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This hike takes you to the top of a small butte in the bottom of Ash Creek canyon approximately 3 miles upstream from its mouth on the Salt River. Ash Creek canyon is one of the largest canyons flowing into the Salt River in this area. This small butte juts out above the creek approximately 80-100 feet below and provides spectacular views up and down this deep cliff lined canyon. On the way to the butte look for a historic cement watering trough under a huge juniper tree about 0.3 miles from the TH on FR3127. An inscription on the top of the trough indicates it was built Feb 3, 1934, by the Forest Service with support from the NIRA (National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933) and is still in use. An added bonus for this hike is the remains of an ancient Salado Indian compound on top of this small butte. A narrow land bridge leads through a gap in the compound's external defensive wall. The defensive wall stretches 280 ft along the south side of the butte. The remains of numerous rooms line the length of this wall separated from it by a 10-20 ft gap that may have served as a common courtyard or allowed ready access for defenders to line up along the wall. This ruin has obvious signs of being picked over by pot hunters and only one pottery sherd was seen.
There were pools of water visible along the creek below the butte and sections of slick rock making it an attractive destination. Access to the creek might be found by exploring along the trail leading from the water trough NE along a fence towards the canyon bottom.
Note: This hike description and the official gps route assumes that you have driven to the TH on FR3127. If you don't want to risk driving the 4x4 road you can park just outside the Haystack Butte Ranch gate (see directions below) and hike the 6.4 mile round trip distance on FR1052 and FR3127. You will be rewarded with amazing views to the west of the Salt River Canyon and the distant Sierra Ancha Mountains. The area along these forest roads begs for further exploration.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.