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Oak Creek Loop - Greenback Valley, AZ

no permit
92 6 0
Guide 6 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Young S
5 of 5 by 2
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
Distance Round Trip 4.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,241 feet
Elevation Gain 950 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,360 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 11.4
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Ruins, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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12  2012-04-06 ssk44
19  2012-04-06 Grasshopper
5  2012-04-05
Malicious Gap Campsite
11  2012-04-05
Malicious Gap Campsite
26  2011-12-10 ssk44
35  2011-12-10 Grasshopper
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov
Sun  6:13am - 6:20pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Culture Nearby

Author Full Detail Guide
Overview: Diverse backcountry exploration hike with classic Sierra Ancha terrain and ancient Indian ruins. The route is a mix of abandoned road bed, rugged off-trail, and basic canyoneering. Bushwhacking is moderate.

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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.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Oak Creek Loop - Greenback Valley
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Malicious Gap Campsite
3 nights/4 days of "Car Camping/Off Trail Hiking" in the Sierra Ancha Mountain Range within the Greenback Valley Area at the Malicious Gap TH/Car Campsite-->
Oak Creek Loop - Greenback Valley
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Malicious Gap Campsite
Four days of camping and ruin hunting with my good friend Hank. Our planed hike days were Friday and Saturday. Finding ruins is just a bonus for me. Adventure and scenery is enough to keep me coming back to this area. The mountains and canyons surrounding Greenback Valley are highly diverse and very scenic. I really love it hear and the campsite at Malicious Gap is special. We had a great time. It just doesn't get any better for me... Perfect temps, minimal bugs, remote privacy, great campfires, and lots of beautiful live oak. I was definitely in my happy place.

So... The question of the day. Did we find any ancient hidden ruins?
Oak Creek Loop - Greenback Valley
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Ref: Google Earth area overview photos-

On the prowl again with Eric in another scenic, remote, and rugged section of our Sierra Ancha Mountains 13.3 miles drive in from the intersection of Hwy 188/Pumpkin Center.

At home for months I had been viewing these above linked Google Earth images of Peak 5525 (with its interesting cliff areas) and viewing in person from a distance on other area exploration hikes with Eric. I just had a good feeling about this location being prime for some ancient Salado Indian Ruin sites and even more interesting some possible cliff dwelling finds. I kept prodding and we finally had this one on the calendar :D

As my picset will confirm, on this 12/10 exploratory loop hike we located three areas where evidence of ancient Salado Ruins foundation structures once existed with no cliff dwellings noted but of course there is no way to know what we might have overlooked on this adventure due to time, overgrowth, and the rugged terrain constraints. I departed the area this rewarding day thinking there must be more up there..??

A filling and reasonable priced dinner meal with a bottomless- ice tea glass/lemon/sugar container at the casual and historic "Butcher Hook Restaurant" in Tonto Center (located 5 miles from the north end of Lake Roosevelt) sealed another excellent day of remote day hiking and ruins exploration :DANCE:

PS- I contributed to "cyber" Monday sales this year with an early approval from Santa for a new, smaller, but high tech loaded pocket camera, "the Canon S95" which replaced the S90 and was replaced in Aug'11 by the new Canon S100. Some respected camera reviewers label my new S95 to be the "second" best pocket camera in the world.. If so, and on its first outing with me today, it is obvious to me that I still have a lot to learn ;)
Oak Creek Loop - Greenback Valley
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Greenback Valley Ruin Hunting Part 2

Bear Head Mountain and Oak Creek are exploration hikes that originated from a conversation with old-man Conway about six year ago. While swapping outdoor stories on his ranch one day, he paned his hand in a sweeping motion from east to west, covering everything from Copper Mountain to Mistake Peak. His "oh, by the way" casual story told of old Indian ruins in the hills north of his ranch. This perked my interest because that entire area notes zero registered sites on USGS topo maps. His directions were vague at best and the area described covered four rugged miles of extensive hilltops, canyons, buttes, and cliff faces. Good luck... I basically shelved the tip in the back of my mind for future reference. As you can see, these hikes have been put off for a long time.

I mentioned my backburner goose chase hikes to Hank last winter. He was ready and willing to start immediately. I just wasn't in the mood last winter, however his persistence finally paid off for this year. Both exploration hikes were put on the calendar for December. Without any solid direction, my only options were to hit areas with high ruin potential and hope for the best. The normal suspects are rugged buttes, big cliff faces, and hilltops with vast views for defense and nearby perennial springs in close proximity for water. Both location have paid off, however I'm really not positive if I've found the site he spoke off. The Bear Head site was sooo small and the sites found on this hike were nearly buried in dirt and vegetation. You could walk right by if you weren't paying attention. I will say though that site #1 as noted on the feature map covered a fairly large area with about eight recognizable rooms. Site #2 only consisted of a heavily overgrown broad flat shelf against a section of the upper cliff face. The only evidence of ruins was a barely visible build-up rock wall set out from the cliff maybe twenty feet with a length of about twenty yards across the face. The rock wall was nearly buried in oak trees and vegetation. The setting was very similar to a large elevated porch. It was unmistakable that "something" once existed there, however "what" was difficult to determine. This kind of stuff is so mysterious. My mind just gets lost in how life unfolded during that time period. Salado ruins are about 600-700 years old on average. It's hard to imagine that every tree and bush that I can see did not exist when these ruins were occupied. Even the oldest sycamore will typically only last 400-500 years. An old oak may last 300 years in a protected canyon. What did the land look like back then? Can we really even imagine? Just the fact that these sites are still there is nearly a miracle. The Bear Head site had one intact fragile wall with ancient mortar still in place. Just lightly pushing on that wall could bring it down. I've seen some cool rarely visited ruin sites over the last two years. This stuff tends to get in your blood. Hunting unregistered ruin sites can almost become an addiction.

Both Bear Head and Oak Creek were such incredible hikes that I feel like an idiot for putting them off as long as I have. The Oak Creek loop was enjoyable from start to finish for me. We were in beautiful live oak trees for much of the entire hike and the scenery was grand. A few nice sycamores didn't hurt either. This hike ended up far exceeding my expectations. The rugged cliff face route was a playground and the bushwhacking was very manageable by my standards. Steep gullies and rock towers hugged the massive cliff face making for some very interesting and fun route finding. So cool! The nice return route through middle Oak creek revealed some sweet red rock canyon that wrapped up the hike very nicely. Just another great day in the Sierra Ancha Mountains! They never disappoint.

Eric (ssk44) :GB:

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

To hike
From Punkin Center... FR71 - Greenback Valley - FR236A - Destination (Faint overgrown roadbed leading north)
page created by ssk44 on Dec 11 2011 1:30 pm
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