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Mazatzal Divide Trail #23, AZ

no permit
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Guide 243 Triplogs  4 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson W
3.7 of 5 by 29
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 30 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,565 feet
Elevation Gain -2,336 feet
Accumulated Gain 4,758 feet
Avg Time One Way 12 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 45.86
Backpack Yes & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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45  2019-05-04
Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23
4  2019-04-20
Barnhardt Trail #43
12  2019-03-30
Mazatzal Divide Overnight
20  2019-03-30
Mazzy Transit
19  2019-03-16
Visiting the Twins - Sandy and Deadman
19  2019-03-16
NF of Deadman and Sandy Saddle Falls
13  2019-03-16
Visiting the Twins - Sandy and Deadman
48  2019-03-09
Mazzy Overnight
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 21
Author jacobemerick
author avatar Guides 31
Routes 71
Photos 795
Trips 96 map ( 1,037 miles )
Age 34 Male Gender
Location Gilbert, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Mar, Apr, Feb
Sun  6:10am - 6:30pm
Official Route
72 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Dancing on the Spine of the Mazatzals
by jacobemerick

Offering expansive views throughout the heart of the Mazatzal Wilderness, this long path follows the prominent set of mountains between Mount Peeley and North Peak. It climbs up to the highest trail-accessible point (over 7100!) and passes several scenic campsites and springs. It is also part of the Arizona Trail, containing the entire Section #23. Hiking this entire trail would involve shuttles and possible overnight gear, though there are multiple dayhikes that take advantage of pieces of the trail, including the Mazatzal Peak Loop and Mazatzal Divide to The Park.

All but 3 miles of this trail lie within the Willow Fire burn area.

Peeley Trailhead is close enough to be called the southern trailhead. To be more accurate, Cornucopia Trail #86 heads west from Peeley Trailhead, climbing a few hundred feet over a half mile before turning southwards, and then Mazatzal Divide Trail #23 truly starts and continues east. It immediately switches back and forth under the bulk of Mount Peeley, gaining elevation as a rocky path surrounded by short, shadeless vegetation, before committing to its generally northern direction and following the curve of the mountain around. It enters into a sparse pine forest right before entering the wilderness boundary at 1.4 miles.

The tall trees grow thicker together as the trail continues to curve around Mount Peeley and enters into the only section spared by wildfire. It then follows the head of a large drainage, going far to the south in order to minimize elevation loss, and eventually turns north again. A few good views of the west open up here for the first time, down the length of Sheep Creek towards Davenport Peak and beyond. The mostly-level ridgeline travel ends at 3.4 miles as the slow crawl up and around the side of Mouth Catherine (Peak 7358) begins. This gradual uphill tops off near 7150', the highest point in the Mazatzals accessible by trail, at 6.4 miles. The views up here are stupendous.

North of the highpoint is a severe switchback and relatively steep downhill. Mazatzal Peak and the nearby ridges dominate the scene here. A signed turnoff for Bear Spring, a year-round source of water and campsite clearing, can be found at 8.1 miles. Fisher Trail starts a short distance further, though it is unsigned and pretty much impossible to find, even if you're looking for it. The next few miles involve an easy climb to a saddle in the ridge and an easy descent on the other side. The junction with Y-Bar Trail is at 10 miles, offering the first of two exits to Barnhardt Trailhead.

Huge outcroppings of rock jut far overhead on this side of Mazatzal Peak, almost looking like huge turrets of an crumbling fortification. The trail creeps along the base, dropping into a few low areas as it skips across some drainages. A quick haul up a saddle at 11.9 miles offers good views down towards Chilson Camp. There's the Brody/Malapie drainage to avoid before getting down to the camp, though, and the path makes a lazy swing to the east to do so. Along this swing, at 13.3 miles, is the Barnhardt Trail junction. A short while later, at 14.3 miles, is the Brody Seep junction, where Chilson Camp can be found. This is a nice place to spend the night.

Big views of Deadman Creek begin to open up as the trail continues north beyond Chilson. It swings in and out of a few drainages that come down from 6952', including one that Sandy Saddle Trail supposedly follows (that trail is very overgrown), before it enters a small stand of pines near Horse Camp Seep at 16.8 miles. This is also a nice place to spend the night. There are also impressive some waterfalls downstream of the seep, though they are seasonal. The trail begins to climb in earnest now, gaining 800' as it passes the Rock Creek Trail junction, Hopi Springs, crosses the upper North Fork Deadman Creek, and finally crests a bare rock ridgeline at 18.8 miles. Again, the views to the west are outstanding.

From the rocky crest is a long downhill roll which, thanks to the protection of the ridge above, is heavily vegetated. An unsigned junction with Willow Springs Trail passes by unseen and unnoticed right before a boulder-y (and likely bone-dry) crossing of Wet Bottom Creek, followed by entry into The Park at 21.1 miles. The Park is a pleasantly shaded section of tall trees with a nice campsite just off the path. North Peak Trail heads east from here, heading down to Mineral Creek Trail, while the Mazatzal Divide Trail continues north. However, the AZT officially changes its name to Red Hills #24 from here to LF Ranch.

Three small hills show up in the way, each one featuring plenty of rolling red rocks, grassy inclines, and small stands of trees nestled in the valleys between. The trail tends to zig-zag a bit here to avoid some deep cuts and elevation. The final one, Knob Mountain, may offer a view of the San Francisco Peaks far to the north on a clear day. Just as a pleasant valley shows up to the west, with pleasant tall trees promising sporadic shade, a junction shows up at 24.3 miles. Red Hills Trail, and the AZT, continues straight (but will soon turn west) - the Mazatzal Divide Trail bends east (but will soon continue north).

The final descent of this trail is a windy, looping thing, circling around the hills in a general direction of City Creek Trailhead. It drops very slowly, only about 450' a mile. Along the way it crosses a few scenic drainages and some outcroppings. However, constantly seeing the cut of the trail ahead and the trailhead below may make this a weary trek. Views of the Mogollon Rim and Hardscrabble Mesa may distract from some of the monotony. The base of the trail crosses City Creek before ending near the trailhead.

Water Sources
Bear Spring, Windsor Spring, Chilson Spring, Horse Camp Seep, Hopi Spring, and Pete's Pond are the most dependable sources. Water may also be found in a few tanks along the trail just west of the Barnhardt Junction, in some of the drainages between Chilson Camp and Horse Camp Seep, at the N Fork Deadman and Wet Bottom Creek Crossings, and in the first valley north of The Park. For a trail along a ridge of mountains this one has a lot of water sources.

There are a lot of great campsites along the way, most of them offering some sort of nearby water sources. Bear Spring, Chilson Camp, Horse Camp Seep, and The Park are the main four that come to mind. There is also a spot between Peeley and Catherine, several clearings at the Y-Bar junction near Windsor Spring, a nice one west of Barnhardt Junction, and one or two north of The Park.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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

2017-07-13 jacobemerick

    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 of 118 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Mazatzal Divide Trail #23
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Mazatzal Divide Overnight
    Took Barnhardt up to the Divide and over to HCS this weekend. Lovely temps and even a little warm during the day. Saw a large group (~10) heading down to see the falls from below, not sure if they were HAZ folks or not. We explored around camp into the chain of smaller falls and pools that lead down to the big falls. At dusk we were joined by an AZT thru-hiker from Australia; he had just hit mile 424. We of course gave him a beverage and spent the night swapping stories around the fire. Great trip and can't wait to see more of this incredible area.
    Mazatzal Divide Trail #23
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    one of the best things about haz is the ideas you get from other people, this one courtesy of @hikerdw
    john and i have been looking for new hikes and had not done anything in the area
    got to city creek trailhead and started hiking up the divide trail a little before 0700
    cool at first, but a steady grade uphill made layers unnecessary
    the trail is in great condition = mostly good footing and very little catclaw
    the middle miles went through an exposed burn area
    without route scout and just recording on my gps, we were not sure which high point was knob mountain
    figured it out, though, and had a snack at the top
    john was able to confirm with his phone
    not much of a mountain, but i'm counting the peak since i only have three new ones for the year :lol:
    heading down as the wind came up, our view much of the time was the tinder fire blowing up :o
    not good
    as david mentioned, the road is in good condition with just one short rutted area
    john bought lunch at a thai restaurant in payson afterwards - good food, thank you :)
    not the most scenic hike, but a new trail in a new area with good company - nice
    aeg seems a little high

    Mazatzal Divide Trail #23
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    City Creek TH to Pete's Pond loop
    Driving in, I noticed the development at the end of the pavement, where the two covered arenas are, were up for sale.
    HAZ retreat? ... /326742102

    First time hiking from the City Creek TH. Guess I never realized this is where the northern terminus for the MDT #23 was. The trail is a steady climb for 6 miles but in great shape. Great views all around. At the top, back on the AZT again after passing the Red Hills trail. We rollercoastered southbound on the MDT to the intersection with North Peak Trail. We passed and talked to one AZT'er going Northbound from San Diego. His shoes did not look like he was going to make it much farther, but he was not concerned.

    My goal for the day was hitting some new trails, as well as a stop at Pete's Pond. We went off trail westish at the the North Peak Trail junction, and made our way to Petes Pond. (Who is this Pete Guy?) . Petes was a great place for lunch as long as you don't mind being photographed by the two game cameras that are there.

    After Lunch we headed down the North Peak trail. As others have noted (which I read after the hike) the western .5 - .75 miles of this trail are hard to follow in spots. a GPS track is great to keep you in the vicinity of the "Trail". Once you drop off the top, the route finding is a piece of cake. It is a steep loose bugger in many spots.

    just North of the Mineral Creel TH we followed an old two track/creek bed in Pole Hollow Canyon. This was the gem of the day.

    It's obvious is gets traffic from both game and humans and at one time was cleared, cutting out some of the bends in the canyon.
    All of the human sign was within 1-2 miles of the Northern TH.

    Great weather on the day.

    Fauna on the day
    1 Elk, 1 Deer, 4 javelina, 1 squirrel, 1 Teva.
    Mazatzal Divide Trail #23
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Up YB > SOBO on AZT > FR201 > down GR to finish off MDT23 & AZT23. This is a very nice stretch of the AZT, except for a few dozen downed trees across the trail. Bike shuttle between Barnhardt and Deer Creek trail heads.

    Approaching Peely trail head, two military jets (F-4's I believe) came screaming out of the west and dropped way down deep into Deer Creek canyon, following it east - awesome!
    Mazatzal Divide Trail #23
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Started at 6:10am, so I headlamped it for 20mins or so. 42° at start. Ditched the jacket after a mile. Cruised on up Barnhardt and checked on the falls. Barely a trickle. The clouds stole the show along the divide. It added to the already excellent views. Passed a couple of backpackers also going down Y Bar, that was it for human contact. Overcast had seized the day, and spared me from the the usual sun exposure on this trail. The TH was full upon my return. I noticed dark skies had taken over and the tops of the peaks, including Mt Ord, were hidden under clouds, as I departed. Enjoyed this loop, as always. Great morning in the Mazzies.
    Mazatzal Divide Trail #23
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I have always liked this hike because of its proximity to town, nice views and high point of 7k.

    The road to the trailhead was in some of the best shape I have seen, probably the byproduct of a very dry winter. I thought about hiking some more after hitting the peak, but I was a little under the weather and the dogs had already got their exercise, so I headed back to the trailhead. A little snow lingering in the shade and some new deadfall to contend with in the first couple of miles. It was very windy and a little chilly at times.
    Mazatzal Divide Trail #23
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Decided to head a little north for cooler temps this weekend. Great loop hike. The last time we were on the Y-Bar Trail was 5 years ago doing this same loop. Some small patches of snow still remain but its melting quickly. Saw no others on the trails until we were within 2 miles of the trail head.
    Mazatzal Divide Trail #23
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Nice day on the trails with Kyle and Lily. It was a relaxed hike and there was just enough snow to make things interesting but wasn't a nuisance. We hiked to Chilson Camp and took our lunch there. From there our return blurred by and we were done by mid afternoon. Thanks Kyle for driving!
    Mazatzal Divide Trail #23
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Headed out to Chilson Camp with 9L and Lily. It was a beautiful day and there was still a good bit of snow left. It was just enough to add a little fun but not so much our feet were ever wet. Lily loves snow. We stopped by Chilson Spring on the way. There was about 6-8 inches in the spring box. We had lunch at Chilson Camp and carried out some empty water jugs.
    Mazatzal Divide Trail #23
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Quick overnighter to Bear Spring before my weekend and Dallin's 9 month summer is over. We started early in the afternoon. The 2 hours of sleep in my car the night before felt fantastic on the climb up. Then I realized I forgot my sleeping pad. We got to camp at Bear Spring and immediately checked on the well. It was full. After dinner, we took a walk SoBo along the Divide before it got dark. We enjoyed a nice fire and I slept on some pine needles. Conduction wasn't that bad, despite a wet quilt from an overnight rain that was short lived. Fortunately, it was an unseasonably warm night and I slept well. In the a.m. we made an invigorating pre-dawn trip to the spring before tearing down and leaving. Cruised along the Divide and down Barnhardt. Both are in great shape. The wind along the AZT felt nice. Saw plenty of deer, but no people out until the last mile of Barnhardt. Good little getaway in the Mazzies.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To Peeley Trailhead
    SR87 east to signed turnoff for Sycamore Creek about .5mi north of mile post 222. Turn left across divided highway and follow paved road to dirt road on right at 1.2mi. Cross the cattleguard and go 1.2mi to the fork of FR25 and FR201. Veer right and follow FR201 (Mt.Peeley Summit Rd.)to its end @10mi total from hwy).

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) - 71.3mi 1 hour 48 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) - 169mi 3 hours 19 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) - 152mi 3 hours 17 mins
    page created by te_wa on Jul 13 2017 9:42 pm
    1 TB Flash Drive... $40
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