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Mazatzal Divide TH to Wet Bottom Creek, AZ

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Guide 17 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson W
Rated
3.3
3.3 of 5 by 9
 
3
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Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 18.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,438 feet
Elevation Gain 2,795 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,959 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 8.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 38.5
Interest Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Possibly Connect
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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11  2019-04-07 te_wa
9  2018-03-31
MDT - Pete's Pond - Pole Hollow Canyon Loop
joebartels
9  2018-03-31
City Creek TH to Pete's Pond loop
The_Eagle
15  2017-03-26
City Creek Loop
jacobemerick
26  2015-03-28 friendofThunderg
4  2012-04-27
Mazatzal Divide Trail to Knob Mountain
mazatzal
5  2010-10-30
Red Hills - AZT #24
azdesertfather
20  2009-03-22 DarthStiller
Page 1,  2
Author topohiker
author avatar Guides 13
Routes 112
Photos 4,377
Trips 1,731 map ( 27,689 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Winter to Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:24pm
Official Route
 
3 Alternative
 
Water
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Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
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The never ending climb
by topohiker

I started out at 9:20am from the City Creek TH. The elevation is of the TH is 3480. The trail starts across the road from the TH. There are no signs for the trail. The trail starts to climb and climb. You basically follow the ridge lines.


At about 5.5 miles into the hike, you hit the Red Hills trail. What's interesting is that this is part of the AZ trail and there's no sign indicating that. By this point, you've climbed about 2,500 feet! This near you high point of 6275. The Mazatzal divide trail was easy to follow. There are a couple of minor overgrowth spots, but nothing to bad. There are a couple of fallen trees here and there. The trail more or less flats out for about a mile. You go through a major downfall area and the trail gets obscured. Just keep going straight. There's a couple of downs and up's but nothing like the climb up. You go through another major down fall area, just keep going in a straight direction and you should be fine.

A little past the 8 mile mark, you'll see the trail go down into a creek area. This is the Wet Bottom creek. About a 1/4 mile from the North Peak Trail, there's another major down fall area. I got messed up here. The trail makes a major change in direction before the down fall area but it's not obvious at all. I went through the down fall. My GPS had the trail on it's base map, so I used that to help me through this. (HINT, the tail is to the right of the major down fall area)

I made it to the North Peak trail intersection. My GPS also called this area "The Park". There was a nice campsite here with a garbage can. There was also some trail maintenance tools here also :) I was just a short distance from the Wet Bottom creek, so I decided to check it out. It was bone dry, but it so deep, that if it was full, my bottom would have been wet! Just past the Wet Bottom creek is the Willow trail, but the Mazatzal divide disappeared once I crossed the creek. This was another major down fall area. It was past my turn around time, so I decided to come back another day (via the North Peak trail). (After I got home and mapped out my GPS route on the maps, It looks like the Mazatzal divide trail changed direction at the Wet Bottom creek. It moves about 100 feet to right after it crosses the creek. I'll verify this another day.) I headed back and this time I followed the trail out and I still got a little messed up by the down fall area. It would help out if you download my GPS track to guide you through this section.

The views on this hike were great. In a short amount of time, your in the middle of the remote Mazatzal mountains. You have some great views. This part of the trail is almost 100% exposed. The higher elevations help out with the heat.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Note
This is a more difficult hike. It would be unwise to attempt this without prior experience hiking.

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

2008-05-26 topohiker
    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 of 11 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Mazatzal Divide TH to Wet Bottom Creek
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    City Creek TH to Pete's Pond loop
    Driving in, I noticed the development at the end of the pavement, where the two covered arenas are, were up for sale.
    HAZ retreat? https://www.landwatch.com/Gila-County-A ... /326742102

    First time hiking from the City Creek TH. Guess I never realized this is where the northern terminus for the MDT #23 was. The trail is a steady climb for 6 miles but in great shape. Great views all around. At the top, back on the AZT again after passing the Red Hills trail. We rollercoastered southbound on the MDT to the intersection with North Peak Trail. We passed and talked to one AZT'er going Northbound from San Diego. His shoes did not look like he was going to make it much farther, but he was not concerned.

    My goal for the day was hitting some new trails, as well as a stop at Pete's Pond. We went off trail westish at the the North Peak Trail junction, and made our way to Petes Pond. (Who is this Pete Guy?) . Petes was a great place for lunch as long as you don't mind being photographed by the two game cameras that are there.

    After Lunch we headed down the North Peak trail. As others have noted (which I read after the hike) the western .5 - .75 miles of this trail are hard to follow in spots. a GPS track is great to keep you in the vicinity of the "Trail". Once you drop off the top, the route finding is a piece of cake. It is a steep loose bugger in many spots.

    just North of the Mineral Creel TH we followed an old two track/creek bed in Pole Hollow Canyon. This was the gem of the day.

    It's obvious is gets traffic from both game and humans and at one time was cleared, cutting out some of the bends in the canyon.
    All of the human sign was within 1-2 miles of the Northern TH.

    Great weather on the day.

    Fauna on the day
    1 Elk, 1 Deer, 4 javelina, 1 squirrel, 1 Teva.
    Mazatzal Divide TH to Wet Bottom Creek
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    MDT - Pete's Pond - Pole Hollow Canyon Loop
    Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23
    Well maintained. Glad it exists. My least favorite segment of #23. Nice chat w/~28yo NOBO thru hiker named something like trailpants, transplant or transcript. From San Diego, started Mar 9th, previously completed PCT.

    Pete's Pond
    We crawled 4.5 hrs to the pond. Great lunch break spot!

    The Park
    Nice to return to one of the few places I've camped.

    North Peak Trail #24
    Good luck finding the western 0.5 mi end. Great views heading East. That said I'd rather only hike this trail west due to loose footing on steep grades.

    Pole Hollow Canyon
    Pleasant surprise. The most continuously interesting hiking segment of the day. Much easier to negotiate the terrain than anticipated. Likely most enjoyable descending. Minor route finding and lack of maintained trail will keep the masses out.

    Wildflowers
    blue dicks, strawberry hedgehog, two white petal onion varieties
    Mazatzal Divide TH to Wet Bottom Creek
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Pretty nice loop from City Creek trailhead - up MD #23 to The Park, down North Peak to Mineral Creek trailhead, then back north down Pole Hollow Canyon to the start. The climb up MD #23 is excellent, with good trail and big views (but zero shade, start early). Unfortunately the first two miles of North Peak trail leaving The Park are sheer misery - faint, heavily overgrown, downed trees, etc. Thankfully some kind soul has hung literally hundreds of red ribbons to mark the way through the manzanita jungle. Things improve greatly as you head down the ridge, but it will take a major effort to restore the upper section. Pole Hollow Canyon works nicely to connect the trailheads - generally easy hiking either down in the drainage or up on the bench on either side. Also did a side out-and-back from The Park south to Hopi Spring.

    Water along the trails:
    Plenty of flow in City Creek at the trailhead.
    Light flow in Wet Bottom Creek just south of The Park.
    Trickles from Hopi Spring.
    Light flow in Mineral Creek below the spring.
    Mazatzal Divide TH to Wet Bottom Creek
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I did one of Topo's Mazzy hikes today and it did not disappoint.The last time I did the Red Hills it was with a head lamp so I had been meaning to get back to that area in day light and maybe hike further down the Red Hills Trail. I noticed a description for the Mazatzal TH to Wet Bottom Creek using the Red Hills. I decided to go with that itinerary. The Grand Canyon and two track meets this week left my dogs feeling a tad neglected, so I was looking forward to getting them out for a good walk.

    The Mazatzal Divide Trail from City Creek TH to divide is in great shape. One gains some pretty good elevation along that nearly six mile climb to divide, however, the quality trail and gentle grade make it a pretty manageable climb.

    The Red Hills started out a little dreary with a short stretch through a severely fire damaged section. However, after that the trail has several redeeming sections including a few stretches through some pretty nice stands of Ponderosa that parallel a normally dry creek that is flowing very nicely right now.

    I actually did not make it to Wet Bottom Creek. With a little over a mile to go, I decided to turn around and head back. The trail was getting kind of nasty and I was losing patience, plus the dogs were having more fun playing in the water and after all this was their hike, so I decided to just go back and also enjoy the water. We had got kind of a late start anyways and we were already looking at a 20 plus miles day, so turning back was probably a good idea. It was a tad warm and I did not want to break Cup off with up to three more miles of some pretty rugged terrain when I knew she would much more prefer to cool off in the creek and start the trip back to the TH. Taking the dogs back to the creek turned out to be a great call. The dogs really enjoyed the water taking several swims between the two of them and tormenting about a dozen frogs along the way.

    It was real nice to get back out with the dogs again and I know they enjoyed the exercise. The Red Hills are pretty amazing right now with all of the water I was very impressed. There are actually some very scenic stretches along that trail and it is worth a trip, or at least a trip before it dries out. I really want to get out there on an over night trip before the water dries up and the real heat comes. I would like to knock out Midnight Trail and see what is remaining of Willow Spring Trail.
    Mazatzal Divide TH to Wet Bottom Creek
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Threw together a last minute backpacking loop - did this because Chumley/FOTG's triplogs were the only recent backpacking trips close enough to town.

    The park is nice, Pete's pond is cloudy/silty, but a good source. Surprisingly it was about 45-50 degrees at sundown but warmed up to about 60 at midnight to 6AM and dropped back down to 45 around sunrise.

    Finished the MDT by trekking out to the Rock creek Trail/Hopi Spring. Some of these areas of the Mazatzals are actually recovering from the fire, but are still decades away from full restoration. Back to camp to pack up and head down the North Peak trail. The first two miles of this trail are pretty terrible. The last 2 to the trailhead are more reasonable. Thanks to Hank and Chris for posting the GPS as I needed it at one point where the trail does the most illogical detour. Neither of the trails has much repeat value.

    The mineral creek area is nice but the creek dried up before reaching the trailhead. Favorite part of the trip was seeing a herd of javelina while walking the shortcut back to the car.
    Mazatzal Divide TH to Wet Bottom Creek
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    With sub-100 temps, I decided to get in another Mazzy hike.

    I started out at the City Creek TH. The trail has been cleaned up from the TH to the Red Hills intersection. The CREC crew went a little past the Red Hill trail, but by then the trail is pretty wide open anyway. I went past the Red Hills trail and then the sky clouded over and a cool breeze started blowing.
    I then decide to go with my original plan and go to the LF Hilton. I double back to the Red Hill trail and took that to the Brush trail, to the Bull Springs trail.

    There was some recent activity on the Bull Spring trail. There were fresh footprints and cattle prints going to the cabin. I got to the Hilton, but they lost my reservation :sl:
    I took Bull Spring back to FR406. Some part of the Bull Spring trail had been cleared up. The Forest Service did some work at the Doll baby TH. They setup wire mesh cages full of rocks marking the wilderness boundary. They spaced the cages so horse and people could get through. BUT, they left the gate OPEN! :o

    The weather was perfect the entire day. The creeks were boon dry with an occasional small pool of water. The Bull spring looked more like a seep.
    Mazatzal Divide TH to Wet Bottom Creek
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    Fan and I did a new loop with the Mazatzal Divide, Red Hills, Midnight Mesa and Willow Springs.

    The Good: The CREC crew is cleaning up the Mazatzal Divide Trail
    The Bad: Taking 4 fours to cover 4 miles
    The Ugly: Willow Springs trail (??) From Midnight Mesa to Mazatzal Divide


    The CREC crew had setup camp at the City Creek TH. We meet up with crew at 2.5 miles in. The trail is a two lane road to that point. I talked to one of the guys. They said they were making the trail wider for horses. I wasn't sure if he was insulting me or not?!?
    There was a second crew with a base camp 4 miles in. The plan was for the 1st group to meet up with the second group in three days. Soon we meet up with the second crew. They had cleared about a mile of trail from the base site. This area has more vegetation to clear back.

    We turned down the Red Hills trail. Soon we passed the corral and seep, then the Midnight Mesa intersection. The Midnight Mesa trail drops into the creek below. It's missing in some spots, but we were able to see cairns in the distance and bushwhack to them. Once at the creek, we used the GPSs to stay close to on-trail. When in doubt we just followed the creek. When we came across the Wet Bottom Creek, I joked that we could just follow that to 'the park'. Once I saw the creek enter a canyon, I knew we needed to find the trail to stay out of the canyon. We did a 270 on the East side of the creek until we found the trail. The trail was overgrown, but it was there. The trail got us past the canyon and then it climbs up to a saddle where it intersected the Willow Spring trail.

    Willows Springs ‘trail’
    We could see a well-defined and cairn-ed trail heading to the West. East bound was nothing. This is where the ugly fun began. We would find little bits of a trail that would suddenly end. Between our three GPS's we tried to stay on a trail. We were basically bushwhacking and scrambling up and down some nasty terrain. We tried to zigzag to find the trail. The only times we found trail was near the saddles.
    We were not moving fast at all. I started to get worried that we might be on this 'trail' post sun-down. :scared: I pull out the paper map and we got our bearings and figured out that we needed to hike three ridge lines, and then drop down into the park. I stopped looking at the GPS and just picked the path of least resistance that moved us to the next ridgeline. This worked out great until we ran out of ridgelines. The descend down to the park was another snail’s pace. There was a sea of fallen trees, finding open paths was getting harder to do. At random we found see some red ribbon, but they would peter out quickly. The last 1,000 feet was a charge straight through a catsclaw field, but we made the Mazatzal divide right at dusk.

    I've been on bad trails before, but this is was the worst trail yet. Evan bad trails have something to guide your through. I hesitate to call this section a 'trail' we would have been better off just going up the Wet Bottom creak (assuming no waterfalls).

    I would not recommend hiking on the Willow Springs trail from the Maz Divide to the Midnight Mesa.

    I’ve now been at every trail intersection of the Mazatzal’s and hiked on at least a portion of each trail.
    Mazatzal Divide TH to Wet Bottom Creek
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    Friday forecast was good so I took the day off. I went up Maz Divide to Knob Mtn and off trail along the ridge to Red Hills trail. This is the old route shown on old topos, saw a few cairns. I found an old firefighter rake and an old campsite. From here I took Red Hills back up and then down MDT. The area is recovering a bit. Saw a buzzworm, a deer and a gopher snake.
    Mazatzal Divide TH to Wet Bottom Creek
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I joined topohiker today for what was planned to be a continuation of his May'08 hike (ref: his hike description-"Mazatzal Divide TH to Wet Bottom Creek"). We started southwest of Payson at the Mineral Springs TH on North Peak TR#24. This TR24 has a published distance of 3.5mls one way to end at the Mazatzal Divide TR#23. We were looking forward to hiking this new trail(for us) with hopes of covering a few additional miles south on TR23 before needing to turn around and head back the way we came in.

    The last posted HAZ trip log for this North Peak TR was in Dec'05 and did not sound pretty. It has now been an additional 3+ years since an update and 4+ years since the devastating "Willow Fire" in Aug'04 which pretty much took out most of this area and a majority of the Mazatzal Wilderness. Assuming that there had most likely been no trail maintenance since before Aug'04, I pretty much knew we should expect lots of dead/downed trees, trail washouts, needed route finding, and trail overgrowth. Well, I was correct on all these but I kind-of forgot about the added variable of snow fields at some trail elevations on the north facing slopes. We three started in at 9:am from the Mineral Creek TH and did not reach the west end intersection of 24/23 (at "The Park") until ~1:30pm and had clocked not 3.5mls, but 4.6 miles(some of which was off trail-roaming trying to find the trail).

    We had a very interesting discussion/negotation on our short lunch break at "The Park" regarding what was the best route back. There were really only two options: (1)back the way we came which we all understood would be difficult, could be risky(for safety reason), and also very time consuming(we knew we did not want to still be on the North Peak TR after dark); or (2)add another 4+ additional miles to our hike out by heading north on a safer, known trail- the Mazatzal Divide TR which would exit us at the City Creek TH but an additional 9+ hiking forest road miles from our vehicle at the Mineral Creek TH :-k Well, we first decided on the safety side to take the known longer Mazatzal TR back hoping that we could reach the ending TH before dark and thumb a ride with someone/anyone back to our vehicle. We then started out, then within 300ft of heading up #23, we found the actual trail intersection of 23/24(which we had previously missed coming in to "The Park" area); So now another short discussion and since we can now actually see a real trail section of #24, we make a 90 degree right turn and start heading back on the North Pk TR#24 :roll: . Then we closely follow what we see as this TR24 and less than another 300ft, we intersect the Mazatzal Divide TR23 again.. :lol: . So much for team decision making under pressure! I think we all three looked up to the sky at the same time and then almost immediately after, started hiking back north on the Mazatzal Divide Trail.. We three all do believe in a "higher :pray: power"!!

    Please also see topohiker's trip log and my attached trip "pic set with detailed note captions" to walk-you-through our adventure this day..much of which was very scenic with North Peak draped in snow!
    Mazatzal Divide TH to Wet Bottom Creek
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I started out at 9:20am from the City Creek TH. The elevation is of the TH is 3480. The trail starts across the road from the TH. There are no signs for the trail. The trail starts to climb and climb. You basically follow the ridge lines. At about 5.5 miles into the hike, you hit the Red Hills trail. What's interesting is that this part of the AZ trail and there's no sign indicating that. By this point, you've climbed about 2,500 feet! This near you high point of 6275. The Mazatzal divide trail was easy to follow. There are a couple of minor over growth spots, but nothing to bad. There are a couple of fallen trees here and there. The trail more or less flats out for about a mile. You go through a major down fall area and the trail gets obscured. Just keep going straight. There's a couple of downs and up's but nothing like the climb up. You go through another major down fall area, just keep going in a straight direction and you should be fine. A little past the 8 mile mark, you'll see the trail go down into a creek area. This is the Wet Bottom creek. About a 1/4 mile from the North Peak Trail, there's another major down fall area. I got mess-up here. The trail makes a major change in direction before the down fall area but it's not obvious at all. I went through the down fall. My GPS had the trail on it's base map, so I used that to help me through this. (HINT, the tail is to the right of the major down fall area) I made it to the North Peak trail intersection. My GPS also called this area "The Park". There was a nice camp site hear with a garbage can. There was also some trail maintenance tools here also :) I was just a short distance from the Wet Bottom creek, so I decided to check it out. It was bone dry, but it so deep, that if it was full, my bottom would have been wet! Just past the Wet Bottom creek is the Willow trail, but the Mazatzal divide disappear once I crossed the creek. This was another major down fall area. It was past my turn around time, so I decided to come back another day (via the North Peak trail). (After I got home and mapped out my GPS route on the maps, It looks like the Mazatzal divide trail changed direction at the Wet Bottom creek. It moves about 100 feet to right after it crosses the creek. I'll verify this another day.) I headed back and this time I followed the trail out and I still got a little messed up by the down fall area. I would help out if you download my GPS track to guide you through this section.

    The views on this hike were great. In a short amount of time, your in the middle of the remote Mazatzal mountains. You have some great views. This part of the trail is almost 100% exposed. The higher elevations help out with the heat.

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    From Highway 87 in Payson, take Main Street west. Pavement ends after a couple miles, and road becomes FR 406. About 9 miles from end of pavement, City Creek trailhead and parking are on right. If you come to a ranch house and out buildings beside the road, you've gone about a quarter mile too far.
    page created by topohiker on May 26 2008 11:20 am
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