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Saddle Mountain #91, AZ

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Difficulty 1 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 4.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,924 feet
Elevation Gain 590 feet
Accumulated Gain 905 feet
Avg Time One Way 2
Kokopelli Seeds 7.22
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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6  2018-09-30 KBKB
10  2018-01-04 mazatzal
30  2017-11-18
Sheep Creek Cabin
32  2017-10-29
Saddle Mountain - AZT #22
23  2017-06-11
S Mazatzal Roundup
15  2017-05-15
Saddle Mountain - AZT #22
14  2017-03-18
Saddle Mountain 6535 - Mazatzals
10  2017-02-17
Little Saddle Mountain Trail #244
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
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, May, Mar
Sun  6:10am - 6:31pm
Official Route
14 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Swinging around Saddle Mountain
by jacobemerick

Curving trail that follows the contours of Saddle Mountain and nearby hills. Integral part of AZT #22 and, thanks to the relative accessibility of Mormon Grove Trailhead, the start of many long loops into the north and west. Ends with an overgrown loop that goes by some old mining areas.

Much of this area was damaged by the 2012 Sunflower Fire.

Mormon Grove is an open spot perched on a ridge that offers great views to the south and east. The trail heads west and wastes little before climbing, gaining 100' in less than a quarter mile, before calming down and even dropping a bit to the Little Saddle Mountain Trail junction at .6 miles. This junction is well signed and has some pretty rock formations in the background.

Now part of the AZT, the trail heads north and makes a steady climb towards Saddle Mountain. Along the way it zigs and zags along the side of 5888, alternating between offering good views of the surrounding lands and protective drainages for a few large trees that were spared from fire. This section is overall pleasant and easy to travel if the steady climb doesn't wear too much on one's legs. The last outward zag shows off a now-overbearing Saddle Mountain before the trail swings towards Potato Patch and the end of the uphill grade at 1.9 miles.

A side spur branches to the west towards Potato Patch, a grassy clearing with some camping options along the fringes, and the main trail swings northeast and plays along the side of the mountain. Some of the in-and-out swings along the side of Saddle Mountain are quite drastic, though the views down the different drainages to the east are nice. At 3.4 miles the junction with Sheep Creek Trail shows up and the AZT follows that, leaving the final leg of this trail with less traffic and maintenance.

The final leg forms a lasso loop, with the end being the trail junction, and the loop of it being very overgrown. At 3.5 miles the loop starts - turn left to do it clockwise. After it curves around near Story Mine things get the most overgrown with catclaw (I gave up on finding the mine after fighting this lovely stuff). Things clear up on the other side of the loop and the last few hundred yards to close the lasso is fairly simple.

Water Sources
None along the trail. Continuing on Sheep Creek Trail will take you to McFarland Canyon and a reliable water source.

Potato Patch has several spots for camping, as does McFarland Canyon a mile beyond the northern terminus of the trail.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2017-07-05 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 of 13 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Saddle Mountain #91
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    NOBO to Peeley TH on very well maintained trails. Minimal water - saw small pools and slight trickle flows: 1) north of the Cross F trail junction, 2) McFarland Canyon 3) lower end of Cornucopia.

    Exited down DC45. Intermittent / light water flow starts about a mile down from Peeley and persist nicely until near the canyon mouth. The first ~3 miles of trail have had some recent maintenance and are very pleasant, after that it's moderate thrash until you near the canyon mouth.
    Saddle Mountain #91
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    South from Peeley Trailhead: Our 6th day of hiking the AZT this year, sad but true. This one we owe a big thanks to GuRa for helping us with the shuttle which saved us from an even longer day. Saw John9L's jeep at Peeley TH. Ran into 3 other hikers for the day all at the beginning.

    We started at Peeley, checked out Thicket Springs, hiked in and out of and through drainages and up and down hills, did some trail work, had a couple breaks and then hiked the last hill up to the old mining road which would eventually get us way back over to Mormon Grove TH. The trail is like heaven and hell as far as the tread and slipperiness (well not quite that dramatic but you know what I mean "wink"). There was water here and there too. And thankfully, even though it was a longer hike than expected and I had an issue, we all made it. So at least now we can string a few more segments together from 20 through 22. Ya I know, it's the two that skirt those sections that are gonna be tough for us.

    We have big plans for next year but we'll see. Anyway, a good hike and despite obstacles we got this section done.

    Videos: Part 1 from Peeley to what will be the 1/2 way point for the Arizona Trail [ youtube video ]
    Part 2 from what will be the 1/2 way point for the Arizona Trail to the junction with Mormon Grove [ youtube video ]
    Saddle Mountain #91
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    AZT: Roosevelt to Washington Park
    April 9th
    Miles: 19
    AEG: 6,413 ft

    We started the climb from the 188 around 7:30 AM. The goal for the day was to make it to Pigeon Springs. The weather was great, and the views of Roosevelt Lake got more spectacular as we climbed out of the basin. After taking a break at Buckhorn Spring, the trail climbs relentlessly before topping out and contouring the mountain.

    Eventually we turned a corner and BAM!, the four craggy peaks were staring us right in the face. Quite the view! The trail through the Four Peaks passage is very well maintained, except for a small stretch where we were pushing through overgrowth that nearly obscures the trail. Despite the large swaths of burned forest, this passage was one of my favorite so far. Eventually we reached Pigeon Springs and found a relatively flat spot to set up our tents.

    April 10th
    Miles: 19
    AEG: 2,196 ft

    The morning began with a clear sky. After packing up the gear we headed for Pigeon Springs Rd to begin the long road walk. I'm usually not a fan of road walks, but this was an exception. There were great views on either side of the Superstitions, Sierra Ancha, and Lake Roosevelt. The immediate area itself was very beautiful as well. Around 10 AM we could see clouds beginning to build on top of Browns Peak, and a storm hitting the Supes.

    We stopped to take out the rain jackets and a white mini-van rolled up and asked if this road would take them all the way back to the 87. I pulled out my map and told them it looked like the road ended well before reaching the 87 and that they needed to turn around and take El Oso or the other forest road. The wife sitting in the passenger seat seemed concerned that we were about to be backpacking out in the rain. :roll: By 11 AM it was lightly raining, which was initially quite exciting (I needed to test the rain gear anyway).

    Just as we reached the Boulder Creek drainage the storm began to give us its all. Heavy rain, wind, and thunder! By the time we reached Sunflower, the trail was a muddy slip and slide, my phone was soaked and unresponsive (may it RIP ](*,) ), and we were slightly chilled.

    We waited under the 87 underpass for my brother to arrive, who was picking us up so I could take an exam for an online class I'm taking before returning to the trail the next day.

    April 11th
    Miles: 12
    AEG: 2,643 ft

    After finishing up my exam, we were back on trail around 1 PM. Under the 87, we did some last minute gear prep before heading out and ran into three other hikers, Giltch, Kegel, and Minus. They were 17 days into their thru-hike and were excited to get into Pine for some much needed beer. We were all aiming for McFarland Canyon for the night.

    We started up Saddle Mountain and enjoyed all the green scenery in the area. Just before reaching camp, we passed the half way mark for the AZT and celebrated with the thru-hikers before settling down for the night in McFarland Canyon.

    April 12th
    Miles: 21
    AEG: 5,249 ft

    The thru-hikers were up and leaving camp just as we were beginning to pack up. We weren't sure if we would ever see them again. The trail gets a little hard to follow just after McFarland Canyon to Thicket Spring. The Guthooks app says to head straight up a wash but apparently there is an alternative route that is clear of brush and well defined that you can take at the first junction past McFarland.

    Once we reached the junction for the Peeley TH we stopped to take a break and ran into Joe, a gentleman I had met at a trail maintenance event about a month earlier. Quite the coincidence, if we would have left a minute earlier we probably would have never seen him. He was meeting up with another fellow to remove some downed trees along the trail.

    The views along the Mazatzal Divide from Peeley to Y-Bar were my favorite for the entire trip. The rugged peaks of the Mazatzals and expansive views on either side were exciting to see. We ran into Minus again at the Bear Spring junction taking a lunch break. After taking our own lunch break at the spring, we headed for Horse Camp Seep.

    As we approached Horse Camp Seep, we ran into the three thru-hikers again. There was another hour or so of light, so they continued on, we decided to call it a day where there was water. Horse Camp Seep was a sweet spot and had great camping.

    April 13th
    Miles: 18
    AEG: 2,907 ft

    The goal for the day was to make it to the East Verde River, a relatively easy day that was mostly downhill. We made our way along the Divide trail and passed "The Park", an inviting stand of pines and great campsites. We stopped to take a lunch break at the Red Hills seeps. From here the trail descends steeply to the East Verde River. Not very fun for the knees.

    We camped just across the river and enjoyed the warmest night of the trip. We were now done with the Mazzies, and I felt the proposed "overgrowth" was kind of blown out of proportion, or there has been a lot of trail work in the past couple of months. Probably a bit of both. ;) I never felt like the trail was hard to find (except for the stretch between McFarland and Thicket) or that I had to deal with excessive brush that I wouldn't expect on most wilderness trails.

    April 14th
    Miles: 23
    AEG: 4,196 ft

    With burgers and beer on our minds, we got up early to make it into Pine with sufficient time to hit up THAT brewery and the market. The rocks along Whiterock and Hardscrabble Mesas were annoying and it felt like I was constantly stubbing my toes or rolling my ankle. Otherwise the area is quite beautiful and welcoming. The rocks put these two passages high on my list of "one and done" passages.

    We reached Pine around 5pm with plenty of time to get burgers and beer. Lo and behold, we run into Minus, Kegel, and Giltch at the brewery along with another thru-hiker, Thomas, who was taking a zero in town. We joined them and enjoyed the comradery. Thomas decided to join us at camp for the night near the Pine TH while the others reserved the cabin in the back.

    April 15th
    Miles: 17
    AEG: 3,303 ft

    We woke up with frost all over our gear. :yuck: After packing up, Thomas headed for the Highline and we headed for breakfast at the Early Bird. Just before we finished up eating we ran into Minus who was getting some breakfast himself.

    We headed for the Highline. It was nice to be climbing on a well graded trail with less rocks, especially because a hole was beginning to develop in my right shoe. I could feel every rock under my foot on that spot.

    At Red Rock Spring we made a quick stop and finished off the last bit of the Arizona Trail Ale we picked up the night before at the market.

    Once we reached Webber Creek we caught up with Thomas who was drying out all his gear. We stopped to take a break, and eventually Minus came strolling down the trail to join us. Minus decided to hike with us for a stretch after the break. The Rim gets right up in your face along this stretch and red dirt contrasting with the green pines and cedars made for great scenery.

    We were about 9 miles from the finish and a little antsy to finish up. Eventually Minus stopped to take a lunch break and we continued on after filtering some water. Now with only 5 miles left, we kicked it into high gear and made for the Washington Park TH. Clouds started to build along the rim.

    We reached the trailhead and got ready to hunker down for a few hours of inclement weather before our ride would arrive. However, after a few snow flurries, the clouds broke. Eventually Thomas and the other three thru-hikers caught up with us, we exchanged information, and said our goodbyes. All of them were very enthusiastic about Arizona and couldn't stop commenting on the diversity of the state and how we had a pretty cool home.


    Besides my foot issue due to my failing shoe on the last day, I felt great this entire trip. I never woke up sore or feeling exhausted. I listened to my body, and I was proactive about keeping my feet and knees happy. It really paid off and made the trip that much more enjoyable.

    This concludes all of Southern and Central Arizona passages for me. I'm looking forward to the easy walking on the plateau to the UT border!

    Lots of lupine in the middle elevations, not much at the highest and lowest elevations.
    Saddle Mountain #91
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    AZT Trail: Picketpost to Pine
    I was kind of looking to see where I was at for another big trek this summer and Karl was looking to experiment with a lighter weight higher mileage backpack, so I proposed Picketpost Mountain, or the beginning of section 18 of the Arizona Trail to Pine and the end of section 26 of the Arizona Trail. Karl was down for four days and had a somewhat flexible plan for ending his trip when he needed to. Meanwhile, I was about 50-50 if I could do the entire hike and was content with just seeing how far Karl and I could get and then playing the rest of my trip by ear, or I should say by body.

    Day 1: 29.92 miles 6268 aeg

    We made it to our planned first night's campsite on day one, Walnut Spring. Section 18 really exceeded my expectations. This is about the best time of year to be walking though that desert right now and Whitford proved to be a real treat with the flowing water and abundance of green. The climb was grueling and relentless but it offered some very solid views of the area and was really made manageable by liberal use of switchbacks. Karl was so confident with our performance at that point in the day that he insisted we bag Montana Mountain while we were up there. I agreed, but only because I was born in Montana and I said it had to count it as our break. Reavis Ranch looked like Daytona Beech and I had not apprehensions about making the short trip past it to my cozy little campsite at Walnut Spring. Got to Walnut just at headlamp time. Blew through camp chores, made a fire, ate and got to bed as soon as we could.

    Day 2: 25.67 miles 6392 aeg

    We came up a little short on our proposed campsite on this day, but the hiking was great so no worries. No stranger to the Eastern Supes, but Sunday still offered me all new areas after Two Bar Ridge. Cottonwood Canyon was great! No shortage of water in there and some cool little sites in this random little riparian jungle in the far corners of the northwestern Supes. A little bit of road and then it was the traverse from hell along the 188 waiting for that damn bridge to come into sight. From the bridge it was up the stairway to heaven. Where fittingly we had a trail angel waiting for us with tons of snacks and H20. After our sugar, hops, and caffeine binge at Mills Ridge we decided to just push for Buckhorn Creek. However, on that side of Four Peaks, pushing for a few extra miles usually entails a nice chunk of aeg as well, so we earned it. I did find a set of Indian ruins though along the way, so that was cool. We were both excited to learn that after carrying all that fresh water from Mills Ridge, there was water flowing in Buckhorn Creek. Oh well no filtering to do, quicker camp set-up, quick fire and in bed even earlier than previous night.

    Day 3: 31.24 miles 5239 aeg

    Day three was all new ground for me. Four Peaks makes you work, but alas the beauty of nature is enhanced by the ardor of the journey. I really enjoyed this section, an instant new favorite! I hiked through perhaps one of my nicest sunrises in a long time and marked several rock pile sites along the trail for future exploring. This section just kept getting better for me as we neared Four Peaks and started contouring towards Pigeon Spring. The lingering and previous snow had some of the creeks flowing nicely along this stretch and the trail got very nice as we approached its end. The road felt a little like Mad Max with the amount of Jeeps, trucks and atvs out. However, I must say not one negative experience with any driver and I do not think I have been offered as much water in such a short amount of time as I was along that 11 mile stretch of road. One guy asked, "is there anything else I could give you?" I said I could use some sunscreen and he offered up the whole bottle. The hike down into Sycamore was also very nice, again a great time to be in the lowlands, a little water, some flowers and green. However, it was hard to appreciate at times with the fatigue and anxiety over coordinating a last minute drop off of some additional things I felt I needed, if I was going to have any chance of reaching Pine. The drop and pick went smooth, a small adventure, but relatively smooth. We did not get an ideal spot to camp, but spirits were high after our resupply.

    Day 4: 24.7 miles 6297 aeg

    This was the day Karl and I would be saying our goodbyes. Karl decided on a Peely exit and I would push on to Bear Spring from there. More new trail for me to start the day and again I was not disappointed. The canyons on the way up to Saddle Ridge were picturesque, there was a lot of water and signs of some pretty extensive trail work in spots. I will admit things got a little dicey after we left the quaint McFarland Spring area, but we endured. The trails definitely need some work in there. I found myself kind of embracing the ruggedness and challenge the area presented. However, I could see that area becoming another hiker's hell if they were not expecting it. Karl and I parted at Peely. Losing Karl sucked, as he and I had a good thing going the first few days. Karl was keeping our pace in the areas where I tend to day dream and I was doing what I could do to keep us at a respectable place for some of the more stout climbs. But no time to dwell, I was solo now and needed to reach Bear Spring, just another 2000 feet of aeg and a shade under ten miles. There is no sense harping on the point, but the Divide Trail is getting nasty along there and I did make it to Bear Spring before head lamp conditions, but I was obliterated from that last little push from Peely. I replaced Karl with another Carl at Bear Spring. I am going to assume he spells his with a C. Anyways, I ran into Carl, better known as Spiced Rum on HAZ. He was on the final night of a backpack to gather some information for future work in the area. We chatted it up for awhile and I am not ashamed to admit I took some extra snacks from him. He was leaving a day early and I could not believe the amount of food I was going through on these long days, so I had no problem taking the charity. Superb stuff too, some great dried fruit, trail-mix and a Rice Crispy treat. Good guy all around and a source of wealth on some other major trails that I am interested in. And what a nice little spot to camp near Bear Spring, that saddle is great, I see why toughboots is fond of the place.

    Day 5: 26.9 miles 4051 aeg

    This was my make or break day. I had my city creek trailhead bailout option if needed, or I was pushing for the East Verde via the dreaded Red Hills and making my final push for Pine from there. The divide trail has its ups and downs, both in terrain and condition, but overall it was pretty smooth going. There is a section of Divide Trail that is now immaculate from about the intersection with Brody Seep to the intersection with Barnhardt. Kudos to that trail crew. I stopped for way too long to soak my legs and filter water and then realized I was looking at about ten more miles to include the worst part of the Red Hills and it was nearly three. My rational side said, "set up camp here, hike out LF or Saddle Ridge tomorrow," however, my other side said, "quit making excuses and finish the original plan." I am not sure what it was, but I was really dreading the last half of the Red Hills. Out of paranoia of being too exhausted to complete the entire section and having to dry camp somewhere I carried way too much water. This weighed me down and annoyed me even more as several of the creeks and main valleys I crossed had running water in them. As it turned out, while my worries were warranted, I did just fine and to be honest felt the area did not seem as bad as it had before and I must give props to the horse(s) whose tracks I followed through the entire Red Hills section, a doable stretch, just may require more time and detail. Camped at the Verde where I was serenaded to sleep by cows, frogs, chickens, maybe peacocks, cats and perhaps even a species of monkey. A very lively river at night.

    Day 6: 23.08 miles 4329 aeg

    This was the one I was waiting for, the "easy" day. A nice early start, I don't think there is a better place to be in the world than a half hour before light in the mountains somewhere, just pure serenity. There were ankle breakers abound on this day of Whiterock and Hard Scrabble. A nice steady pace was all I tried to keep and I followed a liberal break plan, as I crawled into Pine. The final two sections were not my favorite, but they were also the last two sections of a 160 mile trek so they would have had to have been perfect to really capture my imagination. Nevertheless, I got through both of them and endured the lava rock tread and bland road. I did find the last few miles to be more redeeming with the scenic Oak Spring and Bradshaw tank area. It was a reunion at the trailhead with Jackie and the pups, Del Taco and then home.

    Final Notes

    I need to work on a better nutrition plan for these big ones. I simply did not bring enough caloric energy for the type of days I was doing and the amount of energy I was putting out. I need to go healthier and more efficient, just a good lesson to learn.

    Karl played a huge role in getting me through those first four days, very glad to have him through there, he was missed later.

    A good song to have stuck in your head while hiking is Passion Pit, "Take a Walk."

    I can definitely go lighter on these ones too, I packed light, but by no means did I make any attempts to go ultra-light. In the future, that may be needed to knock out some of these more ambitious multi day treks.

    The hardest days by far were Day four with its nearly 7000 feet gained and day five with its 27 legit miles through the Mazzies without as much as a foot of road relief until the very end.

    About normal to not so great, to really good in spots. Most action in the first few sections though.
    Saddle Mountain #91
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    Saddle Mtn / Peeley Loop
    Loop hike with Kyle & Claire. We headed for the Peeley Trailhead and saw Hank and the rest of the HAZ crew who were remembering GPS Joe. We also saw FOTG and the dogs. We took our lunch and then returned to our trailhead passing the Sunflower Mine. Along the creek we saw a large pack of Coatimundi.
    Saddle Mountain #91
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    Mazzie Mine Mega Loop
    Met up with Kyle for a lasso loop in the Mazzies. We've talked about this hike going back a year or two. I did some jeeping in the area back in 2006 and I was looking forward to returning on foot.

    We started hiking at the Cross F Trailhead and followed the AZT trail northward. It was nice going with steady uphill. We continued on and split starting our loop as we headed to the northeast towards the National Mine. I was curious to see the area after they removed the Sunflower plant. We got down there and found they cleared most of the debris off the site. The large turbine is still there and the foundation. Kyle has a photo posted.

    After the mine we continued north and took a lunch before connecting to the Cornocopia Trail. This led us away from the creek bottom and we eventually reconnect back onto the AZT. From there we were cruising back and decided to take a quick detour to see if anything remained at the Story Mine. Kyle and I both scoped out this area ahead of time looking at maps and satellite images. We made a short loop of this area and didn't find anything excect for catclaw and manzanita. It was borderline misery with lots of colorful language used by both of us!

    From the Story Mine we made a straight shot back to the trailhead. We took one final break a few miles out and then finished our return. Along the way back we got a good look at the trail work done by the AZT Volunteers. They did nice work thank you to all!
    Saddle Mountain #91
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    Started from Sunflower kinda late at 9:30a. Went north on Saddle Mountain Trail and then Maz Divide Trail until Windsor Saddle (I've already done Y Bar to Red Hills previously). Took Y Bar down to Barnhardt TH and got picked up along FR419.
    I didn't much care for AZT #22 but #23 from Peeley to Windsor is pretty sweet. I definitely want to do that one again! Going down Y Bar in the dark pretty much sucked. Saw a few nice campsites along the Divide Trail and all were stocked with firewood! I was worried I'd run into some overgrown sections on the Divide Trail but everything is in good shape right now. I think a trail crew has been out there recently (they were camped out near Barnhardt TH).

    Lots of Lupines
    Saddle Mountain #91
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    This year’s Copper Camp Loop went off pretty good. This time we stayed on the right side of the Copper Camp creek for as long as we could before crossing at the actual camp. I think it was easier than zig-zagging in the creek.

    We made the long climb up Cypress ridge to the lunch spot. As we finished eating Joe turned on his used car salesman's charm and starting talking about an easier shortcut. The shortcut would cut at least a mile and 500 feet AEG from the hike. There might have been mention of a soda machine along the way. Joe had me at 500 less climbing.

    We were told there was a false ridge, but Joe claimed it was good looking ridge after that. I agreed if there was no climbing involved. Well after the 3rd or 4th rock pile I put on the climbing gloves. The terrain turned nicer once we started to descend a bit, there were trees and dirt. The ridge line wasn't that bad. We pop-out almost exactly where the Sheep Creek trail pulls out of the creek bed. This was nice not to deal with the cat-claw fields. Karl and Joe did a great job scouting out the way up and down the Cypress ridge. We never hit any big drops. One interesting note is that we found a cairn about 2/3 of way across Cypress ridge.

    The shortcut across the ridge actually added about 700 feet to the AEG :? !

    It was a fun hike with some new territory and good company. It was nice meeting Bruce.
    Saddle Mountain #91
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    My first hike with topohiker Ken and why not start it off with one of his classics, the Copper Camp Loop.

    07:30 Start - Mormon Grove TH

    09:30 - 5 miles in to my cache spot at 87/88 intersection.
    A pleasant stroll on Saddle Mountain #91 and Sheep Creek #88 (also AZT-22).
    The birds were chirping, butterfly's fluttering and the Temps are perfect.
    Big views from up here. Down in McFarland Canyon area, where the AZT splits off to the Thicket Spring Trail #95. There was plenty of pooling to filter from.

    10:00 - 6 Miles in to begin the drop to Copper Canyon Camp (5,450' - 3,100')
    This was my favorite part of the hike. (Mile 5 to Mile 9).
    The views were killer. Lion Mountain looks to be an Interesting destination... Been up on top of that one Richard?

    12:00 - 9.25 - 10.25 Miles Medium to thick Cat claw starts
    You run into another Riparian area in this section. Also the worse Cats Claw you'll encounter... but it's short-lived.

    12:30 - 10.25 miles in, start to climb to lunch on Cypress Ridge (3,100' - 4,900')
    The first 2/3's of this climb is not too bad. The last 1/3 took it out of me.

    14:15 - 12 miles in, lunch
    Pretty lunchtime views, and the Sales Pitch for the "Short Cut" begins.

    14:40 - Start the 3 miles across Cypress Ridge to Sheep Creek #88
    Nobody said No. It wasn't bad or scary... just a lot slower going than anyone planned.
    Views were killer. Ken found new stains and cuts on the tops of his shoes that he had not noticed before. This was a variation of Ken's Loop that I don't think he'll be doing next year.

    18:00 - 15.3 Miles in, back on a trail again (Sheep Creek #88)
    I remember this from the last time back here. This trail gets a bit steep in places.

    19:12 - 17 miles in, back to the Cache spot at the intersection of trails 87/88.
    I'd been running low and actually Ken loaned me half a Gatorade. We all filtered water at my cache spot. I guzzled a liter. Temps were now cool at 54.

    A five mile walk back to Karl's truck couldn't end quick enough.

    21:23 - 22 Miles, back at the Mormon Grove TH

    A short Video :next:

    Great meeting you Ken.
    Thanks for Driving and the Barley Pop Karl!
    Saddle Mountain #91
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    Copper Camp - Cypress Ridge Loop
    Ken's annual Copper Camp Loop with a twist. Everyone enjoyed the hike heading down. Ken wanted to stay out of the creek this year and attempt to follow the trail on the right. A hearty maintence crew would need to reestablish it as the creek environment has swallowed the old trail.

    Hiking up and off-trail to Cypress Ridge is always a blast. Once there the dreary task of descending and going around the ridge is at hand. I mentioned riding the ridge out as an alternative for a future year. Shockingly the idea turned to this year and no objections surfaced.

    The ridge was a bit longer than anticipated. Karl & I thought it was nifty. Ken & Bruce didn't share our enthusiasm. The constant low key scrambling was not their style. Karl & I waited and admired views with greater consistency across the ridge. Unfortunately Ken never really got to see the incredible views as he was concentrating on the terrain. Karl & I recalculated our options several times along the way. While I regretted ever suggesting the ridge, it all worked out.

    Back on trail we started up the monster ascent back to the trailhead. While the hike had varied reviews I enjoyed the diverse company of the group. I look forward to finding a balance of terrain we all can enjoy!

    4 quarts

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To Mormon Grove Trailhead
    Driving from Phoenix, take the Beeline Highway (87) North toward Payson. Take the Sycamore Creek exit (just past mile marker 222), turning left across the divided highway and down the paved road 'Old Highway 87' for 1.2 miles to FR201.

    Turn right over the cattle guard onto the gravel road (FR201) and proceed 1.2 miles to cross another cattle guard just before a split in the road at FR25. Take the sharp left turn downhill (FR25) and proceed 2.6 miles to a Y in the road. Stay left again and downhill on FR25 (the right leg takes you onto FR25A). Proceed uphill for 2.2 miles (switchbacks) to the Mormon Grove Trailhead.

    Both FR201 and FR25 are gravel roads - FR25 is slow/rough- loose & hard packed rock, steeper climb up/down than FR201.

    The Mormon Grove Trailhead is not signed but is obvious since it is where FR25 ends at an old wooden corral.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 66.6 mi - about 1 hour 21 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 164 mi - about 2 hours 42 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 145 mi - about 3 hours 10 mins
    page created by joebartels on Jul 03 2017 8:28 pm
    3 pack - loud whistle
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