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China Wall Trail w/Bronco Creek #287, AZ

no permit
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Guide 16 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3.5 of 5 by 6
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance One Way 3.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,912 feet
Elevation Gain 850 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,000 feet
Avg Time One Way 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.03
Interest Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
10  2019-03-16
Bronco Butte - Carefree
6  2019-01-20 gad38
19  2018-12-17
Bronco Butte - Carefree
10  2018-11-11
Bronco Trail #245
17  2017-01-28
Bronco Butte-China Wall-Rackensack
17  2017-01-28
Bronco Butte - Carefree
18  2015-04-04 hikerdw
10  2014-12-22
Bronco Butte - Carefree
Page 1,  2
Author nonot
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 236
Photos 1,969
Trips 476 map ( 4,511 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Apr, Feb → 9 AM
Seasons   Early Winter to Early Spring
Sun  6:15am - 6:26pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Great Wall of China in AZ?
by nonot

This is a collection of ranching trails in the Cave Creek area that are not maintained by the forest service.

The trails are in good shape, but very faint in sections. These trails are no longer maintained and see few visitors. I recommend you go prepared with no less than the Official GPS Route.

The China Wall trail is pretty steep on the backside, be careful out there!

Cave Creek has a ranching history that goes back a long ways. The Bronco Creek Trail #287 stopped being maintained by the forest service, likely after the fire. The China Wall Trail appears to have never been a part of the forest service's trail system, which is ironic because it was in great shape and requires almost no maintenance.

Descending the Bronco Trail towards Cottonwood Creek, you will find a trail intersection signpost about half a mile from the #247 trail, with only the Bronco Trail marked on the trail sign post. It tells you to take a sharp right turn. What if you didn't? Let's find out!

Go down the faint trail to the south east and drop into the wash. Welcome to Bronco Creek Trail #287! The trail will meander in and out of the creek bed and then jump onto a small ridge, which it follows until you get to a barren moonscape, with no plants, footprints, cow patties, or hardly a sign of anything. This, my friends, is the intersection of Bronco Creek Trail #287 and the China Wall Trail. Can't you see it? ;)

So the China Wall is apparently coming in from the ridge to the west, though I couldn't tell. Anyways, continue to proceed south and in short time you will come to a newly reconstructed corral. This happens to be the best looking corral I've encountered in an AZ wilderness, so take a minute to admire it!

Pass through the corral (directly through it) to get to the other side of the fencing. Now follow the trail as it proceeds uphill. In a half mile you will come to a tank with a trickle of water. If the tank weren't cracked, Jack Springs Tank would be great for cows. As it is, it is a little difficult for animals to use, though I saw ample signs they were making due.

If you continue uphill following the trail you will find the piping feeding the trough and eventually find Jack Springs itself. From here the trail is a pleasant uphill grade, free of bushes, that will lead to China Wall, an interesting geological oddity. The trail will crest at a saddle alongside the wall and descend steeply on the other side. It makes use of basically a rocky wash with surprisingly good footing. At the end it deposits you on a bare saddle with great views to the southeast. From here you can link up with the Cottonwood Basin Trail to make a loop back to Cottonwood #247 if you are backpacking. Otherwise return the way you came.

Water Sources
Jack Springs is found along the way. Due to the number of cows utilizing this source, humans may want to just pack in their water.

You can do this as a backpacking loop, being that water is a problem, most will return to Cottonwood #247 to make camp.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2010-12-28 nonot

    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
    China Wall Trail w/Bronco Creek #287
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Great day for a hike today - nice cool breeze, temps in mid to high 60s and blue sunny skies. Left Bronco TH around 11:00 am and hike to where it joins the former trail 287 which drops straight down to the creek bed. We followed the often disappearing trail to an old corral with a cow skull on a fence post, according to Route Scout this was a little over 4.25 miles. (Route Scout was very useful in keeping us on the trail when it disappeared). The heavy rains we have had this winter have made the hike very lush, including one meadow that was covered with green grass and another area with a standing water pool.

    Need to learn how to interpret Route Scout info. Though the trail from Bronco TH To China Wall was only 3.5 miles (one way), but after hiking 4miles plus the you’re looked like it had at least 2 more miles to reach the China Wall.

    Some yellow California Poppies along trail 245
    China Wall Trail w/Bronco Creek #287
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    Bronco Butte-China Wall-Rackensack
    I needed this one to complete all the Seven Springs / Spur Cross Trails. I'd driven by the Bronco Trailhead dozens of times without stopping.

    On the agenda the 2nd Bronco Butte of the month, China Wall and some 'splorin'. Since I prefer Loops to OaB's, toss in Rackensack Canyon, which looked interesting.

    Ray and I started just before first light on a chilly, breezy, crisp, clear morning. We were on Bronco #245 for a bit over 3 miles before turning off on an old unsigned, cairned route to China Wall then Bronco Butte.

    China Wall is an interesting geologic feature. We followed along the top of the wall until we got to the area of the plane wreckage. Most of the 2011 wreckage has been removed. We made our way to Peak 4600 to check out the views to the west. This is a good vantage point to take in the overview of the Seven Springs, Spur Cross areas.

    From here, Bronco Butte was just a short climb. Here you have 360 views of the area. Snow Covered Mazzy's to the East, Supes to the SE, McDowells, Camelback, Squaw to the Southish, Snow covered Bradshaws to the WNW.

    We opted for the shorter route off Bronco Butte to Rackensack. Ray led us down, following some game trails into the canyon. It worked out well.

    Rackensack was an easy follow for the most part. Water was running for the majority of the length of it, with even some interesting cascades. Towards the end, we skirted some Private property. There were indications of recent, but not current activity.

    We improvised our route up and out of the canyon back to the Bronco Trail.

    We only saw 2 hikers all day, one with a golf club :doh:
    China Wall Trail w/Bronco Creek #287
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    Bruce wanted to bag another Bronco Butte and invited me to join him. We started the hike a few minutes before 7am with only a hint of the sunrise to come and the hope that moving fast might warm our shivering bodies. It was cold!

    The hike in was was wonderful. We walked the China Wall for a ways, checking out the prospects and the remnants of the plane crash mentioned in previous posts. After gaining the saddle west of Bronco Butte, Bruce wanted to go up to the top of the hill to our right to check out the views. We found another old prospect while we were up there.

    We did not follow the China Wall trail to its end. We were on a schedule so we headed up to the Butte. Bruce signed the summit register for us. We took in some wonderful views under sunny skies before starting the really fun part of the hike, some creek hiking that Bruce drew up as an alternate return.

    From the summit, we headed down the mountain in a NE direction rather than returning the way we came. This would get us to the creek much faster. It was steep, but we found some nice game/cattle trails that took us to the creek without any blood letting. With the recent rain, the creeks were flowing nicely. The creek portion was fun; easy hiking and the sound of running water made it all the more enjoyable.

    Half way down the creek, an old, crumbling, grown over road that crisscrossed the creek became part of the hike. We used the road when the creek wasn't passable. The creek and the road ended on private property. We took a left (west) and looked for a route out of the canyon. The best option looked to be up and over a steep hill. That started a Six Flags roller coaster ride of steep up then down then up again. Soon enough we were back on the Bronco Trail and a return to easy hiking.

    This was a very enjoyable hike. I liked the alternate route back along the creek in the Rackensack Gulch area. It wouldn't have been as fun without the water, but Bruce picked the perfect day to do it. Thanks again for the hike, Bruce, and for driving us out there. I had a great time!
    China Wall Trail w/Bronco Creek #287
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I added this hike to my list after reading the triplogs posted by mazatzal and Oregon Hiker when they hiked this area back in December. Really enjoyed hiking this area, lots to explore. The "China Wall" is very interesting, although I was hoping the back side would have been a steeper drop. Very little water found, just a few drops at the two troughs we checked. We did see a nice pool of water just upstream from the 2nd trough. Like Oregon Hiker reported, not too much remains from the plane crash but it was interesting to see what was left, shoes, hydraulic lines, doors, etc. In the cooler months we will make a return trip to summit Bronco Butte, do more exploring, etc.

    Temps were pleasant early but did warm up on the way out. There was a slight breeze which provided a A/C effect. Carried 2 liters of water and consumed 1.5.
    China Wall Trail w/Bronco Creek #287
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Dead horse on Bronco Trail, Dead cow on Cottonwood Trail.

    Very little water out there right now. Almost aborted the trip due to lack of finding a good water source until fairly late the first day. Ultimately found 3 good sources in total the entire trip.

    The indian fortress is great. The east half of the Skull Mesa trail is terrible. Cottonwood #247 is kinda boring without water or flowers. China wall was interesting. Jacks spring was in good shape. This area will likely be much nicer in the spring with both these missing factors.

    Ran into a man who worked the ranches in the area at the end, he gave me a bunch of info about sites less seen. Will have to return someday!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    See directions for the Bronco Trail #245. Hike the Bronco Trail approximately 3.5 miles to the trailpost marking an intersection but having only one trail sign.
    page created by nonot on Dec 28 2010 11:52 pm
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