The White Canyon-Passage#16 of the Arizona Trail
runs for ~25 miles..south from the Kelvin-Riverside Bridge at the Gila River and north to the Tonto NF Boundary (near Wood Canyon) passing both in and just outside the boundary of the 5,800 acre White Canyon Wilderness
For this planned day hike on AZT Passage#16 & 17 south of Superior,AZ, we hoped to locate an access road described in the AZT literature as Forest Road "F4". This seven mile 4x4 forest road would supposedly give us close access to the northern end of AZT Passage#16 at Wood Canyon. After numerous attempts at trying to figure-out these AZT driving directions to access FR4, Ken and I finally gave up and just selected one old mining/4x4 road that appeared to head in the correct direction. At this point we were about 2.6mls south of Superior, off of Hwy#177, on FR230 (Arnett Road). We started our 4x4 drive on this old mining road in a westerly direction and much to our surprise, having not been in this area south of Superior before, we were very pleased to see such dramatic and scenic rock formations. We continued driving for about 2.6mls in then due to road conditions we parked Ken's stock Jeep and continued our adventure in this new area on foot. We started our exploratory hike at 9:am and by 9:45am we had hiked to a dead end on this scenic old road which ended at an old mining adit that had been blasted shut. Fortunately, about half way back to our vehicle I noticed a faint 4x4 route off this mining road that entered the wet creek bed to the southeast (33o 12.967'N 111o 06.699'W)
and appeared to continue in the distance through a canyon which looked pretty cool! We took a chance here and did it ever payoff. We later found out after returning home and doing a TOPO! GPS Route Plot that this turn and canyon we took was actually the northern end of WOOD CANYON!!
/ As we hiked in, the further we went the more beautiful and scenic it was: initially a riparian area with dramatic high cliff and rock formations, then continuing through wide-wet-rocky creek beds with surrounding high rock cliffs, rock spires, large buttes with wind caves and hoo-doos too! I do believe that this route we took is a little know access route to hikers(well known by horse people..we saw a lot of horse tracks that helped define the trail route) to connect with the Arizona Trail-Passage#17 at its southern section. We were very
pleased to eventually connect with the AZT up Wood Canyon at only 4.76mls in (33o 11.376'N 111o 08.072'W)
from our TH parking location (33o 13.700'N 111o 06.893'W)
. Once on the AZT at this connecting intersection with Wood Canyon, we first hiked north on Passage#17(for ~.75mls) then south on Passage#17 for an additional .85mls to a saddle area which was close to the north end of Passage#16 at the Tonto NF Boundary. After a short 2pm lunch break we started our hike back.
We enjoyed hiking in this area so much that I don't think it would have made any difference to us IF we had located the AZT or not! This next weekend we might visit the "official" WHITE CANYON WILDERNESS and hike into WHITE CANYON as described in the HAZ hike description.