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Treasure Park from Snow Flat, AZ

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Guide 16 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
3 of 5 by 2
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,817 feet
Elevation Gain 200 feet
Accumulated Gain 487 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.64
Interest Perennial Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
6  2019-09-13
Treasure Park Loop
41  2017-09-18
Frye Fire 2017 Aftermath
10  2016-10-20
Mount Graham 10,720
14  2014-05-19
Mount Graham 10,720
15  2010-08-31 SkyIslander18
11  2008-06-23 PrestonSands
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Aug, Jul, Sep, Jun → Any
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:03am - 6:26pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Culture Nearby
And the real treasure is...
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
Overview: This hike follows an old jeep trail from the little lake at Snow Flat to the scenic meadow of Treasure Park, in Arizona's Pinaleno Mountains. Although the road that this hike follows is closed to motor vehicles, it still sees occasional vehicle traffic, so don't expect a "wilderness experience".

The roads leading to Snow Flat and Treasure Park are closed from November 15 to April 15 or later, due to snow. The road that this hike follows would likely be ideal for cross country skiing during that time.

History: Treasure Park is the setting for one of Arizona's many lost treasure legends. A story tells of Mexican bandits burying a large quantity of stolen gold and silver bullion on "Bonita Peak", as the Pinaleno Mountains were once known, sometime during the eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries. The bandits placed three colored boulders as markers, but were never able to retrieve their treasure. In the early 1890's, a small party of searchers who claimed to possess a map to the treasure, took up the hunt, but were driven away by deep snow and a case of pneumonia.

Early in the twentieth century, Forest Service supervisor T.T. Swift, unaware of the treasure story, discovered an ancient, blazed trail that led to three colored boulders at Treasure Park. Much digging was done, but no treasure was ever located.

The 1930's saw the location of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp at Treasure Park. The workers from this C.C.C. camp were responsible for constructing the Swift Trail highway, which is still in use today. Snow Flat was once the site of a Boy Scout camp. Nothing remains of it or the C.C.C. camp at Treasure Park.

Hike: Just north of the lake at Snow Flat is an old jeep trail marked by a small "closed to motor vehicles" sign. Follow this old road uphill, as it heads northwest into the trees. After a quick climb, the road levels off and arrives at a "T" junction at 0.4 miles, near a bracken fern patch. Go left at the "T". The jeep trail now turns south and descends a little, occasionally passing more fern filled glades among the tall firs.

At 0.8 miles the road turns west, becomes more primitive, and begins a gradual climb to the top of a broad ridge at 1.2 miles.

From the top of the ridge, the road turns north and makes a steady descent to Treasure Park. Small breaks in the tree cover allow for brief views of the sweet meadow to come. The jeep trail reaches Treasure Park and the Treasure Park road (Forest Road 89) at 1.5 miles. This largest of the Pinaleno's meadows is usually filled with wildflowers in summer. The upper end of Treasure Park's gigantic meadow is popular with campers. A nameless creek flows along the western edge of Treasure Park, and should have water year round.

Enjoy the Pinaleno Mountains' "natural treasure", and return the way you came.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2008-07-07 PrestonSands
    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 of 12 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Treasure Park from Snow Flat
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    This will be my 2nd to last trip up Graham to survey the Frye Fire damage.
    Plan was to check out the Snow Flat area and spend some time down in the campground.

    Snow Flat Rd 90% down to the campground Med severity burn. Mostly brown needles with a few black trees.
    Snow Flat Campground 98% untouched ..... I couldn't believe it ..... it looked great!
    Snow Flat Trail also looked great ..... some flooding and the fire did come down both sides of the canyon right up to the creek in some spots. Mostly brown needles, a few black trees up high.

    I then spent a few hours back at the campground. I packed in a grill and cooked pork chops for lunch, practiced a few outdoor skills, wrote a little & just relaxed. I watched 3 deer drink from the pond and listened to turkey gobbles up in the hills (never spotted them).

    Treasure Park from Snow Flat - There is now a permanent gate put up with a "forest closed" sign. I hiked just a bit up to the top of the hill to get a better understanding why. 100% black sticks as far as I could see and I'm sure all the way to Treasure Park. The worst hit area I have now seen on top.
    After leaving Snow Flat I next hit up the Shake Trail.
    There is a fire damage caution sign at the trail head for some reason?
    Other than a bit of red slurry on trees the first 100 yards ..... this trail was untouched by the fire. I hiked it just to the "big meadow" a mile down and this area looked great, No Damage!
    Back at the TH I crossed the Swift Trail and a bit up Twilight Peak.
    Destroyed ..... 50% brown needles/50% black trees ..... I could barely make out the trail.

    Was very happy to see Snow Flat & the Shake Trail as I've always seen them.
    The back trail to Treasure & Twilight are sad to lose.
    This is still very hard for me to deal with, I will actually be glad this year for the Nov 15th winter closure. 1 more trip up and I will be done with the top of the mountain until next April 15th after the winter closure is over.
    It's like a big car wreck up there ..... I don't want to look, but I have too.

    Wildlife - Another unbelievable day for deer, I counted 22 along the way. Many Abert's, heard gobblers, lots of butterflies & saw deer/turkey/coati/bear tracks at Snow Flat. Several javalina crossing the road lower down and a baby rattlesnake.
    Treasure Park from Snow Flat
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    Frye Fire 2017 Aftermath
    On Thursday 9/14 the top portion of the Swift Trail (366) was opened back up to the public.
    This was the first opportunity for the Gila Valley residents to drive up and view the effects from the Frye Fire.

    I drove up and parked at High Peak road. Completed a big loop to & through the above linked trails/campgrounds.

    I've only got 2 thoughts -

    #1 - The fire was good for the overall future health and growth of the Pinaleno Mountain range for the decades and more to come, I do not deny that fact.

    #2 - For myself ..... the 40+ year hiker, backpacker, camper, fisherman & photographer of this magnificent mountain range ..... I am totally devastated and heartbroken by the destruction I viewed on top.
    The Pinalenos will never be the same for the rest of my life.
    I am shook, I am bitter & I am angry, but I am also very thankful that I got to see and share with my family and friends the incredible beauty of what once was. There will be many more great memories made on this mountain ..... just in a different way now and in different locations.
    Treasure Park from Snow Flat
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    Leaves are falling all around
    It's time I was on my way
    Thanks to you I'm much obliged
    For such a pleasant stay.
    - Page/Plant -

    Chasing autumn colors up high. Main focus was the aspens ..... and I found them!
    High Peak Road delivered, my favorite grove looked good. I was about a week late, but most still held gold.
    From #507 I finally completed the newly built connector trail over to the Big Creek Trail, cool little trail!
    Next up was Hospital Flat then down to Treasure Park. Big Creek was flowing good so I added on Big Creek Falls to the trip. Super fun boulder hopping down that canyon and the falls were a highlight.
    I then took the "spooky" back trail down to Snow Flat, ate & rested a bit by the pond before the climb up to the Swift Trail. Swift Trail then brought me back to the start completing the loop.

    Upper mountain closes November 15th so this was probably my last trip up high for this year. The lower Swift Trail however is starting to get good with color ..... real good! The next week or so should be primo for a scenic drive along the switchbacks.

    Good day for wildlife - 1 buck, 9 does, 6 Abert's & a dozen gobblers at Snow Flat.

    Treasure Park from Snow Flat
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    Parked across from Shannon and took -
    Swift Trail :next: Snow Flat :next: Snow Flat Trail :next: Snow Flat to Treasure Park :next: Big Creek Falls :next: Swift Trail.
    Snow Flat - Always one of the most beautiful places on the mountain.
    Snow Flat Trail - Short & sweet, light creek flow and greening up nicely.
    Snow Flat to Treasure Park - Not very green yet & a little spooky as always.
    Big Creek Falls - Good creek flow. Very scenic waterfalls on the lower section. Because of the good flow, I decided on the climb down to the Big falls. Had forgotten about the butt pucker factor on the route up & down, it was a tad :scared:
    Swift Trail - Still the best trail of them all! Road looked real good today.
    Not much wildlife spotted on this trip, but not surprising with all the people heading up to start the weekend.
    Too early yet for the wow stuff on top, but it's starting ..... I shall return!
    Treasure Park from Snow Flat
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    Roper Lake Ranger Trip #7
    Addie, Bianca, Lauren & Myself headed up Graham with the plan of hiking the Webb Peak area. The dirt road portion of the Swift Trail is not in the best of condition this year and for some reason the FS has not graded it for this summer season. We were traveling up in a low clearance car for this trip and made the decision to turn around close to the Fort Grant overlook and just hit up a few of the lower campground trails were the road was much better.
    We parked and started from Treasure Park first completing the out-n-back Big Creek Falls trail. Not much water running down the canyon and we were able to hike right down the creek bed from the lack of flow, very fun!
    We then took the "secret" trail down to Snow Flat. I always enjoy this one as it has such a different forest look then most of the other mountain trails.
    After a short break for lunch by the small lake, we hiked the out-n-back down to the nice overlook below Snow Flat.
    A walk up Snow Flat road and then back up the Swift Trail brought us to the start completing a loop.
    An hour of hilarious conversation back at Treasure Park was had before calling it a day and traveling back down the mountain to Roper Lake SP.
    Not our longest hike as a group, but another very enjoyable day on this great mountain!
    Can't wait for #8

    Pinaleno flowers are getting ready to explode, just need one good rain.
    Treasure Park from Snow Flat
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    Heading down the Swift Trail from Webb Peak, I approached Hospital Flat, where a lone figure was quickly crossing the meadow like a sasquatch. "Is that Chad?" It was! I picked him up and we were soon hiking up High Peak Road, admiring the scenery along the way. We went down Big Creek and then over to Treasure Park, where we surprised a flock of turkeys. We took the back way into Snow Flat, arriving in time to watch the sunset, where the wind really picked up and the temperature dropped. We followed Snow Flat Road up to the Swift Trail and turned north to follow it back in the dark to our vehicles at the end of the pavement, where we parted ways for the evening. Good times as always, Chad! :)

    I sat in the cab of my truck, exhausted, cold and hungry, wondering what I should do with the rest of my evening. I could go home, but why? A solution presented itself. I cooked Ramen in the cab, watched a movie on the portable dvd player and then drove like a zombie back to Hagens Point to spend the night. After 3 hours of sleep, I was up at dawn and driving straight to work in Tucson. An enjoyable (and tiring) weekend ;)
    Treasure Park from Snow Flat
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    Was just about to head up the mountain when I received a surprising text from Preston letting me know that he was on top of Graham ..... Cool, we met up on top and went for a Big Island hike!

    Wet Canyon - On the drive up I first stopped at Wet Canyon and man was it beautiful. Lots of green now with excellent creek flow and many butterflies along the water.

    High Peak/Big Creek Loop - Preston found me walking along the Swift Trail at the Hospital Flat meadow and from there we hiked up High Peak Rd then down the Big Creek Trail completing the loop.

    Swift Trail/Treasure Park to Snow Flat - A short walk down the ST then brought us to Treasure Park where we decided on the "back road" trail down to Snow Flat for sunset.

    A couple of miles up Snow Flat road & down the Swifty at dark took us back to the start.

    Wildlife spotted on this day - White-tail does, Garter Snake, Turkeys, Vultures, Mexican Jays, Two-tailed Swallowtails & 3 Peccary I almost hit crossing the ST straightaway on the drive home.

    Another excellent trip spent with the Yeti on this most beautiful day atop ole' Graham!
    Treasure Park from Snow Flat
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    Leaving my campsite at Hagens Point in the early afternoon following a 3 am arrival and 4:30 am bedtime, I voyaged further up the Swift Trail to start an afternoon wander at Snow Flat. I hadn't been to Treasure Park in a while, so off into the woods I went, totally at peace in familiar, pleasant surroundings. I made a loop around Treasure Park, stopping for water along the way. I had not visited Big Creek Falls in years, so I made my way down to it as well, resting contented at the base of its slick wall of splashing water. Realizing the need to get my evening plans underway, I made the return trek back to Snow Flat and then voyaged further up the Swift Trail, after my obligatory stop at Hospital Flat. A great day so far! :)
    Treasure Park from Snow Flat
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    This is always one of my most anticipated & favorite trips up Graham every year!

    Every year the last upper 14 miles of the Swift Trail is closed for winter on November 15th and is reopened April 15th. I like to go up a week or so before the reopening (and the crowds move in) and hike in on the closed road. The plan for this one was to hike up to Grant Hill and form a loop down through 3 of the lower campgrounds which I completed.
    Just an awesome experience as always. Walking the closed Swifty and through all the empty campgrounds was a bit eerie and a little surreal, but also made for a very peaceful & tranquil day through the forest and all to myself.
    Very little snow left on top now and just a few small flowers starting to come up as the upper mountain is coming out of winter. And the deer ..... oh deer ..... counted 6 on the drive up/down and 12 along the trails with one just 20 feet off the Grant Hill trail feeding without a care of me walking by! There was no sign of bear or bigfoots yet.

    Other than a great 30 minute talk with the mountain police officer, I saw no one else on top of the Big Island the entire day. It was a wonderful trip and one I will continue to do every year - OK, I'm now ready for the crowds :| and the HAZers :)
    Treasure Park from Snow Flat
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    Flipped this into Snow Flat via Treasure Park.
    Started from Treasure Park by first looping the big meadow and then taking the back trail to Snow Flat. Then hiked down the short out n back Snow Flat trail before returning back to Treasure Park under a small monsoon storm that soon had me cold & wet. The storm ended the rest of my upper mountain plans so I drove back down stopping at the Jacobson Sawmill TH and taking it down just to the old Cluff Dairy to check out the flora situation. The wildflowers at both Treasure & Snow Flat are just past peak, but still look very nice. Cluff Dairy flora needs some rain help, but always a cool little area of Pinaleno history to walk around. Mountain temps never got above 75 degs and it was another nice day to be in the Grahams!

    Permit $$

    Coronado Forest
    MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
    Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Safford, Arizona, head south on U.S. Highway 191. Turn west onto State Highway 366 (Swift Trail), and follow it for 20.1 miles to the signed turnoff for Snow Flat. Follow unsigned Forest Road #472 for 0.7 miles to the meadow at Snow Flat. The trail (jeep trail) begins just north of the lake, near the "motor travel is restricted to roadways" sign. Trailhead gps coordinates: 32.6539 N, 109.86514 W. (see hike description)

    When entering from Treasure Park there are a series of remote camping spots along this road, accessable by decent clearance vehicles. Water is available in Treasure Park at a faucet. Expect privacy but ATV's use this road.
    page created by PrestonSands on Jul 07 2008 6:46 pm
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