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Prescott National Forest
Stage 1 Fire Restrictions Aug 14th to TBD
Verde Jewel in the Rough
Connects Oxbow Trail #163 & Coldwater Trail #27 just under the Verde Rim. Coldwater Spring is an oasis and Cedar Spring intrigues. Most enjoyable October & March. Too hot for most in the summer.
Rarely traveled with unforgettable views.
Cedar Bench Wilderness is loaded with Utah Junipers which pioneers apparently thought to be cedars. Crack open a berry and you will find two seeds. The larger Alligator Junipers have four seeds. Live oak may torture you depending on recent trail maintenance. If you stay on trail gloves are not required, pants should suffice. Gamble Oaks are present in the mid west segment.
We hiked SE to NW. Immediately we encountered the Coldwater Spring area. After a dusty ascent up the cow pasture wilderness on #27 this was a welcome surprise. First we entered a high canopy of trees. A four to eight foot wide swath seeps down through the forest. The origin is a twenty foot wide pool, worthy of checking out.
The trail contours NW under the Verde Rim which in this case is Tule Mesa. Cairns seem abundant in obvious areas and light to non-existent where needed the most. It can be frustrating at times. Then you look out over the Verde Valley and it all makes sense. The views are magnificent. If you are lucky a few puffy clouds can really make the scene.
Finding a lunch spot was not easy. Each time I found a tree offering shade it blocked the views. Finally we made due. It lacked comfort. There just wasn't much in the flat, clear and soft department.
The final 0.4mi stretch to Oxbow opens up to grasslands.
This trail was tough but it left a lasting impression.
Camping is permitted all along the trail. Only a quarter mile from either end offers anything open and flat enough for most to pitch tent. There is one area flat enough in the middle where Tule Mesa melts down to Cedar Bench. A keen eye will spot it on topo, just don't expect a clear meadow.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
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.