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Superstition Wilderness - Scenic 4WD Loop, AZ

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Guide 8 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions SW
4.7 of 5 by 6
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Difficulty 1 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 48.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,982 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 to 6.5
Interest Historic, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Possibly Connect
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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29  2017-03-04 cw50must
24  2015-04-03 snakemarks
4  2013-11-16 ASUAviator
20  2012-05-27 ASUAviator
12  2012-02-23
Montana Mountain
32  2011-12-23 Grasshopper
59  2011-12-23 tibber
Author Grasshopper
author avatar Guides 42
Routes 458
Photos 8,104
Trips 508 map ( 5,318 miles )
Age 74 Male Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Nov, Mar, Oct → 8 AM
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:09am - 6:30pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
.. Thoroughly All Inclusive ..
by Grasshopper

Overview: With planned stops this full day driving loop which travels along or near the boundary of the eastern Superstition Wilderness passes by thirteen (13) hiking trailheads and begins and ends east of Florence Junction at the intersection of Highway 60 and Queen Valley Road. This scenic and historic four wheel drive/high clearance route begins at an elevation "low" of 1982 feet and travels to an elevation "high" of 5394 feet with only 1.6 miles of the total 48.6 miles on a paved surface via Queen Valley Road.

Warning: This multi-forest road loop route travels on many varied road conditions depending on time of year and seasonal road maintenance. For safety reasons this 48.6 mile loop route should only be considered with an experienced off road driver who is driving a 4WD, high clearance vehicle with upgraded LT type rated tires. Also, in order to locate the many hiking trailhead locations along this route as well as to correctly navigate the many forest road turns along this driving route, it is highly recommended that the "official" GPS Driving Route dated 12/23/11 (posted to this description) along with its twenty-one (21) reference waypoints be downloaded and followed. Obviously, planned driving route stops are optional but understanding and being able to correctly navigate this driving route is important.

History: This scenic driving loop passes by old ranching homesteads- some still operational and considered private property as posted. One of the more interesting late 1800's mining/ranching homesteads available to visit and included in this driving loop GPS Route tour is the Wood Camp Cabin site located on a short unmarked 4WD access road off of FR650. It is highly recommended to plan a stop here to view the interesting and still standing (as of this writing) old stone cabin. Then a short walk down to the Wood Camp Canyon Creek bed area to see the old water well location along with a deep mining shaft (adit) which is located across the creek bed.

Drive: Follow the "official" 12/23/11 posted GPS Route. This 48.6 mile driving route, recommended to be driven in a "clockwise" loop direction, covers many scenic square miles within the Tonto National Forest - eastern Superstition Wilderness area including varied desert flora and geology.

From author's 12/23/11 trip log: I had often thought that this scenic eastern Superstition Wilderness 4WD loop trip would make an excellent day outing for family and/or out of state visitors who are not into hiking but would rather enjoy a longer back-country day driving trip with varied flora, geology, amAZing near and long distance views, and with ranching/mining history. I am now happy to report that for the right situation it would!

I would highly recommend those more adventurous with a good, stock, high clearance 4WD vehicle with LT type rated tires to strongly consider this one. It's a winner!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your 4x4 trip to support this local community.

2011-12-27 Grasshopper
    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
    Superstition Wilderness - Scenic 4WD Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I hadn't done the Montana Mountain Loop in probably 10 years or so. I had been thinking about it for a while so I organized some friends to come and we made a day of it. The trail is still easy, could probably be done in 2wd as long as you had high clearance. The recent rains have made it nice out of there, several water crossings. The switchbacks on 650 are fun. I was a little worried since last time I was in my Jeep, this time I was in my truck which is a little bit longer, but I made the turns just fine.

    Video: [ youtube video ]
    Superstition Wilderness - Scenic 4WD Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I did this in my stripped down stock Wrangler with 33x12.5 mud tires. While the road (650) wasn't quite as bad as I envisioned it might be, I wouldn't want to do it in anything with a longer wheel base or less rugged tires. It beat us up, for sure, but it was entirely doable without causing any damage to my Jeep (that I know of :pray: ). I just barely made some of the tight hairpin turns and there was no room for backing around even a little if you couldn't cut it tight enough. Backing up the way you came is not an option. If Bruce drove this in his F-150 then he is :worthy: cuz I can't imagine trying to snake my truck down that mountain! :scared:

    If you've got the appropriate ride, this drive is really spectacular. I've been wanting to do this for years and I'm so glad I finally got around to it. We followed Grasshopper's route (T.Hank.s!), which I had downloaded on my GPS, but I never had to look at it, as the correct way always seemed fairly obvious (most traveled). At the highest elevations, pine trees and wildflowers lined the road and the views were just outstanding. We took the side trip to the stone cabin (which was, by far, the worst section of road traveled that day), but it was totally worth it. Quite a marvel of engineering for the time. The windmill there looks brand new? :-k A few miles further on, we pulled off the road and hiked a section of the Arizona Trail that goes through Whitford Canyon, a beautiful red rock area shaded with Sycamores and Cottonwoods just south of the 509 trailhead. I took most of my photos there. This scenic section is only a couple miles and it makes a great side trip.

    What I didn't expect to see was other people on that road, but we encountered 5 ATVs and one other Jeep, although the Jeep was turning around and going back before it even got close to the hard driving. Hank suggests going clockwise and I totally agree. I think it would be a lot harder going up those switchbacks than it was going down and you would miss out on the best views.

    It was a great day and a lot of fun to see some new territory. We were positively crusty with dirt by the time we got done and I even had to hose down the inside of the Jeep! Worth it. :GB:
    Superstition Wilderness - Scenic 4WD Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I've never really been on a 4x4 trip but I can tell you, it's a whole lot of fun when YOU don't have to do the driving. I managed to get the day off once again so Hank's record remains intact. My only charge for this excursion was a Christmas-look for myself and to bring my camera. Well I can do that without batting an eye. :D

    We met Eric along the 60 and loaded up our minimal gear. The vehicle was nice and clean and warm. Before you knew it we were on 172 heading toward
    (1) Roblas Butte which is not too far before Elephant Arch. And though we were shaded by the Butte, Hank was able to snap a pretty good picture using a slightly increased exposure. And then it was on to the
    (2) Elephant Arch. To our right was the creek with some fall color and to our left was the Arch with the winter sun shining on it :D .

    At (3) Byous Butte we didn't quite get the sun shining on the Butte as the sun was hiding behind a light but big cloud. Before reaching Hackberry TH,
    (4) Eric showed us a "creek/drainage to waterfall hike" he had done so we added that to the list. Apparently this hike goes to the east? and north? and gets close to FR172 so you'll have to stay tuned for that hike description :wrt: . Next up was
    (5) Hackberry TH , also the TH you can use to go to Millsite Canyon which was already on my list as it looks pretty scenic.

    Coming in at
    (6) was the Woodbury TH where we had done our CatClaw Revenge back in March 2009 Then the fun part of the 4x4 trip really got in gear as we made our way to the
    (7) Rogers Trough TH. There's that one really tight corner that Eric made even tighter by hugging it over some deep sand. I didn't think there was any way he would get it on the first try but he did : app : and it was so cool :DANCE: (I was riding on that side). There were a few cars at the lot and some limited snow on the ground. I re-acquainted myself with the look of Iron Mountain.

    We then re-traced our route a bit back to FR650 for the second part of our journey. This part of the road definitely got rougher. There were lots of camping sites along the first part of FR650 as we made our way toward Montana Mountain. Our next TH
    (8) Reavis Canyon Trail #509 North End was our coldest and windiest of the stops. In fact, Hank's camera and tripod took a header :stretch: into the dirt as the wind blew it over. Fortunately, no damage was done and we moved the camera equipment near the Xterra to use as a windbreak. Needless to say, we were quite happy to be getting back into the truck.

    On this northeastern section and near the high point of Montana Mountain, Eric did encounter some icy road conditions but not too bad. The views toward the snow-topped Sierra Ancha were just amazing :y: Eric was able to point out Black Mesa where they had been the week before and Rockinstraw Mountain where they will be going this week. Also as we made our way down, you could see the results :( of the severe burn from this summer's fire as there were hardly any remnant trees coming up from the ground on the mountainside to the north of us. It definitely looked like scorched earth.

    It was a bit of a tricky drive as we made our way toward stop
    # (9) Spencer Spring Trail #275. Eric and I thot we saw a viewpoint to hike toward the north but alas, there were limited views. So it was back in the truck and onto stop
    (10) Rock Creek Trail #195 though you couldn't see much from here as this side of the hill had been burnt pretty good.

    And now after curving around the side of the mountain before coming out on the south side where you could see the valley below, it was a matter of switchbacking and switchbacking and switchbacking down to the floor. You could see the various switchbacks from above which was pretty cool; but what we also spotted was some sort of structure too and when we came to the fork in the road, we headed northeast?. It was really a rough road but only for 1/2 mile or so. Needless to say we were delighted at what we saw :DANCE: and thus stop
    (11) Wood Camp Cabin was added to this Loop

    Who knew we would find the perfect snack spot (it would have been our lunch spot but we were making such good time, it became our snack spot before an early dinner). But first, we would have to look around where we found all sorts of stuff like a well and a corral and a trough. Eric noticed some tailings so we investigated that. I walked up the highside of the creek bed and eureka, I found the adit : app : . I got on the ground so that I could look in to check it out. It smelled like phosphorous :-k .

    Back on the road again, the boys contemplated that maybe you wouldn't necessarily need a 4-wheel for this part of the road but they would soon discover that 4WD would be needed even for this portion. Next we got to cross into and through a creek (to get to the other side of course ;) ) where we decided to stop to let some ATVers through. We got out to take some movies and photos. After enjoying the scenery, we loaded up and headed toward our last stop
    (12) Reavis Canyon Trail #509 - South End. This is a very pretty area :) so we walked around the creek for just a bit before finishing our journey home.

    Rather than take the highway home we took the Hewitt Station road back to where we met up with FR172. We finished our day with the Fish Fry at Red Sage Restaurant. :thanx: guys for taking me along. It was great to re-visit some old countryside as well as seeing new countryside. Between this and my Verde Canyon Train (Claus Express) ride I got to see a lot of AZ in a couple days.

    PS I almost forgot. We will have lots of video footage as Eric had his camcorder on tibbermode and I was doing my usual mixture of photos and videos.

    Video 1: The first part of the Loop includes trail heads for Roblas Butte, Elephant Arch, a creek/drainage future hike description, Hackberry/Millsite, and Woodbury finishing off at Rogers Trough.
    Video 2: Rogers Trough Trailhead back to FR650 along Montana Mountain and down to FR172 with a side trip to Woods Camp Cabin. This part of the drive included trailhead stops at Reavis Canyon Trail 509 North, Spencer Spring Trail, and Rock Creek Trail.
    Video 3: At and around Wood Camp Cabin including the adit. From here we drove to the last TH on the Hewitt Canyon Loop at Reavis Canyon Trail South.
    Superstition Wilderness - Scenic 4WD Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This is a great 4x4 day trip. I first did this route in 1998 with my dad. I still enjoy doing this scenic loop and having great company to join you makes for a perfect outing. This day was all about Hank and I was glad to provide the warm transportation. Finding the old cabin near the end of the route was the icing on the cake. I love old Arizona history. It was great to finally meet you, Angela. Thanks for putting this one together, Hank. It was a fun day! Cold but fun.

    Superstition Wilderness - Scenic 4WD Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    The past few years I've always much enjoyed spending a part of Christmas week or New Years week car camping and hiking the eastern section of our Superstition Wilderness around and north of the Byous Butte area off Hewitt Canyon Road (FR172).

    This holiday season I had the idea of doing a long day trip making the complete 4-wheel driving loop starting and ending at the intersection of Hwy 60/Queen Valley Road (with only 1.6 miles of this 48 mile loop planned to be on paved road). My thought was to document this scenic forty-eight mile loop by issuing a new hike description and a complete GPS Route with all the ~13 trailhead waypoint locations one drives by.

    I felt very fortunate that Eric and Angela were interested in joining me so our planned loop drive would be much more enjoyable with good company, and Eric offering to drive his family 4WD Xterra, and Angela to offer her natural flair to our special holiday outing. Since it was Christmas week with Santa Claus visits pending, I thought a little holiday dress code with red and green was also in order. Of course this now made it mandatory to document each of our TH stops with a group pic :)

    I am happy to report that we were successful in documenting with stops and pics 11 of 13 total TH locations :DANCE: . Also, thanks to Eric and Angela's good distant vision coming down FR650, we were able to locate, visit, and document a very interesting and historic old stone cabin and mining homestead- "Wood Camp Cabin" located off FR650 on a short 4WD access road within Club Camp Canyon.

    I had often thought that this scenic eastern Superstition Wilderness 4WD loop trip would make an excellent day outing for family and/or out of state visitors who are not into hiking but would rather enjoy a longer back-country day driving trip with varied flora, geology, amAZing near and long distance views, and with ranching/mining history. I am now happy to report that for the right situation it would!

    I would highly recommend those more adventurous with a good, stock, high clearance 4WD vehicle with LT type rated tires to strongly consider this one. It's a winner! :D

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    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To 4x4 trip
    From the Phoenix area: Take Hwy 60 East past Florence Junction (Hwy 60/Hwy 79) to Milepost 214.2; Turn left here onto signed and paved Queen Valley Road which is where this scenic multi-mile 4WD loop begins and ends; It is recommended to download and follow the "official" 12/23/11 GPS Route (with its 21 reference waypoints) posted to this description.
    page created by Grasshopper on Dec 27 2011 2:25 pm
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