South Fork of Sheep Creek - 4642 Lasso Loop, AZ | HikeArizona
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 This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Preferred" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

South Fork of Sheep Creek - 4642 Lasso Loop, AZ

Guide 2 Triplogs  0 Topics
  4 of 5 
no permit
52 2 0
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 10.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,924 feet
Elevation Gain -1,365 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,230 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5-8 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 21.35
 Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall, Seasonal Creek & Peak
 Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
38  2023-02-03 joebartels
14  2023-02-03 The_Eagle
author avatar Guides 264
Routes 2,348
Photos 13,528
Trips 5,439 map ( 27,506 miles )
Age 53 Male Gender
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar Map
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Preferred Jan, Dec, Feb, Mar → 7 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:42am - 6:31pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 2020 Bush Fire193.5k
🔥 2012 Sunflower Fire16.1k
🔥 1995 Basin Fire21.2k
🔥 View (All) - over Official Route 🔥

topography temptations
by joebartels

 Likely In-Season!
Experience upper South Fork of Sheep Creek. Rise quickly to a high point with excellent 5G. Return on a hint of use-trails to area springs.

From Mormon Grove Trailhead head up/east Saddle Mountain Trail #91 0.55-mi. This doubles as part of the Arizona Trail and is in excellent condition. Turn left/SW on Little Saddle Mountain Trail #244 and follow 1.25-mi. Intriguing geology at a shallow ravine is about 0.3-mi along this stretch.

The easy trail portion ends at 1.85-mi. Turn right/south off-trail onto what appears to be a long-gone road. Ankle buster rocks are in the mix. It might go unnoticed crossing South Fork of Sheep Creek near its origin unless rain or snowmelt is in progress. A stone's throw further is a nice cleared campsite under a pine.

At about 2.65-mi you cross the creek in dense forest and scrub. 3.5-miles in involves following the creek in earnest. The creek was lightly flowing on our inaugural journey, seemingly from the saturation of recent snowmelt. The unexpected situation raised spirits. Staying dry ducking, crawling over, and jumping the creek was fairly constant for 2-2.2 miles. There are a few flat aprons, bonus segments of use-trail and mesquite bosques.

Creekside geology squeezed dry options out of the creekbed just before Tournament Creek. Which I thought resembled shorty-fatty narrows. Back a few dozen yards was a suitable exit out of the creek to ascend towards 4070. A steep c3 scramble minutes up raised concern but it was over quick. Albeit semi-intriguing, 4070 is easily passed on the right.

4642 looms above to the east with Saddle Mountain northeast. 4642 is a little intimidating at first. Concern fades midway up. Looking back oughta whet your appetite if there is an ounce of an explorer in you. We aimed for the right/south edge. It seemed like the best route and we saw a few white-tailed deer breeze up after planning on it. It gets steep in the final 100-ft or so. I hugged a few boulders for balance. Dry clumps of grass helped as handholds a few times too.

There is a stack of rocks that appears intended for a register but was not easily found. We took a lunch break beside a nearby juniper because it was windy. Our return was staying right/south of 4977 aiming for Chalk Spring. We found cairns, stretches of use-trail and cut branches.

Without preplanning, we did not take the easiest route back. Thanks to @hikerdw for sharing a route and based on the satellite view, you will have an easier return. We took a right turn to a bushwhack. Instead, stay left towards Marion Spring. The use-trail may be faint but is the obvious choice now.

Undesirable enough to keep most out. Accessible enough as one of the better mountain country options near the valley that isn't totally wiped out by fire. The 1995 Basin Fire blazed the west and the 2012 Sunflower Fire torched the east. South Fork of Sheep Creek was either slurried or sacrificed down in the creek. We didn't see any sign of bears but you'd be wise to keep them in mind if camping.

27-Second Youtube Video

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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2023-02-06 joebartels
    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 $$

    Paved - Car Okay

    To Mormon Grove Trailhead
    Driving from Phoenix, take the Beeline Highway (87) North toward Payson. Take the Sycamore Creek exit (just past mile marker 222), turning left across the divided highway and down the paved road 'Old Highway 87' for 1.2 miles to FR201.

    Turn right over the cattle guard onto the gravel road (FR201) and proceed 1.2 miles to cross another cattle guard just before a split in the road at FR25. Take the sharp left turn downhill (FR25) and proceed 2.6 miles to a Y in the road. Stay left again and downhill on FR25 (the right leg takes you onto FR25A). Proceed uphill for 2.2 miles (switchbacks) to the Mormon Grove Trailhead.

    Both FR201 and FR25 are gravel roads - FR25 is slow/rough- loose & hard packed rock, steeper climb up/down than FR201.

    The Mormon Grove Trailhead is not signed but is obvious since it is where FR25 ends at an old wooden corral.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 66.6 mi - about 1 hour 21 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 164 mi - about 2 hours 42 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 145 mi - about 3 hours 10 mins
    page created by joebartels on Feb 06 2023 3:45 pm

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