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Tortilla Trail #254, AZ

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Guide 20 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
3.3 of 5 by 7
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Distance One Way 6.41 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,505 feet
Elevation Gain 799 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,560 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 11.61
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8  2018-11-25
Sycamore Trail #278
44  2017-09-30 CanyonWanderer
33  2017-03-01 Oregon_Hiker
5  2016-10-14
Powers Garden
41  2015-10-12
Powers Garden
30  2015-10-10
Powers Garden
23  2015-10-09
Powers Garden & Cabin - Galiuro Mountains
21  2015-10-09
Powers Garden
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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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Preferred   Apr, Mar, Nov, Oct
Sun  6:09am - 6:19pm
Official Route
5 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Named place Nearby

Tortilla Trail leads from the grasslands that spread along the eastern slopes of the Galiuros to the heart of that remote mountain range in deep, wide Rattlesnake Canyon. From the trailhead at Deer Creek, it meanders among shallow canyons and rocky flats in the shadow of the bluffy slopes that characterize the Galiuros. Most of this trail is in open country, where isolated oaks and grassy flats do little to restrict the far-reaching views of rugged canyons, rocky escarpments and distant mountains. You may see evidence of mountain lion along this trail. These reclusive animals are about as plentiful here as they get in the southwest. There are mule deer and black bear in the area too, and smaller animals including shrill-voiced rock squirrels and colorful scarlet king snakes. Typical vegetation in the open areas includes bear grass, sotol, cane cholla and manzanita. Down in the canyons you'll find Arizona walnut, netleaf oak and silverleaf oak, among others. At Mud Spring, Sycamore Canyon Trail #278 branches off to the north. The Tortilla Trail then drops into the upper reaches of Sycamore Canyon before climbing to a saddle at the top of a steep descent that leads into Horse Canyon and eventually into Rattlesnake Canyon. Rattlesnake is one of two main drainages that split the Galiuros, the other is Redfield Canyon. At the bottom of Rattlesnake Canyon, you'll find Powers Garden and the Powers Garden Trail #96, both named after a family whose members once mined gold in this area and were principals in a famous shootout that occurred at Power Cabin. This trail can be a bit difficult to locate in a few places, and it is crisscrossed by a number of ranch and cattle trails that can confuse the issue even more. If you look around a bit, however, you can generally relocate the trail without much trouble. While it is always advisable to take a topographic map and a compass on a trip into the backcountry, in the Galiuros it is essential.

Remote Wilderness, Broad vistas, Pinnacles, buttes, needles, and bluffs. Oak savannah setting. Mud Spring and Powers Garden Spring provide the only reliable source of water on this trail. Purification of water is recommended prior to use. 7.4 miles of this trail are within the Galiuro Wilderness. USGS Map: Kennedy Peak

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2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot
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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
Tortilla Trail #254
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A couple SIA volunteers and I hiked in to Power's Garden to gather water rights data for the Forest Service at some springs and dams. It took us about 7.5 hours to go each way on the Tortilla Trail. We started at noon on Thursday and only made it to the saddle before you drop into Horse Canyon. There wasn't much water out there. We got lucky and found some in a small drainage right before the saddle. In retrospect, we really should have filled our water at Upper Sycamore Spring/Dam. After stopping by Horse Canyon Spring and Horse Canyon Dam, we made it to Power's Garden late the next morning, where we encountered a large and very unafraid black bear wandering up the creek to the main spring for water. There wasn't water in Rattlesnake Canyon until we got pretty close to the spring (about where the trail goes to the creek). We hiked out to Apache Dam and were shocked to find that it existed and was actually not totally full of sediment. We headed back for a rather restless night listening for bears. Friday, we headed back up the Tortilla Trail. We stopped at Upper Sycamore to gather data, refill on water, and eat lunch. We made it back to the truck by 4:30. The Tortilla Trail was in ok shape. It was there, but the tread was often very rocky and cobbly, and grasses and small shrubs covered it so that you had to look through them to see the tread. There were a couple washed out spots that weren't too hard to navigate. But overall, I'm really glad I had my phone's GPS and a map with the HAZ trails loaded on it to follow in several places. It definitely requires a bit of route-finding skill right now. It needs some work. Last October, we talked to some gentlemen who took 9 hours and a few falls to hike in and they thought the trail was in pretty rough shape. We only had to climb over one dead tree, though.
Tortilla Trail #254
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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.
Tortilla Trail #254
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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!
Tortilla Trail #254
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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.
Tortilla Trail #254
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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
Tortilla Trail #254
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Tortilla via Peralta TH
This is another hike from last year, however, I think its alright to post now, because it is right around the same time of year, and with the extended holidays coming up, some may be looking for some nice three and four day treks. This hike certainly offered some challenging changes in elevations, cold temperatures, and solitude. Most seasoned backpackers would find this to be a moderate hike in terms of difficulty, route finding (all trail), and total miles.

We started at Peralta TH the day after Christmas. Our chosen route was the Dutchman's Trail to Coffee Flats, to Red Tanks, Hoolie Bacon, then Peter's Trail back to the Dutchman's Trail and finishing up on Bluff Springs Trail. If you are into simply drawing new lines on your map and knocking out some remote areas of the Supers this hike may be for you.

Day one was our highest mile day of entire hike. We did not stop much, mainly because of the cool temperatures, we had some Christmas Tamales at a nice deep pool of water along Red Tanks, did a quick side trip to explore what proved to be an old Indian dwelling that utilized a deceptively deep cave. Although, the cave was not hard to locate only a short distance into Red Tanks Trail, it seemed not many people had been, because there was literally plate size pot sherds littering the ground. Our day one goal was to stay at Brad's Water which is in a side canyon/wash before you reach Hoolie Bacon, however, once we got there, we chose to just push forward, as we knew water was not going to be an issue. For future reference Brad's Water always has water, I will put my name and honor to that, if you are ever in a pinch during hot months, there will be water. However, it is not easy to find, I don't know if it was man-made, but it is essentially a small cave or rock grotto that has filled with water, about waste deep and pretty far back. We chose to camp our first night near the opening/beginning of Trap Canyon, just off Hoolie Bacon. We ran into the only people we saw on entire hike around five or so in the afternoon, they were doing a similar loop in reverse, except they were going through La Barge Box, definitely a more direct loop than ours. It got extremely cold the first night, our water froze and we started our second morning with what would be a trend for the first two days, thawing out our tents, recovering our gear, and huddling around the fire. For an additional side trip, if camped near the origins of Trap Canyon, a short walk down the canyon will take you to a ground level cave dwelling, with remnants of former walls and several grinding holes.

Our day two was relatively short in miles, but very scenic, and cold. Hoolie Bacon and Red Tanks both seem to really meander along and drag out at points. The day was made interesting by a pretty good little snow storm in the early afternoon and a fun descent down Horse Ridge. There are opportunities for side-trips as well in this area, for example, one can check out the Lost Dutchman Mine Jr. which is located near intersection of Hoolie Bacon and JF Trail. However, we have never been overly impressed by this cave/maybe old mine so we just pushed on towards Indian Springs. There was no need to find an actual spring, however, we did find the old troughs and some piping. Indian Springs proved to be another really cold night, but lets be real we built a very large fire. We camped in a pretty well-established spot, in fact, someone's entire camp seemed to have been just abandoned in place there, but it was in a sad state.

Day three we continued down Peter's Trail, took a GPS reading at Kane Spring and made our way towards Peter's Mesa, which begins with a pretty good climb. We ran into the same group from day before near Peter's Mesa, chatted a little and continued mission. We went off-trail around Peter's Mesa and dropped down into one of our favorite canyons to take a short-cut to camp at one of our favorite spots. The third night must have literally been 15 degrees warmer and we woke up to very warm temps on day four. It was kind of weird, after spending the first two nights in rather unfamiliar areas we kind of felt like we were already home, even though we were still in the Supers. Our hike out was pretty uneventful, just taking your standard well-traveled western Supes trails to Peralta TH. In fact, I finished in short sleeves and shorts, which was a far cry from my opening morning picture.

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Map Drive

To hike
From Safford drive south 17 miles on US 191 to AZ 266. Turn right (southwest) onto AZ 266 and drive 19 miles to Bonita. From Bonita, continue north on Aravaipa Road about 19 miles to the Deer Creek Ranch Road (FR 253). Turn left here and drive 8.4 miles to the trailhead.
page created by joebartels on Dec 27 2012 1:16 am
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