Rocks, Rocks and more Rocks!
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.
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.
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.