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Bushwhack / Pistol Canyon, AZ

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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 0.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,853 feet
Elevation Gain 472 feet
Accumulated Gain 500 feet
Avg Time One Way 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 2.17
Interest Off-Trail Hiking
Backpack Connecting Only
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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10  2021-02-06 eru
Author eru
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 1
Photos 44
Trips 3 map ( 6 miles )
Age Male Gender
Historical Weather
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Preferred   Jan, Feb, Dec, Mar
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  5:36am - 7:27pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimeteracres
🔥 2019 Woodbury Fire123.8k

Warning the 2019 Woodbury Fire & 2020 Sawtooth Fire damaged a majority of the Superstition Wilderness.
Why go through it when you can go over it??
by eru

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There is some initial steep class 2 with some short moderate class 3 (use both hands climbing). While route-finding should be pretty self-evident, you can cliff out and get in danger, so pay attention to your surroundings. The GPS route is just pieced together from the waypoints I marked, so it should be taken in a somewhat general manner.

You climb out of Upper Peter's Canyon near the junction with Bushwhack/Pistol Canyon (B/P canyon from here on), gain the ridge, then traverse high until you find an appropriate place to drop, avoiding all bushwhacking.

I did this in combination with a variant of Peter's Canyon - Upper Loop. There are two trip routes that describe this and I went off of the HAZ_Hikebot one for this trip, but people seem to be bushwhacking through this so I figured I'd write up a little beta. :)


Follow along with the photoset slideshow, noting that photo 4 for Follow along some reason has whacked out GPS coordinates on it.

All directions are going from Peter's Canyon to the top of Bushwhack/Pistol.

Just east of the junction between upper peter's and bushwhack/pistol, there's a gully heading towards an obvious notch. We chose to go up the knobby rock in the middle of it, but you can choose to go on either side if you're more comfortable (less climby, more spiky things). The gully will reach a minor wall. You can go to the right and try and scramble up without climbing (or be too lazy to do that and just climb 5-6 feet up that wall like we did if you find a spot that looks safe. :)

Once above that, you'll be facing a much more significant face - at this point, I was pondering having to cut left and do some significant climbing, but went to the right where you can walk to the top of the ridge overlooking B/P canyon for the view. It turns out you can go from this to an easy gentle grassy slope alongside the canyon! I forgot to take photos of the face/approach here as the view was more interesting, but hopefully, it'll be apparent once you get to it.

After that, it's pretty simple, aim for a large outcropping mid-point on the ridge, then keep traversing, staying above the cliff bands until you find a comfortable place to drop. We passed a few that'd look doable if a little steep but decided they weren't worth the effort of dropping then regaining elevation in the canyon, so stayed high until a very easy drop near the end presented itself. This would be a bit slower than dropping early, as you're following the counter above gulches, but it's probably more pleasant.

Once at the top of the canyon, we followed the side of Peter's Mesa - straightforward but annoying with cacti to avoid and a slope to walk on. Some cairns and a deer path, but pretty CYA until you meet back up with the trail.

Check out the Official Route.

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2021-02-18 eru

    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.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Connector trail - Not Applicable

    To Tortilla Flat Trailhead
    From Idaho Road & SR-88 follow SR-88 east 17.0 miles to Tortilla Flat. Continue just past the buildings and before the bridge-less flood ravine. On the south side of the road near the museum follow a road that rises up. This takes you up to an overflow parking lot where hikers are allowed to park. If you are parking overnight fill out a free permit as stated on the sign.

    Parking elsewhere has been reported by members as a $75 ticket from the Forest Service.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 52.0 mi - about 1 hour 10 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 145 mi - about 2 hours 27 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 196 mi - about 3 hours 14 mins
    page created by eru on Feb 18 2021 10:25 am
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