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Ballantine Trail #283, AZ

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Guide 73 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Mesa NE
3.1 of 5 by 19
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Shuttle 10 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,254 feet
Elevation Gain 3,162 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,484 feet
Avg Time Hiking 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 21.61
Interest Seasonal Creek & Perennial Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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12  2019-05-11
Pine Mountain Loop
22  2019-05-11
Pine Mountain Loop
11  2019-03-16 Anekantavada
3  2019-03-02
Ballantine Rock Creek
15  2019-02-20
Ballantine Cabin & Corral
14  2019-02-16 Anekantavada
23  2018-12-01 mt98dew
8  2018-10-06
Four Peaks Meander
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6
Author DarthStiller
author avatar Guides 15
Routes 229
Photos 6,003
Trips 433 map ( 3,769 miles )
Age 50 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Nov, Dec, Mar
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:30pm
Official Route
17 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
go east to west and take the easy way out
by DarthStiller

Stats reflect sole one-way segment #283.

This trail in its entirety is rarely done either as a shuttle or an out-and-back due to its overall length and the amount of driving required on FR143. This means that normally the upper (eastern) end of it (the best part) is the section that sees the least amount of traffic. This is one of several (but not too many) trails in AZ where a hiker will encounter both pine trees and saguaros.

While it might be considered the easy way out, starting at the upper end of the trail and working your way west (and down, except for a short ascent at the start) has its advantages. The drive up and back down bumpy FR143 is left for later, but you'll still have to drive down later if you go the other direction. It's also an advantage to get an earlier start, which might be somewhat of an issue if you're attempting this one in late spring or early fall.

Leave the parking area at the Cline TH and head downhill towards a wash. The trail is at the northern end of this area and immediately begins to head uphill. Look for a wooden trail marker.

The start of the trail here is an old, unmaintained jeep road. This road lasts about 2 miles as it ascends 1600' up Pine Mountain. About a half mile or so before you get to the high point, at a saddle below Pine Mountain, the trail will have narrowed to a single track.

At the saddle, the desert scrub has given way more to pinyon pines and vegetation better suited to colder temps. At the saddle there are also some boulders, which will be a mainstay throughout the rest of the hike. If you're hiking in the winter months, at this point you will likely have encountered some snow. About half the way up to the saddle, you can see Four Peaks. To the south are nice views of Superstition Mountain.

From the saddle the trail continues NE through some very tall pines. You will also be on a north facing slope, making it likely that there will be significant snow leftover from any previous snow events during the winter. This snow and the lack of traffic in this area can make finding the trail challenging if you don't have a GPS and a loaded track from HAZ.

The trail will descend through the pines towards a stream (again, in winter). This area is probably one of the best areas of the trail since it's so remote and extremely different from what you see everyday in metro Phoenix. After the stream, the tall pines will give way to manzanita and other typical bushy scrub plants as the trail bends westward and downhill. In this section the trail also gets a bit rocky and steep. Just to east as the trail turns west is FR422. During my hike I wasn't able to find the junction for the spur trail that is supposed to connect this trail to FR422.

The trail will take turns making steep descents, followed by a stroll across a flatplain. At this point, the desert vegetation has taken over and all the shade previously provided by the pines is gone. At 5.3 miles in, the trail goes by a sandy stream area. Water was there in the winter when I hiked this, but is likely seasonal. Rock Creek will soon be visible on your left, being quite far and/or below you at times.

Sections of the trail here may be a bit overgrown (typically in spring), but it is very easy to follow, and route finding is not much of an issue. This may depend on the time of year, however. Spring time at these "tweener" elevations tends to produce a lot of brush. Winter, meantime, can make for an easier hike with less brush and dead and brittle existing brush.

At the top of the descent, the Superstitions are visible but disappear as you drop behind Pine Mountain and the surrounding hills. Some of the mountains in the metro Phoenix area are visible at times as are some of the southern Mazatzals and area south of that.

At about 6.5 miles, there is a junction with a very faint trail from the north. This trail comes from the Ballantine Cabin. This is NOT the trail at Boulder Flat, but a separate one that continues east from the cabin and then turns south and connects here with the Ballantine Trail. This junction may be marked with cairns, but is very easy to miss. I have previously uploaded a GPS from my hike to Ballantine Cabin in May 2008 in which this trail was done as a lasso loop. If you download that track, you'll have a better idea of when and where to look for this junction.

From here, the trail continues to descend, quickly and then slowly, down to Boulder Flat and then make the final descent to the Ballantine TH. Rock Creek on your left disappears before you reach Boulder Flat, but you'll be able to see Pine Creek on your right once you get to the Pine Creek Loop portion of the hike at the very end.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2011-04-02 DarthStiller
    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 24 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Ballantine Trail #283
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    Went up past boulder flat past the corral, to my horror the once (just last month) well trimmed path was COMPLETELY block with catsclaw! The snow curled all the cats claw in Ballantine canyon into the trail, I cut and hammered my way 2 more miles but again fell short of Rock Tank. This is large deadfall and the snow really stripped the tops of trees, snapping basically everything. It is passable though, but I got tired from sawing and ran out of daylight. I was heavily clawed with catsclaw. Took my moms do George, he really enjoyed himself. Next time I will make it to Rock Tank!

    Pretty good show in many spots! Poppies, brittlebush, scorpion weed, blue things...
    Ballantine Trail #283
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    Ballantine Rock Creek
    With a forecast of rain at 50% we figured we'd take a chance. Got to the Ballantine TH at 7:20 and started hiking by 7:30. Lot's of water running in both Camp Creek and Pine Creek so we figured the same would be true for Rock Creek and running it was. Encountered a lot of catclaw during the off-trail hiking and it did wear after a bit. My legs were so scratched up that they almost became numb. Spooked a pair of deer near the corral. The rain started so we figured it was time to head back to the truck. Rained for about 30-40 minutes, just enough to wet the trail. Really enjoyed this outing.
    Ballantine Trail #283
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    Hadn't hiked this area for a few years. A lot more water than expected. We made at least 15 crossings of running water. Wildflowers are out putting on a nice show. We saw about 10 people out on the trails which is quite a few for here. Beautiful day. Started getting warm by the end of the hike, but never hot. Thanks John! :)

    Scorpion weed, blue dicks, poppies, fiddleneck, fairy duster, lupine, desert chicory...
    Ballantine Trail #283
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    I decided to wait out the storm a bit since the morning was supposed to be stormy. This allowed me to check where it had rained the most, the snow level, stream gauges, and road conditions in the higher elevations. I wasn't in the mood for driving on snowy highways nor wading across 1000cfs creeks, so Ballantine seemed to be a good solution. Alex had never been to the cabin so that was the planned destination. All the drainages were running and one of them was a little challenging, but I managed to keep my feet dry.

    With our noonish start, I decided it wasn't worth pushing darkness by doing the full loop, and instead returned back the way we came. It's always nice to be out on the trails to enjoy all the water after some stormy weather, and good to finally meet Alex!
    Ballantine Trail #283
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    Joe through out a couple this week to choose from. The first had us in potential snow and much colder temps. I would never have been able to put up with the whining on that one.

    The Plan A that got the nod, received 1.2 inches of rain yesterday. What normally runs at 1.5 CFM, was running at 20 CFM yesterday afternoon, and flashed at 7,000 CFM at midnight at 10' in height. When we pulled in, you could hear the roar of Sycamore Creek.

    This was a plan B.
    I'd never hiked out of the Ballantine TH, so with the help of a freshly downloaded route into Route Scout, we were off.

    Pine Creek was roaring, as were all the other normally dry named and non-named washes. We started in a light rain in the comfortable 40's. We were in the clouds at about 4000' and it got noticeably colder. We hit a low of 36.9, with a cooling breeze.

    We look a break at the cabin for a bit so Joe could change socks before heading back.

    Almost back to the Truck we ran into Chums, just starting his hike.

    This one was better than I expected.
    Felt strange to be home so early on a Saturday, so I took a nap.
    Ballantine Trail #283
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    Rain Saturday number 4 out of the last 5 :pout:

    Snow in many areas and cold temps in others hampered options. I put together a loop West of the Beeline around Sycamore/Mesquite based on a couple Ken hikes. We arrived before sunrise and could hear the roar of the creek. Bruce refused to give up and checked it out in several areas. Luckily he came to his senses. With a hint of internet I pulled up Ballantine as plan b.

    18 years ago I hiked this in gnat season. The memory was still fresh that I wanted to see the Saguaro lined Pine Creek flowing. We got it in full glory, it was roaring!

    Yesterday I picked up a zippo catalytic hand warmer. A few school friends back in Oklahoma carried a larger version when we walked off campus for lunch. Imagine none of that is permitted these days. At any rate after a home test I was oddly excited to put it to use hiking in the cold.

    The little furnace worked like a dream for 6-7 miles until I slipped on a rock in one of several creek crossings. Our 47 degree start was now into the 30's and it was game over for the happy attitude.

    After miles of torture the final mile or two was warming up. We crossed paths with 3 or 4 little groups. Then ran into CHUMS starting the same hike. My photos aren't worth subjecting to the public. I imagine someone that got twice the sleep, ate breakfast, lunch and hiked with less stinky company got better light.

    We saw lots of creeks flowing and in retrospect I enjoyed it overall.

    Very isolated yellows. Bushes and such most wouldn't notice.
    Ballantine Trail #283
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    Leave it to Rick to figure something out :scared: When he suggested Ballantine Trail, I thought maybe a loop over to the Cabin and return, but oh no !!! He wanted a key exchange somewhere in the middle of the Trail :o .... Here's a guy that doesn't want any bushwhacking---off trail hikes or anything that does not resemble a beaten path or needs route finding skills. :scared: I asked him did you read the trip logs ?? Yes but, there is a trail ?? Rick loves elevation so ok, you can start at Ballantine TH and I'll start at the Cline TH. :D Thanks to Sun_Hiker for the route and Grass Hopper for his trip log from 2007, printed it out and wanted to compare then and what's it's like now. So 9 years later --- couldn't find the Ballantine sign, there is a small cairn buried under the tall grass SE of the parking area, directly in front of the cairn is a large dead tree stump that someone cut down years ago in the grass, the trail runs along the left side of the stump and heads up to the old Cline cabin area. Turn thru the old gate opening and tread lightly due to all the rocks buried under the tall grass. The route is pretty straight forward up to about the 1st mile and 3/4 then due to erosion and over growth of shrubs it gets a little tricky then it opens up for the next mile until you get to the saddle at 2.75 miles and 5818 elevation. Going down from the saddle you will encounter very easy walking, ( nice fire rings setup, plenty of dead wood to keep warm :zzz: ) and then, due to all the under growth and fallen trees, you have to navigate around or over and under them, but nothing real serious. Other then 9 years of nature taking it's course Grasshopper was dead on and Sun_Hikers route was also dead on except for all fallen trees across the route. But there were a lot of cairns, and I repaired and added some along the way. Met Rick at about the 4 1/2 mile mark, and exchanged info, had about 1/2 mile or so of heavy Mazzies and after that, it opened up to a great hike down to the trail head. We stopped at my place for a beer and discussed what a great hike this could be if we got a group together and cleared us a more enjoyable path and not fight thru the way it presently is. Going from Cline would be my choice every time :D :M2C:
    Ballantine Trail #283
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    Bob & I decided to do a key swap hike on the Ballantine Trail. Bob started up at Cline TH and I started down at the Ballantine TH, BTW, it took Bob 45 min. to drive his Jeep up to the trailhead from the Beeline hwy. and it took me 35 min. to drive out. The distance and AEG as recorded on my Garmin is 12.89/4328, it recorded lower when downloaded, but I entered these figures so anyone considering this hike would know what to expect. My hike followed a well defined trail that had an AEG of approx. 2000 all the way up to Boulder Flats, then things got interesting. The trail all but disappears in places and the cats claw & Manzanita make for, at times, a formidable barrier. I met Bob when I was 8.25 miles in and he was 4.65 from Cline TH, we had lunch next to a huge elk horn. There is plenty of running water, as of this writing, past the Ballantine Corral down below and up in the pines 3 miles from Cline TH. When you're on top, just shy of the saddle, there are numerous large fallen trees over the trail and this, added to the overgrowth, can make travel difficult. We chose to do this hike, because not many do considering the logistics of a shuttle or key swap. I'm really glad we had a chance to complete this hike, there were some beautiful sites and we encountered no others on the trail. The last two miles heading down to Cline were uneventful, but the condition of the trail shows that it receives very little use. If you chose to do this hike, be prepared to bring your best route finding skills along with you. I would not recommend wearing shorts or short sleeves and bring plenty of fluids also, but most of all...have fun, we did!
    Ballantine Trail #283
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    I live in the Terravita community and they have a hiking club called the "Terravita Trekkers". I joined them for today's hike...the Pine Creek/Ballantine Trail loop. 13 of us parked near mile marker 210 on the 87 where there is pull off and parking. Did the hike clockwise stopping at the trail junction to enjoy the view. A few folks continued on the Ballantine Trail, but I did not have the time today. Long drive for a 3 miler.
    Ballantine Trail #283
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    Lee convinced me to check this one out, and the first couple of miles were exactly the reason I hadn't previously done this. It should be called "State Route 87 - Alt" :roll:

    The sound of traffic and smell of exhaust really isn't my idea of a nice hike, and it takes a long time to get far enough away that you don't notice it anymore. Oh well.

    The climb was steady, and the sun was out making it just a little warmer than I prefer. I think this trail has an ideal season of December-January. :M2C:

    The higher elevations are exponentially more scenic than the first 2 miles so that was a pleasant change. There was water flowing in all the drainages. The trail to the cabin had been driven by dirt bikes (motor) and torn it up a fair amount. Not bad, but I was glad they weren't there today. The crossover section to the corral might as well be a real trail -- it is traveled very well and there was absolutely no problem following the route.

    On the way back down, clouds finally blocked the sun making it a pleasant, cool afternoon. Until we got down far enough that the beeline was within earshot again. ](*,)

    Ran into a couple of HAZ lurkers in the parking lot. They'd seen Lee and the dogs in the Supes before, and apparently some guy named Chumley is their go-to for hike research info. :oops:

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    Take the Beeline Highway to the Ballantine TH. The Beeline Hwy can be reached from Shea Blvd., the 202, or the Bush Hwy off of Power Road. Then take a 2nd vehicle up FR143 to the Cline TH and start the hike from there.
    page created by DarthStiller on Apr 01 2011 11:29 pm
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