After a long 5 years I decided a return to the Galiuros was long overdue. On my prior trips the destination had been either Powers Garden or the Ash Creek/Bassett Peak areas. This time it was time for something new! After recently seeing the documentary "Powers War" I decided on a return to "Shootout Cabin" aka "Powers Cabin". The route we hiked to Powers Cabin utilized High Creek #290, East Divide #287, Rattlesnake #285, Powers Garden #96 and the West Divide #289 trails.
Accessing either end of this trail is a hike by itself. You'll be better off doing this trail as part of a backpacking trip and that will give you time to explore the interesting interior of the Galiuros. I posted this trip on the BCH Meetup groups site and only got two others to join me (Fan & Gary H.). Although there are numerous trails you can use to gain access to the Powers Cabins this one MAY provide the easiest access, passes through unburned forest (for now) and also passes a neat spring named Holdout (seasonal) that's located in a cave. In June of 2014 a fire burned the NE portion of this wilderness, the fire didn't reach this far south.
We started this trail at its high point at the JCT with the East Divide trail #287 (7200')and descended it to its other end at the JCT with the Powers Garden trail #96 (5300'). We also hiked back up this trail since this backpack was an out and back. For those looking to make the journey to the Powers cabins; "Powers Garden" is 3.5 miles down (North) the Powers Garden trail #96 from the JCT with the Rattlesnake trail #285. The other Powers Cabin "Shootout Cabin" is 1.5 miles away in the other direction (South)from the JCT.
As you approach the Rattlesnake trail #285/East Divide trail #287 JCT you'll have an impressive view off to the west of the Catalina's, Rincons, Santa Rita's and Whetstones. You'll also get a memorable view of the southern half of the Galiuros and be at the head of Rattlesnake Creek, this creek eventually ties into Aravaipa. You may notice a trail below you that clings to a slope, it's more then 500' below you. SORRY but that's where you're heading!
This trail drops 1900' over its 4.9 mile course but I'd say 2/3's of that is in the first two miles. The trail pretty much plunges from the JCT of #287 with few switchbacks. Even though there's a good amount of oaks, pinyons, juniper and manzanita this trail offers very little shade along this stretch. You'll come to the first of three saddles just prior to the part of the trail that could be seen from above. Past this saddle the trail is narrow and covered in scree as it passes on the north side of a hilltop. A slip here would result in a nasty plunge that you'd probably survive, AFTER the 100' roll. I found two abandoned shovels hidden here in the manzanita. I left one and took the other with the intention of leaving it at Holdout Spring (left it in cave). Soon you'll come to a second saddle and pass on the south side of another hilltop. The plunge will still continue but now you'll have some tree cover. In a short time you'll encounter a few switchbacks that will lead you to an undercover third saddle. From this saddle you'll plunge down a feeder drainage and into Rattlesnake Creek.
Now you'll enter hiking paradise. The Galiuros are a little strange, its an upside down mountain. Lower elevation trees can be found up in the higher terrain along with pines but down in the low canyons you'll find a lot of BIG pines. The remainder of this trail will be a gradual decent crossing the dry creek numerous times in a pine forest. There are plenty of places to camp but you'll want to spend the night near Holdout spring/cave. Its about a 20-30 minute walk along the Creek to the signed JCT of the Holdout Spring trail #285A. The JCT is 3.3 miles from the East Divide #287 JCT and 1.6 miles to the Powers Garden #96 JCT. The spur to the spring is .3 mile and climbs about 75'. There's a cleaned up fire ring and although the area isn't flat you can set up about a dozen tents in the area. The spring and cave are about a 2 minute walk from the fire ring.
The remaining 1.6 miles of trail continue to gradually descend to the JCT of the Powers Garden #96 trail. There are a number of intriguing holes in the ground of the same depth and size along the way. They almost look like craters from artillery and although there was mining in the area I don't think they are prospecting holes. You'll pass a mine on north side of the creek near the end of the trail and an old wooden structure with no roof. We missed the wooden structure on our hike down the trail so I'd say its not obvious. At the JCT of the Powers Garden #96 trail there is a modern horse trough (galvanized tub). It was empty and my guess is the plastic tubing needed repair. Although most of the creek was dry we found water by the trail JCT, this would be a great spot to camp because of the nearby mining relics.
Coronado FS Reports Rattlesnake Trail is so named because it’s located in the upper reaches of Rattlesnake Canyon, not necessarily because it’s home to an unusual abundance of the West’s most famous trail hazard. Then again, there has to be a reason the canyon got that name in the first place, so it’s probably a good idea to watch where you step and where you put your hands while you’re passing through. Many people confuse this trail with the Powers Garden Trail #96, which is also in Rattlesnake Canyon. Trail #96, however, winds its way through the lower reaches of the canyon from the bottom of Powers Hill to the point where it joins the Rattlesnake Trail roughly in mid-canyon. Rattlesnake Trail branches off the East Divide Trail #287 a short distance north of the point where the High Creek Trail #290 provides access to the East Divide from Forest Road 159. Because the High Creek Trail is only 1.7 miles long, this route (High Creek, East Divide, Rattlesnake) provides the shortest access into the history-rich area once homesteaded by the Power family (see the Power Cabin page of the History section of this guide). As the trail drops from conifer-clad high country to canyon bottom, it passes through vegetation that varies with aspect and exposure from pine forest to oak juniper woodland to riparian zone. A short spur trail, #285A, leads to Holdout Spring.
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.