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Oak Flat / Chillicut Shuttle, AZ

Guide 5 Triplogs  0 Topics
  3.5 of 5 
no permit
20 5 0
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Shuttle 11.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,655 feet
Elevation Gain 2,250 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,557 feet
Avg Time Hiking 6-8 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 20.22
Interest Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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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 DarthStiller
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 242
Routes 836
Photos 12,086
Trips 4,888 map ( 24,947 miles )
Age 51 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov → Early
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  5:36am - 7:26pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 Three 200550.4 mi*
🔥 2020 Bush Fire193.5k
🔥 2019 Woodbury Fire123.8k
🔥 2014 Browns Fire6.6 mi*
🔥 2005 Three Fire15.4k
🔥 2005 Edge Complex Fire72.3k
🔥 2004 Fox8.7 mi*
🔥 1996 Lone Fire65.1k
🔥 View All over Official Route 🔥
*perimeter length in miles

Warning the 2020 Bush Fire damaged most of the Four Peak Wilderness after almost recovering from the 1996 Lone Pine Fire.
Saguaros to Snowballs
by joebartels

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From the Oak Flat Trailhead (3650 ft) head 1.65mi to the northern section of the Four Peaks Trail #130 (5400 ft). Head south on #130 for 4.65mi to the Chillicut Trail #132 junction on the north-northwestern flank of Buckhorn Mountain. From the 130/132 junction (5725ft) head down 5.4mi to Rock Creek Trailhead (2850 ft).

We did this hike as a shuttle hiking counterclockwise. You could hike the 3mi of road. Keep in mind that adds 800ft elevation gain. A clockwise attempt would be a more difficult task, physically and mentally.

The hike up is posted in detail at Oak Flat Trail #130. At the 123/130 junction, you have just entered the wilderness and a small stand of tall ponderosa pines. Continuing on the push up continues for another 0.6mi and 400ft to a saddle. The remaining 4 miles are constant ups and downs, transversing the drainages. Luckily they're all in the 50-100 foot range and go almost unnoticed.

You head down from the small saddle, up around, and down another drainage to the Alder Trail #81 junction (3.15mi / 1.5mi on #130). On route, you cross a firm slope of rock fall out of the vegetation then back into a wooded ravine. On this trip the creek was flowing with a nice small pool at the junction. Stay left at the junction. The vegetation thins out over the next quarter mile. The next mile of the trail hugs the mountain in and out of drainages without vegetation, crossing another stable rockfall or two on route.

When things start to get dull, you enter a nice forest with some healthy stands of ponderosa. Some of the boulders on the slopes provide a nice spot to take a break and take in the view! The next mile of the trail is the sweet spot where life seems good. I believe this portion was constructed in the past ten years, specifically for the AZT (Arizona Trail).

A half mile before the Chillicut Trail #132 junction, the vegetation picks up, and then it goes nuts. We had to wade almost a half-mile through 7-10 foot bushes that I can only describe as similar to oleanders (perhaps Seep Willows) with tons of white blooms. Due to the recent rains, they weren't dusty. For the most part, they grow straight up, making it easy to wade through. They did get tangled up in sections simply due to the dense factor. I found walking backward the best option for breaking the tangles. The trail was barely visible if you knelt to the lower foot and half.

The hike down is posted in detail at Chillicut Trail #132, although you'll be going the opposite direction.

Oak Flat / Chillicut Shuttle is a great hike. We lucked out on the timing with a freak cold front in May. Due to the steep terrain and changing biomes, it isn't easy to schedule this hike weather-wise. March is probably the ideal target. Midway into this hike, I threw a snowball at Stiller in the upper reaches. Hours later, I was sweating profusely on the oven roller coaster below admiring Saguaros.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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2008-05-27 joebartels
    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 $$

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To Oak Flat Trailhead
    From the junction of SR 87 & SR 188 head south on SR 188 24.6mi. Turn right onto FR445 (may be called 3 Bar Road). Follow 3.1 miles to junction. Turn right and follow 2.7mi to trailhead.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 93.3 mi - about 2 hours 2 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 192 mi - about 3 hours 22 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 160 mi - about 3 hours 6 mins
    page created by joebartels on May 25 2008 7:15 pm
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