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Saddle Mountain #91, AZ

Guide 50 Triplogs  0 Topics
  3.1 of 5 
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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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13  2021-11-01
Saddle Mountain Loop
3  2021-10-02
Little Saddle Mountain Trail #244
1  2021-06-09
Saddle Mountain - AZT #22
11  2021-04-17
Saddle Mountain - AZT #22
9  2021-04-17
Saddle Mountain - AZT #22
5  2021-02-12
Saddle Mountain Loop
5  2020-04-17 jtaylor
6  2018-09-30 KBKB
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
Author jacobemerick
author avatar Guides 33
Routes 78
Photos 1,293
Trips 190 map ( 2,213 miles )
Age 37 Male Gender
Location Gilbert, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar Map
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Preferred Apr, Oct, May, Mar
Sun  5:35am - 7:30pm
Official Route
15 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 Willow 2004117.2 mi*
🔥 2020 Bush Fire193.5k
🔥 2012 Sunflower Fire16.1k
🔥 2004 Willow Fire120k
🔥 2004 Willow117.2 mi*
🔥 1995 Basin Fire21.2k
🔥 View (All) - over Official Route 🔥
*perimeter length in miles

Swinging around Saddle Mountain
by jacobemerick

A curving trail that follows the contours of Saddle Mountain and nearby hills. An 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. It 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 lovely. 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 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 reasonably 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.

    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
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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