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Del Shay Cabin via FR1938, AZ

no permit
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Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson S
2.5 of 5 by 2
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,842 feet
Elevation Gain 1,013 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,020 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.1
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Historic & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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13  2015-11-14 topohiker
41  2013-11-09 CannondaleKid
Author CannondaleKid
author avatar Guides 43
Routes 137
Photos 20,503
Trips 1,903 map ( 15,629 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, May, Mar → Early
Seasons   Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:22pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Shortcut to 'Shay
by CannondaleKid

The hike is shortcut version of Del Shay Trail #41. Instead of starting from the north and the 12.8 mile round-trip hike, this hike begins from Forest Road 1938 on the ridge above Del Shay Basin and adds up to a mere 2.0 miles.

About 20% of this hike (nearest the cabin) follows an old road, but it is made up of many loose rocks so for safety you may want to walk alongside it. The rest of the hike is definitely off-trail but with careful route selection you should be able to avoid the worst of the thick and thorny vegetation. Or better yet, follow the official GPS route as I took the best of two routes to save you the time, distance and trouble of backtracking.

Vehicle Warning
The gravel road from Punkin Center up FR71 & FR609 to the FR1938 junction can be driven by car when dry. On Forest Road 1938 you could drive the first mile or so with a 2WD pickup or SUV when dry, but after that you WILL need a 4x4 with good clearance. If the first 1/8 mile is muddy, DO NOT CONTINUE by vehicle. Hike it on foot and just add 10 miles round-trip to the 2 mile hike.
NOTE: The farther you travel on FR1938 the more extensive the Arizona Pinstripes your vehicle WILL acquire!

Preston did such a fine job of the history of the area in the hike description for Del Shay Trail #41 that I have nothing to add. If you're interested, check it out!

From the large rock cairn immediately adjacent to FR1938 you head slightly right to where the fence is low enough to step over then back left to the next large cairn, then turn northwest and set off. With careful observation you will find bits and pieces of what was likely a trail some years ago, but with so much elk and deer traffic it's easy to get fooled and wander until you hit a dead-end of thick brush.

After about a quarter-mile you will approach an outcropping of rock, seemingly too much of a drop to climb down. If you follow the official GPS track you will find the one easy spot to drop down where you will continue northwest until you reach the drainage. Turn left, follow the drainage until it gets too thick, climb the slope to the right then continue slightly north of west until connecting with the old road and follow it down to the cabin.

If you are NOT following the official GPS track and don't want to waste time attempting to find another way down the rock outcropping, I would recommend keeping well to your left and follow the drainage until the next outcrop where you will take a sharp right and traverse across the slope to the north to the next drainage. From there continue as noted in the previous paragraph.

Water Sources
Seasonal at Del Shay Cabin.

You may camp at Del Shay Cabin but I wouldn't recommend staying inside the cabin. We had a beautiful campsite adjacent to Forest Road 1938 within 50 yards of the trailhead. Even during hunting season, over four separate days I was out here I did not encounter one other person along FR1938, so you truly feel alone! If you want to experience a deafening silence, this is where you want to be.

Check out the Official Route and Triplog.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2013-11-12 CannondaleKid
    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
    Del Shay Cabin via FR1938
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Four years ago I came across information about a number of ancient ruin sites in the Del Shay Cabin area but without an appropriate vehicle I simply filed it away for some day. Well, I figured it was time for that 'some day' and began planning a trip. But with Tracey not yet ready to tackle a backpacking trip that meant I had to find some way other than the nearly 13 mile round-trip to Del Shay Cabin on Trail #41. While we could handle that distance in a day hike, it wouldn't leave us any time to wander around seeking out old ruin sites.

    So, I came up with the brilliant idea of driving as far as we could on Forest Road 1938 followed by a short hike to the cabin area. However, knowing that what's on a map isn't necessarily what you find on the ground even with the help of satellite images so I drove out on my own last week to do the basic recon. If you read my Forest Road 1938/Skunk Tank Ridge triplog ( you'll know what I found was quite different than expected and instead of a longer drive and very short hike along a Forest Road, it would mean a bush-whack down a slope with the potential for numerous cliff-outs. But at what looked about a 2.5 mile round-trip, I somehow managed to talk Tracey into camping on the ridge above Del Shay Basin along with a bush-whack down the slope. "Better 2.5 miles than 13!" I said.

    While driving past our planned trailhead on FR1938 on the way to our campsite I really didn't like the idea of climbing through brush before even getting to the edge of the ridge because that would mean just that much more climbing on the return trip.

    Plus, the terrain was much thicker than expected. So we kept driving all the way to our campsite, which was where I found two tall rock cairns the week before. Taking barely 15 minutes to put p the tent and load up our packs we set off along a line drawn from the cairns on what appeared to have been a trail maybe some 25-30 years ago and not far away we came across another cairn. So far so good, and with such heavy deer and elk traffic, if we hit a dead-end all we had to do is back up a little and choose another route around whatever obstacle we encountered. But that wouldn't last forever and eventually all semblance of a trail died away. Then it was just a matter of continuing in the straightest line toward the Del Shay Cabin.

    However, with the GPS acting a little whacky (like on Skunk Tank Ridge last week) we ended up somewhat farther south than expected and followed a drainage to a cliff and were forced to turn right and bypass it. Not much farther down the slope we encountered an even taller cliff and once again had to bypass to the north. But we learned from this so on the return trip we knew what to avoid.

    Off and on we would pass through some thick brush and steep loose slopes but it wasn't treacherous by any means and eventually we broke out into clear grassy areas. With tall 9" boots I loved it but Tracey with her Merrell Ventilators, well, they were quite ventilated, allowing the fox-tails to pass right on through and she was not a happy camper or a happy hiker! :x
    (Please, let's not take off on that tangent) [-X [-(

    Finally we connected with the old Forest Road 894, but with loose baby-head size rocks it was more hazardous to walk on it than everything else we had encountered combined. But moments later we're at Del Shay Cabin and there's plenty to explore. But with ruins foremost on our minds we didn't dally and set off northward along Trail #41. Just under a mile we branched off and climbed in the direction of the first rumored ruin site. About a hundred yards before my ruin waypoint eagle-eye Tracey found the first potsherds, one of them quite detailed with a black-on-white design. Scanning the area we looked uphill from there to the most logical place they would have been washed down from. And what do you know... right at the waypoint I had marked we found traces of rock circles. No other evidence so it was time to head for my 2nd ruin waypoint.

    A half-mile farther we reached the second waypoint and found nothing but a large flat mesa with no distinctive high point. With absolutely no trace of any rock circles or walls we set off for the third of 5 waypoints. I never expected to reach all five in one day and with time passing, if we kept a good pace over the now relatively open terrain for the mile to #3 that would be our turn-around point for today. With a number of concentric faded rock circles it was slightly more obvious than ruin site #1. But unfortunately, even after both of us made several loops around the area there were no relics to be found. Oh well, time to head back the by-now 4 miles and 1,200' feet of climbing back to our campsite.

    A quick stop at Del Shay Cabin for a short PB&J sandwich break and we were heading back uphill. Although we were climbing, it didn't seem that rough and of course we knew the areas to avoid. By taking a straighter route we cut off almost a quarter-mile and the distance from the cabin to our campsite was about a mile. By combining the best the tracks down and back up the round-trip will be right at 2 miles.

    We saw a number of deer but either they were too fast or we were too slow so no photos. While we did not encounter any bears, we did see plenty of evidence with some huge piles of scat. Two of which were so soft and moist they had to be quite fresh... between Tracey and I we must have photographed a dozen or more.

    I posted 40 photos on HAZ. The full set of 88 photos is here:

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To hike
    Take AZ#87 north to AZ#88. Turn right onto AZ#188 and continue south to Punkin Center. Turn left at the sign for the Punkin Center Bar & Grill, continue until you pass the building with the pumpkin (the Punkin' Center pumpkin) on your left. Bear to your left and continue across the Tonto Creek wash (hopefully it isn't flooded), follow the winding road slightly north of east until it changes to gravel. At this point it is Forest Road 71. From Punkin Center you will drive 6 miles to the FR71/FR609 junction. Turn left onto FR609 and continue 5.3 miles up between Juniper Mountain on your left and Picture Mountain on your right (both are equally worthy of pictures) until reaching the FR609/FR1938 junction. Turn left onto FR1938 and follow it 4.7 miles to the trailhead. (Or drive only as far as you feel comfortable and follow the road by foot to the TH.
    page created by CannondaleKid on Nov 12 2013 1:59 pm
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