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Reef Tank Trail, AZ

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202 13 0
Guide 13 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
2.3 of 5 by 6
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Distance One Way 0 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,721 feet
Interest Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
15  2019-03-24
Holdout Black Rock Loop
38  2019-03-23
Holdout Creek Trail #69
27  2018-10-07
Holdout Black Rock Loop
22  2017-03-29 Steph_and_Blake
30  2015-10-30
Holdout Black Rock Loop
24  2015-10-30
Holdout Black Rock Loop
20  2015-10-30
Holdout Black Rock Loop
18  2015-02-07
Holdout Creek Trail #69
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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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Apr, Feb
Sun  6:07am - 6:24pm
3 Alternative

This trail offers one of the few points of entry into the Santa Teresa Wilderness Area. Reef Tank Trail ends at the beginning of Holdout Creek Trail #69 and is one of the several trails that comprise the eighth section of the Grand Enchantment Trail.

The TH can be reached via Klondyke road and an unnamed forest road. Reaching the TH requires a 3.5 mile section of an old Jeep trail that can be somewhat challenging in a few spots. Less adventurous drivers may want to park right off Klondyke road.

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2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot

    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
    Reef Tank Trail
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    We chose this hike from HAZ as we were camped in the area and were going to hike the east end of Aravaipa Canyon the next day. We also thought this hike might be a good choice in that it's much higher in elevation and would provide a good contrast to hiking in Aravaipa Canyon. We used friendofThundergod's gps hiking route as well as the driving route he kindly provided for us. While we used his hiking route, we found that other folks had marked their own route with blue and pink/orange ribbons. It seemed in numerous places that the "ribboned" route was far less overgrown. While this hike offered some good exercise, I can't say that we'd eagerly recommend this hike. The views were just okay and the end-point, Reef Tank, was not picturesque. We did marvel, though, at how the ranchers managed to make such a large watering hole out in the middle of nowhere. We suggest only 4x4 vehicles and offroad tires for the drive due to the sharp rocks along the way. Probably the most fun part of the trip was watching the "wildlife" (cattle) try to figure out what to do when a vehicle is moving along the one-lane road in which they are in the middle.
    Reef Tank Trail
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    Holdout Black Rock Loop
    It is always great when you can head into the desert without concerns about water or it being too hot/too cold. Also, visiting a Wilderness you have never been to before is always a treat.

    The road to Reef Tank TH is definitely 4wd/high clearance, but you could always just hike it as it is part of the GET.

    I'm still not quite sure where Holdout Creek Trail starts, nor where it exists in places. Someone has done a good job of flagging a route, but large portions of the trail are overgrown, and it seems in some places that the flagging simply takes a brush free path, rather than following the original trail. Once you get over the second major ridge the impressive inner basin of Holdout Creek greets you with the large granite mountains and boulders with a lightly flowing creek that you skirt along, more or less. The views are great throughout this basin, while the catclaw is annoying it isn't terrible and I made it to the confluence to meet up with the rest of the group who had gone in the day before. Arriving at dusk, they already had a campfire up and going for me, and despite my alias, 9L did a fine work of tending to the fire all night.

    The next day we headed up Black Rock Canyon. There are slim signs of a trail, but the hike along the creek is fantastic, and there is a good road that allows for a brush free journey back to reef tank. I would rate this entire section as fantastic, as even the hike up the road was nice, since it was still clear of catclaw.

    It was good to meet a new HAZ member and to see other HAZ'ers I haven't seen in years.
    Reef Tank Trail
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    Holdout Black Rock Loop
    Chumley planned this hike and it turned out to be fantastic! The hiking was rugged but not overwhelming. The views were epic and vast! We spent three days and two nights exploring this area. It was a great trip with a fun group!

    Our trip started on Friday morning. The five of us (Karl, Kathy, Chumley, Claire and myself) left Phoenix in two vehicles and met at McDonalds in Globe. From there we caravaned to trailhead. Nonot is hiking in solo on Saturday. All of us will hike out together on Sunday.

    The first mile and a half are easy going as you descend to the creek in Laurel Canyon and then make your way to the northeast towards Reef Tank. At that point we started our lasso loop and headed east into Holdout Canyon. The going was rugged and slow going as we were constantly route finding. It really helped having a GPS route and a group of five to sniff out the route. Sections of the route are overgrown but we pushed through and dropped down towards the confluence of Black Rock Canyon and Holdout Creek. We selected a campsite near the bend in the creek located next to the corral. We set up camp in the waning light and started a fire. I brought brats for dinner and there were dynamite!

    Our group of five woke on day two and talked about our options. We decided to spend a few hours exploring to the north into Fisher Canyon and the GET. The going was tough as we proceeded up a drainage. After a mile we hit the old road. The GET takes off to the east and Fisher Canyon heads to the north. We originally followed Fisher but the old road has deteriorated and is covered in catclaw. It was no fun so we turned back and followed the GET for a bit. The landscape looked rather plain up ahead so we cut that short and returned to camp.

    After a break our group hiked back up our trail from yesterday and dropped into Holdout Creek. From there we worked our way down canyon and admired this beautiful creek! It was very picturesque with lots of water flowing. As we neared the bottom of Holdout Creek we came to a large cluster of boulders. And by large I mean house size boulders with lots of debris from flash floods! Karl and Chumley explored the creek below the boulders while Claire and I checked it out from above. The going seemed like too much of a hassle to me so I climbed out and returned to camp via the trail. Our group reconvened at camp and were met by Nonot right before sunset. We settled in for another night around the fire.

    On day three we took our time packing up camp and enjoying breakfast. Our group of six then started the hike up Black Rock Canyon. We were all pleasantly surprised to find the hiking very easy and enjoyable. The creek was wide open with a decent flow of water. Just about all of us got our shoes wet as we worked our way up canyon heading west. We took a break at the scenic waterfall and then continued on to the old road. From there we climbed out of Black Rock Canyon and made our way via the old road back to Reef Tank. We made good time and then completed our lasso loop back to the vehicles where we took one last break before making the drive back to Phoenix with another stop at Arizona Wilderness Brewery for beers and dinner!

    This was another great trip and a wonderful area! I never paid much attention to the Santa Teresa Wilderness and didn't quite know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised with the beauty and intimacy of this canyon. It has a feel similar to Wilderness of Rocks. Plus we were the only ones in this wilderness. That was a real treat. Thanks Chumley for driving and organizing! It was a fun trip and a great group!
    Reef Tank Trail
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    I have been wanting to get back to the Santa Teresa since my first visit in December. I decided I better take advantage of another weekend of relatively low gas prices and make the quick 200 mile trip back to Holdout Creek before they are back up to $2.45 a gallon again.

    My plan was to find a nice scenic spot along Holdout Creek and just spend some time exploring the area, as Dave and I were in through hiker mode when we went through back in December. I also wanted to maximize my time in that area by hitting up the Cobra Mine Trail on Sunday along with Turkey Creek. I found a great spot, but waited to unpack my gear. I was only about five miles from TH and the thought crossed my mind that it might be more efficient to car camp instead and make my way over to the Cobra Mine TH and leave myself more time on Sunday, as I did not want too late of a finish, with the nearly four hour drive ahead of me as well. So I hung my gear and through on my daypack and decided to see how I felt after exploring the area some.

    The more I explored the more impressed I became with the area, just a gorgeous area, especially with all the water flowing. I decided on the car camp idea and headed back to the car after a pretty lazy day of minor exploring, eating snacks along the creek and even a nap. I was a little fatigued the whole day for some reason, my legs just seemed dead. I probably doubled my mat time over the last week or so getting our boys ready for sectionals and states and I think it caught up to me a little on Saturday. My body may have been thinking lets take a day off and sleep in, probably not lets get up at 3:30 in the morning to go hiking. My hike out was pretty leisurely and very slow, but I did spend some pretty good time with the clippers conducting some modest trail maintenance on my way out.

    My Cobra Mine Trail idea was stopped by what I am pretty sure is an illegal gate job complete with lock on public road leading to TH. Needless to say, I was not getting through and I was a little pissed by that point because I had nixed my over night in Holdout so I would have time to do Cobra Mine and Turkey Creek. Now it was on to Turkey Creek.

    I did not realize that one can literally drive right to the Turkey Creek ruins. So I visited them quickly with a head lamp and then hit the road again to find somewhere to hike Sunday on my way back to Phoenix.
    Reef Tank Trail
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    Grand Enchantment Trail #7-9
    This was an epic trip and a great way to end 2014. It's one I have wanted to do for over a year and just waiting for someone crazy enough to take this on as a backpack trip, as GET #8 as a day trip was out of my league (left for guys like juanjaimeiii!). Super thankful to find friendofThundergod eager to take it on and help me get one of the most remote sections of the GET checked off the list.

    One of the first challenges was just finding someone to help us with the shuttle on this one. I originally had a friend who had committed to do the drop off at the beginning of GET 8 (east end of Aravaipa) whenever I was ready to go, but when the dates were finally picked, he was going to be out of town. Lee hadn't done GET 7 (Aravaipa Creek), and shuttle help for the west end of Aravaipa was going to be much easier to pull off, so we chose to make it GET 7-8-9 rather than just 8-9. Big shout out to friends Al & Kevin for making the 3-hour drive to Aravaipa to pick up my Jeep and drive it home, saving a bunch of extra drive time on trip out.

    Sat 27, GET #7-8 (~15mi/1100aeg, 5hr 48min)
    Started out about 4am, met up with Lee in Pima to set up a crazy shuttle on the NW end of the Pinalenos. Had a 45-minute detour due to an accident, but he left his vehicle at the end point and I drove us around to the west Aravaipa TH. About 7½ hours after starting the shuttle, we were finally set up and descending into Aravaipa to begin the adventure. Knowing that wet shoes are part of the game when doing Aravaipa (and that we were doing this in late December), I opted to bring a pair of water shoes for Aravaipa, which worked out great. Knowing we had a long ways to go, we opted to do Aravaipa without any exploration. We didn't see any wildlife except for one deer, but we were blazing through pretty quick, finishing all of Aravaipa in 5 hours on the dot. We finished about a half mile ahead of plan, past the old Salazar church, camping out the first night about a half mile or so into GET 8.

    Sun 28, GET #8 (~17mi/3300aeg, 9hr 24min)
    We woke up to some chilly temps as expected. In retrospect, the one thing I wish I had added to my pack was an extra liner for my sleeping bag. We were in the 20s the first 2 nights, but it was all right, it just gave us extra motivation to get our packs on early each day and take off. One other thing I wish I had done differently was carry less water on this day. Uncertain with water reliability, I carried 6 liters to get to the end of GET 8, which I didn't need to do and put my pack that day at over 50 lbs.

    The day started with a little dirt road action before we could hit the western edge of the Santa Teresas to get the blood flowing, and started our climb. Heading down Aravaipa Road at sunrise, we came upon over a dozen wild turkeys waking up from their roost; amazing watching these big birds make their way up and down off of high tree branches! Coming up on the Teresas, it was so cool to know that this beautiful range is one that very, very few Arizonans ever see. We made our way up and into the western end of the Teresas, ending the day at a beautiful, sandy spot in Fisher Canyon, just inside the northern border of the wilderness. We could have gone farther, but knowing we would have to hike another 8 miles before the next campsite possibility, we decided to burn the final hour of daylight and build up a good woodpile for the night.

    Mon 29, GET #8 (~16mi/4700aeg, 10hr 36min)
    If you are doing GET 8, there is something you should know — there are few trails. In fact, there is no trail or series of trails you can use to go from one end to the other; the only way to do so is to go from the west end to the north end, hike outside the wilderness for a while to the east and then drop back down, hiking south to the southeast end. Topo maps show a trail just outside the wilderness that once existed (they are marked on some topo maps as Black Rock and Cottonwood Mountain trails). Because of two ranchers in this area who I have been told have a particular dislike for visitors of any sort, you have to be really careful in this area. The Black Rock Trail goes onto one of the rancher's land now and cannot be hiked, and this rancher has let the Cottonwood Trail basically fade into nonexistence (as it is on his land now also). The only legal option is to hike a careful loop of about 8 miles out of the wilderness, around the boundaries of their properties, and back into the wilderness, doing some bushwhacking along the way. I actually attempted to find a way to contact these ranchers to ask permission for access beforehand, but was totally unsuccessful.

    We started off talking up a storm and soon realized we were following the trail that leads to the ranch (and trouble). Lee boldly decided, rather than to backtrack, to instead bushwhack up a mountainside and back down to a road I was familiar with. The bushwhack was doable and saved us some otherwise useless miles, but it did in looking back on our track put us on one of these rancher's land for almost a mile. It was marked as a forest service road but is apparently an FS road that he also owns (my sincere apologies to the rancher). If you do GET 8, I recommend following the standard route in respect of the ranchers.

    After getting this behind us, then the elevation was set to begin, with a climb to well over 7,200 feet near the peak of Cottonwood Mountain. We followed a pack trail up into the wilderness gate and headed toward Kane Spring, which is generally one of the few locations along the route with somewhat dependable water. We headed up the ridgeline, hitting consistent snow around 6,000 feet but thankfully not too deep (we were punching through only an inch or two). Nice views at the overlook on top, I spent some time myself soaking it in before jumping back into catching up with Lee (he was a man on a mission!). My plans were to get to a nice campsite in cottonwood & sycamore trees about 4 miles down the south side of the mountain (outside the Santa Teresa Wilderness), but we ended up pushing a mile beyond that since we had enough sunlight left, making it to a nice campsite right at the boundary of the Coronado National Forest.

    Tue 30, GET #8-9 (~14mi/2500aeg, 5hr 30min)
    This was the coldest morning of all, getting down into the 10s. My water bottles were literally next to me as I slept, and when I woke up they were frozen. I told Lee, I was especially eager to get up and going super early, and we started out before daylight. Once I got my soreness worked out, we were both hiking at a steady >4mph clip down trails and roads to finish GET #8 and start GET #9. Knowing how eager Lee was to cut the trip short, and my skinny self having had enough of a 40+ lb pack for 55 miles, I came up with a plan to drop the pack as we left Klondike Road. I knew there was a water cache site there for the GET and it would be easy for me to drive back and pick up with minimal time lost...and it would give me a chance to get my running legs on. :y: For those of you who know me, I find it hard to resist not jogging out the home stretch of any hike, particularly if it is downhill!! Plus, I knew GET #9 wasn't the most beautiful section, with a good amount of dirt road walking, so it wasn't a big deal to just bust out the last 8 miles and help a buddy get home a little earlier to his awesome doggies, which I had already met on a prior hike. :D

    I jogged part of it, pausing to keep Lee in sight. This guy is amazing with a pack though, and he was able to pass me when we reached the final stretch that has the elevation and cross-country bushwhack to it! :wlift: By the time we we lost all trail and had to bushwhack a trail for ourselves up and over the Dick Peak ridgeline, through thick catsclaw, holly, cactus and manzanita, he was nowhere to be seen. Once I reached the cattle tank at the top of the ridgeline, there was an old trail that descended into a 4WD road and back down to the car.

    My plan was to finish by 11:21am (when we started the first day), so that we would have a 3-day finish. I thought dropping my pack would ensure that for me, and Lee pretty much made it; but the final bushwhack added more time than I expected. No real trail and finding only 1 cairn and 1 piece of blue tape in a tree about halfway up, and I finished 26 minutes outside of my goal. It still was a great way to end this segment (the highlight of segment #9 for me), and is one of the things you have to be comfortable with on the GET — some parts are just cross-country and you have to feel comfortable blazing your own trail to a specific destination. Blisterfree (organizer of the GET) in most places like this has done a great job of blue-taping trees for added confidence — but you can't depend on that in every area. Total time on the trail: 31 hours 18 minutes, putting our average at 2 mph over the whole trip.

    I have to tell you — if you are looking for remote, GET 8 is the place to be. Actually, with the entire trip, we never encountered a single person (except a few in vehicles on Aravaipa & Klondike Roads). Normally when doing GET 8, water is going to be an issue. One of the plus sides to doing this when we did was that there were recent rains and snow melting off the higher peaks, giving us all the water we needed.

    Had a blast getting to know Lee better, lots of cool discussions about American & world history, religion, politics, and even his great taste I share in several alternative rock bands. Great stories from his service time in Afghanistan, & grateful for his service for all of us. : app :

    One final reason to :y: for this trip: getting segments 8 & 9 done puts juanjaimeiii & I both at having completed the first 13 segments of the Grand Enchantment Trail, from Apache Junction to Morenci!
    Reef Tank Trail
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    GET 7 through 9
    The Grand Enchantment Trail was never on my radar until azdesertfather suggested knocking out segments 7,8,9 over a three day trek. I thought it sounded cool and said sure. After all I had never did Aravaipa and had heard great things about the Santa Teresa's from the few that have hiked them. I had to leave the pups back on this one because of Aravaipa which was a bit of a bummer. However, I was excited to get to a new area and knock out some more mileage over my holiday break and I knew the kiddos would be in good hands at uncle Chumleys.

    Day 1: Section 7, Aravaipa Wilderness

    This day would be characterized by closed highways, a late start, wet boots and cold water. We knew we were going to get a late start on the first day, as we had to set up our shuttle. This meant a 330 departure time from Phoenix for me and a very early dog drop off at Chumleys. HAZ appreciation Chumleys way one more time for taking on my unruly children, I swear I am going to pay you one of these times ;) After the dog drop off, things were going perfect for our 0630 Pima link up. Then we hit a small snag an accident just outside of Superior on the 60 necessitated a scenic 0530 in the morning detour through Winkleman. Nevertheless, we only found ourselves about 45 minutes behind schedule by the time we reached Pima. We set up our shuttle and were stepping off at Araviapa just after 11:30. Aravaipa was simply amazing for me even with the extremely cold water and long stretches of sunless very cold canyon we had to wade through, if the water was not running it was frozen in these sections. Aravaipa was so scenic I am almost ashamed to say I spent less then five hours in the beautiful canyon, no worries though, it will be there next time and we had a mission to complete. Day one culminated with a very liberal interpretation of the Nature Conservatory's no camping policy.

    Day 2: GET 8, Santa Teresa Wilderness

    Day two started very cold, and I mean like Stalingrad winter of 43 cold! I have woke up to cold boots, wet boots and torn up boots, however courtesy of Ariviapa Creek this was the first time I woke up to frozen solid boots. I got a quick fire going and coaxed Dave out of his tent, but I could tell from the start he was feeling the effects of a very cold morning and uncomfortable night. I had listened to my go to guy for weather and bought an 11-20 degree liner for my 25 degree down bag, as I was told to be prepared for a deep freeze. I got my first real view of the Santa Teresas just after Reef Tank and all I will say is if you have not made it there, find away to get there. A stunning landscape of rocks, snow covered peaks, mixed in with some pine and several partially frozen cascades along the robust flowing inner drainages and creeks. I coaxed, prodded and annoyed Dave literally about as far as he could go on day two. We made camp, refueled and prepared for another night in the Arctic.

    Day 3: GET 8, Cottonwood Mountain

    The second morning was some how colder. The water I had brought up from creek for breakfast and hot drinks froze in the little less then 15 minutes it took me to get to ready to heat it. The first part of day three was spent finding a "creative" way to skirt the stretch of private land that breaks up the section 8 of the GET as you leave and reenter the Santa Teresa. From there it was up Cottonwood Mountain. The climb was not overly bad and other then a few faint spots the trail was great, cacti mingling with ponderosa and snow covered agave. Dave equally enjoyed this section, albeit it at a much more leisurely pace. We regrouped at the top and started making our way down. I will admit I still had small aspirations of pushing through head lamp marathon style, but it simply was not in the cards for Dave on this day. He did allow/tolerate me to push him until just after sunset, as I did not want anything to do with camping above 5000 feet with the temps we had been dealing with. I think we made it to exactly 5000 feet and actually enjoyed are nicest camp site of trip. Although, I may be using the word enjoy a little loosely, as night three proved to be hands down the coldest night of trip. We found our water freezing in mere minutes if taken away from the fire and even as we unpacked our gear ice formed on any object with the slightest amount of moisture left on it from the previous night's condensation. I slept relatively well, Dave had a bit of a restless cold night, but we survived and it did not take us much to get going the next morning.

    Day 4: GET 9

    Aravaipa and the Santa Teresa's were amazing, however, I would rate this segment somewhere between dull and stale. Although, the above mentioned are two tough acts to follow, it would have taken a lot for segement 9 to impress me. Dave was doing much better on the initial stretches of quad trails and forest roads, however, he knew he was not where he would normally be and certainly not where I was. He suggested leaving his gear at Klondike road and finishing the last 8 miles pack free. Initially, I was dreading the detour back to Klondike, but I knew it meant a lot for him to complete the segment and heck I only had a trip to Tuscon and Phoenix still left on my day, so what was a small detour at this point? ;) It would have made perfect sense for me to leave my gear as well, but I opted to carry mine out. Anyone who knows me, knows I have no problem leaving people in the wilderness, but never gear, too expensive to replace. It actually turned out to be a pretty good idea, Dave was like a new man once he shed that pack and was able to knock out the final 8 miles at a pretty good clip and arrived at the TH about 20 minutes after me. We both agreed had he carried pack, we would have been looking at a mid afternoon finish instead of our lunchtime finish. Dave found a nice shortcut via a decent forest road that got us back to his gear quicker then we had expected. I think the trip back to his gear mall only ended up costing us a little over a half hour. In the end a really good four day trek, rugged, a little challenging, great company, some tremendous areas, and generally good times. It was really nice to get back to that part of the state and I am already planning a return. I am grateful to have gotten the invite to help Dave knock out some coveted sections of the GET.

    Final Notes: Blisterfree writes superb descriptions, with spot on routes and directions, so some well deserved HAZ is appreciation his way, as he blazed this very rugged rewarding route.

    Trail humor: Apparently my very dry humor is equally as unappreciated among hiking partners as it is in the classroom. For example, Dave says, " I think this is the last trip for these shoes they are no good anymore" my response, "ya, but you can save the "souls" right?" Dave, "huh?" Me, "never mind."

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