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Coon Creek - Lower Ruins, AZ

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Guide 4 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Roosevelt Salt
4 of 5 by 1
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,681 feet
Elevation Gain 36 feet
Accumulated Gain 610 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.55
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Ruins, Historic, Seasonal Creek, Perennial Creek & Peak
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9  2018-02-24
Pueblo Canyon Ruins
36  2016-04-09
Ruins Near NF-203a and Cook Creek
25  2011-10-24 CannondaleKid
24  2011-09-24
Coon Creek - Lower Canyon Trail
Author CannondaleKid
author avatar Guides 43
Routes 137
Photos 20,492
Trips 1,898 map ( 15,608 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Mar, Feb, Jan → 8 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:08am - 6:27pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Route to ruins, dry or wet, your choice
by CannondaleKid

The ruins (described elsewhere as defensive) are on a peak overlooking the Salt River across from Redmond Flat. Due to the location of the ruins, there are any number of options for your actual route. If you aren't a rafter there are two basic approaches, along the ridge or up from the creek. After having tried both, in my estimation the ridge approach is easier and quicker with plenty of photo opportunities of the surrounding area.

If you choose to follow the creek it's much harder if you try to stay dry. If you don't mind walking in the creek 90% of the time it's kind of fun and you avoid much of the thorny brush. It's possible to do this hike out-and-back overland in 3 hours, but plan on at least 4 hours if you want to spend some time wandering around the ruins and taking plenty of photos. Add another hour or two if you decide to drop down and spend some time along the Salt River, maybe even walk across depending on season and flow. If you want more variety I'd recommend the ridge approach to the ruins then starting from the 'Gateway' (see GPS route) drop down to Coon Creek and follow it on the return.

See the Coon Creek - Lower Canyon Trail description for some historical context.

Begin your hike from the trail head parking lot just off Cherry Creek Road. (See directions for Coon Creek - Lower Canyon Trail) As noted in the overview you can hike it like the warning to Paul Revere, one if by land, two if by sea (creek). If your main interest and goal is the ruins, download my very simple 6 point GPS route and follow the general route, wavering from it as you wish to follow the terrain you prefer or to check out some areas of interest along the way. As you approach your destination plenty of photo opportunities will present themselves. Once you catch a glimpse of the lower wall of the ruins your anticipation will grow and you'll eagerly pick up speed. If you happen to waver a bit west of the track after the 'Gateway' (see my 10/24/11 photoset for a shot of the gateway) look to your right in an open area and you may find you're on candid camera... there is a game video cam attached to a fence post.

As you make your last approach you will want to stay to the west (your right) of the fence as the greatest portion of the ruins are on that side. When you start your easy climb into the ruins you may want to keep track of how many levels of terracing there is. (I didn't keep track, so I can only guess there are at least four, possibly as many as 6 levels.) Take your time wandering around and catching the awesome views of the Salt River, Redmond Flat and the area along Coon Creek. For your return you can follow the same general route along the ridge or starting from the gateway, angle NNW down to the creek and follow it back.

To spend the most time in the creek on the return, continue south from the ruins to the lowest saddle just before the last outcrop next to the Salt River then turn hard right and drop NW down to a deeper part of Coon Creek.

If you have plenty of time, you're into a bit more adventure and don't mind carefully dropping down some steep terrain as well as the mandatory effort for the return trip back up, by all means do so. While I believe it's possible to continue south from the ruins to drop down a narrow gorge, it looked too loose for me so I headed back up to the ruins and north back down to the saddle then took a beeline toward the Salt River. Just beware that when you hit the level of the shoreline, due to the choking vegetation (tamarisk?) it won't be a simple walk to reach the river. For me it was a combination of clipping the worst of the thorny brush, pushing through the less-sharp brush and even crawling on my stomach and I finally made the shore.

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.

2011-10-27 CannondaleKid
    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 Triplog Reviews
    Coon Creek - Lower Ruins
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    We hiked Lower Coon Creek a month ago with the intention of visiting some ruins but between vague directions and some bad terrain, we never reached them... in fact we never even saw where they were. So, with a day off, Tracey out of town and my Samurai on stands waiting parts I thought I'd give this one another shot. (Yeah, Tracey wanted to see the ruins, but she wasn't too enthused after what we went through last trip so she didn't mind I did this one solo)

    This time I had more detailed information, and with a first-hand look the terrain last trip, I marked out a track with only 7 way points of the general direction I planned to take. Rather than follow the creek most of the way and then climb, I climbed up to a ridge and continued relatively parallel to the creek but well above it. The going much easier and by following a game trail every time I found one going the general direction I was taking I made much better time, at least when I was moving... taking pictures is where much of the time was lost.

    While on the approach I took photos of the hilltop where I knew the ruins to be but not until I was quite close could I actually make out a few stacked rock walls. Once at the ruins I looked back down on Coon Creek and realized we hadn't seen the ruins from there because we had been in the midst of trees and thick vegetation. For the return trip I planned on dropping down in a NNW direction picking the easiest route to hit the creek and follow it back.

    But first I wanted to figure out how the rafters who visited the ruins back in 1992 saw them in the first place, and what route they may have taken. So I continued south below the ruins until reaching a point where it was possible to climb up, but I doubted rafters would have attempted it here. I climbed back up to the ruins and scanned the area for a more likely route up. I tried the first area where there wasn't a steep drop and found although still steep, it was passable, although coming up wouldn't be very easy. Once I got to the bottom, now the problem was fighting through all the very dense brush between the base of the mountain and the shoreline of the Salt River. It's the same type of brush that stopped us last month. But being solo and with more determination I stuck with it and between clipping brush, hacking branches off and just plain bulling my way through I finally broke through to the water's edge. Looking back up toward the ruins it didn't seem the best angle to make them out well so I continued east along the shore until it curved enough to have a better view. But by that time, the only way to make them out would have been with binoculars, or full zoom on the camera.

    Ok, now it was time to head back. Knowing how dense the brush was along the river and how much farther it would be to follow the river back to Coon Creek, it didn't take a moment to choose climbing back up. I scanned the shoreline looking for the area where the brush appeared thinnest again once again let nothing stop me from breaking through. I made it through relatively quickly but at the cost of the skin on my forearms. (I was lavish with the aloe lotion upon my return and already today they look much better.) In general each branch of the brush was thinner than Manzanita, but there was more of it and at times it was hard to breath due to all the powdery dust that came off when contacting each piece of brush. My throat feels pretty harsh from it a day later.

    Once I broke through the brush I scanned for a wash to begin my climb back up. I was a little east of where I came down and found by continuing up and sticking to the largest wash the going was reasonably easy. Only the last few hundred feet took some very careful foot placement to keep from sliding backwards. Now back on the ridge I headed for a "gateway" break in the fence and from there headed NNW down toward the creek until I reached it. But I realized right away I'd make better time getting just a little ways above the creek and again followed game trails, most of them being javelina trails. I passed through a few javelina dens along the way and while I saw and heard none, the heavy musky odor made it clear they spent plenty of time here. From there I cruised back to the TH with my mission accomplished.

    I posted mostly ruin photos on HAZ, the full set will be on my web site:
    Coon Creek - Lower Ruins
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Original plan was Hell's Hole in the Salome Wilderness but with all the 2-day backpack triplogs we figured it was more than we cared to deal with this hike. So Friday night we looked at alternatives and settled on either Cooper Forks cliff dwellings or possibly Devil's Chasm since Tracey hadn't been there. Thankfully I had one other shorter option as a backup because once we passed through the dense smoke in the Globe area from a fire on Madera Peak (west peak of the Pinals) and then saw the massive smoke plume across the sky toward the east from the Tanner fire in the Sierra Ancha we figured it would be smoky near any of those ruins so decided against them. (And as it turned out the Young Highway was closed so we would not have been able to get into the Salome Wilderness at all.)

    Instead we opted for a shorter hike down Lower Coon Creek. We wasted a ton of time on the hike to the Salt River by trying to stay dry, numerous times heading some distance from the creek through cats-claw, cholla, buckthorn, and miscellaneous other brush to stay that way. Once we got to the Salt River we were met by dark brown water and the brush along the bank was thick as can be so we tried climbing up to avoid it. But Tracey wasn't too enthused by the steep terrain or the large boulder-field so we cut it short and headed back.

    On the return trip we decided the quickest and easiest course was to just get wet and stay in the creek as much as possible, leaving it only when there was too much debris to get through. Since we were both wearing Tevas that worked out quite well.

    Too many photos to choose the best from to post here so at the moment all 70 photos are here:
    (Included are photos taken from the Redmond Flat and Horseshoe Bend areas on the south side of the Upper Salt River later in the day)

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    Take US 60 to Globe, take AZ 188 north to AZ 288, turn right and follow 288 to FR 203, which is Cherry Creek Rd. Follow FR 203 about 8.6 miles and turn right immediately after the water crossing onto FR 444 and follow it a few hundred yards to the trail head.

    See the Coon Creek - Lower Canyon Trail for more detailed driving directions.
    page created by CannondaleKid on Oct 27 2011 9:41 am
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