What happened to the trail?
While browsing HAZ for a relatively close hike that would get us into higher elevations and offer some new views (for us, at least), we found Indian Spring Peak 4900 right off the Beeline Highway. It's important to stick to the driving/hiking directions (below) to find the trail as there is no signage nor a cairn to point you in the right direction. Better yet, download the official GPS route and use that to get you on the trail.
From the "upper" parking area you'll see a small stick of a sign indicating that the area is only suitable for hikers and horses. As you're facing the "sign" with your back to the Beeline Highway, look to your right to find the beaten path. The path goes in a northwest direction for 0.7 miles to O'Neil spring and a concrete trough. It looked like, up to that point, the trail had been intentionally put in for cattle and horses to access the spring. It was always at least 15 inches wide and very easy to follow. There's nice shade at the spring and places to sit and take a break.
After the spring, the path has been "maintained", we presumed, by cattle heading over to and up a nearby stream (which was dry during our hike). It would have been pretty to see water flowing, but there would have been numerous stream crossings had it been running. Can't have it all! Be warned that the cattle haven't done a very good job pruning back what I call "desert holly" or the cats claw. It's not bush-whacking but there are some overgrown areas. Just wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt and you'll be fine.
So we're crisscrossing the dry stream, admiring the butterflies and prickly pear fruits when, all of a sudden, the trail just disappears and we're in a sort of meadow with low grasses and dead juniper trees. I guess the cattle didn't see fit to routinely go much further! However, at this point you could really see Indian Spring Peak.
With no trail to follow we checked our GPS and loosely followed the route. Basically, you want to find the path of least resistance up to the saddle to the right (north) of the peak. From there it's a scramble to the base of the peak. We stopped for lunch and took in the views of Bartlett Lake, Mount Ord, Four Peaks, Weaver's Needle, the Superstition Ridgeline, and a small glimpse of the Mogollon Rim. If you're so inclined, you can climb up to the very top of Indian Spring. Be advised that it looked to be about an 85 degree pitch of about 30 or so (very exposed) feet. If you're comfortable with heights and are adept at rock climbing it looked like there were plenty of cracks and hand/foot holds to use. We chose to stay in the shade and not take the risk.
Simply reverse your steps to get back to the beginning of the hike.
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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.
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