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Chillicut Trail #132, AZ

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Guide 6 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson S
3 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 5.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,874 feet
Elevation Gain 2,850 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,610 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 17.43
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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16  2015-03-08
Peak 4046 - Four Peaks Quad
18  2014-01-25
Baldy Canyon / Chillicut / Oak Flat Loop
22  2014-01-25
Eastern Four Peaks Loop
16  2014-01-25
Baldy Canyon / Chillicut / Oak Flat Loop
20  2008-05-25
Oak Flat / Chillicut Shuttle
11  2008-05-25 joebartels
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,825
Trips 4,256 map ( 21,429 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Mar, Oct, Nov → Early
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:29pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
sweating beauty
by joebartels

Rock Creek Trailhead (2850 ft) to the southern section of the Four Peaks Trail #130 (5725 ft) on the north-northwestern flank of Buckhorn Mountain.

Rock Creek Trailhead sports some nice oaks right by a babbling creek. It's interesting to note that Saguaros are nearby at their upper elevation limit. The trail starts out as an old rocky road that quickly turns into a creek bed. The creek is seasonal. It flows better than expected after recent rains due to a large catch base. Hiking through the creek bed is the height of questionable route finding. Luckily it's easy to decipher and short lived. The quaint setting with trees is passed up in the first few strides.

The hike enters a transitional zone of rolling hills. The area was wiped clean of vegetation by the 1996 Lone Fire. Now, twelve years later, there's barely a trace of fire. If you're on the lookout you'll spot areas that survived. The area can be quite photogenic albeit a tiresome stretch on a roller coaster of hills. Somehow the sun just seems to be radiating a little stronger in the area.

I'd venture to guess few make it out of the rolling hills as it lacks visual luring hope. A small ridge is ascended at 2.0mi (3705 ft). I believe this used to be the old trailhead. According to topo this is where the road ends and I believe were we saw a Chillicut sign. Continuing on you drop down into Baldy Canyon (3380 ft). In this lower section it's still pretty lifeless. You could make a lower loop here by following the creek back to the trailhead. Within minutes you're out of the canyon and onto another ridge in a quarter mile (4145 ft). In short distance you top out above the creek (4400ft). Here you make the last short descent to the creek (4300 ft). I didn't see a sign but my mapping indicates this is near the Four Peaks Wilderness boundary.

Enter Hope
Here up things begin to change. It's a 1400ft mad dash up Baldy Canyon. Route finding requires a little more attention through several creek crossings but is well cairned or easily deciphered. Several of of the crossings consist of a 5-10 foot drop in loose footing. Within 5-10 minutes you cross a couple tributaries coming in from the west. Both were flowing on our trip. I should note this was an unusually wet year with rainfall in May (The driest month in Arizona beating June by a mere 0.01 hundredth of an inch based on PHX stats). The first drainage is fed by Dan Neal Spring, the second is fed by Black Bear Spring. However I believe the flow we saw was merely runoff from the recent rainfall.

Your surroundings become more intriguing as you enter a riparian section. Here you'll find gnarly sycamores twisting about. Mammoth hand-sized canyon grape leaves on climbing vines. Having just been through the over roller coaster this is a real treat. I believe this is the nicest never mentioned gem of the wilderness. The habitat includes Yellow Columbine among other wildflowers. Beware though, poison ivy runs rampant through the area.

Grand Finale
The pleasant 13% grade gives way to a noticeably steeper 18% grade. There's little time to complain before you're crawling off the last 33% grade to the Four Peaks Trail #130 junction. Trees populate the ascent offering shady rest options. This upper section has recently been maintained as of 2008. The end offers a rewarding view of the Four Peaks few ever see.

I enjoyed this trail probably more then most. We did it as a counter clockwise shuttle with Oak Flat #123 & Four Peaks Trail #130. Which appears to be the optimal option. You could hike up to the riparian section as an out-n-back. However you'd miss out on the sweet Four Peaks transverse using the same amount of energy.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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2008-05-27 joebartels

    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
    Chillicut Trail #132
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Baldy Canyon / Chillicut / Oak Flat Loop
    Tiffany from the Grand Canyon Chapter of Sierra Club requested permission for a photo on the Chillicut Trail a couple months ago. Which in turn peaked my interest back to a 2008 loop I did with Chris, Wally & Tony. While my memory doesn't remember all the details, one thing stood out... excellent hike. For several weeks since it's been in the "maybe rotation pool".

    A couple things gleaned from the 2008 trip. Oak Flat Trail #123 is in no regards a flat trail. and it was not designed by a trail expert like Shawn Redfield. It's a V cut canal of loose gravel. Heading down is fun, heading up is a chore. The other notable gleaning point was the bottom of the Chillicut. I recall it being smooth hard packed with light gravel in one area. Once you start going down there is no stopping or you will slip.

    So I proposed we go up Chillicut and down Oak Flat. Then started thinking this wasn't much of a loop for the drive. Looking at topo Baldy Canyon caught my eye. Hallelujah we could eliminate the hard packed ball bearing slope on Chillicut. Plus pick up Three Bar Cabin, a Rock Creek sampler and lower Baldy Canyon while making the drive worthy.

    Three Bar Cabin reminded me of a 1960's middle income house... nothing like a cabin. Rock Creek was more choked than anticipated. Nothing difficult just slow going weaving around stuff. The highlight was dense packed saguaros on the left slopes heading down steam.

    Baldy Canyon started off cool twisting around corners to a small granite box. Karl pointed out some pink granite too. If you are into short rugged day hikes this would be a nice destination.

    Continuing up Baldy Canyon is typical easy canyoneering ( non-technical... clarification for competitive literature types ). Karl was fueled up on BobP Wheaties plowing through obstacles and nowhere to be seen at times. While I don't get excited about repetitive miles of this stuff it is a great workout. When Brown's Peak makes an appearance the vegetation obstacles mellow out. Bowling ball sized stones and cottonwoods( I think ) take over. It is a refreshing change and knowing Chillicut is near lifts the spirits.

    Chillicut is everything I remember, a spectacular variation of views.

    The stretch along Four Peaks Trail #130 over to Oak Flat #123 is better than most national parks. Thanks to the AZT crews it is a pleasant stroll too. It used to be a hint of a trail in areas. A sketchy area around one outcrop has been built up and stabilized. The two rock slide slopes are a breeze too.

    I love this loop with or without variations.

    lugged 3 quarts / consumed 1.5

    a few sprigs of verbenaceae here and there in the lower end of Oak Flat
    Chillicut Trail #132
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Eastern Four Peaks Loop
    We put a lot planning effort into this, settling on the hike early Friday evening.

    Rock Creek Trailhead is a long ride but an easy trail head to get to.

    0.50 Miles to get to Three Bar Cabin / Rock Creek
    Easy Road walk, the cabin is more like a house. Electric Well, Gas Grill outside, furnished with newer furniture.

    1.00 Mile in Rock Creek to get to Baldy Canyon
    No trail here, not too bad of a walk next to and across Rock Creek which actually flowed downhill. A bit thick in spots.

    3.25 Miles in Baldy Canyon to get to Chillicut #132
    One really nice box was the highlight of the canyon for the time we were in it.
    Flowing water in many spots. So going hpping on the Boulders. Prettier in the lower sections and appeared to get more canyon-like once we got out and on to the Chillicut Trail.

    3.25 Miles on Chillicut #132 to get to Four Peaks #130
    This trail is a gem. It's in decent condition for the most part. Only one spot did we lose it for a bit. It stays close to Baldy Canyon for the most part and is a bit steep towards the top.
    There is a real nice campground just inside the Four Peaks Wilderness border.

    5.00 Miles on Four Peaks #130 to get to Oak Flat #123
    I had forgotten how nice this trail is. The views never end and with what appears to be recent work, a superhighway compared to most of the trails I've been on recently. I need to make a point to get on this one more often. Just wow.

    1.75 Miles on Oak Flat to Get to FR445
    Oak Flat is a steep bugger. I'm glad Joe suggested we attack this loop clockwise to go down this section instead of going up. With the looseness of the gravely concoction, it would have been two steps up and one step back in spots.

    3.00 Mile road walk on FR 455
    As far as road walks go, this was actually quite pleasant. We had a spirited conversation most of the way back to the truck. Verdict... Water does flow downhill.

    Very, Very Isolated
    Chillicut Trail #132
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Stiller put together a great memorial day hike composed of trails I've never hiked. In this historical year of the famous 2008 Heat n Freeze the week started with 110 degrees and dropped into the sixties days later. It wouldn't be wise to attempt this loop in normal May temps.

    We headed up the Oak Flat Trail #123 at 7:30am? The trail is unobstructed and in great condition all the way. It was all up and gradually got steeper as you went. Turns out it's only a 22.7% grade compared to Piestewa's 21% or Camelbacks 23%. I think the fact you're on the side of a huge mountain and lack of switchbacks makes it seem more taunting.

    Headed over on the #130 past the Alder junction. Concerns of missing trail were put to rest. There is a half mile section of friendly bushes to wade through. You can see the trail on the bottom foot but that's it. There is one slight confusing point. For the most part just needs a visit with some power clippers.

    At the Chillicut / Four Peaks Trail junction Stiller & Tony headed off on a 1.26mi jaunt to get trail data so we can post a complete #130 route. Wally and I waited in the shade for forty minutes. Then headed down the Chillicut Trail #132. This trail isn't as clean as the Oak Flat Trail but cairned, mostly clean and obvious all the way. This sucker heads straight down. It came in at a 22% grade in the upper drop.

    Chillicut is a sweet trail in the upper section resembling Ash Creek on Mt Graham for a while. The creek was running due to the recent rainfall. It's lined with hand sized canyon grape leaves, sycamores, various wildflowers and lots of poison ivy. The bottom half is a roller coaster through the oven back to the trailhead.

    A great day hiking from saguaros to snowballs!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To Rock Creek Trailhead
    From the corner of SR87 & SR188 head south on SR188 for 15.8mi to a right on 3 Bar Road. Follow 0.2mi to FR445 and continue 2.9mi to Rock Creek Trail. Left and 0.2mi to the Rock Creek Trailhead.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 90.8 mi - about 1 hour 56 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 189 mi - about 3 hours 16 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 157 mi - about 3 hours 0 mins
    page created by joebartels on May 21 2008 12:44 pm
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