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Cottonwood Canyon Petroglyph Site, AZ

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Guide 9 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Superior SW
3 of 5 by 4
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 1.88 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,330 feet
Elevation Gain 211 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 2.94
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Ruins, Historic & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
10  2016-03-05
AZT17/GET3 - Cottonwood Petroglyph Site Loop
30  2016-02-20 topohiker
54  2010-11-27 CannondaleKid
18  2008-12-14 Randal_Schulhaus
23  2008-12-05 AZLOT69
Author AZLOT69
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 247
Photos 7,293
Trips 1,818 map ( 15,596 miles )
Age 68 Male Gender
Location Gold Canyon, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Feb, Apr → 8 AM
Seasons   Early Autumn
Sun  6:10am - 6:27pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
The Writing Is On The Wall
by AZLOT69

History: This hike takes place in an area rich with historic significance to Arizona. Considered prehistoric people, some of the earliest residents, the Hohokam Indians lived here. They were desert dwellers who were able to capitalize on the few water resources available and survive for hundreds of years by irrigating and farming The core area of their habitation was the Gila-Salt river basin which includes the entire Valley of the Sun. The Hohokam disappeared in about 1450 leaving little written record of their experience. Perhaps that is why we cherish the petroglyphs and attempt to interpret them. These petroglyphs are typical Hohokam with images of spirals, lizards, animals, and human figures. One human figure at this site appears to be giving birth.

Following the Hohokam were the Spanish, the Mexicans and eventually the Anglo people most of whom were seeking fortune. This area, now known as the Mineral Mountain Mining District is mentioned in many stories of the Lost Dutchman and the Peralta Treasures. There are several ghost towns in the area and several active, working mining claims.

While protected and managed by the BLM, the twenty first century recreational lifestyle is encroaching and literally at the heels of this historic site. Access to the site involves traveling across State Land Trust which several times of the year is used by the military for war games and live artillery fire. Caution should be used if red flags are posted. Read the warning signs for posted dates of military activity. The State Trust Land is heavily used by ATV's and motorcycles on the weekends. The hike itself is shared at times by extreme rock crawling vehicles who pass within feet of the petroglyphs.

Hike: The hike starts where Cottonwood Canyon Road Meets the Cottonwood Canyon Wash. While there is no formal trailhead here, there is ample parking in the wash. This starting spot is accessible by two wheel drive vehicles. Four wheel drive with high clearance can go an additional half mile to the formal trailhead where there is parking for only one car. I suggest hike it and get a feel for the area. An old settlement marks the beginning of the hike. A building sliding off its foundation and the adjoining well make for some nice pictures. A large neighboring stone foundation with steps leading up to it will leave you curious about its origin and use. Continue east in the wash/canyon. At .32 miles the road leaves the wash to the right going up to the formal trailhead at the top of the hill. If you are hiking bear left in the wash and continue east. Watch among the gray rock for varnished brown rocks lining the canyon for petroglyphs. At a little over two thirds of a mile, the canyon starts to narrow and become chocked with boulders. The brown varnished rocks lining the canyon abound with petroglyphs. Continue east in the canyon being ever alert for more writing. At .93 miles the wash rejoins the road. Turn right and follow the road up the hill to the formal trailhead. Take the trail back down to the wash. There are several placards along the trail. Once in the wash you can enjoy the petroglyphs once again and then head west back to your vehicle.

2013-12-12 Powered vehicles are no longer allowed to drive down the wash. There is a sign posted by the Bureau of Land Management preventing vehicles from driving very close. The sites are now also marked as an "archeological" area. In addition, the cabin has now collapsed into a pile. The petroglyphs remain an amazing find for hikers. ( correction #2708 from Jerry W. )

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2008-12-10 AZLOT69
    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
    Cottonwood Canyon Petroglyph Site
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    Some rain drops were in the air to start the day so I thought I would go 'sploring' and the Cottonwood Canyon Petroglyph Site sounded like a good one to familiarize myself with that surrounding area.... so off I went.

    As Cottonwood Canyon Road joins Hwy 79 you pass through a large parking area where the OHV riders park their vehicles and trailers. Heading down the gravel road, I met a road grader scraping the ditches and road so it is maintained and smooth for several miles as it heads East towards the mountains in the distance. Lots of heavy truck traffic was encountered so I was glad the road was damp and not dusty.

    Signs along the road indicate the land is BLM and states NO OFF ROAD DRIVING but I guess the OHV'ers can't read cause the desert is a confusing mass of trails. I missed a turnoff and ended up in the Mineral Mountain Mine property with KEEP OUT signs posted so I retraced my tracks until I found a road heading in the right direction, albeit much rougher. As I continued on, I finally came to some signs indicating LOCKED GATE AHEAD, KEEP OUT. I checked Route Scout and determined that I was on the right road to the trailhead, so I continued slowly.

    After more signs and gates, I arrived at a ranch house where I inquired about the Petroglyph Site. The new owner of the ranch told me that access to the trailhead is no longer available as this is now private property and I have to retrace my tracks and get on the road on the other side of the mountain (Southeast of the old trailhead). This appears to be the Ajax Mine Trail which makes a large loop and would approach the Petroglyph site from the opposite end.

    I drove down this road and quickly determined that this is no longer suitable for standard two wheel drive vehicles. Although I didn't have to switch into four wheel, a high clearance vehicle is mandatory. I finally ran into road sections that were washed out to the point that I didn't feel comfortable driving my Ford Ranger any further so my sploring comes to an end.

    I never did make it to the Petroglyph Site but I now know that it's going to be a difficult site for future visitors unless they come in with an OHV or serious 4X4.

    All the trees are still holding on to their summer shades of green.
    Cottonwood Canyon Petroglyph Site
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    Cottonwood Canyon Petroglyph Sites Trifecta

    I took notice of AZLOT69's hike description and queried one of my hiking "buds" about his knowledge of rock art sites in the vicinity of Cottonwood Canyon. He had a petroglyph site marked on one of his topo maps just north of Cottonwood Canyon. This tip came from the "father-in-law of one of his daughter's boyfriends". Not questioning the source, Mike Mattes and I agreed at a recent Christmas function to journey into the BLM lands just south of Florence Junction in search of rock art.

    Site "A" - We studied Mike's topo map in a local Starbuck's and agreed that we needed to travel about 4 1/2 miles east from SR79 along Cottonwood Canyon Road and then trek north about 1/2 miles until we reach the topographic high point along a ridgeline. Mike's map had "petroglyphs" penciled in along the length of this ridgeline. At mile 4.4, we saw a jeep trail heading north off of Cottonwood Canyon Road a decided to explore. We soon landed in Cottonwood Canyon Wash and tracked east hoping to find a path heading north. No luck, so we back tracked and soon found a jeep trail tracking to the north and east. At a high point we spotted our objective and continued until our jeep trail came to a cattle fence tracking north-south. Mike's Jeep passed through the cattle gate and onto a double-track trail following the east side of this fence until we found ourselves on the ridgeline at N33o12.192' W111o16.078'. An off-trail trek west to the high point yielded a plethora of petroglyphs, many marked by small yellow flags indicating a past archeological survey. GPS hiking distance was 0.54 miles.

    Site "B" - A larger hill lay another 1/2 mile to the north surrounded by black basalt palisades we expected to yield additional petroglyphs. We continued north following the cattle fence line until we reached our target. A hike down into a wash and up the boulder strewn hill yielded some random weathered rock art until we reached two clustered sites on the east side. From our hilltop vantage the eastern slopes of Four Peaks appeared to be snow covered. Guess that Saturday night rain was snow in the upper elevations. GPS hiking distance was 0.71 miles. Here's a tip for accessing Sites A and B, when you reach the 2nd flag pole and cattle guard along Cottonwood Canyon Road near mile 5.0, the jeep road and cattle fence that traverses north-south intersects this location...

    Site "C" - Per HAZ hike description. GPS hiking distance was 1.88 miles.

    This was a 138 mile round trip with 3.13 miles hiking capped off with pizza and beer at the Garage in Gold Canyon. Perfect - except for the mild indigestion caused by the rapid 21 points put up by the Vikings against the Cards...
    Cottonwood Canyon Petroglyph Site
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    A return trip on the weekend met with very different results. A frenzy of activity of motorcycles and ATV's. A rock crawler at the petroglyph site. Two ways to look at it. If you are prepared for survival in case something goes wrong with your vehicle go during the week. If you want others around in case you need help go on the weekend. Personally any future trips by me will be on weekdays.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To hike
    From the Florence Junction intersection of highway 60 and Sr 79, take SR 79 south 5.2 miles to an unmarked dirt road going off to the east. There is a flagpole at the entrance(if a red flag is flying this means active military in the area-read warning signs) Travel east on Cottonwood Canyon Road. At about 5 miles you will come to another flag pole and cattle guard. Continue about another .5 miles to a Y intersection. Bear left. The road swings north and down into Cottonwood Canyon. There is an active Cattle ranch ahead of you up on the opposing hill. Once in the wash you come to two gates. The one on the left is for the cattle ranch(no trespassing. Take the gate on the right, if the gate was closed reclose it. If it was open-leave it open. Park just past the gate on the side of the road.
    page created by AZLOT69 on Dec 10 2008 9:05 am
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