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Coon Bluff Loop, AZ
details
drive
no permit
forecast
route
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189
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Coon Bluff can become a very busy location, especially during the hot summer months. However, the area provides an opportunity for some terrific views, year-round flowing water and other treats as close as one can get to the city. This loop hike can be either a simple matter of "exercise"; or, it can prove to be filled with enchantment. Everything is in the timing.

Getting to the trailhead is simple enough. From the west take Power Road past the Granite Reef Dam and along Bush Highway until you see the turnoff for Coon Bluff Rd. From the east, travel along Bush Highway about 1 mile past the intersection with Usery Pass Road. Once on Coon Bluff Road, proceed about .4 miles to the parking area on your left. The trailhead is at the far southwest corner of the parking area (33.54400N, 111.63541W).


I recommend that you forego this hike during the summer months, or on holiday weekends when crowds and debris infiltrate what is otherwise a placid environment. If you can start out on a weekday morning just as the dawn approaches the eastern horizon so much the better. Travel the route counterclockwise and you will undoubtedly get to appreciate views in all directions, the glow of the morning sun as it paints across the buttes to the west and a calming mist as it rises from the Salt River to the northeast.

The Hike: Almost immediately after you leave the trailhead you will begin a steep, but short, climb up to the ridge that crests the hills leading north to Coon Bluff. Water runoff erodes the hillside trail, but it is easy to find with only moderate difficulty maintaining ones footing. Once atop the ridge it is a fairly flat trek across to the bluff. Now is the time to enjoy sunrise, the sounds of the river, and if you are fortunate, an encounter with the Wild Stallions. On earlier hikes I have come within inches of these beautiful creatures, but this day I saw the band of stallions across the intervening valley and upon a hillside to the west. They were engaged in grazing and "horseplay" in the early sunlight.

The trail continues on to the Bluff itself and from here you can descend to the east for a visit to one section of the Lower Salt River Recreation area. You will notice that by parking at the trailhead you have avoided paying the recreational area fee. The route described here does not include a descent to the river, but instead proceeds to the northwest along a game trail that terminates just shy of an unnamed wash which separates Coon Bluff from a plateau that overlooks the Phon D. Sutton Recreation Area. Pick your way down the steep walls of the wash (33.54570N, 111.65165W) and then head south a short distance through the wash until you locate a viable location for climbing out the western wall. [I've rated the hike a 2.5 difficulty only because of this wash crossing, else it is a 1.] From here you will bushwhack up and across the plateau maintaining a closeness to the northern edges for the better views of the river. There are an abundance of game trails to assist you and eventually your west-by-northwest trek will cross an abandoned jeep trail. Follow along the jeep trail to the northwestern most edge of the small plateau and what appears to be a gravesite marked with a tall vertical "headstone". From this point you will descend toward the flat ground which abuts the entry drive to the recreation site. Make your own path back toward the trailhead by selecting among the numerous washes, game trails and horse tracks that cover the area.
Description 20 Triplogs  0 Topics
RatedFavorite  
Wish List 6
 Region
 
0
0
 Mesa NE
Statistics
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Loop 4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,402 feet
Elevation Gain 200 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Author sventre
Descriptions 13
Routes 63
Photos 368
Trips 51 map ( 220 miles )
Age
Location Mesa, AZ
Photos
Viewed All Mine Following
4  2017-02-10 syoung
22  2017-01-08
Coon Bluff - Salt River Loop
CannondaleKid
15  2017-01-08 topohiker
17  2016-12-17 cw50must
4  2016-11-19 gummo
9  2015-04-12 DarthStiller
18  2015-02-09 gummo
15  2014-12-15 gummo
10  2014-12-05
Sunrise Adam Stewart
mazatzal
5  2013-03-15 ddgrunning
5  2012-01-16 charlieaz
18  2012-01-08 jochal
Page 1,  2
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar
Forest Tonto
Backpack   No
Preferred   Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan → Early
Seasons   Late Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:14am - 6:25pm
Route Scout
import queue
Official Route
 
Alternative Routes
 
Water
Nearby Area Water
Salt River Trail #100
1.0 mi away
3.0 mi
110 ft
Lower Salt River Interpretive Trail #6
1.5 mi away
2.3 mi
100 ft
Twisted Sister Super Loop
1.9 mi away
9.0 mi
814 ft
Twisted Sister - Hawes
2.0 mi away
1.9 mi
438 ft
Twisted Sister - Upper & Lower
2.1 mi away
Red Mountain AKA Gunsite Butte
2.7 mi away
[ View More! ]
Fauna
Bald Eagle
Black Phoebe
Black-Crowned Night-Heron
Black-Throated Sparrow
Common side-blotched lizard
Coot
Curve-billed Thrasher
Gilded Flicker
Gray Fox
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Great-tailed Grackle
Greater Yellowlegs
Harris Hawk
House Finch
Javelina
Kingsnake
Lesser Scaup
Phainopepla
Pied-Billed Grebes
Red-Winged Blackbird
Redhead
Rosy-faced Lovebird
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Ruddy Duck
Soldier beetle
Spotted Sandpiper
Tarantula Hawk
Unidentified Fauna
Vermilion Flycatcher
Wild horse
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Flora
Brittlebush
Named place
Dome Mountain
Mount McDowell (Red Mountain)
Culture
Benchmark
Mine Shaft
Avoid the Crowds & U Will Njoy
by sventre

Coon Bluff can become a very busy location, especially during the hot summer months. However, the area provides an opportunity for some terrific views, year-round flowing water and other treats as close as one can get to the city. This loop hike can be either a simple matter of "exercise"; or, it can prove to be filled with enchantment. Everything is in the timing.

Getting to the trailhead is simple enough. From the west take Power Road past the Granite Reef Dam and along Bush Highway until you see the turnoff for Coon Bluff Rd. From the east, travel along Bush Highway about 1 mile past the intersection with Usery Pass Road. Once on Coon Bluff Road, proceed about .4 miles to the parking area on your left. The trailhead is at the far southwest corner of the parking area (33.54400N, 111.63541W).


I recommend that you forego this hike during the summer months, or on holiday weekends when crowds and debris infiltrate what is otherwise a placid environment. If you can start out on a weekday morning just as the dawn approaches the eastern horizon so much the better. Travel the route counterclockwise and you will undoubtedly get to appreciate views in all directions, the glow of the morning sun as it paints across the buttes to the west and a calming mist as it rises from the Salt River to the northeast.

The Hike: Almost immediately after you leave the trailhead you will begin a steep, but short, climb up to the ridge that crests the hills leading north to Coon Bluff. Water runoff erodes the hillside trail, but it is easy to find with only moderate difficulty maintaining ones footing. Once atop the ridge it is a fairly flat trek across to the bluff. Now is the time to enjoy sunrise, the sounds of the river, and if you are fortunate, an encounter with the Wild Stallions. On earlier hikes I have come within inches of these beautiful creatures, but this day I saw the band of stallions across the intervening valley and upon a hillside to the west. They were engaged in grazing and "horseplay" in the early sunlight.

The trail continues on to the Bluff itself and from here you can descend to the east for a visit to one section of the Lower Salt River Recreation area. You will notice that by parking at the trailhead you have avoided paying the recreational area fee. The route described here does not include a descent to the river, but instead proceeds to the northwest along a game trail that terminates just shy of an unnamed wash which separates Coon Bluff from a plateau that overlooks the Phon D. Sutton Recreation Area. Pick your way down the steep walls of the wash (33.54570N, 111.65165W) and then head south a short distance through the wash until you locate a viable location for climbing out the western wall. [I've rated the hike a 2.5 difficulty only because of this wash crossing, else it is a 1.] From here you will bushwhack up and across the plateau maintaining a closeness to the northern edges for the better views of the river. There are an abundance of game trails to assist you and eventually your west-by-northwest trek will cross an abandoned jeep trail. Follow along the jeep trail to the northwestern most edge of the small plateau and what appears to be a gravesite marked with a tall vertical "headstone". From this point you will descend toward the flat ground which abuts the entry drive to the recreation site. Make your own path back toward the trailhead by selecting among the numerous washes, game trails and horse tracks that cover the area.
© 2010 - 2017 hikearizona.com

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    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.

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From the west take Power Road past the Granite Reef Dam and along Bush Highway until you see the turnoff for Coon Bluff Rd. From the east, travel along Bush Highway about 1 mile past the intersection with Usery Pass Road. Once on Coon Bluff Road, proceed about .4 miles to the parking area on your left. The trailhead is at the far southwest corner of the parking area (33.54400N, 111.63541W). Forest Service Permit is not required as long as you proceed no farther into the recreation site.
    page created by sventre on Oct 26 2010 12:12 pm
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