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Powers Garden Trail #96, AZ

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Guide 17 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
4 of 5 by 6
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Distance One Way 8.11 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,144 feet
Elevation Gain -572 feet
Accumulated Gain 963 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 11.32
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8  2018-11-25
Sycamore Trail #278
5  2016-10-14
Powers Garden
41  2015-10-12
Powers Garden
28  2015-10-11
Powers Divide S.Field Loop
30  2015-10-10
Powers Garden
23  2015-10-09
Powers Garden & Cabin - Galiuro Mountains
21  2015-10-09
Powers Garden
29  2015-10-09
Powers Garden
Page 1,  2
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
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Sun  6:09am - 6:18pm
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The Powers Garden Trail follows an old road built by a pioneer family that farmed, ranched and mined in Rattlesnake Canyon shortly after the turn of the century.

The Power family eked out a frontier-style livelihood in this remote land until 1918. Then, three members of the family were involved in a gunfight with law officers on a gold claim they were working 5 miles up Rattlesnake Canyon from Powers Garden. Although John Power was killed, his two sons, Tom and John, along with family friend Tom Sison, escaped into the mountains and became the object of one of the largest manhunts Arizona had seen to that date.

The cabin where it all happened is not along the Powers Garden Trail, but on the West Divide Trail #289 about a half mile south of where the Powers Garden Trail joins it. The original boundaries of the Galiuro Wilderness were drawn to exclude the road the Power family built to their ranch and mine. In 1984, when a new Wilderness bill was passed by Congress, those boundaries were redrawn so that the area the road passed through became part of the Wilderness. Today, Powers Garden Trail exerts a strong attraction on those interested in experiencing the remoteness and solitude of deep wilderness. Except for a small house the family built at Powers Garden, a few grazing developments, and an occasional airplane flying overhead, there is little here to come between you and nature. After dropping down Powers Hill, Trail #96 stays within Rattlesnake Canyon for the rest of its length. Rattlesnake Creek itself is dry much of the year, but the vegetation along it is still typically riparian. You’ll find Arizona sycamores, cypress and walnut here, in addition to several desert dwelling species of oak. Mountain lion and black bear are plentiful in this out of the way place too, as are other desert species including the raccoon-like coatimundi.

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2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot
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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
Powers Garden Trail #96
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Nice day in the Grass-iuros on an out-and-back to Powers Garden. Very long drive to the Deer Creek trailhead and the hike itself is pretty gnarly (and cow infested), but the destination is very cool. Lots of tents in the meadow but no one around, probably a trail crew out there. PG reminds me a lot of Reavis Ranch in the Supes.
Powers Garden Trail #96
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Its hard to imagine a three day backpack turning out this well after it was chosen as a somewhat last minute alternative to a cancelled LCR trip, but simply put it turned out to be nearly perfect. The landscape was rugged, the views were extraordinary, the company was great and the attractions in the area well worth it.

We made the long drive to the Galiuros Friday night. We agreed on knocking out the southern portion of our loop for our approach to Powers on Saturday with a stop at Kennedy Peak along the way.

The route to the cabin on Saturday was the best of times and the worst of times. The best of times consisted of: our fun group, the copious amounts of water spewing out of the mountain, a fun summit and some great scenery. The worst of times consisted of: the complete absence of a trail in spots, the thickest wildflowers any human has ever traveled through, concealed ankle breakers, not so concealed New Mexican Locust, grass as tall as one's eyes and trail obliterating washouts and landslides.

The trail conditions were much nicer day two and the hiking more rewarding. After the obligatory stop at the shootout site, we headed for some "fun" in the mine. The mine was very extensive inside and contained several remnants of its operational days. The more adventourous spent a considerable amount of time exploring the several passages and I completed a pretty dicey descent down an old ladder to explore a very deep vertical shaft. However, as my support team began to express their disaproval in the venture, I decided to call it quits. There was still probably a solid 30-40 more feet to drop, but I was starting to lose my faith in the old ladder, as the distance between rungs grew to a precarious 3 feet in spots and the bottom was still not clearly visible; that and I was not crazy about the wire holding some rungs on in replacement of nails.

After the mine and cabin, some headed for the garden, others headed for the ridgeline. John and I followed up on a a lead I had discovered while looking over some topo maps of the area. As it turned out, my lead turned out to be quite the rewarding little find. We came across presumably a prehistoric dwelling that had been recycled and certainly utilized in more contemporary times. The cave and its scenic surroundings were very interesting and the trail there was great with flowing water nearly the entire distance, modest cascades and the discovery of the classic wooden Galiuros Wilderness sign along the way. Inside the cave there was a man made cistern inside catching water from a seep and and a little loft area that was reachable by a ladder complete with some modern pictographs. After the cool little find, it was back to camp for the standard good times around the fire.

Day three offered some of the nicest views of the trip. A challenging little climb out, but some great creek side hiking due to the recent rains and some small waterfalls worth leaving the trail for a closer look. The trail was in better shape than our Saturday route in, however, it could certainly use a little TLC. Fast times out and fun times at the trailhead!
Powers Garden Trail #96
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Powers Divide S.Field Loop
Day hike loop from Powers Garden to the shootout cabin and mine, with the return trip along the West Divide Trail.

Powers 96 was in fine shape, especially upstream of Corral canyon which was the source of a recent flood. South of Corral, there is no sign at all of the 2014 Oak Fire down in the valley. Once reaching the saddle and the Divide trail junction the trail down to the cabin is overgrown with catclaw. I'd say this trail should be cleared, but I suspect the FS is perfectly happy making it a pain to get to. And I'm actually ok with that. It's neat to see the cabin, having only scraped the surface of the history there. I'll have to watch Powers War again now that I've been there. I'm sure some of it will make more sense now.

We took a lunch break there and continued down the road to the mine where I was quick to voice my disapproval of the lack OSHA safety protocols in place. :o

On the way back, FOTG, LP, and Steady headed their own way while Karl and Pat and I decided to take the ridge back.

Like the other trails we hiked in the Galiuros, West Divide 289 is overgrown and involves some good bushwhacking, but isn't really too tough. The views were great, and a nice breeze kept the warm and largely shadeless route quite pleasant.

When we arrived at the first option to drop back to the garden, we opted to continue. The first trail is signed as Field Canyon 294, but I believe it is actually called Tent Lookout 294.

From this junction north on West Divide 289 we encountered the nicest trail conditions of the weekend. The ACC trail crew had been clearing this section and it was an absolute dream :y: . Almost too good to be true! --And soon enough, in fact, too good to be true! We reached the end of where the trail had been cleared, and we were faced with about a mile of the worst trail of the weekend. The only good thing is there was no manzanita and no catclaw, but it was otherwise a linebacker's worth of pushing through trees, bushes, and branches. Crawling was a regular part of getting through. ](*,)

Finally we reached the junction with the trail that drops into South Field Canyon. The Divide Trail north of this point was clear again, as was the trail that we followed downhill. Despite the flowing water all over the east side of the Galiuros, we were surprised that this canyon was bone dry. Nonetheless, it was a scenic canyon and a pleasant hike. The trail deteriorated and fell into what seems to be a common state for trails out here ... overgrown.

One short climb up a ridge brought us to the junction of the lower end of the signed Field Canyon 294 trail that we had bypassed up top earlier. Before heading back to camp we decided to check out the Powers Spring area, which was an amazing narrows of rocks and flowing water.

This was a great day hike loop from the garden. It'll be great once the final northern section of the Divide trail is cleared.
Powers Garden Trail #96
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Outstandingly fun weekend trip into the heart of the Galiuros with a great group of people!

East Divide 287
Starts off reasonably well with some minor route-finding issues due to the healthy growth of summer grasses. Turns into a full-fledged machete-required jungle in the Oak Creek drainage before rising up through the burn area toward Kennedy Peak.

Kennedy Peak 287a
This trail cuts through a moonscape burn area and the trail is largely lost to erosion. Cairns exist, but staying along the old barbed wire fence will get you most of the way there. The resulting wildflower display is impressive. Great views in all directions: Santa Teresas, Pinalenos, Bassett Peak, Wrightson, Mica, Rincon, and the Catalinas.

Corral Canyon 291
This trail is almost completely gone. Recent rain over the burn area has washed out many of the traverses leaving a very difficult challenge to travel through. Add to that wildflowers that are waist deep and it's a fight to push ahead. Once in the bottom of the canyon, much of the trail has been obliterated by flash flooding. Especially in the upper part of the canyon. The last mile or so, most of the shelf and the trail remains, but the crossings are a challenge. This trail needs a full-fledged reconstruction.

Powers Garden 96
Post-wildfire floods have wiped out some of the shelf along this trail as well rendering travel a bit more of a challenge than I suspect it once was. But the route can be found if you look for it. The fire didn't reach this low, so the valley is still shaded and cool.

Tortilla 254
Not much flood damage on this trail, but still in pretty rough shape. Travel was much quicker than the East Divide/Corral combo on the way in, but plenty of growth to fight through.

On the way in, I commented out loud that if somebody had told me it would take 5 hours to hike in I wouldn't have believed them. I repeated the same and updated it again at 6 and 7 hours! :o So yeah, it was a real grind due to unexpectedly terrible trail conditions on the south side of the loop.

Nonetheless we arrived safely and met Claire, 9L and Kyle who had arrived the previous day. We set up camp and settled in for the night. Sunday we all did our own thing, and Sunday evening a group of trail workers from the ACC stopped by our campfire for a while. Kudos to these volunteers for the work they do. It is impressive and much appreciated!

Monday we all headed out together around 8am. We split up into different groups all taking a different pace. A few of us finished via the Deer Creek Cabin route which is a nice option that we were pleasantly surprised about and resulted in a mile of fast road walking rather than rocky trail. It was a welcome end to a long weekend on tough trails.

I feel like we were very lucky with the amount of water. It's a beautiful area, but I could see it being much more of a challenge without the creeks and drainages flowing with water.

But I'll be back to the Galiuros for sure! :)

* I meant to mention that I successfully used Route Scout for all navigation and track recording over the entire three day trip. I charged my phone with a backup battery (anker) on the second night as it would not otherwise last 3 full days while recording 7-8 hours each day. I'm very happy with how well it worked!

Saw a few small bright red somethings that I can't remember what are, and some poison ivy changing colors. Otherwise nothing yet.

Amazing display still popping on the upper slopes exposed by fire.
Powers Garden Trail #96
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Powers Garden & Cabin - Galiuro Mountains
Our original plan was to head to the LCR for a few days in the Grand Canyon. That plan fell through because a storm dumped a ton of rain up north and flooded the LCR with muddy water. We decided to reschedule and settled on Powers Cabin. Claire, Kyle and I drove up on Friday morning and started hiking in. The others will head in on Saturday morning and will stay one day longer.

The dirt road to the Deer Creek trailhead is roughly 36 miles and is in excellent condition. We made good time and started hiking before noon. The first mile was relatively easy. Our plan was to take the East Divide Trail towards Kennedy Peak. Right before the intersection we talked to some people on horseback who said that route suffered major damage from a fire and the rains have washed out the switchbacks. We decided to keep it simple and head in on the Tortilla Trail and this turned out to be a good choice. The going was relatively easy but we had to fight our way through tall grass and be on the lookout for the correct route. Carrying a GPS with the route loaded helped keep us on track. At one point we passed a herd of cattle that was a tad aggressive & angry at us passing. Kyle kept Lily on a leash and we pushed through.

The next few miles ticked on by as we dropped into a drainage and then wrapped around to the high point to the west. There was lots of water out there as there was heavy rain the week before. After the high point we started the drop towards Powers Garden. We made good time and eventually walked up on the cabins. We noticed several tents in the field. This turned out to be a trail crew working on the West Divide Trail. We picked a campsite to the southeast of the garden nestled in the trees. It was a perfect site with lots of shade, a fire ring and close to the creek which had a good flow of clear water.

The three of us settled in for the night with a fire and yummy dinner. The next day we slept in and then had breakfast. Kyle decided to hang out near camp while Claire and I made the hike to the south to see Powers Cabin. We started off on the road and made good time as we crossed the creek several times and admired this beautiful canyon. There was lots of bear scat but we didn’t see any bears. The hike to the cabin is about 5.5 miles and most of it is fast travel. We topped out just above the cabin and that’s where the fun begins. It’s .4 miles to the cabin and you drop 400 ft but the trail has lots of catclaw to fight through. Claire and I were both wearing shorts and our legs were cut to shreds! It’s was borderline awful! With much effort we reached the cabin and admired the area. We both felt the history of this area after watching The Powers War a few months ago. Four men were killed here in a shootout back in 1918. That must have been quite a sight in this remote part of the Galuiro Mountains. We soaked everything in and checked out the mine and then had some lunch.

After visiting the Powers Cabin we made the return. The catclaw wasn’t as bad on the return up to the high point. From there it was very easy going back toward the garden. Along the way we ran into Chumley and Patrick who were on their way in via the East Divide Trail. They said the route was really overgrown and tough to follow. The washouts on the switchbacks were nasty. Claire and I were both glad we opted for the Tortilla Trail. We all returned to Powers Garden and the rest of the group trickled in as well. There will be twelve of us camping tonight. We all settled in for the evening an enjoyed another campfire. It was a very relaxed evening. Everyone who joined us was really tired after the tough hike in. Pretty much everyone turned in before 10pm.

We woke fairly early on Sunday morning and enjoyed coffee & croissants (Thanks Chumley!). The rest of the group was prepping for day hikes while Claire and I packed up to return to Phoenix. I had to work on Monday. We started hiking a little before 9am and made good time on the hike out via the Tortilla Trail. The going was a little easier considering we pushed a lot of the grass out of the way on the hike in. Claire and I took a few breaks and eventually were back at the jeep in the early afternoon. From there we made the long drive out and stopped for dinner & beers at Arizona Wilderness Brewery.

Powers Garden and Cabin are a wonderful destination with fascinating history. The Galiuro Mountains are rugged and beautiful and one of the highlights of southern Arizona. I’m really glad we made the trip and hope to return another day.

Lots of foliage in bloom

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Map Drive

To hike
From Safford drive west 13.5 miles on US 70. Turn left (west) on the Klondyke Road and continue 32 miles to its junction with the Aravaipa Road. Turn northwest here and drive 3.5 miles to the old Powers Garden Road (FR 96). Turn south on this 4-wheel drive road and drive 11 miles to the trailhead. Additional access is available from Deer Creek and High Creek.

2016-04-22 @nomphy writes: access to the trailhead from FR 96 is now blocked by a locked gate on private property just off of Klondyke Rd. Couldn't find any way around it
page created by joebartels on Dec 27 2012 12:54 am
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