the AZ Trail, something that is still not really on my radar, but a little closer after this weekend.

    The HAZ network helped make this one possible. I ran into slowandsteady after Serena's event two weeks ago and she mentioned her and bifrost were also looking for a shuttle in the area. As it turns out they needed a car left at Peeley to complete a section of trail they were day hiking and would also be traveling to Flag later that evening. Therefore, they had no problem using my car to complete their shuttle then dropping it off at Twin Buttes on their way to Flag. I should mention though, all week I kept telling Karl yup leave it at the Pine TH, until he informed me that was not on Twin Buttes road and another 12 miles further into town. I am glad we cleared up that before I stepped off with the intention of my car being on Twin Buttes ;)

    My original plans were to do this in an ambitious over night trip. However, after mulling over the miles and AEG, I figured why not make it three days and utilize my Monday off? Even with the trip scaled back to three days, I had a bad feeling about bringing Cup along. I knew from the few areas I had hiked that although it was the AZ Trail, there were certainly some rugged areas in there and I felt with the warmer temps it just might be a little taxing on Cup, so it was just Blanco and I for this quick adventure.

    Even though I planned for three days and packed for three days, I told myself if day one went smooth, I would shoot for two days. I got kind of a late start on the first day, but still seemed to be making pretty good time, so I thought I would revert back to my original plan and just turn this trans-wilderness romp into an ambitious over nighter. I ended up about three miles past the Park at the junction of Red Hills and Mazatzal Divide Trail. 25 miles covered just over 11 hours of hiking and about an hour's worth of breaks and filtering water.

    I thought by hitting 25 miles on my first day, I was setting myself up for a pretty easy hike out to Twin Buttes. I got a much more FOTG approved starting time, however, the going just seemed slower all day on the second day. I was happy to cover some new ground but found Brushy Trail and Bull Spring Trail to be a tad underwhelming for stretches. However, I ran into several elk along Brushy Trail which was a pleasant surprise so there were some redeeming qualities about that stretch of trail. Tons of "goat heads," or what I call goat heads made life miserable for Blanco and myself coming up the initial stretches of White Rock Mesa. Cacti the dogs easily learned to avoid, but impossible to avoid this plant for the dogs, seems to be more prevalant in cattle country. Poor Blanco could barely make it 20 feet without getting several of those balls of spikes in his pad. He even laid down in frustration and gave up at one point. The trail finally got a little more scuffed up and rocky and the goat heads passed. The trail seemed to drag a little towards the end, it got pretty warm and a few of the short climbs kicked my pumpkin a little more then they should have. We reached TH and vehicle just after 5:30 p.m. Just over 22 miles covered on second day in a little over 11 hours with probably an hour of breaks and water refills.

    Overall, a nice little test of endurance and mettle. I wish I did not carry three days worth of stuff and such warm clothes. I certainly had to keep a steady pace, but it never felt too much like a death march, trails are a tad nasty in spots, but I enjoyed their ruggedness. Blanco was a perfect companion for this trip, no complaints, just hard hiking, he hit the wall a little on the first day, but led us out most of day two. In hindsight, I should have ended in Pine and knocked out that final AZT section in there, with the road miles it could still be done as an over-night I think.
    Bull Spring Trail #34
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    I showed Bruce & Joe the LF cabin aka "The LF Hilton". Bruce had drafted up a couple of loop options and we settled on one that I knew existed. I may return to prove or disprove the other road/trail route.

    We took an old mining road to Buffalo canyon and headed over to a closed up mine.
    When we got to the LF Hilton, Joe and Bruce took an extended break as I went down the Wet Bottom trail.

    I had forgotten how much I like the Wet Bottom trail once you get past the burned area. Yes, there are unburned areas on the Mazzy's! Once I climbed over 2 ridges and went past the Childers Seep turnoff, there's an unburnt pine forest. The ground is pretty open and free of catsclaw and manzanita. I almost kept going to the Verde. The route finding get more challenging as there’s no worn down path, just cairns very 20 feet or so.

    Bruce tried to scare us with predictions of rain and 25mph winds, but that never happened. The weather was mostly on the cool side during the day.

    Good hike with Joe & Bruce.
    Bull Spring Trail #34
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    LF Cabin via Bull Spring #34 from Doll Baby
    Ken suggested a few trips. Lꟻ Cabin piqued my interest and "The Eagle" was up for it too. The only logical way to access as a day hike is from Doll Baby TH. Most write this one off due to the 3.6mi road walk to the trail. Bruce isn't a fan of out-n-backs so we rounded 5,366 to the north on an old mining road. Then off-trail up the west side of 5,366 in a ravine Ken took years ago.

    Made the saddle then checked out a couple old mine sites. The off-trail is easy travel. The chaparral is maybe two feet tall in broken coverage. The area sports a network of old mining roads that have nearly faded away. Which I found intriguing being so deep into the wilderness.

    Lꟻ Cabin sits down in a nice protected valley. The only thing that hasn't burned is the cabin and a swath of trees. Ken kept talking about how it was bombed. Which later made sense when "slurry" was

    Reached the quaint cabin and checked it out briefly. Looks to be a popular overnight destination for horsemen for the last half century. Next, Ken went on a four mile solo journey down Wet Bottom Trail. I wanted to go but I needed rest. Bruce stayed behind too. Took a short nap under the canopy of emory(?) oaks. Ken returned a couple hours later. We headed back taking the trail this time. The ever changing weather stabilized. A distant campfire soothed the senses before the ride out.

    Most would consider light. It's about ready pop pretty soon. Miles of our hike was covered in lupine that hasn't matured yet. The off-trail ravine was loaded with a carrot variety just about ready to explode throughout the entire hillside.
    Bull Spring Trail #34
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    Bull Trap Spring Cabin via Doll Baby
    Another hike with the Master of Miles and another day we were successful in keeping him under 30 miles.

    Destination - a Surviving Cabin in the Mazzies.
    Bull Trap Spring Cabin,
    - aka Bull Spring Cabin,
    - aka LF Cabin,
    - aka LF Line Cabin,
    - aka LF Hilton,

    Pulling up at the Doll Baby TH I was shocked to see that we were the 4th car at the TH. Temps were in the Low 40's to start and a bit breezy. So we got started to get warmed up. This 3.6 mile road walk to get to the Bull Spring Trail #34, just has never been my favorite. I suggested to Ken that instead of doing a straight out and back, that we throw in some options and he was agreeable. So we skipped off trail on an old road / trail at about the 3600' contour. It was thick in spots, but got us close to that top after 2 miles and 1600' in elevation. The views of the East Verde with and all of it's deciduous trees beginning to leave out, was stunning.

    We checked out a dud of a mine are that I'd spotted on Satellite, and started once again on #34 to the Cabin. Once past the top, the nicest views were down into Bull Basin and then when we got to the cabin.

    The Cabin was interesting but definitely has seen better days.

    The Cabin :next:

    Ken went to do some additional exploring down the Wet Bottom Trail so Joe and I chilled for a couple of hours or so at the cabin.

    It got a bit late to attempt the other off trail portion I had drawn up, so we stuck to Bull Spring Trail #34 all the way back to the road walk.

    Last highlight of the day was the views on #34 saddle just above where the AZT joins. We hit it about perfect with clouds and waning daylight.

    Another fun day out there with the boys.

    Three Elk driving in, 1 decent size White Tail Buck while hiking, 4+ Elk and 1 Javelina driving out.
    Bull Spring Trail #34
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    With sub-100 temps, I decided to get in another Mazzy hike.

    I started out at the City Creek TH. The trail has been cleaned up from the TH to the Red Hills intersection. The CREC crew went a little past the Red Hill trail, but by then the trail is pretty wide open anyway. I went past the Red Hills trail and then the sky clouded over and a cool breeze started blowing.
    I then decide to go with my original plan and go to the LF Hilton. I double back to the Red Hill trail and took that to the Brush trail, to the Bull Springs trail.

    There was some recent activity on the Bull Spring trail. There were fresh footprints and cattle prints going to the cabin. I got to the Hilton, but they lost my reservation :sl:
    I took Bull Spring back to FR406. Some part of the Bull Spring trail had been cleared up. The Forest Service did some work at the Doll baby TH. They setup wire mesh cages full of rocks marking the wilderness boundary. They spaced the cages so horse and people could get through. BUT, they left the gate OPEN! :o

    The weather was perfect the entire day. The creeks were boon dry with an occasional small pool of water. The Bull spring looked more like a seep.
    Bull Spring Trail #34
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    With the cooler weather Mike & I snuck in a mazzy hike. We parked at the Doll Baby TH and there was four vehicles there. The temps were coolish as we headed down the road. As we got close to the Bull Spring trail we meet up with 4 backpackers who spent the weekend at Polk Spring.

    When we got to the "Hilton" aka the LF line shack, Mike's heel was hurting. He took an extended lunch/rest as I headed for the Wet Bottom trail.

    SIDE NOTE: My DeLorme GPS & 2 maps show the Wet Bottom trail starting at the Childer's seep turnoff which is about 2 miles from the LF line shack. One of my other maps shows the WBT starting at the cabin.
    The first time I did WBC there was intersection signs by the Childer's seep turn-off. Now they're gone.

    I managed to stay on the WBC for a while before losing it. I don't know how I did it, but my GPS showed that I was going in a circle around the trail!

    This is a neat area it has smaller pine trees and wide-open views. The trail is very faint and you MUST locate and follow the cairns. If you don't you get off-trail very easily.

    I returned to Mike and we headed back.
    Bull Spring Trail #34
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    With the cooler weather I decided to head up Mazatzal's. I started at the Doll Baby TH and hiked up the road. Near the Bull spring TH, I checked out an old jeep road. The topo's show it going to a mine and connecting with the Brush trail (AZT). Maybe next time I'll take the road to the mine. I went up the Bull Spring trail.

    As I approached the intersection where the Bull spring trail used to go, I could see a couple of old jeep roads. I tried to do figure out this 'short-cut' last spring, but it didn't pan out. Call me stubborn; I decided to try it again. This time I was able to stay on the old jeep roads all the way to Buffalo Canyon. The road abruptly ends into this canyon. It seemed weird that the road just ended. I could see a very faint footpath and cow patties to this point. I had a choice to make. I could climb up a short, but very steep drainage or, go up Buffalo canyon. The canyon was about a 1/2 mile long, but not steep. It gradually climbed up. I took Buffalo Canyon. It was an easy hike up. There were no obstacles and I never had to scramble. About a quarter mile in, I came across some old mining equipment. That surprised me, but now it made sense why the road was there. I made to the Red Metal Tank and the Brush trail. I finally found a usable shortcut that cutoff a mile and a couple hundred feet of climbing! :y:

    I took the Bull Spring trail to the Bull Spring proper. The box was dry because the pipe fell out. I put the pipe back in and started dripping. I continued up the creek to the Bull Spring Cabin. This is the only functional cabin left in the Mazatzal's. The crews from the LF Ranch use this cabin. They store oats in the back shed to feed the horses.

    I continued down the Bull Spring trail to where it ends at the Wet Bottom Trail. I was very surprise to see that the Wet Bottom trail was very well cairned and free of grass/small brush. I expected the trail to be obscure at best, being this remote. The Wet Bottom Mesa is a cool area. It looks like the Willow fire spared this area. There are nice pine trees and no catsclaw or thorn bushes. The problem is that there is little vegetation besides the pines. When you're on the trail, it's very obvious, but miss a cairn and you could wander. I went past my turn around time. I went back via the trails and not the short-cut. I made it back to the road and went to the East Verde River before heading back to the Jeep. The moon was so bright, that I didn't need my flashlight.

    The temps were from cool too cold for the day. It clouded over in the late morning and it rained off and on till dusk. This was a great hike. I really enjoyed exploring the Wet Bottom area, I just wish I could get further back there. The drive back home was very cold. I had to crank the heater all the way to Fountain Hills.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To City Creek Trailhead
    From Highway 87 in Payson, take Main Street west. Pavement ends after a couple miles, and road becomes FR 406. About 9 miles from end of pavement, City Creek trailhead and parking are on right. If you come to a ranch house and out buildings beside the road, you've gone about a quarter mile too far.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) - 97.0 mi, 2 hours 11 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) - 195 mi, 3 hours 41 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) - 116 mi, 2 hours 41 mins
    page created by topohiker on Dec 20 2018 9:36 pm
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