register help

Oak Flat / Chillicut Shuttle, AZ

no permit
20 5 0
Guide 5 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson S
3.5 of 5 by 2
clicktap icons for details
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
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
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 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,825
Trips 4,261 map ( 21,471 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov → Early
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:12am - 6:24pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Saguaros to Snowballs
by joebartels

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 counter clockwise. 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.

From the small saddle you head down, 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 following mile of trail hugs the mountain in and out of drainages without any vegetation. Crossing another stable rock fall or two on route.

Just 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 trail is the sweet spot where life just 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, 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 backwards the easiest option for breaking the tangles. The trail was barely visible if you knelt down 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.

This 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's difficult 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.

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

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.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Oak Flat / Chillicut Shuttle
    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
    Oak Flat / Chillicut Shuttle
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    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
    Oak Flat / Chillicut Shuttle
    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 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
    help comment issue

    end of page marker