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Highwater Trail #20, AZ

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Guide 5 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Camp Verde > Verde S
2.8 of 5 by 4
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 4.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,000 feet
Elevation Gain -700 feet
Accumulated Gain 555 feet
Avg Time One Way 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.35
Backpack Yes & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
51  2018-12-05
Upper Mazatzal Loop
29  2018-11-11
Red Crk - Wet Btm - Highwater - Verde 11
11  2012-04-14
Verde River Trail #11
33  2012-01-21
Red Crk - Wet Btm - Highwater - Verde 11
Author jacobemerick
author avatar Guides 31
Routes 71
Photos 795
Trips 96 map ( 1,037 miles )
Age 34 Male Gender
Location Gilbert, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Nov, Dec
Sun  6:11am - 6:31pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Named place Nearby
Skip the Verde Crossing
by jacobemerick

As the Verde River Trail heads north it crosses the river twice, once at Red Creek Rapids and then again near Pete's Cabin Mesa. These crossings are difficult during any time of the year and may become threatening during high water events - so, this trail, combined with a section of Wet Bottom, can be used to avoid the crossings. Highwater Trail can also be combined with other trails to create enjoyable loops in the Mazatzal lowlands.

Reaching the trailhead is a small adventure in itself. The most direct method would be to take FR18 down to Red Creek, follow Red Creek to the Verde River, cross it, and then hike up to the start. Otherwise, starting from Sheep Bridge, it is an eight mile walk along the Verde River and a few miles up Wet Bottom Trail. Either way, the trailhead is located in a shallow depression on top of the Wet Bottom Mesa and is marked by a weathered sign.

Highwater Trail immediately heads north with large cairns to mark a route towards a drainage. As it drops off the mesa the tread suddenly steepens and may have loose rocks, depending on how much recent erosion has taken place. Some scenic white bluffs show up in the distance, the route will swing right next to them in a few miles. At 0.6 miles the trail hits a small saddle and offers a good view west towards Table Mountain, and then continues to drop more gradually until it passes through a sandy drainage and a more pronounced Canyon Creek at 1.5 miles. The drop into the creek has a well-formed switchback and water may be found a short distance up from the trail crossing.

Once past the creek the tread may be difficult to pick up, as the route sticks to the sandy flats next to the Verde and has no cairns to guide a way forward. This section only lasts a few hundred yards and, at the next drainage, a path leads away from the sandy flats and onto the rocky land above. At 2 miles there are another few washes to pass under those white bluffs that were visible earlier and a slight climb around the back of them. Once on the back of those bluffs feel free to look back south and try to pick out where on Wet Bottom Mesa this trail dropped down, it's a good vantage.

The rest of the route is fairly nondescript. There are a few easy wash crossings, and Squaw Butte becomes more prominent to the north, and the tread is easy to follow along the relatively flat ground. Around the 3 mile mark Pete's Cabin Mesa begins and the vegetation becomes lush and verdant, though the trail remains well-defined throughout. On old topo maps the junction with Verde River Trail forms a small triangle - however, the bottom leg of this triangle is incredibly overgrown and not worth attempting. Stick to the cairns and stay on the top of the triangle to reach the proper end of Highwater. From here one can either head south towards Red Creek or continue north to Twin Buttes.

Water Sources
Canyon Creek may have water a short distance up the creek from the trail crossing. Otherwise there is always the Verde, which is easily accessed a few times along the route, though the taste may be off-putting.

There are no defined campsites along the route. There are several flat pads that could work, especially along the Verde River near Canyon Creek and the white bluffs.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2018-12-09 jacobemerick

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    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
    Highwater Trail #20
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    I parked at the Horseshoe with my mountain bike and rode it over to the Sheep Bridge.

    I hiked the Verde River trail. There's been trail maintence done since the last time I was here. What's interesting is that the maintenance stopped at the county border (right by the Wet Bottom wash).

    Soon after I hit the Wet Bottom intersection. I took the Verde trail to the Verde river. True to the Mazatal style, as soon as the trail dropped into a wash, the cairins and the trail disappeared. I used my GPS's to try to locate the trail. I could see a corral accross the river on top of a hill. I had to fight my way through some dense bamboo to get to the river. I didn't hit a good crossing spot. I turned around and headed back to the Wet Bottom trail.

    I took the Wet Bottom trail to the Highwater trail and had lunch.
    After lunch I went down a little further down the Highwater and the Wet Bottom trails before heading back to the Sheep Bridge.

    On the way back I could see the landing strip accross the Verde. I also did a little bit of the Willow Spring trail so I could maybe get a better view of the snow capped mountains to the East.

    The temps were very cool during the majority of the day. The sun poked out so a little bit around 5. It also drizzle of and on for a portion of the day. The Verde river trail may be faint in spots, but there's cairns every 100 feet or so.

    I got to use my new bike light on the ride back to the dam. It's alot brighter than my flashlight.It's as bright as a cars headlight.

    I don't think I'll mountain bike and hike in the same day. There's to much logistics doing both and it also just too tiring.
    Highwater Trail #20
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    Red Crk - Wet Btm - Highwater - Verde 11
    As Joe mentioned in his Triplog, the drive in was pretty long. From the Seven Springs Rec Area it's 1hr 15min (the way I drive.. you may need to add some time to your trip). FR 24 is in great shape to Seven Spring Rec Area, and good shape to FR269. FR269 is also in good shape, with just a couple of shallow creek crossings. FR 18 requires High clearance.

    I knew this was going to be a special day. Hiking with Joe when he's had very little sleep is a treat. First example reared it's head on the drive in on FR24 in the dark. Some "Bears", next to the side of the road, were getting ready to run in front of my truck. The "Bears" were Horses. Example 2, (and there were many more on the day), hiking down Red Creek, Joe jumped 2 feet in the air screaming with the pitch of a 12 year old girl, because he almost stepped on a Tarantula the size of his fist. He was in no fear of being bitten by the leaf.

    Now for the hike....
    The Red Creek portion was an easy hike. This was a cool area with a gentle flowing creek that meanders all the way to the Verde. This area looks popular for Quads. We only saw one nice couple in a quad all day. Not nice enough to give us a ride back up to our truck at the end of the day though.

    We made our way to the Corral and foundation for an old building. Joe took a nap, and I did a little exploring. ... playnext=1

    After a stop to the pay toilet, it was time to cross the Verde. I zipped off the legs on my pants and put on my sandals. While I was crossing I was filming Joe crossing. The current ripped off one Sandal and then the other while I was trying to keep the camera dry. The remainder of my trip across on the slippery green rocks and 40 degree water was barefoot. ... ature=plcp

    After drying off and contemplating how I was going to cross back over with no Sandals in another 10 miles, we started our way up the steepest part of the hike for the day. It started on the Verde River Trail #11 to the Wet Bottom Trail #269. This portion of the hike was in great shape and the views were to die for!!

    We next met up with the Highwater trail #20 for our trek North to meet the Verde River Trail #11 again. A GPS track from here on out is highly recommended. There were many cairns out there, but when it seemed you needed one most, there was none to be found. For the most part the trail was easy to follow, until it made is turn to the west to meet the Verde River Trail.
    We chose the path of least resistance for the most part here, roughly following the GPS track I'd traced.

    The next decision we had was where to cross the River again. Joe waded in and tried one possibility. I walked back down South a bit, and ultimately chose to cross in the knee deep rapids area.

    After a late lunch it was time to make the march south on the Verde River Trail.
    **Note** When leaving the River basin area, and trying to find your way up the Verde River Trail, there is a 20' pole with a yellow reflector. This marks the entrance to the overgrown climb up. ... ature=plcp

    The Verde River Trail was also very faint in spots and required a GPS track. At one point the clouds opened up casting incredible shadows on the surrounding mountains. WOW.... ... ature=plcp

    We finally caught a break and the trail turned into a faint two track that had not been used in 50-60 years. We caught this all the way back to the Red Creek Trail.

    The last 45 min up Red Creek to the truck were by Headlamps.
    What a great day in an area I've been eyeing for sometime.

    Thanks for keeping it interesting Joe-Joe.
    Highwater Trail #20
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    Red Crk - Wet Btm - Highwater - Verde 11
    Bruce and I have been talking about some sort of Verde #11 hike for about a year. Bruce planned up a sweet looking route and I was very excited to go. After an hour and fourteen minutes sleep it was game on and out the door. The drive is pretty darn long. This was my first time out past Sears Kay. Albeit dark it was cool to cross creeks and see the large trees in the drainages.

    The hike started at about 35 degrees. The hike down Red Creek was enjoyable. The constant creek crossings do wear after constant repetition, nevertheless a wonderful riparian area.

    Down near the Verde River Bruce went to check out the area while I took a ten minute nap to regain consciousness after virtually no sleep the night before the hike. I brought Tevas for the river crossing. It was cold and swift but only knee deep at worst. A breeze compared to my Aug 2000 crossing about fourteen miles up river at the Hot Springs. That was waist to chest high and jet force dangerous at the time. While this was stinging cold I warmed up quickly after immediately drying off my feet.

    The Wet Bottom Trail segment we hiked was awesome with incredible vistas. The Highwater Trail was my least favorite of the day and seemed more drab. I was pretty tired so that probably played into it. Looking at a map I realize we crossed "Pete's Cabin Mesa". Perhaps this has something to with Richard sending Bob and I to find "Pete's Pond" in the past?

    The route finding got ridiculous where Highwater is suppose to meet Verde #11. I was starving, tired headachy and just a joy I'm sure. Did our best to find the trail with the loaded track. There are a few cairns but spaced thin and in between looks virtually untraveled for stretches. After finally getting across the Verde again a much needed late lunch was enjoyed. Albeit overcast for the day the forecasted winds never really kicked in and all we experienced thus far were sprinkles. At lunch the sky turned kinna nasty. There were rolling dark clouds and it appeared the Piper was demanding payment.

    We lucked out in more ways than one. There was actually a trail so that perked up the spirits. It wasn't great but better than the last couple hours. The kicker was the breaking clouds and an incredible light show dancing through the jaw dropping vistas. Nearing Red Creek again I was running out of energy so I started hitting the GU then later the Hammer. I was back in the saddle and felt zippy for the hike up Red Creek. We ended in head lamps but the weather was storybook so it didn't matter. On the way in I cached a "No Fear" slip over black jacket (2.4mi down on right/south that could only be seen heading back) I've had since high school and somehow failed to locate on the return. So that was sort of a bummer. Otherwise this was one FANTASTIC hike! Credit Bruce for another winner!!!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To Sheep Bridge Trailhead
    Take Cave Creek road east and follow the directions to Seven Springs - Cave Creek Road turns into FR24. Take FR24 35 miles until it ends at FR269. Take FR269 another 12 miles to the southeast until it ends at Sheep Bridge. NOTE: the last 8 miles or so of FR269 is unmaintained! While it may be passable by car - I would urge something with more clearance and designed suspension.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 105mi 3h 38m
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 182mi 4h 50m
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 119mi 3h 44m
    page created by The_Eagle on Dec 09 2018 9:24 am
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