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Copper Camp Trail #87, AZ

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Guide 16 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3.8 of 5 by 4
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 7.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,664 feet
Elevation Gain 2,480 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,150 feet
Avg Time One Way 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 18
Interest Historic & Seasonal Creek
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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33  2017-04-14
Copper Camp Loop II
25  2014-03-29
Copper Camp - Cypress Ridge Loop
18  2014-03-29
Copper Camp Loop
4  2014-03-29
Copper Camp - Cypress Ridge Loop
10  2014-01-12 mazatzal
9  2013-04-06
Copper Camp Loop
15  2013-01-19
Fig Trail #92 - Tonto NF
4  2011-04-03 topohiker
Page 1,  2
Author jacobemerick
author avatar Guides 31
Routes 71
Photos 795
Trips 96 map ( 1,037 miles )
Age 34 Male Gender
Location Gilbert, AZ
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Apr, Feb
Sun  6:10am - 6:33pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Up Copper Camp Creek and Beyond!
by jacobemerick

A remote trail in a remote area of the Mazatzal Wilderness that climbs along Copper Camp Creek, shoots up Squaw Flat, and ends at Sheep Creek Trail. Can be used with nearby trails and/or off-trail options to make for solid backpacking loops (see Loop I or Loop II as examples).

Short section in the east damaged from Sunflower Fire of '12. Trail sees little usage and is washed out/overgrown in sections.

There are some mine tailings near east end of Copper Camp Creek (off-trail) and some ranching remains along the way.

Reaching the western trailhead is difficult. Even if one could get a vehicle across the Verde River, either by getting special permission to drive over Horseshoe Dam (good luck with that) or by fording the river from 161, 477 is overgrown and washed out in several locations. The most obvious option of walking under the Horseshoe Dam spillway and using 479/477 to get to the trailhead adds around 7.5 miles of hiking before even touching the trail.

The trailhead itself is foreboding. A single wilderness sign sits next to a horse gate overgrown by prickly pear, with no trail sign or obvious path leading into the wilderness. Pick a way around the cactus and head northeast through the cholla, connecting the few cairns for 0.2 miles until the tread shows up and bends east/southeast, heading down the side of a grassy hill. At 0.7 miles the path heads down a drainage into Sheep Creek and is mostly washed out along the descent.

Turn north and follow Sheep Creek upstream, tracking the cairns as they show up and picking the path of least resistance. There is plenty of growth here with the dependable water. Within a few hundred yards Copper Camp Creek will show up to the right - take this and look for a tread on the northern bank. The trail quickly crosses over to the southern bank at 1.5 miles and will climb up and around a few rock spurs. It then drops down to the creek, jumps back and forth, then moves to the northern bank at 2.3 miles. After another climb above the rocky creek bottom it drops down to the loading corral area around 2.9 miles.

East of the corral the path sticks close to the creek, only swinging significantly up the north bank near 3.2 miles to dance through some catclaw, and then crossing the 'main' creek branch and following a southern tributary to 4.2 miles. Then the climb up to Squaw Peak begins, slowly up a ridge between tributaries at first, then steepening quite a bit. Plenty of cairns show up along this climb, which is helpful through the grassy hills. Some great views can be found as the elevation breaks above the ridges around Copper Camp Creek.

Cresting onto Squaw Flat occurs at 6.2 miles and includes an immediate change of vegetation. Junipers take over, the short trees providing some minor shade, and the brush is low and not intrusive. The trail is mostly easy well-worn in the soft rock up here and is easy to follow without the few cairns, though a few small drainages does confuse things along the way. Sheep Mountain towers to the northeast and the closer Saddle Mountain to the southeast.

Deadfall becomes a problem around 7.2 miles. The trail crosses a few rocky washes, which are the source for McFarland Canyon, and a combination of the taller pines and Sunflower Fire make this a difficult area to get through. Gnarly brush also springs up to obscure the tread and claw at hikers. Stay on the trail as long as possible, first crossing the rocky washes, walking along the southern edge of a growing canyon, then dropping down a shallow ridgeline into the floor of upper McFarland, then deal with the obstacle course of dead trees within the rocky floor until the Sheep Creek Trail junction shows up.

Water Sources
Several sections of Copper Camp Creek had flowing water. The main one appears to be at the Sheep/Copper Camp Creek confluence, with another good one near the loading corral. A smaller and more questionable one was located near 3.5 miles. There was a seep near the Sheep Creek/Copper Camp Trail junction within upper McFarland.

A few spots along Copper Camp Creek, though everything was overgrown and didn't appear to see recent usage.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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.

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

2017-05-10 jacobemerick

    One-Way Notice
    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.

    Most recent of 12 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Copper Camp Trail #87
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    This year’s Copper Camp Loop went off pretty good. This time we stayed on the right side of the Copper Camp creek for as long as we could before crossing at the actual camp. I think it was easier than zig-zagging in the creek.

    We made the long climb up Cypress ridge to the lunch spot. As we finished eating Joe turned on his used car salesman's charm and starting talking about an easier shortcut. The shortcut would cut at least a mile and 500 feet AEG from the hike. There might have been mention of a soda machine along the way. Joe had me at 500 less climbing.

    We were told there was a false ridge, but Joe claimed it was good looking ridge after that. I agreed if there was no climbing involved. Well after the 3rd or 4th rock pile I put on the climbing gloves. The terrain turned nicer once we started to descend a bit, there were trees and dirt. The ridge line wasn't that bad. We pop-out almost exactly where the Sheep Creek trail pulls out of the creek bed. This was nice not to deal with the cat-claw fields. Karl and Joe did a great job scouting out the way up and down the Cypress ridge. We never hit any big drops. One interesting note is that we found a cairn about 2/3 of way across Cypress ridge.

    The shortcut across the ridge actually added about 700 feet to the AEG :? !

    It was a fun hike with some new territory and good company. It was nice meeting Bruce.
    Copper Camp Trail #87
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    My first hike with topohiker Ken and why not start it off with one of his classics, the Copper Camp Loop.

    07:30 Start - Mormon Grove TH

    09:30 - 5 miles in to my cache spot at 87/88 intersection.
    A pleasant stroll on Saddle Mountain #91 and Sheep Creek #88 (also AZT-22).
    The birds were chirping, butterfly's fluttering and the Temps are perfect.
    Big views from up here. Down in McFarland Canyon area, where the AZT splits off to the Thicket Spring Trail #95. There was plenty of pooling to filter from.

    10:00 - 6 Miles in to begin the drop to Copper Canyon Camp (5,450' - 3,100')
    This was my favorite part of the hike. (Mile 5 to Mile 9).
    The views were killer. Lion Mountain looks to be an Interesting destination... Been up on top of that one Richard?

    12:00 - 9.25 - 10.25 Miles Medium to thick Cat claw starts
    You run into another Riparian area in this section. Also the worse Cats Claw you'll encounter... but it's short-lived.

    12:30 - 10.25 miles in, start to climb to lunch on Cypress Ridge (3,100' - 4,900')
    The first 2/3's of this climb is not too bad. The last 1/3 took it out of me.

    14:15 - 12 miles in, lunch
    Pretty lunchtime views, and the Sales Pitch for the "Short Cut" begins.

    14:40 - Start the 3 miles across Cypress Ridge to Sheep Creek #88
    Nobody said No. It wasn't bad or scary... just a lot slower going than anyone planned.
    Views were killer. Ken found new stains and cuts on the tops of his shoes that he had not noticed before. This was a variation of Ken's Loop that I don't think he'll be doing next year.

    18:00 - 15.3 Miles in, back on a trail again (Sheep Creek #88)
    I remember this from the last time back here. This trail gets a bit steep in places.

    19:12 - 17 miles in, back to the Cache spot at the intersection of trails 87/88.
    I'd been running low and actually Ken loaned me half a Gatorade. We all filtered water at my cache spot. I guzzled a liter. Temps were now cool at 54.

    A five mile walk back to Karl's truck couldn't end quick enough.

    21:23 - 22 Miles, back at the Mormon Grove TH

    A short Video :next:

    Great meeting you Ken.
    Thanks for Driving and the Barley Pop Karl!
    Copper Camp Trail #87
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Copper Camp - Cypress Ridge Loop
    Ken's annual Copper Camp Loop with a twist. Everyone enjoyed the hike heading down. Ken wanted to stay out of the creek this year and attempt to follow the trail on the right. A hearty maintence crew would need to reestablish it as the creek environment has swallowed the old trail.

    Hiking up and off-trail to Cypress Ridge is always a blast. Once there the dreary task of descending and going around the ridge is at hand. I mentioned riding the ridge out as an alternative for a future year. Shockingly the idea turned to this year and no objections surfaced.

    The ridge was a bit longer than anticipated. Karl & I thought it was nifty. Ken & Bruce didn't share our enthusiasm. The constant low key scrambling was not their style. Karl & I waited and admired views with greater consistency across the ridge. Unfortunately Ken never really got to see the incredible views as he was concentrating on the terrain. Karl & I recalculated our options several times along the way. While I regretted ever suggesting the ridge, it all worked out.

    Back on trail we started up the monster ascent back to the trailhead. While the hike had varied reviews I enjoyed the diverse company of the group. I look forward to finding a balance of terrain we all can enjoy!

    4 quarts
    Copper Camp Trail #87
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Did a loop up Copper Camp trail and came back via FR477. At the Verde we had to avoid the nesting site by off trailing around the east side beside the mostly dry river bed :roll:

    We saw an eagle in the morning but not The Eagle he was in the area yesterday with the boss :) Also saw 4 javalina on the drive home.
    Copper Camp Trail #87
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    This year’s (8th annual) Copper Camp loop was ~9 miles longer due to the locked gate. We saw fire damage from the Mormon Grove TH all the way to the Sheep Creek / Copper Camp intersection. Joe had it right with "BBQ Loop". The silver lining to the fire is that now you have longer views into the area. I could see new areas that I couldn't before. It also helped by reducing the route finding in McFarland canyon.

    This year we found 2 bed frames and barrels next to the Copper Camp creek. We spent a little more time in the Copper Camp creek bed than other years. There was an awesome cool wind blowing as we climbed Cypress Ridge. We did a great on the off-trail. The route was slightly modified and we had no issues. The temps were very agreeable for most the day. It was a bit warm on the lower section of the Copper Camp loop.

    Good hike with good company. 4 people started and 4 people finished!
    Copper Camp Trail #87
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    The Cheops daily double left me psyched on life and extremely exhausted. After missing Ken's annual CCL I couldn't let this year slip away. With FR25 still closed from the 2012 Sunflower Fire 9.6 miles was added to access.

    #87 and the off-trail to #88 was new territory for myself. After an unexpectedly nice pine stroll on #87 the views looking down towards Lion Mountain are stellar. Like my first Four Peaks adventure (the southern terminus of the Mazatzal range) the feeling was refreshingly uplifting.

    There is some bushwhacking and more serious catclaw on this loop. Typical lightweight nylon/poly hiking pants provide enough protection. Nothing required gloves.

    We were blessed with perfect weather. It only felt hot during our lunch break at the low point sitting in full sun. I dipped my spare shirt in the creek and joined Dave1's Blanco Diablos for the off-trail hike up to Cypress Ridge. My ears were cold and I was chilly at times.

    Based on everything I heard from Fan, she really wanted a longer hike. It was great to meet Mike and finally hike with Ken.

    Upset black-tailed rattlesnake & a young gopher encountered in midday heat. One mylar balloon. Consumed almost 4 quarts, Mike downed 7-8!

    Gooding's Verbena, Primrose, Southwestern Lewisia, Annual Townsend Daisy, Desert Phlox, Gilia, Wiry Lotus, Bluebonnet Lupine, Desert Globemallow, Blue Dicks, Desert Mariposa, Fairy Duster, Banana Yucca, Eaton Penstemon(?), Desert Chicory, Mexican Gold Poppy, Arizona Grape, New Mexican Thistle, Western Wallflower, something white I couldn't id, lots of unknown yellow patches
    Copper Camp Trail #87
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    What a day! This was our second attempt to reach the Fig Spring cabin. We started at Horseshoe dam and hiked to the KA Ranch. We went about a half mile past the ranch on FR479 and crossed the Davenport wash. Then we climbed up an unnamed mountain and bushwhacked over where FR477 meets the gauging station by the Verde River. We saw that a vehicle recently forded the Verde by the gauging station. I roamed for a little bit looking for the Cable Crossing, but didn't find it. We took a break by the Verde.

    Next we located the Fig Trail #92. The only indication of a junction is a burnt out piece of wood sticking out of the ground. Once you're on the trail you can almost make out an old road. The road gets a little better. We were following horse prints down the road. About 3/4 a mile down the road, the trail hits drainage.

    :scared: *DISCLAIMER* Past this point you need a GPS track (or a very detailed map) of the trail and be very comfortable with route finding and bushwhacking. There is NO TRAIL past this point. If there was one, it hasn't been used in years or decades. *DISCLAIMER* :scared:

    We lost the horse prints in the drainage. This time we used the GPS track as a guideline for where to go. Last time we tried to stay on the track and that go us no-where fast. I would see what direction the track was going, then look for a nice open path in the desert and go for it. I would check the GPS every 10 minutes to make sure we were still on-track. I tried to stay with 100~200 feet of the GPS track. This made the bushwhacking easier, because we zigzagged around vegetation. Every so often we would 'see' trail, but who knows if it was just a game path.

    We had to cross numerous drainages. This was time and energy consuming. Sometimes we had to go a 1/4 mile out of the way to find a viable crossing. When we were about 1 mile from the cabin, we entered a wash and saw a cairn! Then we saw a second cairn when we turned down a second wash! We both agreed that if you got this far, you didn't need cairns. Then we climbed to a ridgeline and saw a path clear of rocks going the opposite of the GPS track. The GPS track made a semi-circle to the Sheep Creek, but the clear rock path went straight for it. We gambled and took the ridgeline path. The path got us about 1/3 mile from the cabin and it ended in a drainage. It was 1:10 now. There was butte blocking our way to the sheep creek ](*,) . We veered towards the GPS track and had to go through a couple of scree fields with drop offs into the drainage.

    We hit the track/trail and dropped into a nice wash. Soon after I could see trees! The Sheep Creek was close! Then we hit a fence line going across the wash. I didn't see any openings in the fence, so crawled army style under the fence. There was heavy vegetation and shade by the creek :FG: .
    Finding the cabin was a challenge. We found another fence line on higher ground and tried to follow that. Then I remembered that Outlander mentioned the cabin was next to the Fig Spring. We found the spring and another fence line closer to the creek. We followed this fence line for about 300 feet to the cabin! :y: Mission accomplished! :y: The Cabin has seen better days. My GPS showed the cabin at N 33 55.6310, W111 37.8709. It was 2:00. It took us 50 minutes to travel that last 1/3 mile! We took a much needed break and lunch.

    On the way back we followed the GPS track back to the ridgeline. This avoided the scree fields. Then we deviated from the GPS track when it showed the trail going down a steep ravine and climbing out the other side. We detoured by going around on a ridgeline to the other side.
    The hike back seamed harder because we tried to stay close the hike in. Crossing the drainages seemed harder on the way back. We got to the Fig Trail / FR477 junction at 5PM. The GPS track is 3.5 miles long, but both Fan's and my GPS showed we hiked 5 miles one way!

    We decided to take FR477 back instead of bushwhacking across to the ranch. We knew it was longer, but with darkness coming, it was the safer option. As we got closer to the Davenport wash, it got colder and colder yet by the Verde River. I was concerned about crossing the Davenport wash at night, but we followed some Jeep tracks across without issue.

    It was a fun but a tiring hike. I don't recommend doing this in a single day, unless you start very early or ford the Verde to reduce the mileage. I don't think you can do this hike twice the same way! Even on the way back, we took a slightly different way back.

    It was great being back in the Mazzies!
    Copper Camp Trail #87
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    It was a chilly 28 when we started but not too bad. I really like the variety on this one with great views along Saddle Mtn, some nice trees in McFarland and the great views along Copper.

    The cat claw was pretty bad down in Copper Creek but when I came back I found it best to stay low and follow the cairns and not take the high route. I saw something black go crashing through the brush near the cottonwoods but I didn't investigate - perhaps a bear?

    I struggled a bit climbing back up to Squaw Flat but made it eventually - I'm really glad I turned round at Copper Camp - definitely the right decision for me.

    It was great to see Liz and Amy again and to meet Katrina, John, John, Wally, Ken and Fan.

    Thanks to all - I had a really great day!
    Copper Camp Trail #87
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Fig Trail
    Due to work and family stuff, this is my first hike of the year. I was looking for the adventure of exploring a new trail.

    I wanted to see the Fig spring Cabin, so we started out to the Horseshoe Dam TH. The morning was cold. The dam is all dried up now. Every time I've been to this area, I've never seen any vehicles. This time we saw a couple of hunters on ATV's and about 6 trucks/Jeeps.

    We took FR 479 to the Sears trail to Copper Camp/FR477 to the Verde. We had nice 360 views as FR477 headed down to the Verde We went to the ford spot and the Verde was flowing fast. My topo showed a cable crossing in this spot, but we didn't see it. We headed back up FR FR477 looking for the Fig trail. There is no trail sign, but my GPS had the trail on it. We found the trail. It's an old jeep road. We followed it for about a mile until it crossed a wash with an un-named spring. The road / trail disappeared. We followed the trail on the GPS and never found a real trail. We would come across game trails and mistake it for the trail. The terrain was rugged. After I slipped and bruised my shin bone, we stopped and had lunch.

    We were 16 miles in and I knew Fan was not up for 32 mile hike, so I went to plan B. We short-cutted back to the Jeep by following the Verde to the KA ranch. This would cut about 8 miles from return trip. There a nice flat grassy shelf about 1/4 mile from the Verde. That lasted about a mile. Then we hiked up to a ridgeline that my topo showed ending at the Davenport wash. It also showed a nice slope down into the wash.

    The ridgeline gave us nice views of the area. By 5PM, we hit the end of the ridgeline. We could see FR477 below us. We started our climb down towards the Sears TH area. We hit a 10 foot dropped. We climbed back up and started going counterclockwise looking for a way down. We keep on hitting deep canyons. At 5:30 we went about 270 degrees around the end of the mountain.
    Fan saw a doable path down. We had to scramble down about 20 feet of boulders. There were some drop-offs, by this time we had options to go around them. By 5:50 we were in the Davenport wash! A quick bushwhack had us on the road that fords the Verde. On the way back, I noticed there was a nice gentle slope down the ridgeline. If we had gone clockwise, we would have hit it right away! We were back at the Jeep by 6:40.

    I wanted an adventure and I got!
    Copper Camp Trail #87
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I parked at the dam (7:55) and hiked on the walkway to FR2058 to FR477 to the Copper Camp trail. I went out to the Copper Camp and came back. Finding the Copper camp TH can be tricky. Lucky for me my GPS had FR477 pre-loaded and I was able to find it. Copper Camp is an old Jeep road for the first 5~6 miles. Then it drops down into the Sheep Creek and the route finding begins. Parts of the trail in the Sheep Creek are washed away and it's easier to follow the creek bed. I spent a lot of time looking for the trail and re-routing washed out parts. The trail picks up after you enter the Copper Camp creek. I missed some trail cutoffs and wound up going up the creek bed. I got to the camp by 1:20. I headed back. This time I was able to stay on the trail through the Copper Camp creek. I had lunch in the shade by the Sheep Creek. I also pumped some water. On the way back I checked out the alternate Copper Camp TH. I also did my usually exploration for ideas on futures hikes. I got back to the Jeep by 7:05.


    1) I took a wrong turn by a corral and saw a Gila monster! :DANCE:
    2) Right by the wilderness boundary a coiled rattlesnake saw me! I jumped backwards; fell on my butt as he slide away. :scared:
    3) On the return trip when I was crossing the Copper Camp Creek I almost stepped on another rattlesnake!! I was rock hopping and all of sudden I saw and heard a coiling rattler ready to strike. I somehow in mid-hop went backwards. It scared the piss out me. :o :scared: :pray:
    4) As I approached the dam on the way back, I saw a brown fox running on the dam and then he jump into the mountain side.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive

    To hike
    These directions assume a start from 477. The easiest way to reach this track is either via the walkway under Horseshoe Dam or fording the Verde below the dam.
    page created by mazatzal on May 10 2017 9:06 pm
    3 pack - loud whistle
    go prepared
    help comment issue

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