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Ash Creek - Galiuro, AZ

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Guide 47 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
4.4 of 5 by 14
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,917 feet
Elevation Gain 987 feet
Accumulated Gain 987 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 10.94
Interest Seasonal Creek
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16  2018-11-11 GrottoGirl
11  2017-11-16 cactuscat
28  2017-11-12 RedRoxx44
28  2017-11-11
Bassett Peak
20  2017-11-11
Bassett Peak
36  2017-11-10 rwstorm
18  2017-10-31 cactuscat
36  2016-11-16 rwstorm
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6
Author CannondaleKid
author avatar Guides 43
Routes 137
Photos 20,503
Trips 1,903 map ( 15,629 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
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Preferred   Apr, May, Oct, Nov → 8 AM
Sun  6:08am - 6:19pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Awesome fall colors
by CannondaleKid

Since a great number of folks hiking in this area never reach where the actual "Bassett Peak Trail" begins I figured it would be worth adding a hike description for the lower part of the trail. With a variety of vegetation including sycamore, alder, maple, ash, oak, walnut, and aspen it is well-known for a myriad of fall colors.

From the trailhead you begin hiking up the East Divide Trail #287 following the North Fork of Ash Creek. While much of it appears to be flat, the trail climbs a total of 1,000' with 400' of gain coming in the first two miles. The trail then steepens a bit and you'll climb another 600' over the next mile. Much of this part of the trail is heavily wooded and you will criss-cross the creek numerous times along the way. At the crossings you will enjoy a small amount of boulder-hopping.

Just over 2 miles out you walk past a trough used by the local game. This trip we observed a hunting tree-stand overlooking the trough so the lazy, un-sporting hunter can sit and wait for the game to come to the watering hole. Last time out here 2 years ago there was no stand but a hunter was sitting just a few hundred feet uphill from the trough for the same reason. As much noise as he made just sitting there I doubt he had any chance of bagging any game.

Once you reach Upper Ash Springs you will be amidst a stand of a few dozen aspen. The trickling water makes for a peaceful break before heading back down the trail. Due to the gradual climb on the way up you may not realize just how much you climbed until to head back down. Your feet will feel much lighter than on the uphill hike and one may almost feel refreshed as they continue down.

The hardest part of this hike is knowing when the best fall colors will arrive. Unfortunately this year we were a bit too soon... probably just over a week.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2011-11-06 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 of 18 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Ash Creek - Galiuro
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Bassett Peak is a top-10 Arizona hike anytime. But during fall, it might be second to none.

    Obviously I'm not the only one who thinks so ... there were several meetup groups and a huge group of screaming kids. Somehow however, we had a very quiet hike with few interactions with other hikers.

    A lot of HAZ folks were out there this weekend, besides those on this hike it was also nice to see rwstorm, outdoorlover, pivo, volcanoclmbr, whereveriroam, wyle coyote, jonnybackpack, redroxx44, ohiobike, moondancer627, and a couple of others too!

    Joe and JJ nearly broke me on the way up, but I should have known that ahead of time. I went to the plane crash site on the way down as I hadn't been there before. It's interesting, but the scree chute to get down to it is a pain.

    It was actually a bit warm on the exposed upper slopes and I was happy to reach the drainage with the vibrant colors and shade all the way back to camp.

    On the drive home, I made it to Tempe in 2 hours and 55 minutes via I-10. On my way there I drove through Globe and the spectacularly scenic Aravaipa-Klondyke Road and it took 3:25. I still like that route better, especially if there is the potential for any traffic on I-10 in Tucson or the Phoenix area.

    This hike was the cherry on a great weekend all around!

    It was a little early in the lower half, but absolutely rocking in the mile below the spring.
    Ash Creek - Galiuro
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Since I live way closer than most, I decided to do a little public service and go scout the leaves around Ash Creek so I could report back. Figured it would make for a nice day - which it certainly did! - and if I too was early I could easily go back in a couple weeks - which, spoiler alert, I probably will be. What an amazing area! Felt like I was in some deep, remote corner of the Chiricahua's ... yet drive time from home at Roper Lake to the parking spot 7/10ths of a mile up FR660 was a mere hour and ten minutes! :D The road was in great shape the whole way. So, long story short, if I were making the long trek from the Phoenix area in hopes of the best leaf color, I would wait 1-3 weeks - the change is not happening early this year. Also the creek is bone dry. That said, I think just about anytime would be a good time to visit this awesome place.
    Now for the long version ...
    Which actually began yesterday. Monday was day one of four off, and I had made reservations to spend two nights in Silver City, NM. Intended to visit the Catwalk and Glenwood area, then night one in Silver City, then a full day at Gila Cliff Dwellings and surrounding hikes/hot springs before returning to Silver City that night and home on Wednesday. After a series of delays, mishaps, and thwarted plans - the Catwalk was closed, which I didn't find out until I finally got there ... and that was only one of at least four things that went wrong - I decided in Cliff, NM to bag the trip and go home. All in all it was still a really nice, REALLY scenic drive from Safford up to Glenwood via 191 and 78 and 180, the back down almost to Silver City - some freakishly gorgeous country there! I saw deer, turkeys, javelina, and many raptors, and had a lovely picnic at Leopold Vista. I shall return.
    So that's how I came to head off on this trip on Tuesday rather spur of the moment. I realized halfway there that I had forgotten to load the hike on RouteScout ... oh well. I did the hike without a route, a map, or a care in the World.
    The creek had not a drop of water that I saw ... yet I was so completely enchanted with the place that I didn't even miss it. The creekbed clearly has it's share of drama, so I eagerly anticipate returning when it's flowing - I'm sure it will be very entertaining. There are many gorgeous campsites along the way, just right for a Jeep with a rooftop tent.
    I only encountered one person, A hunter with rifle in hand walking back down 660 when I was about a half mile in.
    I startled a lone coatimundi from the creekbed and he ran up the tree right next to me - I almost could have petted him! It happened so fast that by the time I readied my camera he was already back down the tree and fleeing across the creek - a wiser course of action than his first, I thought.
    I saw an abundance of deer, including several who seemed completely unconcerned by humans - so much so that I told them to be careful and wished them luck. If I had been shooting a rifle rather than a Nikon, I would be eating venison tonight.
    Also saw a flockload of turkeys ... a group of at least two dozen, and some javies hanging with the cows on the drive out.
    Ash Creek - Galiuro
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Finally we found that elusive Autumn Color

    Randy (rwstorm) sent me a PM last week asking me if I wanted to go along to Ash Creek in the Galiuro's, one of the Sky Island Mountains in South Eastern Arizona, for a season ending search for Autumn's elusive color. I'm still nursing a sore foot that has been bothering me for several months but I can't turn down an offer to see some Autumn color and Randy promised me that I wouldn't regret it, and as it turned out, he was right on the mark. After previewing triplogs from JJ, Eagle, Joe, Ron, Red Rocks and Mark, I could only hope that the trees hadn't shed their all of their leaves yet.

    We met at a secure gas station parking lot east of Tuscon at 0730, I loaded my gear in his truck and we took off for a long day's adventure. It's a good thing that Randy remembered the route, cause I would have gotten lost any number of times, but we finally arrived at the entrance to the Ash Creek trail, grabbed our gear and hit the trail.

    We hadn't gone far before we began seeing the color we were looking for, the bright yellow, gold, orange and red's that the Maple tree is so famous for lined the trail paralleling the dry creek and it only got better the further we went. The occasional glimpse of tall rugged cliff faces on the opposite side of the wash only added to the brilliance of the color that we were basking in. The gray clouds that had been gathering as we drove in, were now breaking up, leaving long white streaks in the Arizona Blue sky and a steady breeze showered us with red, yellow and gold leaves 8)

    We took a break, Randy with his sore knee and me with my sore foot, to allow our aching joints to gather relief but soon we were on our way again. We finally made it to the Upper Spring Box where we decided that this was enough punishment to our lower extremities and made our turn-around to head back down to Randy's truck. On the way back to Tucson, we stopped at La Unica Tortilleria y Taqueria in Willcox for some excellent Mexican cooking (and a cold refreshing beverage) then the long drive back home.

    Thanks for the invite Randy and thanks for driving to the trailhead, we finally got to see some awesome Autumn color :y:

    The predicted cold front with high winds and rain potential may be the spoiler to this Arizona Autumn hot spot, but many of the Maple trees were still in the late stages of green which means that there could be more color available, so don't write this one off yet.

    Lots of Maple in their best Autumn brilliance and some are still in the green stage, so there's more to come folks.
    Ash Creek - Galiuro
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Bassett Peak and B24 Wreck via Ash Creek
    We changed the hike up to get to a place a little cooler with color.

    First time in this area for me and it's some pretty country. A Pistachio grove, fields of Bright Red Chili Peppers, Tomatoes, Apples, Pears, Peaches and cotton were all passed on the drive in. On the turn off from the Sunset Loop to Ash Creek Rd, there were Campers / RV's all set up for deer hunting. We saw 3 hung up on the way in and at least six on the way out. We heard no shots all day.

    JJ made the most of the available road getting to the TH. We only stopped once to move a boulder out of the way, with JJ trying to put his Cherokee through a slot the same width of the rock opening.

    The hike is enjoyable through Ash Creek to Upper Ash Spring. There was plenty of color, but also plenty green. A week or 2 should make this perfect.

    Making the climb out of the creek, the views started opening up. The Mt Graham area looms large behind a vast grassy area running to the base of it. It's a steady climb to the top, with just a few loose spots. The turn off The East Divide trail to get to the top is a bit thin, but it's been recently flagged it to top.

    We headed down to to checkout B24 crash site from 1943. 12 tragically lost their lives here. It is steep and loose getting down to this site. There is quite a bit of debris scattered about.

    After climbing back up to the trail, it was all downhill to the Trailhead.

    I'm glad I was able to finally make it out to this one. It's been on the radar for quite awhile.

    Thanks JJ for all the driving...

    Great hiking with you and the Turtle again. Two Thumbs? up!
    Ash Creek - Galiuro
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Top 5! Wow, Bassett is an incredible peak and the trail is amazing. The views from the south end of the Galiuro Wilderness are as good as anywhere. You can truly see EVERY single sky island from here. Just amazing!

    Of course we timed our trip to try and catch some colors and we weren't disappointed. I can see how this canyon could provide some amazing autumn colors, and while this year has been less than optimal as far as colors go across the state, we were not disappointed with this.

    The aspens at upper Ash are the most unique, out-of-place trees I've ever seen. At one point I took a photo that included an agave, manzanita, fir, aspen, maple, juniper, chaparral, and probably a few other things I didn't identify. The diversity is truly unbelievable.

    The wreckage from the plane crash deserves extra exploring, but we saved it for the next trip.

    The weather was ideal, and we were surprised to find a peaceful canyon with no crowds. The first person we encountered saw us approach and looked at me and said "Chumley"! Always nice to meet fellow hazzers out on the trails. It was nice to meet Roger! :)

    We also ran into Letty as we were about to head home and spent a few minutes chatting. Good to see her again too!

    In the wildlife sighting department, we saw a Goulds Turkey. i swear it had to be over 50 lbs and stood 3 feet tall. It was enormous! Bright orange neck, and a distinctive, loud call. A real treat to see him gobble through our campsite!

    Drove there via the Klondyke Road and arrived in 3:30 hrs. On the return trip we went through Tucson and managed it in 3:15. Depending on weather, I think the dirt road is a more pleasant trip and the slightly longer time is worth not having to deal with Tucson. :)

    Near peak for this year. Depending on storms this week, next weekend will also be great.
    Ash Creek - Galiuro
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    It was time for another getaway. The dates worked out for this weekend and it matched the peak color timeframe from our trip a couple years ago. I invited a handful of tagalongs to be nice but they all ended up bailing so Noel and I got our wish for the weekend alone. We drove down Friday morning, lost a tire on the way in, switched it out, got some mud and some hunter waves and then parked for feet time.

    Two years ago was a color s'plosion but a dry one. This year was a switcharoo. Everything was flowing but mostly green. We decided to pick a new camp spot since we didn't need the lower spring nearby. We figured out bears pick the best camping spots so we found the area with the most bear poop, great nestle factor, leaf color, and adequate fire chimney, at the fork of two bubbling creeks. Noel had joked that there was enough bear poop to make a full size bear and I'll be darned if I didn't come back from collecting firewood to catch her molding something that may have in time become a four legged brownie if I hadn't early return scared her into knocking it all down.

    She moved on to the cleaner duty of setting up the tent and zipping our bags together while I worked out the fire ring and the rest of the wood. A lot of the wood was damp or wet still but we got the flames going strong enough both nights.

    Since the color was a little scarce, we set about waterfall hunting up the mapped but unnamed very flowing creek next to camp (south of the trail and west of the Lower Spring). We got to its split and followed both forks for a ways. Pretty little areas. I'd recommend it if the water's flowing.

    We had lunch back at camp over a pool that begged to be swum in. Sometime after that, we did the hike up to the Upper Spring (This section had the best color) then came back before too dark to fire it up again.

    The next morning we packed up and then hiked back up to the Upper again. The color seems better with the morning sun on this stretch. We lazily came back down, got our gear and hiked back to our wheels for the drive home.

    We never did run across a bear but we saw 4 deer bound away and one getting walked out not of his own accord.

    In short,
    Yay water.
    Slow clap fall color. As in, "It had good color... for Arizona," as in "This ice cream tastes good... for being sugar free."
    Ash Creek - Galiuro
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Went up early to seek autumn colors.
    Moderate at best right now.
    Needs 2 more weeks.
    Hiked to upper Ash Spring & back + a little extra.
    The aspens at the upper spring are just turning.
    Still a great hike even without the peak colors.
    Hunters everywhere setting up camps.
    Saw 12 pronghorn antelope on the drive in & a bald eagle along the lower creek.
    Good hike with great friends!

    Moderate at best.
    Ash Creek - Galiuro
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Well this was a great trip.
    I had a party of 7 with me on this.
    I swear we saw 40 people hiking out as we were driving in.
    I asked a few people about how the springs were doing and was told there was no water even at the holding tanks. That was a little disconcerting but I figured we could find a puddle or two to filter from if we had to. I planned to set up camp near the lower spring. When I headed up the side trail to the concrete tank, I found the first catcher completely full. The pipe was dripping about once per second and a hike up to the spring source showed it full and clear too.
    With that out of the way, we picked some bright trees to set up camp under. After that, it was time to start wasting time in the beauty.
    The next day we hiked at our own pace to the upper spring. I think it Noel and I a record 3-4hrs.
    The peak color was great. The aspens at the end were about done, but we were able to find plenty other colors about.
    Thanks to those who went before and contributed to my research on dates and the area!
    Ash Creek - Galiuro
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    i knew that it would be busy on this trail, but i didn't know exactly how busy. SOOO many people. there was a group from tucson backpackers that included 21 people, and there were many other groups as well. i met skatchkins - he recognized the haz shirt.

    we camped along the road, just outside the gate. the coyotes howled something fierce a few times during the night - enough to wake me up. the color at this location never disappoints, but it looked like we were a few days late for the aspens. they were just about spent.
    Ash Creek - Galiuro
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    How to time the leaves. Look on weather for temps in mid 30's in Willcox for the first time of autumn. As the maple grove is about 1000' higher the temps will be perfect and the trees ablaze with color the next day. The photos are superb.
    There are hundreds of maples, sumacs, ash, aspen. Even Golden Columbine was golden leaved. Lots of Smooth Sumac.

    Permit $$

    Coronado Forest
    MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
    Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To Ash Creek Trailhead

    From Mesa by CannondaleKid
    1. From I-10 & US 60 go ~72 miles EAST on the US 60 to the US 60/US 70 junction in Globe.
    2. Turn RIGHT onto US 70 and go SOUTH-EAST 76.5 miles the US 70/SR 191 junction in Safford.
    3. Turn RIGHT onto SR 191 and go SOUTH 16.7 miles to the SR 191/SR 266 junction.
    4. Turn RIGHT onto SR 266 and go WEST 19.3 miles to Bonita.
    5. Turn LEFT onto Fort Grant Road and go SOUTH .2 mile to High Creek Road
    6. Turn RIGHT onto High Creek Road and go WEST 13.6 miles to Sunset Loop Road.
    7. Turn LEFT onto Sunset Loop Road and go SOUTH 3.5 miles to FR 660.
    8. Turn RIGHT onto FR 660 and go .7 mile to the last prudent stop with low clearance vehicle.
    9. Continue another .5 mile to last area more than one vehicle can be parked.
    10. Continue .2 mile to the sign declaring the start of the trail.

    Thatcher/Safford bypass:
    If you don't plan on stopping for food/fuel in town and don't mind driving 60-65 mph on relatively smooth dirt roads you can save 6 miles and a good 40-60 minutes by avoiding Thatcher/Safford altogether. To do so just replace steps 2 through 5 above with the following:
    2. Turn RIGHT onto US 70 and go SOUTH-EAST 61.5 miles the US 70/Graham County 40(Klondyke Road) junction.
    3. Turn RIGHT onto GC 40/Klondyke Road and go SOUTH-WEST ~24 miles to the GC 40/Aravaipa Road junction.
    4. Turn LEFT onto Aravaipa Road and go SOUTH ~20 miles to Bonita.
    5. Turn RIGHT onto Fort Grant Road and go SOUTH .2 mile to High Creek Road

    From Phoenix or Tucson - GPS Route - by Randal Schulhauser
    1. Take I-10 east about 190 miles until you reach Wilcox AZ
    2. Take exit 340 for Fort Grant Road.
    3. Travel about 18 miles north on Fort Grant Road.
    4. At the stop sign, turn left onto Ash Creek Road.
    5. Travel about 3 miles west until you reach the 4-way stop at the intersection of Ash Creek Road and Fort Grant Road.
    6. Continue west leaving the pavement onto the graded dirt road. This is the start of the Sunset Loop.
    7. Travel 14.3 miles along the Sunset Loop until you reach FR660 located near bend in the Sunset Loop Road that heads north.
    8. Take FR660 about 2 1/4 miles to the Trail Head. (may be more like 1.4 miles)

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) - 231 mi, 4 hours 42 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) - 122 mi, 2 hours 59 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) - 374 mi, 7 hours 2 mins
    page created by CannondaleKid on Nov 06 2011 4:46 pm
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