register help

Little Wolf Creek Trail #304, AZ

7 13 0
Guide 13 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Prescott > Prescott S
2.8 of 5 by 5
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 3.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,247 feet
Elevation Gain 1,617 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,753 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.44
Interest Historic & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
23  2019-06-22
Little Wolf - Pine Creek - Grapevine Loop
13  2019-06-22
Little Wolf - Pine Creek - Grapevine Loop
14  2019-06-22
Little Wolf - Pine Creek - Grapevine Loop
15  2013-09-14
BB Mesa-L Wolf Crk-Pine Crk-Grapevine Lp
12  2013-09-14
Little Wolf - Pine Creek - Grapevine Loop
22  2013-09-14
BB Mesa-L Wolf Crk-Pine Crk-Grapevine Lp
17  2013-08-28
Grape Taft Bush Push
7  2008-10-18 Mike K
Author JoelHazelton
author avatar Guides 16
Routes 10
Photos 967
Trips 406 map ( 1,971 miles )
Age 33 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov → 9 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:14am - 6:33pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
A taste of Big Bug
by JoelHazelton

I've been very curious about the Big Bug Mesa area lately for a couple reasons. First of all, I've found very little info on hiking in the area. Any trail write-ups I've come across were limited to Grapevine Spring and a small, vague description of this hike. Second of all, and more importantly, it seems to be the quickest access to ponderosa pines from the west side of Phoenix. This, of course, may be incorrect, but I know roundtrip I used significantly less than half of a tank of gas coming from the Glendale area. I can't complain about that!

The hike begins on a jeep track and passes several nice campsites in the first short stretch in the shade of huge pine trees. After about 0.25 mile you may spot a sign on the left (west) side of the creek that says "9345". Ignore the sign and continue straight on the trail on the right side of the creek. Soon the trail leaves the cool creekbed and climbs over some small hills and in and out of a couple washes as it passes the mouth of Pipeline Canyon. At mile 1.1 you enter the shade of some tall pines and encounter an old corral. This is a good cool down spot if you decided to hike on a 90+ degree day as we did. Soon the trail leaves the shade, but re-enters at mile 1.35. This short stretch in the bottom of the canyon is very enjoyable. The pines are tall and the shade is cool, and the crunch of pine needles under your feet is relaxing. Enjoy, because you will quickly exit the shade and commence fighting through overgrown scrub oak and manzanita as the trail deteriorates. The are small cairns at many of the creek crossings, red flagging on the trees, and eventually a barbed wire fence on your right to help keep you on the trail.

At mile 2.9 you will run into another corral and an unsigned trail junction. I built a cairn at the junction. To your right you can follow red flagging off trail to the top of Little Mesa. We opted to go left. Follow the trail left, still along the left side of the fence. Cairns and yellow flags lead you to a steep drainage that takes you up the side of Big Bug Mesa. It is 0.5 miles and 650 feet up the side of the mesa before you reach the top. The views on the way up include Mayer, Highway 69, the Black Hills, the Bradshaws, and the Mazatzals in the far distance. A large cairn in the trail confirms you are at the top, and you are welcomed with a cool forest of mixed conifers and several flat campsites. The views from the trail on the top are non-existent, as they are blocked by trees, but an off-trail jaunt to the edge of the mesa would probably provide some great views. The trail continues, but at this point we took a nap at one of the many great primitive camp spots and then headed back.

We did not encounter a single person on this hike on a Saturday afternoon. Awesome! I would certainly recommend this hike for solitude, a decent workout, a variety of terrain, decent views, and proximity to Phoenix. It would probably be perfect when the creek is running... Just be aware, it is very warm during the summer.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2008-06-29 JoelHazelton

    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
    Little Wolf Creek Trail #304
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Little Wolf - Pine Creek - Grapevine Loop
    We parked in the spot before the green gate 0.8mi before the official trailhead for Grapevine #4. Followed #4 0.2mi from the TH to #9434 turnoff. Followed #9434 for a mere tenth of a mile.

    Next we followed Coyote Springs Canyon aprox 1.4mi up to Little Mesa Saddle. No clue where Bruce got the track but there was an actual trail in fair shape. Route finding was questionable near the bottom and top otherwise a fantastic quaint canyon.

    There was a minor blip trying to locate the trail down LWC which Bruce fought a rusty barbed wire fence. We took a break for him to tape up his leg. Then found the trail down that jj and I ascended in late August. This doesn't really agree with topo as #304... we did go to the spot as depicted on topo for the top (turn) of #304 and did not find any sign or trail heading SSW.

    Upper LWC is not shaded yet I continue to enjoy the views all around. Met up with FS67 and followed it 1.9mi to another mysterious track Bruce acquired.

    From 10:35am to noon we traveled 1.4mi through uncertain "which way do we go" terrain to Pine Creek Trail #289. The last ten minutes got interesting as a storm started to unleash splat sized raindrops.

    We boogied up to the Seaton Spring Overlook for lunch in the same spot jj and I took a break. Things weren't looking so great. We tried to stick to our planned loop however it just wasn't happening. The next few hours involved a lot of swearing, arguing, gang signs and whatnot before we found a way to survive unexpected tortures. I'm just glad no one got hurt. Especially Bruce as at one point I nearly took my 1.5-inch jj knife and killed him if he said "turn right" one more time.

    After turmoil we found FS 103 and headed off-trail down to Grapevine Waterfall. Along the way I got an unexpected stinging pain moving an oak branch. It felt like I grabbed a filament haired cactus such as prickly pair. Thought it might be Mala mujer. Turns out I grabbed an automeris caterpillar. Having recently read phrases containing "poison" and "toxin" I was concerned. Everything turned out fine. Later read "deadly in severe cases". Imagine that would be dozens with an allergic reaction or such.

    Unsure about my hand we didn't spend much time checking out the waterfall. A third storm sprinkled on us back to the end. Perhaps some time needs to pass to heal the wounds... I'd still like to check out these trails more in the future. The Bradshaws continue to intrigue...
    Little Wolf Creek Trail #304
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    BB Mesa-L Wolf Crk-Pine Crk-Grapevine Lp
    The drive in on Grapevine Road is definitely not for anything but HC Vehicles. If there is even the slightest chance for rain, park at the Gate and walk the additional .8 miles (4x4 recommended). Expect Arizona pin-stripping unless you are in a small Samari sized vehicle.

    Beautiful sun filled morning and 58 degrees to start. At 11am it was in the 80's when the clouds rolled in and the temps started dropping down into the 50's. A 20% chance of rain dumped on us for the better part of the late morning until about 3:30pm. We had to hunker down for 45 minutes waiting for the Hail and Lightning to subside. This storm caused all the washes up on the Mesa to run, 3 of which we were forced to cross the freezing water.

    13 second Sampler :next:

    A second wave came through for the last 1-1/2 hours of the hike, but luckily was not as strong as the first.

    This ended up being a plan "B" hike, we ended up just doing a loop when the bushwhacking in spots slowed us to a crawl and the strong storm forced us to seek shelter. The original plan would have forced us to cross more of the newly formed rivers.

    We saw 3 large racked Mule deer, one Denny and I considered trophy sized.

    Big Bug Mesa Trail #9434 - Real pretty trail that gets little use.
    Little Wolf Creek Trail #304 - Continuation of the above, becomes two track close to the south end.
    Pine Flat 67 Road walk - It's a road.
    Bushwhack - This was probably a fire break at one point. Took it to a drainage to try and find the 9439 trail indicated on Topo. "Thick" in many spots and hard to follow.
    Pine Creek Trail #289 - Back to a real trail! Pleasant with nice views
    Big Bug Mesa walk - Pretty easy walk with a GPS to guide you. Deer Country, lots of old tree stands observed.
    Grapevine Canyon - not a bad bushwhack if you stay close to the drainage. When bypassing the 30' to 40' waterfall, go to the NW side
    Grapevine Springs Canyon Trail #4 - Pretty area, lush, green, lots of water.
    Little Wolf Creek Trail #304
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Grape Taft Bush Push
    We came in peace, got razzled and left satisfied.

    The interesting road to the trailhead and remote location keeps this gem in check. Humidity tipped the scales. I explained to jj to enjoy our first leg through Grapevine Canyon as the rest of the hike would pale in comparison.

    Heading off-trail up Big Bug Mesa we stumbled upon a dripping waterfall. It has a rock lined trail ending at the falls. We likely missed the continuation and it may indeed be the Grapevine Trail #4?

    Moving on the terrain is beautifully shaded by dense oaks or pines. Topping out on the mesa we picked up a cow patty mud mixed road. This is part of #9434 according to NF GIS dataset. It starts back down near the Grapevine Trailhead and is only marked by a carsonite post. I'm calling it Big Bug Mesa Trail, it deserves a name. Our game plan was to take it down the southern edge of the mesa to a trail that heads west to Taft Spring.

    It petered out in bushes at the edge. Ten minutes later heading down we came across a great trail. I'm guessing we didn't find where it drops off Big Bug Mesa.

    The trail heading over to Taft Spring is an old road bed. Really old as in probably hasn't seen much traffic since the Model T. jj did a good job of keep us on the grade until it tucked back into the lush Taft Spring oasis.

    From Taft Spring we bombed out finding the trail as depicted on topo. Hints of trail were routinely swallowed by thickets. In hindsight, looking at satellite imagery, the creek was the ticket. Since we didn't know that we studied a tiny map I printed and opted to jump the ridge over to Crystal Springs.

    Chaparral was thick and the steep terrain added to the difficulty. It took us 1.5 hours to move 0.4 miles. The sun broiled our backs and dwindled our water supplies. Luckily no catclaw.

    Despite the mini tragedy the balance of the hike was a winner. We arrived at upper Pipeline Canyon and found our trail. We looked over the map and changed the hike to meet our time and water supply. Crystal Springs down to Wolf Creek might be one of the nicest creeks near Phoenix.

    Little Wolf Creek Trail #304 is a nice trail with wide distant views. Returning on #9434 (that is according to NF GIS dataset, #9432 on topo ) was pleasantly brush free. It is steep.

    Crossed paths with an Arizona Mountain Kingsnake and the skin of a rattler along the way. Big Bug Mesa might be named after the monster sized beetles scurrying around in the waning hours.

    The Bradshaws continue to intrigue...
    Little Wolf Creek Trail #304
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    This wasn't a bad hike. I went in mid October and the temperature was about 80 degrees F. A hotter day would have made the hike much harder.

    Along the creek you'll come across the remains of an old stone cabin. Only the base of the walls and fireplace remain. It's interesting to think that someone had probably lived there once. Shortly after the cabin you could see two piles of dirt like you might see at the top of an old mine. The trail didn't go by them though and I didn't investigate, but I suspect that the cabin's occupant was trying his hand at mining.

    The trial up to Big Bug Mesa gets pretty steep. Nothing that's particularly treacherous, but I'll admit that I had to stop and rest quite a few times before getting to the top.

    When you come up the edge of the mesa (where the large cairn is), there's actually a bit more climbing to do, though it's not nearly as steep. The trail continues to the top of the mesa (which isn't quite flat on top) and seems to end at a dirt road. The road was on my top maps, but remains unnamed. I continued along this road for a bit, had lunch, and turned around.
    Little Wolf Creek Trail #304
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    This is a great little area. I hesitated to post this hike because the solitude was so great, but I think the place can use some more foot traffic, considering the main attraction of the Bradshaws is off-roading. A fair amount of scrub oak to wade through, but it wouldn't have been as rough if it wasn't in the 90's yesterday. Better than 110 in Phoenix! I'll definitely be back to try and find some of the connecting trails shown on my map. Might be a good area to backpack!

    Permit $$

    Prescott Forest
    Prescott National Forest Pass

    Only trailheads with six "amenities" have fees. Amenities are picnic tables, trash, toilet, parking, interpretive signing and security.

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    From Phoenix, take I-17 north to Cordes Junction. Take Highway 69 west from Cordes Junction to Mayer. Exit highway 69 southwest onto Main St. in Mayer. You will immediately hit a "T" intersection- turn right. Drive this road slowly (speed limit 25) for a couple miles until you come up on a blue sign that reads "Prescott National Forest" with an arrow pointing left. For reference, this sign will be two streets after you pass the Double D Bar on the left side of Main St. Follow the arrow left. You will quickly come across another similar sign, also directing you left. This should be Jefferson St. Follow this sign as well. From here just continue on Jefferson St. past several houses and into Prescott National Forest.

    I didn't record the actual mileage on FR67 before the trailhead is reached, but I'm guessing it's close to 8 or 9 miles. The trailhead is very easy to find. The road winds through high desert scenery until it drops steeply into the Wolf Creek drainage, which is the first, and only instance of Ponderosas during the drive in. As soon as the road reaches the bottom of the canyon, it crosses the typically dry Little Wolf Creek, with a large campsite on the left and a narrow jeep road on the right, signed "9344". The road on the right is the beginning of the trail. I drove a couple hundred feet on that road and parked under a tree.
    page created by JoelHazelton on Jun 29 2008 11:53 am
    2+ mi range whistle
    blow it like you mean it
    help comment issue

    end of page marker