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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Fisher Trail #230, AZ

no permit
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Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson W
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance One Way 3.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,973 feet
Elevation Gain 760 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,860 feet
Avg Time One Way 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.8
Interest Seasonal Creek
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
30  2017-05-06
Mazatzal Peak Super Loop
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   May, Oct, Sep, Apr
Sun  6:09am - 6:33pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
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Manzanita and Deadfall
by jacobemerick

Likely In-Season!
This trail provides an alternate route from Brody Seep junction to Bear Spring, swinging low into the tributaries of South Fork Deadman Creek instead of climbing up along the Mazatzal Divide Trail (AZT). Mileage is about the same, though the view are less grand due to the lower elevation.

Heavy, heavy damage from the Willow Fire of '04. The first two miles are choked with manzanita and other nasty brush, then the rest is manzanita, nasty brush, and deadfall. Few cairns and faint tread make for a challenging route-finding exercise. Do not expect to go faster than a mile/hour on this 'trail'.

Starting from Brody Seep trail, head southwest a short distance until the route drops into a rocky wash. Tread is easy to follow, if overgrown, but I couldn't pick it up along the banks. Follow the wash downstream to 0.3 miles and then hack a way up the south bank before the drop. There is faint tread to be found here, though the deadfall is so thick it's best to find your own way up. Above the manzanita things will get rocky and grassy. Pick a way down the base of the cliffs to continue south. I wasn't able to find the trail here with the long grass and no cairns and simply did my best to avoid the rock slides.

Beyond the cliffs things open up a bit to provide some respite before dropping into and crossing a shallow drainage at 1.0 miles. Thick brush makes this a fun crossing. On the other side the trail twists to the east and rides along the base of a tall, steep hill. Tread is visible here, though plenty of game trails compete for attention. Path drops into a wash at 1.3 miles near some large sycamores. Take this downstream to 1.6 miles and then turn south and hack through some terribly thick brush, the worst stuff yet, to the next wash over. Or you could continue down and turn left and follow the fork upstream. That's the smarter way to do it.

Now it's time for the first climb. Follow the ridge up, staying mostly on the top, where hints of tread can provide too-short breaks from the onslaught of manzanita. Trail seemed to zig-zag sharply up the ridge and was not the easiest to follow. Near 2.3 miles start veering to the east where you get to deal with more of the same, only taller and now with dead pine trees to hop over. Aim for the closest saddle. Once on top there is a great view to the south and the next, 1000'+, climb.

Heading down is not that tough, not with hints of trail and relatively lighter brush on this side. Finding the tributary that leads up towards Bear Spring is annoying. It doesn't seem to make a recognizable dent in the bank. Find a spot and clamber up and enjoy the view up the rocky, choked climb ahead. It's not as bad as it looks if you balance from one trunk to the next, connecting them in a zig-zag route up the wash, only using the prickly berry bush-covered banks when necessary. There is some decent flowing rock pools along this stretch too, the last ones by the fork under a two-tiered and mossy waterfall.

Above the waterfall things get drier and the creek gets skinnier. More rock-hopping is required here and the logs make for a less conducive route. Some lusher greenery and grass shows up near the sight of Fisher Spring and Tank, though I wasn't able to find any pools or moist dirt near the waypoint. From here the plotted route zips up the northern bank. On top there are a few cairns and hints of tread and the brush isn't quite as thick as one would think. 0.2 miles on this ridge and the relative highway of Mazatzal Divide Trail shows up to provide some relief.

Water Sources
Tributary below Fisher Tank and Spring seems to have some decent rock pools. A few of the washes along the trail had stagnant pools that probably should not be depending on.

Check out the Official Route and Triplog.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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2017-05-08 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
    Fisher Trail #230
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    Mazatzal Peak Super Loop
    Have you ever wished you could do the Mazatzal Peak Loop and lose a pint of blood at the same time? This alternative on the old classic will deliver!

    Barnhardt to Chilson
    Not much to say here, did most of it in the dark. Trail maintenance from last year is holding up. Sandy Saddle junction is well cairned and the trail down to Castersen looks reasonable. Finished Barnhardt in two hours, took another twenty to zip over to Chilson Camp.

    Brody Seep
    Started easy enough, a huge cairn marking a rocky slide down to and over the wash below. Trail was reasonably easy to pick out, tread holding up well and a few cairns scattered about. Some overgrowth will force minor detours. Brody Seep was difficult to reach but well worth it. Above the seep it looks like there were two slides that knocked out a section of trail years and years ago and I ended up bushwhacking for a few hundred terrible yards. FOTG's track shows the correct route to follow. Final leg up to Mazatzal Divide Trail was short and painless, even found some old log steps (somewhat charred) along the route.

    Junction w/ Brody was difficult to pin down but the tread picks up in a few dozen yards and is easy to follow down to the wash. I tried briefly to pick up the path on the banks and then just followed the wash - assuming hikers from yesteryear did the same thing. This wash makes a sudden, scenic drop and forces the trail to head up a manzanita-and-deadfall choked slope towards crumbling cliffs. Tread can be picked up a few times, but it's easiest just to hack up where possible. Below the cliffs there are some rock slides that seemed to knock out the trail. Picked it up again on the other side and more-or-less followed it along the steep slope until the next wash. Again stuck to the wash, as the banks had manzanita well over my head. Eventually hacked across and found a single lonely cairn in the middle of the next wash, first cairn sighting on Fisher. Then it was a 500' climb through manzanita and deadfall (there's a pattern here), with a faint tread weaving back and forth in tight switchbacks to a saddle. Quick drop and then a 1000' climb up a steep tributary of South Fork Deadman. Didn't even try to find the trail at this point, not with all the pine deadfall, just stuck to the creek and balanced from one log to the next. Found water and a steep waterfall near the fork, no water at Fisher Spring, and a few cairns and traces of path up on the ridge above. Did not find the exact junction with Mazatzal Divide, though I'd guess my path was close to it.

    Mazatzal Divide
    After a hammock nap at Bear Spring it was time to head north to Y-Bar. After spending the last six miles on "trails?" this felt like a luxury I did not deserve. You know when you are driving on a two-lane country road without a single other car for miles and you purposefully drift between the lanes and feel like a rebel? Yeah, that. Until I almost stepped on a rattle-less snake. Then I stuck to my lane.

    Was a bit overgrown compared to the last year. Plus there were some thorny bits, and the loose rock on the downhill was not pleasant. My knees were also hurting by now so I might be a bit harsh here. The gusty winds did feel good, almost a little chilly. Reached the trailhead with thirty minutes to spare before sunset.

    Didn't see a single other person out there on the trails, which was both amazing and a little daunting.

    Mazatzal Miles: 85.3/274 (31.0%)

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To Barnhardt Trailhead
    From the corner of SR87 & SR260 in Payson go south on SR87 for 14.5 miles to the signed turnoff for Barnhardt trailhead (forest road 419). Follow FR419 5 miles to its end. The parking area is fairly large. Barnhardt trailhead is located at the west end of the parking area. From Phoenix take SR87 north out of Mesa to Payson. The turnoff to the trailhead is 4mi north of the 188 intersection. (think rest stop)

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 83.4 mi - about 1 hour 45 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 182 mi - about 3 hours 4 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 126 mi - about 2 hours 31 mins
    page created by joebartels on May 08 2017 2:26 pm
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