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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Verde River #11 - Twin Buttes to River, AZ

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Guide 13 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Camp Verde > Verde S
Rated
2.7
2.7 of 5 by 7
 
4
Statistics
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 21.56 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,755 feet
Elevation Gain 3,373 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 12 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 38.43
Interest Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
51  2018-12-05
Upper Mazatzal Loop
jacobemerick
1  2018-03-26 amy1300
8  2018-03-18
Northern Mazzy March
MountainMatt
20  2017-06-24
Verde River / Deadman Mesa
jacobemerick
5  2015-12-28 vivisectvi
10  2015-02-14 topohiker
22  2014-08-30
Twin Buttes to Fossil Creek
friendofThunderg
12  2014-05-03 Tough_Boots
Page 1,  2
Author topohiker
author avatar Guides 13
Routes 112
Photos 4,377
Trips 1,727 map ( 27,613 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Historical Weather
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Preferred   Sep, May, Jun, Aug → 7 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:08am - 6:36pm
Official Route
 
3 Alternative
 
Water
Fauna Nearby
Culture Nearby
Rocks, Rocks and more Rocks!
by topohiker

Likely In-Season!
For one thing, never believe the forest service write ups. The FS write up claimed that the Twin Buttes TH was 7 miles to the Verde River. We had parked about a 1/2 mile from the actual TH. We drove to what I had though was the end of FR 194. There's a sign pointing the way to the Verde River trail #11. We parked here in a nice big turn off. The first 1/2 mile of the hike was on a nice jeep road that would be OK for high clearance or 4 x 4 vehicles (I wouldn't take a small SUV on this road, there was some minor steps to contend with). After a 1/2 mile we came to the true TH. There was a pickup truck parked here.


The TH is at 5,800 feet and the trail descends to the river from here. We had expected a 14 ~ 15 mile round trip hike. The day was already warm as we started hiking. The trail follows a very old jeep road that had some washed out parts and is very rocky. Even through its a jeep road, you do have to watch for sudden changes in direction. The trail is pretty well marked with cairns. You pass through an old ranch gate. The trail then goes by an old corral and there's a spur trail that goes into it. It's very easy to follow this spur trail into the corral. The trail takes a sudden turn to the right at this point. watch out for this. After 8 miles we stopped for a "go - no go" decision. We could see the river in the distance and by using my GPS, I guessed it was another 2 miles out. We had used about 50% to 60% of our water, we decided to go for it and get more water.

At this point we had only descend to about 4,400 feet. Shortly after this point, the jeep road turned into a trail and rapidly lost elevation down into the canyon. Near the bottom we saw a sign that said 1 & 1/2 to the river and 9 miles to the TH. We drop some more elevation and as soon as we could, we made it to the Verde River. The river was slightly cool, but the water tasted great (after filtering). We cooled off, rested and drank as much water we could. Now started our long and hot climb out. The temps felt like they were in the mid 90s. The first three miles out were tough in the heat. We had waited until 4:30PM for the climb out, so we could be out of the heat of the day. The sun went down about 8PM and it was a full moon this night. The moon was so bright, I had a moon shadow! I was very careful not to lose the trail in the dark. At one point I missed one of the quick turns and got off trail. I used my GPS to get back on track. I got back to my Jeep at 10PM. The 14 mile hike turned out to be 22 miles! I went through 9 liters of water this day. This trail should be hiked in early spring or late fall due to the heat.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Note
This is a moderately difficult hike.

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.

2008-06-21 topohiker
    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
    Verde River #11 - Twin Buttes to River
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Verde River / Deadman Mesa
    With most of the Mazatzal trails south and east of Chilson Camp knocked out I figured it was time to look in the other direction. Can't get much further northwest than Deadman Mesa #17.

    pre-trail
    Parked near the powerlines and AZT along 194 and walked the 2.7 miles to Twin Buttes trailhead in the pre-dawn. Almost chilly out. This would be the last time I'd be almost chilly for a long time.

    Verde River #11
    As others have stated, this trail is rocky. Rocks that rock, rocks that roll, rocks that drop you on your pumpkin and lol. This trail has a lot more than that, though. The views are ridiculously good, starting with the north side of the Mazatzal Mountains and then turning towards Verde / Hardscrabble. There are some genuinely good sections, where the rolly rocks ease up and you can gaze around without watching your step. Plus it's amazing that this is still part of the Mazatzal Wilderness: no wildfire scars, very different terrain compared to the mountainous south, and plenty of shade-giving vegetation. Only had to check GPS once or twice on some faint sections, otherwise this was a breeze to travel. Made it to the trail junction in four hours feeling pretty darn good.

    Deadman Mesa #17
    Trail sign appears to be gone. Few big cairns marked the junction and a few charred pieces of wood were strewn around, that's it. The cairns marking the start of Deadman Mesa were tiny and obscured by the foxtails - if it wasn't for recent foot traffic pressing some of the vegetation down it would have been annoying to stay on track. Cairns and tracks seemed to give up about 50' above Fossil Creek so I just picked a descent that looked the most painful and rolled down.

    Now things get fun. According to the topo maps there are eight crossings to deal with. One of my sandals had fallen off my pack somewhere on the Verde (d'oh! I'll be back on this trail in the fall and will search for it then, until then I'm sorry) so I would either have to do the crossings dry or barefoot. Kept to the track and crossed over some rocks and was faced with an impassable wall of basalt, so I had to backtrack and cross back over, stay on the east bank, and then cross further upstream.

    So went the next two miles. I only crossed when I was forced to, usually barefoot and then waiting for feet to dry before hiking a short distance and then re-crossing, making slow and tedious time. Ended up doing six total, might have gotten away w/ only four but the brush got ridiculous. Speaking of, the banks were painful and thorny and had recent flood damage. I only found cairns once where the trail avoided a large swing in the creek - otherwise this section is all bushwhacking. It took me almost five hours to walk those two miles. I'm not a big fan of Fossil Creek right now.

    Found where the trail starts the climb up the mesa (someone tagged a few tiny cairns and branches to help with the first hundred feet, so there's that) and camped nearby. Had been tempted to turn this into a dayhike but the heat (well over a hundred now) and the difficult last few miles had taken the oomph right out of me. Napped, swam, drank water, drank some more water, napped again, and eventually drifted off to sleep a bit after sunset. Overnight lows never dropped below 85 (ugh) and a had 2am skunk visitor (yay) so I didn't get much sleep.

    Started the climb before sunrise and made it to the basalt fins with the first light. Trail was well-marked and easy to follow, though I suspect downhill would be a bit crumbly and tedious. Plenty of cairns and good tread, especially for being this remote. Route-finding on the mesa was only slightly tougher with thicker vegetation, but a two-track showed up after a mile. Next mile was on-and-off the two-track, then the trail 'ended' (I think, again there were no signs). Then I 'just' followed the road for five miles and 1300' and powerlines for four and a Hardscrabble crossing.

    Another quiet day in the Mazzies. Didn't see a single person on trail or on the road sections.

    Mazatzal Miles: 143.1/275 (52%) :y:
    Verde River #11 - Twin Buttes to River
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    It’s been almost 7 years since I last hiked this section of the Verde River trail. I remembers the trail being rocky, but not this rocky. Did someone bring in more rocks?
    The FS put in a new trail-head sign with the correct mileage to the river. There’s also a new vehicle barricade at the wilderness boundary. The barricade is interesting as in it won’t keep any determine people out. Plus it’s not necessary because the TH has posts that block all vehicles except motorcycles.

    The hike down to the river was slowly than expected due to the ankle twisting rocks along the way. On my final descent to the river, I spotted 3 canoes going down the river.
    I saw cows all the way down to the river. I was surprised to see them that far out. The Verde river trail got choked out by the vegetation along the river. I found it easier (and cat claw free) to follow the cattle paths by the river. The East Verde River crossing was more than I expected. I had to go up and down the river to find a good crossing spot.

    Once I crossed the East Verde, the trail went into a grassy shaded area. This helped with the warm temps. I heard some noise and came across the canoes people setting up camp by the river bank. We chatted a bit. I went back to the well-worn trail and it ended at a Verde River overlook. I went back and forth from the last known cairn to the overlook. I couldn't find any other trails. I pulled out the GPS / HAZ track and it showed I just off the trail. The GPS showed that the trail started to climb up and pull away from the river. I still couldn't find it. Then I bushwhacked up a ridge to where the trail should be. I came across a path!, But then I saw something ahead of me. It was a cow :o ! The ‘trail’ lead me to another trail?!?! I was on a series of cattle paths. I set 3 o’clock as my stopping point. If I wasn't on THE trail by then, I would turn around. This is not an area you want to be hiking in the dark. At 3:05 I turned around . The GPS showed I was crisscrossing the trail and I never saw a cairn ( just cattle prints) ](*,) . Or any evidence I was on THE trail. It might be easier to hike this section from south to north.

    Along the way back I looked for the Dead Man’s Mesa / Fossil Creek intersection sign. I saw it 7 years ago. I found the trail, but not the sign. The temps were perfect when I started out and got very warm by the river. It got very cold on the way back when I got above 5,000 feet.
    Verde River #11 - Twin Buttes to River
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Twin Buttes to Fossil Creek
    Returned to Twin Buttes over weekend. Just a quick trip down to the Fossil for some rest and relaxation.

    Blanco and I started just before 7:30 on Saturday. Ideally, I would have liked to hit TH a little earlier, but that was about the best we could do for driving up from Phoenix that morning. Made it to Fossil Creek in about four hours on the dot. We certainly felt some of the heat of the day, but for the most part were sparred its wrath and were playing in the creek by 11:30.

    After some fun in the water we both took extended naps. I was still trying to shake a cold so only did some very minor exploring. Initially, I planned on finally picking up where ever Deadman Mesa Trail climbs out of that area and preparing for a loop the next day, but I lost my patience for that section of trail near the Fossil and decided with warm temps I would just out and back it anyways. There was also water the whole way on our return route and Deadman Mesa was unknown, so we went with the safe route on day two.

    Left camp earlier then day before on Sunday, hiked out in just under five hours. I was surprised to see the TH bumping when we arrived, all orv people but they were friendly enough.

    Blanco and I did just fine with the warmer temps, warm but nothing too unbearable. Blanco rocked his pack both ways and was able to cool off in tanks at four miles, and eight miles, just about perfect distances for the ground we were covering and the hotter weather. Over night temps were perfect for sleeping was able to go pretty light for the trip with no rain fly or sleeping bag.
    Verde River #11 - Twin Buttes to River
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    This trip was nothing but a disaster. I headed out with Lily on Friday morning and arrived at the trailhead. It was warmer than I had expected but figured we would be fine (I should have listened to friendofthundergod who warned me it would be warm). Its not the most interesting hike but I hadn't been to this area and figured camping at the river would make it worth it.

    There's pretty much no shade for the entire hike. If you find a stretch of shade longer than 15 feet, you're pretty lucky. I was letting Lily stop and take breaks and everything was fine. I let her cool her feet in a couple of the cow tanks along the way. She started struggling a bit about three miles from the river. I realized quickly that it wasn't the heat-- she'd gashed two of her pads pretty well. I hadn't been expecting that since we've done that kind of mileage on tougher terrain before.

    I unfortunately didn't have too many choices about what to do. I didn't have enough water to dry camp and make it out the next day. Since I expected to only be pulling water from the river, I didn't bring my pump-- I had my steripen. Had I brought my pump, I could have camped above the river and pulled water from one of the cow tanks (pumped and chemically treated to be safe). We would have to make it down to the river.

    Luckily, I had packed her boots just in case something happened. They were a life saver. She was still hurting, but we managed to make it down to the river with lots of breaks and a few stretches of me carrying her. At the river the bug situation was out of control--swarms of gnats. Some cowboys had taken the only nice camp spot in the area so I found a tolerable spot downstream with enough room to set up camp. I quickly went and pulled all the water I would need for the night and following day,made dinner, and then hid from the gnats with Lily inside the tent for the rest of the evening.

    I had to figure out what my plan was for the next day. I already had a gimp dog and I didn't want heat to become an issue on the climb out. We would break camp by 6am and make the biggest climb while it was still cool. I expected a slow pace so I figured making it up to 5,000 ft by 10am and back to my truck by noon would be good goals.

    I tried to go to bed early and set my alarm to be up in time. I woke up and packed quickly. I skipped breakfast to save time-- two Cliff bars would have to do for the hike out. Lily was moving pretty bad so I was worried at first but once I got her boots on, they seemed to offer her some help. With the sun still behind the ridge, we made pretty respectable time on our first climb. Lily would start slowing down pretty soon and needed lots of breaks. We made it back up to 5,000 ft just after 10am. This left us with about 4 miles but only 800 ft for the warmest part of the morning.

    We made it back to my truck at about 11:45. I've never been so happy to be back to a trailhead. Lily passed out on my passenger seat pretty quickly. Lots of lessons learned on this one.
    Verde River #11 - Twin Buttes to River
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    So much for a 3 day nice hike to river and back.

    First important note...we second the trip log of the previous post that the FS map is NOT accurate...it is not 7 miles from trailhead to river.

    We parked just outside the private property(ranch) and hiked up to the trailhead. The worn down and bullet busted sign should have been our first clue, but we have seen trailheads worn and torn before and weren't phased.

    The cairns, petrified horse poop, cattle hoof prints, and some worn ground/jeep road tracks are the only things that notify you that you're on the trail. A close watch to the turns of the cairns(some we built up because you could not see from one to the other without a good search) is important. The trail is rough...VERY rocky...hardscrabble mesa is a perfect description. The view is plain...except for the wildlife! We were a few feet from at least 4 elk, white tailed deer several times along the trail or off in the distance, coyote, and jack rabbits.

    After a dip down into a boulder-canyon...you are only roughly half-way. It's still a couple miles after this that you actually get the first glimpse of the river. We were 70% out of water by this view and with water in sight, we went for it. We did not see any signs indicating the connection with Deadmans trail or the distance to the river. It was the heat of the day and as we descended...it kept heating up.

    The descent to the river is steep and cautious footing is a must. The steep descent is combined with loose rock...very hard going with tired legs. One slip & a sprained ankle quickly brought thoughts of how this could be a survival issue. The river definitely takes you in, because around each turn we knew we were closer, but from the view of the river to the actual riverbed is approximately 2 hours of hiking.

    When we got to the river, we filtered water and jumped into the river. Our dog(Chesapeake Bay Retriever) booked it down the trail and jumped in before us. The river was refreshing and approx. 5 ft deep in some parts and plenty of it's own wildlife(caught a crayfish near the rapids).

    We camped overnight on the riverbed with the mission to get back to the car the next day. Camping anywhere else along the trail would have been a waste of water. We were exhausted already and just ready to be off this trail.

    We filtered water to fill every platypus and camelback we had. The first 2 hours were brutal. Steep incline with 40 pd packs after 11 miles the day before. We hiked 2 hours and stopped to take off our packs, eat a protein bar, bandage our feet, and then hiked another 2. The hike back on this trail is essentially all incline. Some parts steeper than others, but all incline.

    On our way back through the mesa we lost the trail in a couple places, but with eagerness to get back to the car and the little brain-power left, we managed to track back to the cairns...back to the trailhead...and back to the car! 7 hours to river....8 hours back. Adventure not to be forgotten, but a few lessons learned:

    *The maps you read may not always be accurate and certainly do not account for types of terrain. Planning for a hard hike and having it be easy is better than planning for an easy hike and well...
    *Build up cairns along the way! It certainly helped to have higher cairns and gave us certain landmarks we remembered because we stopped to build them up.
    *Making mental notes of different landmarks(when not watching your step) was helpful especially when our bodies were wearing down.
    *Check websites(like this one!) before going out to get an actual account for the hike rather than just maps and FS info.
    Verde River #11 - Twin Buttes to River
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    For one thing, never believe the forest service write ups. The FS write up claimed that the Twin Buttes TH was 7 miles to the Verde River. We had parked about a 1/2 mile from the actual TH. We drove to what I had though was the end of FR 194. There's a sign pointing the way to the Verde River trail #11. We parked here in a nice big turn off. The first 1/2 mile of the hike was on a nice jeep road that would be OK for high clearance or 4 x 4 vehicles (I wouldn't take a small SUV on this road, there was some minor steps to contend with). After a 1/2 mile we came to the true TH. There was a pickup truck parked here. The TH is at 5,800 feet and the trail descends to the river from here. We had expected a 14 ~ 15 mile round trip hike. The day was already warm as we started hiking. The trail follows a very old jeep road that had some washed out parts and is very rocky. Even through its a jeep road, you do have to watch for sudden changes in direction. The trail is pretty well marked with cairns. You pass through an old ranch gate. The trail goes by an old corral and there's a spur trail that goes into it. It's very easy to follow this spur trail into the corral. The trail takes a sudden turn to the right at this point. watch out for this. After 8 miles we stopped for a "go - no go" decision. We could see the river in the distance and by using my GPS, I guessed it was another 2 miles out. We had used about 50% to 60% of our water, we decided to go for it and get more water. At this point the had only descend to about 4,400 feet. Shortly after this point, the jeep road turned into a trail and rapidly lost elevation down into the canyon. Near the bottom we seen a sign that said 1 & 1/2 to the river and 9 miles to the TH. We drop some more elevation and as soon as we could, we made it to the Verde River. The river was slightly cool, but the water tasted great (after filtering). We cooled off, rested and drank as much water we could. Now started our long and hot climb out. The temps felt like they were in the mid 90s. The first three miles out were tough in the heat. We had waited until 4;30 for the climb out, so we could be out of the heat of the day. The sun went down about 8PM and it was a full moon this night. The moon was so bright, I had a moon shadow! I was very carful not to lose the trail in the dark. At point I missed one of the quick turns and got off trail. I used my GPS to get back on track. I got back to my Jeep at 10PM. The 14 mile hike turned out to be 22 miles! I went through 9 liters of water this day. This trail should be hiked in early spring or late fall due to the heat.

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    From Payson, drive north on the Beeline (87). From Beeline turn west into the town of Strawberry. Turn left onto FR 428. Drive a short distance and turn right onto FR 194. Follow this road about 5 miles. TH is on the right. There was a wooden trail sign post. It is possible to drive another 1/2 mile to the true TH IF you have a 4 x 4 or a high clearance vehicle.
    page created by topohiker on Jun 21 2008 2:45 pm
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