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Alder Creek Trail #82, AZ

no permit
5 2
Guide 5 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Mesa NE
3.3 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 5 of 5
Distance One Way 10.12 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,878 feet
Elevation Gain 2,649 feet
Accumulated Gain 4,195 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 24.1
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
19  2015-04-25
Brown's Cave
32  2014-03-22
Four Peaks Circumference
13  2014-03-22
Four Peaks Circumference
13  2012-12-08
Painted Cliffs
20  2012-12-08
Painted Cliffs
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Feb, Dec
Sun  6:13am - 6:22pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

Author Full Detail Guide
Travelers can enjoy the transition from desert to forest.Washed out and overgrown in some places.

This trail skirts the southern slopes of Four Peaks and then follows Alder Creek to where it climbs to Black Bear Saddle and intersects Four Peaks Trail 130.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a difficult hike. Arrive fit and prepared or this could get ugly.

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


    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
    Alder Creek Trail #82
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Fan and I went from the Cottonwood TH to Browns Cave.

    Lower Soldier Trail
    It took a minute to figure the start of the trail, but once we did there was cairns to lead you all the way to FR401.
    Along the way to the Cane's spring TH, we stopped at the shack.

    Alder Creek Trail
    The trail started out as an old road and was very easy to follow. When the trail hit the Long canyon, we stayed in the canyon
    until the trail pulled away. Then we bushwhacked over the trail. There been some recent trail maintenance until you hit the
    Crabtree cabin. It took us a couple of minutes to figure out how to get to the cabin. There was a sign-in board at the cabin.
    Fan & I were the first people to represent HAZ. There was quite a bit of Crabtree relatives visiting the cabin.
    The route finding was a little more challenging past the cabin.

    The Jungle aka "Brown Cave"
    We lost the trail as we approached the descent into Alder Creek. We found two stone walls leading down to the creek.
    Then we had to fight the jungle to get to the Creek. When got the creek Fan was done. The plan was to
    go to the Cave then have lunch at the river /lake. Fan didn't want the fight anymore jungle, so I went on alone.

    Beyond the jungle
    I pushed through the jungle and walked right past Brown's Cave and continued on down the creek. For a stretch the water went underground.
    I made to the 10 foot waterfall then stopped. The sky clouded up and the wind started to blow.
    It looked like the 20% chance of rain was going to hit. I didn't have any Jedi masters to talk me into
    climb down and up the waterfalls, so I turned around.

    The trip back
    The temps dropped fast as we headed back. This time we took the trail instead of going in Long creek.
    The trail was easy to follow and mostly free of vegetation. As we started to climb out, the rain started.
    It poured pretty hard for about 10 minutes, then it backed off. It rained for the last 4 hours of the hike.
    We made it to the shed at Cane's Spring in time to put on the headlamps. We took FR401 all the way back to the Jeep.
    Along the we saw an abandoned quad-runner. As we approached the Jeep the rain started to dump on us.

    The road out
    I was concerned about driving out with 4+ hours of rain. The road was slick but I didn't have any major issues getting out.
    The Jeep did fishtailed in a couple of spots.

    ](*,) Items that are MIA in the Jungle ](*,)
    - HAZ-tracks android phone (good thing it was only $29.99)
    - gators
    - GPS Lithium ION rechargeable battery

    This is a cool area to explorer. The terrain is slow moving and you should have a GPS route to get to alder creek.
    I had long pants with gators and the a couple of Foxtails still managed to get in my socks!

    I want to go back to take Long canyon to the river.
    Alder Creek Trail #82
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Four Peaks Circumference
    This loop and especially Alder Creek has intrigued me since the '90s. Karl & I started at Mud Spring TH, hiked the road to Lone Pine then took #130 out to #82 ( not to be confused with Alder "Saddle" Trail #81 ).

    Alder Creek Trail #82
    Nature has reclaimed the trail. Perhaps 7% exists for the 6.25 miles heading down to Brown's Cave. Of that the creek is a less painful avenue. The area is everything I envisioned as a wided eyed kid thumbing through hiking books. Water is abundant and trees offer shade on occasion. The challenges of life are defenseless against you and Alder Creek Canyon is all yours.

    Once out of Alder Creek the trail over to the trailhead is just route finding. Someone has kindly re-cairned 0.5mi to 1.6mi ( west to east ). It follows quicker than in previous years and catclaw only snagged once.

    Cane Spring Trail #77
    Easy to follow... in the dark! Someone must do periodic maintenance. Shocking out in the middle of nowhere and it only leads to the tragic mess on #83.

    Soldier Camp Trail #83
    Difficult to assess as it was dark. Seemed like a nuisance cairn hunt. I'm guessing it's not so bad in daylight. Killer night view back to Phoenix heading up to Big Saddle.

    Never say never, it "seems" unlikely I'll redo this loop. One thing for sure... feels GREAT to join the got 'er done club! Thanks to Karl for helping bring this dream home!

    Carried 5 quarts, consumed 6.

    Strawberry Hedgehog was busting out for 10-15 miles of our hike. 1 - Desert Anemone near Paint Puddles, 1 - Desert Chicory mid Alder Creek. Medium patches of Desert Phlox on south expanse. A few iron yellow varieties.
    Alder Creek Trail #82
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Painted Cliffs
    Plans were to start at the Cottonwood TH, hike Lower Soldier Camp Trail, to Alder Creek Trail, down Long Canyon, to Apache Lake. Then find a route across to Alder Creek Trail, up and back to the TH.

    We never saw the beginning of this trail, because we started hiking with 45 minutes in the dark and the last 2 hours of this hike were in the dark.

    Lower Soldier Camp Trail was faint at best (Except the part on the road) as we became Cholla magnets in the dark. We made the saddle where the trail meets the FR at first light for spectacular views. From here is was a road walk to Cane Spring. We checked out the Spring and and started following Alder Creek Trail.

    Adler Creek Trail with a GPS and good eyes for buried cairnes was find-able in spots, non existent in others. On the way in, we opted for dropping into Long Canyon to get out of the blood sucking cat claw. We made our way down to a choked out spring area and decided we had reached our turn around time.

    We climbed up and out on the loose crumbly rock, for the views making the blood letting all worth it! The Painted Cliffs area. We played on the loose stuff looking for a different route that got us out of Long Canyon and on our way back. We dropped into a sweet unnamed canyon and climbed out to the Alder Creek trail.

    We took lunch at Adams Camp and then did our best to follow Alder Creek trail back. The wild Burro tracks followed it for awhile, then it was lost again.

    From here back to the TH was a blur.

    The destination was incredible, the journey was a tough one.

    JBF 4
    BBF 9 (A new high)

    Permit $$
    no fees or permits reported

    if incorrect tell us about it

    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To Cane Trailhead
    From Scottsdale follow Shea Blvd East to its terminus at SR87. Turn Left onto SR87. Follow SR87(this is the Beeline) to the Four Peaks Turnoff which is FR143. FR143 is well marked. Follow FR143 to FR 401. Hang a right onto FR401 and follow past Cottonwood Camp. Continue to where FR401 ascends out of Cottonwood Creek up the side of mountain. Here on it's strictly 4x4. It starts out low key for the first couple miles then turns... fun! It's 6 miles to Cane Spring Trailhead. The 4x4 section alone takes 1 to 1.5 hours.

    Keep in mind albeit near the valley this is about 5 hours round trip depending on variables.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 52.0 mi, 1 hour 37 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 150 mi, 3 hours 7 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 179 mi, 3 hours 38 mins In current traffic: 3 hours 38 mins I-17 S
    page created by joebartels on Nov 22 2012 6:47 pm
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