Redfield Canyon to Swamp Springs Canyon, AZ | HikeArizona
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Redfield Canyon to Swamp Springs Canyon, AZ

Guide 5 Triplogs  1 Topic
  4.3 of 5 
37 5 1
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,215 feet
Elevation Gain -639 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,131 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.77
 Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Historic & Seasonal Creek
 Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
23  2022-12-01
Redfield Canyon Cliff house
28  2022-11-26 00blackout
9  2022-09-30 GrangerGuy
author avatar Guides 26
Routes 95
Photos 657
Trips 72 map ( 803 miles )
Age 66 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred Mar, Apr, Oct, Nov → 7 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  5:37am - 7:01pm
Official Route
1 Alternative

Shh, don’t tell anyone about this place
by GrangerGuy

  Likely In-Season!
Overview After a long drive on a 4x4 road, hike about 600’ down into the canyon and spend hours exploring the canyons in 3 directions under a riparian canopy. Walking is easy with very little bushwhacking. There is water in the canyon, but not enough to get your feet wet. It might remind you of Aravaipa. The driving route described does not require crossing private land, but an Arizona Land Trust annual permit is required.

Background Redfield Canyon was added to the Wilderness System out of BLM land in 1990. It is unusual in that it is divided into two parts by the road from Muleshoe Ranch to Jackson Cabin. In most of Arizona, this would have generated two separate wilderness areas. Finding the actual boundaries of the wilderness is tricky. Different otherwise reliable maps give different answers. The Garmin Public Lands mapset at least is accurate as to what is not BLM and is private or State Trust land. The popular thing to do in this area has been to visit one of 3 abandoned cabins. Remember, though, all but Jackson Cabin are on private property. Instead of human ruins, enjoy the natural wilderness.

Hike From the Redfield Canyon Trailhead (marked on Google Maps) with parking for a half dozen cars, follow an unmaintained and poorly marked trail down the crest of a ridgeline to the bottom of the canyon. There are occasional cairns to help you and tall grass to hinder your navigation. The path makes sudden jogs right and left as well, so keep your wits about you so that you don’t lose the path. Beware of catclaw along the way.

After dropping 600 sunny feet, you are suddenly in the cool shade of trees at the canyon bottom. If you were to go downstream (left), in about 600 yards, you would cross out of the wilderness into private property, and then maybe another 600 yards to an abandoned cabin. Another 500 yards beyond that, you would re-enter the wilderness and could explore further downstream.

Instead, this guide recommends you go upstream (right) with easy walking. Sometimes the best route is on the left of the creek, sometimes the right, sometimes in a dry streambed, and sometimes getting the soles of your feet a little wet walking in the stream. The way is almost always obvious, and you can almost always walk around brushy obstacles.

The official route I am including only goes up as far as the confluence with Swamp Springs Canyon, with a brief exploration up right and left at that junction. In principle, you could follow the Swamp Springs Canyon all the way to Jackson Cabin. This would make a cool one-way traverse of the wilderness, but the car shuttle would take you longer than the hike.

You don’t have to walk far to truly enjoy this wild, beautiful, and rarely-visited wilderness.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2022-10-01 GrangerGuy
  • sub-region related

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 $$
AZ State Recreational Land Permits
For hiking, driving & sightseeing purposes, you seek a recreational permit.
Under "Recreational Land Use" in the link above.
2022 - $15.00 individual
2022 - $20.00 family limited to two adults and children under the age of 18
Plus $1 processing fee
The permitting process is quick, you will be emailed your permit instantly.

Land Parcel Map

Strictly 4x4

To hike
From Tucson, take Reddington Road over the pass between the Catalinas and the Rincon Mountains, down through Reddington to the intersection with N. Cascabel Road. In 5 miles, an unnamed high-clearance 4x4 road goes left, first following a wash and then climbing to the ridgetop, arriving at the trailhead in about 8 miles. This road is entirely through Arizona Land Trust property, requiring an annual permit to cross.

From Phoenix, take I-10 East to exit 185. Follow AZ-387, then AZ-87, then AZ-287 to Florence. Continue on AZ-79 and turn left at AZ-77 toward Oracle. Take the Reddington Road exit, continuing past San Manuel to a T-intersection with San Pedro River Road. Go right. Bear left on N. Cascabel Road. In 5 miles, an unnamed high-clearance 4x4 road goes left, first following a wash and then climbing to the ridgetop, arriving at the trailhead in about 8 miles. This road is entirely through Arizona Land Trust property, requiring an annual permit to cross.

From wherever, navigate to Redfield Canyon Trailhead marked on Google Maps. However, beware the alternate road passing by Bradberry Cabin is on private land.
page created by GrangerGuy on Oct 01 2022 2:14 pm

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