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Deadman Trail #25, AZ

no permit
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Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3 of 5 by 1
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance One Way 5.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,739 feet
Elevation Gain -1,630 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,600 feet
Avg Time One Way 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 11.13
Interest Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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33  2017-09-01
Club Cabin
Author jacobemerick
author avatar Guides 31
Routes 71
Photos 795
Trips 96 map ( 1,037 miles )
Age 34 Male Gender
Location Gilbert, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov
Sun  6:10am - 6:32pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Rim to Rim on Deadman Creek
by jacobemerick

Deadman Creek drains much of the central western Mazatzal Wilderness. Its forks stretch from Bear Spring to Maverick Basin and cut deep valleys that make the rough, hilly terrain even harder to traverse. This trail is one of the few routes to cross Deadman Creek, connecting Mountain Spring to Club Cabin, and can be combined with other trails to make some lengthy backpacking loops through a remote area.

An intact trail sign along Willow Spring Trail points to a well-defined tread, complete with visible cairns, making a promising northern trailhead for Deadman Trail. It heads downhill to cross a lush Horse Creek (the same flow that Mountain Spring drains into) and then promptly disappears. Pick a path of least resistance on the southern bank, hop over the old fence on the far side, and then continue south up the low hill. There is another fence on the crest to hop over and then a well-defined path picks up on the far side, 0.5 miles in.

The next mile or so of trail is a fun game of winding in and out of drainages, never losing or picking up that much elevation on the way. Some areas are rocky, some are grassy, and the tread is easy to follow the whole way. The drainages all flow off a series of hills (5510', 5412', etc) that sit directly to the east of the trail. At 1.2 miles there is a small saddle that marks the end of this game and opens up a big view of Deadman Creek below. Time to lose some elevation.

Trail drops down the other side of the saddle a short bit before swinging westward, working parallel to the creek and using some switchbacks on steeper downhill sections. Before heading into the creek valley proper, Deadman Trail first aims for a low part on the northern rim, losing over five hundred feet along the way. There is another fence to hop over at the low part and some tricky route-finding - continue west further than you think you should to stay on track.

At 1.9 miles the trail finally bends south and gets serious about descending into the creek valley. It isn't steep enough to warrant switchbacks, instead merely carving a reasonable slope into the side of a drainage much of the way. In fact, there are some sections that may even appear to be fairly level. The drainage opens up and the trail wanders onto a flat between two rocky washes, dropping into the western one right before Deadman Creek. A few cairns lead over to the creek at 3.1 miles.

Directly across the creek from here is an old corral - the trail continues a few hundred yards upstream from this. The bank here may be overgrown so, again, pick a path that works for you. Once past the thicker stuff try to pick up the cairns, which are sparsely placed through the grassy lands, and do your best at following the tread. It is not as well-defined on this side of the creek, though the vegetation is not the worst to bushwhack through. Continue uphill and cross multiple drainages on a southeast diagonal before summiting the southern rim at 4.7 miles. The southern views are phenomenal.

The final leg is a drop to meet up with Davenport Trail. For awhile the path sticks to west side of a drainage, then slides onto a narrow ridge between the drainage and the next one over, before swinging back to the original drainage for the last bit. Some areas of the leg are easy to follow, some will require a bit of searching. The southern end of the trail is barely discernible. From here one could head east less than a mile to Club Cabin for a water refill or head west, either following Davenport Trail all the way out of the wilderness or connecting with Sheep Creek Trail for more fun in the western Mazzies.

Water Sources
Deadman Creek at the trail crossing appears to be dependable. Mountain Spring, and Club Spring, near opposite trailheads are very dependable.

Club Cabin and Mountain Spring are well-known and built-up campsites (relative to the Mazatzals) with good water. One could camp along Deadman Creek near the corral, though there was no sign of a fire ring or flat for convenience.

Check out the Official Route and Triplog.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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

2017-10-01 jacobemerick

    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 Review
    Deadman Trail #25
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    The planned route was an attempt to follow @Lizard's original Club Cabin description with two key differences: I wanted to reverse it and use Sandy Saddle to go up (instead of Half Moon / Rock Creek). However, things didn't go well and I ended up bailing on the last leg.

    Barnhardt #43
    First time heading up this trail in daylight. Starting to get a bit overgrown in sections, all friendly green stuff that never hurt nobody. Bumped into a yuge group (12+) from Prescott Comm. who were doing a 3-week trip from here to Fossil Creek. These would be the last people I'd see in... a long time.

    Sandy Saddle #231
    Good grief. Even getting to Castersen Seep involved trekking-poles-above-head wading through the manzanita. There are sections of defined tread and clear track, they are just few and far between. Castersen was okay, few tanks w/ skunky water. Had a hard time tracking trail over to the next wash, and that last climb doesn't believe in switchbacks. Made it to the saddle proper with the sunset, a solid hour behind schedule. This would make a decent camp, plus there were tanks few hundred yards to the west for water. Unsure of how dependable they are.

    Anyways, didn't even try to look for tread coming down the west side, just dropped in the drainage and followed it down. The wash was easy enough to navigate in the twilight / moonlight and I made it to Divide Trail, then Horse Camp Seep, without needing headlamp. Rehydrated and snoozing in hammock by ten.

    Mazatzal Divide #23
    As usual, big views. Was cool to look down from the ridge above the Park and try to track where Willow Spring plays on 6351'. Trail is in great shape. Thought about pushing on to Pete's Pond to camel up and didn't - stupid mistake.

    Willow Spring #223
    Heh. That first mile is turrible. Deadfall wasn't really a problem, more the manzanita and loose rocks underfoot. Found no cairn or tread along the way. Got a gnarly bloody nose here too thanks to a face-whacking branch, took way too long to stem the flow. Things got better on the ridge, with old tread and game trails providing an easier way forward through the shorter brush. Views across Maverick Basin were ridiculously awesome, too.

    The dance along the side of 6351' was annoying, with the trail fading in and out of existence and too few cairns to connect the dots, and a pretty steep hillside to work along. Short section of good trail on the drop until it faded out again and I ended up taking a rocky drainage down to wash below. At this point I was starting to run low on water and decided to stick to the sandy wash in hopes of finding water (and maybe to avoid the manzanita/deadfall mix that waited on the southern bank). Found a decent tank (though I suspect it was only there from last night's rain) and filtered up, spooked an elk while packing up, and then hacked my way back up to trail.

    Things gradually got easier along the ridge and, by the time I bumped into the Midnight Mesa Junction, the trail was straightforward to pick out. Dancing along the side of Midnight Mesa was downright fun, and the rest of the hike to Mountain Spring was enjoyable as well. Reached the spring with two hours of daylight for camp chores and treated myself to some homemade thai curry mix and a quick trough-side rinse-off.

    Aside from the second night: at about ten at night that elk showed up for a drink. Darn thing was less than ten feet away before I realized he wasn't another tiny nocturnal rodent. Seeing a giant rack upside down, looking down on you as you cowboy-camp, is a hell of a way to wake up. Spooked him off and then fell back asleep to his annoyed bugles. Elk sound silly when they're angry.

    Deadman #25
    Getting to the junction is easy to follow, and there is a good path w/ cairns that lead down to Horse Creek. And then it disappears. Tried going up and down the banks a few time to find where it climbs and eventually just hacked up the hill. It's frustrating, because there are two old barbed fences to cross, and one would think that there'd be a gate or cairn or something to mark where you're supposed to pass through them - nothing. Got to practice my Zeta-Jones skills squeezing underneath the wires, at least. Tread shows up at the next drainage crossing and is easy to follow for the next mile, then gets faint on the long drop to Deadman Creek.

    Deadman Creek seems to be dependable here, with lots of friendly trees and some reeds growing around the trickling waters. Trail was hard to track on the other side - I crossed, got to the corral, and then followed the fence east, and then lost it. Think I should have gone further east. Anyways, hacked my own way up some turrible brush and then picked a route up the hill. Found a few cairns but the tread wasn't trackable for too long. Felt like it took forever to climb up to the saddle. Once I reached the top, feeling a bit light-headed from the growing heat, I was immediately stung several times by a wasp. Made it down to the junction w/ Davenport Trail before the reaction started getting serious.

    This is when things get a bit blurry. I reached out to wife (@klemerick) via inReach and let her know what had happened. I decided to head up to Club Cabin and rest for a while, took every ounce of energy to make it up that hillside - something was definitely off, either from heat or sting or both. Once I got there I remember wandering around, uncertain of what to do next, taking almost an hour before realizing that I should be drinking water given the 100+ temps. @klemerick was in constant contact and she decided that I needed to get out of there the fastest way possible, down Davenport, and that she and @reynchr would help me out along the way. Spent the rest of the day futzing around the cabin, not doing much of anything, mostly trying to get a grip on things. It was terrifying.

    Davenport #89
    Woke up the next morning feeling slightly better, still off. Those little climbs, especially near Rock Spring, kept knocking the wind out of me. At least the path was easy to track after the last few days - think I only lost it twice, and was able to quickly backtrack and get back on it. Don't know how I had such a hard time following it last year lol. Made it about halfway down that last mesa, outside the wilderness boundary, when a USFS truck showed up to give me a ride the rest of the way.

    My rescuers, @klemerick and @reynchr, had spent the night at Sears Trailhead and left a water cache for me there while they went back and tried to find a way to get their vehicle across the Verde. By sheer luck they bumped into a ranger at the camp and explained the situation. He had access to the dam gates and drove over to save me the last four miles of hiking, which was definitely appreciated. Made it out of there in relatively good shape, though I was still shaky and weird from the day before. I have no idea how I would have gotten out of there without their help, though - trying to cross back over to Barnhardt would have been far outside my capabilities in my shape. Am very grateful for them.

    Mazatzal Miles: 164.6/275 (60%)

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Connector trail - Not Applicable

    To Sheep Bridge Trailhead
    Take Cave Creek road east and follow the directions to Seven Springs - Cave Creek Road turns into FR24. Take FR24 35 miles until it ends at FR269. Take FR269 another 12 miles to the southeast until it ends at Sheep Bridge. NOTE: the last 8 miles or so of FR269 is unmaintained! While it may be passable by car - I would urge something with more clearance and designed suspension.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 105mi 3h 38m
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 182mi 4h 50m
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 119mi 3h 44m
    page created by joebartels on Oct 01 2017 4:29 pm
    $17 3L Hydration Bladder
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