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No Laughing Matter
Tucked away deep in the Bradshaw Mountains lies Minnehaha Creek and the nearby remains of the old Ghost Towns. The inspiration behind this hike was a place called Minnehaha Waters, which appeared on my list of waterfalls and is also labeled on topography maps. I did some research and was not able to find any photos of anything resembling a falls area. I was only able to dig up three photos of the creek itself. Anyway, besides the knowledge of heavy off-road usage in the area, I figured I'd be the only person hiking around off-trail, so it seemed like the perfect place for me! I started my hike at Junction of the Senator Highway and FR rd #362 just below the TH of Horse Mountain.
Since the first 3.7 miles is all on a popular off-road trail, the only danger would be to be cautious of any 2 or 4 wheeled speed demons.
I'm no AZ historian, but I know Minnehaha Flat and the surrounding area is rich with mining history. I came across countless amounts of mining equipment, old buildings/vehicles, and all sorts of rustic remnants.
As you begin the descent from the parking area and walk down FR #362 (which is nearly a hiking trail itself in some areas due to how rugged it is), you are greeted with beautiful sweeping views, Towers Mountain to the left and Horse Mountain to the right it truly is one of the more scenic views I've seen in the Bradshaws. As you near Ash creek just underneath Horse Mountain, there are some pretty choice campsites, although I didn't see any more than a group of 4 off-road enthusiasts the entire day I hiked, who knows how many times the quiet silence gets interrupted by the roar of a bike or quad.
The first stop for me was what I dubbed "The Pine Creek Cabin" since it's along Pine Creek near the confluence of Minnehaha and Ash Creek. The cabin itself did not look like much as I approached, but once I got closer, I realized how good of condition it was, and the biggest surprise was how incredibly well kept and maintained it was when I entered! Fully decked out with a makeshift fireplace, cabinets, shelves, windows, chairs, and a cache of water and condiments. It is a 5-star backpacking cabin that I'm sure is part of the old Ghost Town, and it's the best structurally maintained building I found in the area.
From there, I began a pleasant walk along a distinct path and even came across a Dodge pickup truck that somebody managed to crash in the middle of the creek bed. Soon after that, it got rugged real fast! I only had less than one air mile to my destination from that point, but I swear rocky and overgrown is an understatement from here on out. I have hiked through my fair share of creek beds, but this one had no obvious path. Although I did come across a multitude of mountain lion and deer tracks along with a few smaller critters, I'm not familiar.
Once I finally made it to a drop-off falls area, I realized I had made it! The only confusion was that I was about 250ft shy of what was marked on the topo map. I continued a quarter-mile downstream to be sure and only came across a few small cascades. The falls area I came across was unique, around 18 feet in height, and the waterfall itself goes into a crevice of two massive boulders and creates a little grotto area. I took a few photos and began the trek back near the confluence of Ash & Minnehaha.
I jumped onto the Wagoneer Trail #231 and took that back to FR #362, and made a quick visit to the actual Minnehaha Flat. The buildings there are in pretty bad condition. I checked the nearby Minnehaha Spring, and unfortunately, it was bone dry. From there, I made one more quick stop at The "Pine Creek Cabin" for a quick dinner and cleaning of the place. As my dog and I watched the storm roll in, I figured it was time to jump back on the road and head back to my vehicle. It was a lovely day exploring the old country of the Bradshaw Mountains.
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