Springs, ravines and a little place called HELL!
Connects Barnhardt TH (FS 419) and Rock Creek TH (FS 442) on the lower eastern foothills of the Mazatzal range. Please note the FS lists this trail as #288 however it's signed #42.
The hike starts off at an elevation of 4,175ft from the Barnhardt Trailhead. It passes over several ravines along it's journey. All of which are fairly low key elevation gains/losses. The entire trail is just outside of the wilderness boundary.
From the Barnhardt Trailhead you pass through a gate and immediately descend into the first ravine. This happens to be the fading end of Barnhardt Canyon. Garden Spring, a half mile upstream, is generally reliable if it's rained recently.
The second ravine encountered is Eisenhauer Canyon. You'll encounter some light catclaw on route and eventually a road. A left takes you up canyon to Eisenhauer Spring. Take a right to stay on course and look for cairns leading off the road and out of the ravine.
The journey continues to a third ravine. This one is less defined, unnamed and the location of Half Moon Spring. Coming out of this ravine you start moving east/away from the Mazatzal range onto Fisher Mesa. The hike is enjoyable up through this point.
Coming down off of Fisher Mesa you drop into the fourth ravine which is Rock Creek. It starts off nice but turns nasty quick. This section is the cursed with catclaw and poor definition of trail. That's two things that should never be mixed! If somehow you make it onto the opposing ridge without a scratch then consider yourself lucky!
On the ridge you have Rock Creek to your left, Alder Creek to your right and you're heading down towards Center Creek. Light bushwhacking is encountered in spots. Dipping through several ravines you have to search and find for the trail on the other side. Soon you'll reach a wide swath in Center Creek. Here you'll find the junction with Rock Creek Trail. This is also the Rock Creek Trailhead at the end of FS 442. We didn't see any "trailhead" signs so it may officially be down the road a quarter mile or so. We saw a trickle in Center Creek in June, however Spring was unusually wet.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
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.