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Sheep Creek Cabin, AZ

no permit
101 7 0
Guide 7 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3.7 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 5 of 5
Distance One Way 10 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,924 feet
Elevation Gain 3,844 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 22.81
Interest Historic & Seasonal Creek
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
30  2017-11-18 jacobemerick
33  2017-04-14
Copper Camp Loop II
20  2011-05-07
Upper Sheep Creek Loop
13  2011-05-07
Upper Sheep Creek Loop
6  2010-03-04
Copper Camp Loop II
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
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Sep, Oct, Jun
Sun  6:14am - 6:23pm
1 Alternative
Named place Nearby

Likely In-Season!
To start off, the cabin is gone. All that's left is an old corral, wheelbarrow and sheet metal.

You start off at the Mormon Grove TH and take the Saddle mountain trail to where it ends at the Sheep Creek trail intersection. Take the Sheep Creek trail. You'll go down to the Squaw Flat/Spring area after passing the Thicket Spring trail. Soon you'll hit the Sheep Creek / Copper Camp intersection. Stay on the Sheep Creek trail. You'll climb up, level for a bit and then have some rolling hills to a high point of 5,500 feet. Then you'll drop down into the Sheep Creek. As you enter the creek the trail gets a little harder to follow. There are cairns. The trail follows the creek downhill. Soon you'll level off and hit the Sheep Creek seep. There's an old cement spring box and a dismantled corral. After this point, the trail gets faint. The trick I learned was that the trail more or less follows an old abandoned fence line. Look for this waypoint: N33 59.9629 W111 33.4716. This is the canyon where the cabin is located. If you'll lucky and look close enough, there is a well cairned trail into the canyon. I didn't see it going in; I found the cabin by going up the creek. I found the trail coming back from the cabin. What's funny is that the cabin trail is a better trail than the Sheep Creek trail in this area.

Return the way you came. Or if you like to seek adventure and like route finding, try and find the Sears trail or continue on the Sheep creek trail.

Check out the Triplogs.

This is a difficult hike. Arrive fit and prepared or this could get ugly.

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

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
    Sheep Creek Cabin
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    This trip could be done as an enjoyable overnight or as a terrible dayhike. I chose the latter.

    Driving down FR 25 from 201 was bad enough for my little minivan. Parked at the fork of 25/25A and walked up the rest of the way to Mormon Grove. New moon meant great sky views.

    Saddle Mountain #91
    Still in fantastic shape. Was a piece of cake to walk in the dark, even when a few overgrown branches cast scary shadows over the last mile or so. Potato Patch saddle was delightfully spooky, with those two big mountains towering above, blocking out the stars. Paused at MacFarland to pull a fresh liter and to gawk at the 'food cache'.

    Sheep Creek #88
    Getting to Squaw Flat Spring was easy with predawn light, though I still haven't found a track I like from there to the Copper Camp junction. Oh well. The final climb was quick and easy and I made it to the 'drop-off' just before the sunrise for some ridiculously good views. Drop was easier this time around, though the trail was a bit hard to track along the creek with the fall leaves. Which I was totally willing to deal with. Few pools along the way that dried up before the seep proper. Reached the cabin area to find a dry Round Spring and creek - which I needed. Hauled up to Sears Junction and the saddle above but couldn't pick up a path until I started dropping down the other side.

    Sheep Creek Trail from Sears to Davenport is a bit easier to track than the eastern part of Sears Trail, with small cairns and faint tread to track, but it was easy to lose near the washes. Oh, and that last drop down the ridge after the Sears Junction is terrible, all rolling rocks that really know how to tweak knees. I did find it interesting how small most of the cairns are, as if someone recently did some revival work, there's just not enough traffic out this way to sustain it. Once I reached Davenport Wash I was struck at how different these two trails were - Davenport Wash is like 90% packed footpath with a few cairns and Sheep Creek is 90% tiny cairn tracking and sorting through game trails.

    Davenport Wash #89
    Section from Sheep Creek to Club Cabin felt a bit harder to follow today, or else I was just in a rush for water. Reached the old cabin to the smell/sight of fresh horse manure but no one in sight. Drank 2 liters here, pulled another 2, figuring that would be enough to last until Deadman Creek. While I was pulling water a bear tried to sneak up on me, but I heard him crunching the leaves (about twenty feet away) and told him kindly to wait his turn.

    Onto the fun part. Getting to Red Rock Spring area was simple, good trail that was being overtaken by various spiky things with well-worn alternative routes. Climbing out of Red Rock was a solid gut-punch of elevation and I accidentally ended up on a game trail about forty feet above the actual path but kept to it, unwilling to lose an inch. We met back up in time to tackle two miles of manzanita / catclaw / holly? mess that left me dripping blood from a dozen cuts. Then it was time to slip-slide descend into Upper Deadman, which was dry, and then climb back out, and I chose a bad route initially and had to do sketchy scrambling before finding the real way, and then haul up the grassy hill that never ends.

    When I hit mile 21, with forty minutes of daylight left and unknown trail conditions ahead, I had to stop. Drank the last of my water, ate a disgustingly sweet bar of some sort, and watched ballooning strands sparkle over Deadman Creek in the dying day's light. It was one of those moments that I hope I never lose, feeling the concerns about getting back to a decent trail before sunset melting away in the face of silent, overpowering beauty.

    Back to the hike. Hauled up the rest of the way to round the cliff by 5400' and find a lonely cairn marking the turn. Which was nice, because there hadn't been dependable cairns for much of the climb from the creek. The terrain got real rocky real fast, huge red boulders that were anything but stable, though there was a packed path hidden in the manzanita that slowly got better as I traveled east. In fact, even after the sun set, I was able to move pretty quick as obvious maintenance made the last mile painless. To whoever did this, you are awesome. Reached Chilson around six and wasted little time booking up Brody and swinging around on the Mazatzal Divide. Stopped before the saddle to don some extra clothes (temps drop fast up there) and wish for some water.

    Barnhardt #43
    Was far too easy to trot down, even after all those miles. One thing worth mentioning was that I was about a mile in when a large chopper slowly started flying up the canyon. It took a minute for me to register the spotlight on it and I didn't turn off my headlamp in time. They quickly zeroed in on me, swinging low circles and blinding me with their light. I waved them away but it took a while for them to acknowledge and fly away, turning towards the Sandy Saddle area. I'm unsure if someone else was in trouble and called them in or if it was a police chopper making routine rounds or what.

    Yet another quiet day in the Mazzies. Didn't see anyone on the trail, only one other car parked at Barnhardt during pick-up. (Big thanks to @reynchr for assisting with the shuttle)

    Mazatzal Miles: 181.5/275 (66%)
    Finally got every trail southeast of Mountain Spring completed! (except Fig, but Fig only kinda counts)
    Sheep Creek Cabin
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Short Version
    This is a fantastic loop through a remote section of the Western Mazatzals. The trails are sweet, the views are big, and it almost entirely avoids the Willow/Sunflower Fire burn areas.

    Long Version
    Drove up on Thursday and car camped at Horseshoe campground. Mostly quiet, road was a bit rough. Not sure if I'll be taking the minivan on 205 again until it gets graded.

    Plan was to do most of this road walk in the dark, though alarm failed me and then I got confused trying to find my way to the dam from campground. Following roads is hard. So only 479 in the dark. Start of 477 was difficult to track through the wash, then a rocky, hilly ride to wilderness boundary. Tweaked my left knee early on which filled me with confidence. Brief pauses at Cholla Tank and Trail Springs to check on water situation.

    Copper Camp #87
    Trail starts humble enough - no formal trail sign, horse gate is overgrown w/ prickly pear, sporadic tread, and few cairns for the first mile. Plus the final drop is badly washed out. Along the creek things gets more fun. Trail criss-crosses the creek repeatedly, and it definitely pays to look for the cairns. Creek was very overgrown and forced me to a crawl repeatedly. Path will climb up along the sides of the valley (reminding me of Upper La Barge Box) and is in shockingly good shape for the most part, only a few bad overgrown patches and washouts. Water flowed in several sections, including the loading corral. Then it climbs up Squaw Flat in a punishingly exposed way.

    Cairns help a lot on the climb, as the trail can be difficult to trace over the grassy/rocky slope. I made some bad water decisions and made the haul up with only two liters in the afternoon and it hurt. Once it crests near 5400' it ventures through lovely pines, where some angry yellow rattler was waiting for me, and then deadfall and route-finding after you enter the burn area. A surprise seep at the junction of Sheep Creek Trail was very appreciated. I pushed on to Squaw Flat Spring expecting to find more water there and didn't. Set up dry camp here and read for a few hours before a most exhausted sleep.

    Sheep Creek #88
    Woke up early and made it back to junction and that seep before sunrise. Watered up and headed up the trail, which quickly climbed out of the burn area with none of the deadfall or route-finding issues that the end of #87 had. The roller coaster was fun to do in the cold morning temps, and then it was down down down. Knee felt surprisingly good and most of the trail was broad and easy to roll down. Last few hundred feet of descent began to get a bit choked up. Creek section was fantastic, reminding me of a rocky Midwest creek with piles of leaves and soft grassy banks, and the trail criss-crossed a few times and was well-defined. Beyond the end of Cypress Ridge the desert took over from the trees and the banks became thorny and nasty.

    Trail seemed harder to follow so I began switching between hopping along the rocks in the wash, connecting game trails, and hunting for cairns. Then the old fence line led right to Sheep Creek proper and my planned breakfast stop. After a too-long break I checked out Round Spring and then promptly lost the trail on the way up to the corral. Took some hunting to find the trail sign, assumed it was the junction of Sears, and started heading west a few hours before noon.

    Sears #90
    The first few miles of this was taxing. Trail and I played a game that I kept losing. Cairns helped, as did some glimpses of the tread, but there were no prints to speak of. Near the fulstrum I decided to check out Lizard Spring, choosing water over a cement thing, and had a terrible time descending down the hill. Bit of a path leading down but it involved a whole lot of sliding. Found plenty of water and a weird tree, so it was worth it? Climbed back up to trail and then had an easy time dropping down into the unnamed wash. Trail was clearly marked the whole way, and then the wash was easy enough to trot along. I followed some cairns where my GPS told me to exit the wash and had a very bad time. Eventually found the trail after spilling a whole lot of blood and it was stupid wide and easy, looking more like an old two-track than trail.

    Trotted down past the corral and finished the drop into Davenport. Cairns took a sharp left turn at the bottom of chalk cliffs and, vaguely remembering a discussion on here about a Sears Trail re-route, I decided to follow it instead of the road. I'm not sure if this was a smart idea. Instead of what looks to be a straight half mile of road in the wash I was on a zig-zagging route with plenty of little climbs up and down washes that made for a frustrating ending. Finished the last of my water right before meeting back w/ 477, and then decided to follow cairns instead of the road in hopes of finding an actual trailhead sign for Sears. Never did. Did meet another rattler at Sears TH Spring. Oh, and that spring looks toxic.

    Final few miles of road walking was not a lot of fun, especially with a few vehicles blowing dust and diesel fumes on their way to/from the ranch. Dam was pretty busy with fisherman and photogs. Considering that I hadn't seen a single person on the trails, guess it was only fair that there were crowds at the end.

    Mazatzal Miles: 78.6/274 (28.7%)
    Sheep Creek Cabin
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Thanks to Bruce for helping make this loop a reality. It's been on my mind for sometime now and I was losing sleep. I've wanted to check the entire upper Sheep Creek drainage for any possible clues of gpsjoe for sometime. Unfortunately nothing observed other than to mark the drainage off as checked.

    21.1 lb of water and food burned on this hike
    Sheep Creek Cabin
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Out Searching for GPS Joe.

    See posted Route.
    Starting at 7:30am, we began our adventure.
    We went counter-clockwise taking the Mazatzal Divide trail up to the Saddle where we dropped into the Upper Sheep Creek drainage. It was an hour and 15 minutes, to get to this point.

    From here the fun starts. Dropping into Sheep Creek, we turned into VaporTeva and VaporEagle
    making our way down the many drops, we boulder hopped through the thick vegetation. The whole area is quite beautiful with water running all the way down to, and past the Sheep Cabin area.

    We finally got to a point were we could no longer follow the drainage because of a sheer 100' waterfall drop. So it was time to scramble up, around, and down to get back in the drainage.

    Just past this area, we decided to take lunch. To get to this point from where we turned off from the safety of the Mazy trail was, 3hr 39 minutes and 2 miles in distance.

    It was at this point, that I noticed that my SPOT was no longer attached to my pack. ](*,) All that was left was the back of the sleeve and the clip that I had it double secured with! Dam thick vegetation!!! Another Electronic offering to the God's up here. We thought about going back to look for it, but not knowing exactly where it was ripped off, would have been needle in the haystack stuff. On the bright side, I pay for the tracking feature and it currently sits about .1 mile 13 minutes hike time, from where we took lunch.

    If anybody plans on going up there in the near future, please PM me and I'll send you the location

    At our lunch location, we knew we were running a lot longer than we had planned, but still made the decision to push on hoping to get to an actual trail and make up some time.

    The water in sheep creek all the way down was a godsend. We soaked our shirts and hats numerous times to cool off. We got to Sheep Cabin (No Cabin) hoping to pick up a trail. There was a faint trail off and on loaded with Teva Joe's favorite, foxtail. We did make better time going back, but still pulled into the Trailhead at 9:30pm, 14 hours after we started, tired, cranky, thirsty, and hungry.

    I had a card on my window from Donnie at Superstion Search and Rescue, wondering if we'd had any luck. I thought maybe he was looking for us.

    Bottom line, not a single clue on this day.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    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
    page created by topohiker on Nov 28 2010 1:44 pm
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