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Turtle Mountain 7004, AZ

Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
  5 of 5 
36 1 0
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 10.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,115 feet
Elevation Gain 2,889 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,926 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 25.23
Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Ruins, Historic, Seasonal Creek & Peak
Backpack Yes
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
36  2020-11-12 DixieFlyer
Author DixieFlyer
author avatar Guides 58
Routes 526
Photos 7,305
Trips 479 map ( 5,910 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Fountain Hills, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, May, Oct, Nov → Early
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  5:27am - 7:21pm
0 Alternative

Come out of your shell and hike Turtle Mtn
by DixieFlyer

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Turtle Mountain 7004 is a mountain in northeast Graham County. It has an elevation of 7,004 feet(duh!) and prominence of 2,004 feet, barely giving it status as a P2K peak. The summit, denoted as "Highest Peak" on topo maps, is right on the boundary between public land and San Carlos Apache land. There is a cadastral survey marker at the high point.

As described in this guide, this out-and-back hike begins and ends at the East Trailhead for the Old Safford-Morenci Trail - GET #13. The first 4 miles of the hike are on this trail, and then you make an off-trail ascent of Turtle Mountain.

The Old Safford-Morenci Trail is generally easy to follow, although it gets a bit faint here and there. The trail goes through the bottom of South Smith Canyon on this four-mile stretch; it is all uphill, but the grade is modest. The tread on the first mile or so is decent, but thereafter you are mostly walking through a wash or dry creek bed that is very rocky, which makes for uncomfortable hiking. At about the one-mile mark, you'll pass by a water tank that holds water from Smith Spring. When this guide was written, a spigot on the tank was broken, and water was spewing out.

Continuing on the trail through South Smith Canyon, you'll pass by a few signs that say "Trail" on them; after about 3 miles or so, you'll see a sign that says "Leaving Public Lands." Someone has pulled the sign up, and it was lying on the ground when the author of the guide saw it. There is not a "No Trespassing" or anything, and it is not apparent what land you are entering beyond this point; however, in looking at a map, it is obvious that you would be entering a sliver of San Carlos Apache Reservation land.

After being on the trail for about 4 miles, you'll go off-trail toward the Turtle Mountain summit. The summit is almost due south, but if you follow the default route for this guide, you'll loop around a bit to the west on a ridgeline at the head of South Smith Canyon. There is no real bushwhacking, per se, and you'll pick your way around some high desert vegetation.

The climb is a bit steep, and you'll gain 1,000 feet in elevation over 0.8 miles. The terrain is a bit rocky but not too bad; basically, the off-trail ascent is nothing more than a class 2 hike. You go along a ridgeline on or near the reservation boundary, and you can often follow some game trails along the way. You may see some cattle not too far below the summit, so if a cow can make the climb up there, most hikers can also get there. The grade eases up a bit as you get closer to the summit, and you'll hike up to the summit on the northwest slope of the peak.

At the summit, you'll see a benchmark, two reference marks, and the aforementioned cadastral survey marker that marks the boundary between public land and the reservation. The benchmark and reference marks are on the public land side, just a few feet from the boundary.

The 360-degree summit views are outstanding, and, IMHO, rival those of any peak in Arizona.

After enjoying the scenery at the summit, return to the trailhead the same way that you came up.

Red Tape
According to the Bureau of Land Management(BLM), the Old Safford-Morenci Trail crosses Arizona state trust land one mile from the trailhead. As such, a recreational permit from the Arizona State Land Office should be obtained.

A short section of the Old Safford-Morenci Trail crosses into an isolated, remote area of the San Carlos Apache Reservation, and part of the off-trail route to the summit also crosses into the reservation. Thus, a San Carlos Apache Tribal recreation permit should also be obtained.

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2020-11-17 DixieFlyer
    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.

    Permit $$
    AZ State Recreational Land Permits
    For hiking, driving & sightseeing purposes, you seek the recreational permit.
    Under "Recreational Land Use" in the link above.
    2020 - $15.00 individual
    2020 - $20.00 family limited to two adults and children under the age of 18
    Plus $1 processing fee
    The permitting process quick, you will be emailed your permit instantly.

    Land Parcel Map

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    Old Safford-Morenci Trail East Trailhead
    To reach the Trailhead, which is 6 air miles west of Morenci, take the Lower Eagle Creek/Black River Road off of Highway 191, just north of Morenci. The turnoff is about a quarter-mile past a historic hillside cemetery on your right. Take the left and go through a tunnel into what appears to be a dirt parking area; the Eagle Creek road begins there. The drive to the trailhead is 7 miles, the first 5 miles or so on a well-graded road that most any car can easily navigate. At about 5 miles you will come to the Eagle Creek Pumping Station, and you'll make a hairpin turn and drive through some water before making a right turn where you will ford Eagle Creek. At a minimum, a high clearance vehicle is recommended for the creek crossing, and a 4WD would be a safer choice. After crossing the creek you'll be at a ranch house, and there will likely be some cattle and horses there. You'll continue on the road for 1.5-2.0 miles to the signed trailhead on the left side of the road. Shortly before getting to the trailhead, the road will fork; take the left fork.
    GPS for drive to the east trailhead.

    Directions to West Trailhead
    page created by DixieFlyer on Nov 17 2020 2:20 pm
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