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Packard Trail #66, AZ

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Guide 33 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Prescott > Perkinsville N
3.4 of 5 by 12
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
Distance One Way 5.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,566 feet
Elevation Gain 1,211 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,526 feet
Avg Time One Way 3.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 10.89
Interest Ruins
Backpack Possible & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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10  2018-05-25
Packard Parsons Loop
12  2017-11-02
Packard / Parsons Loop
9  2016-07-22 NoPal
14  2015-11-21
Packard / Parsons Loop
30  2015-11-21
Packard Parsons Loop
19  2015-11-21
Packard Parsons Loop
11  2015-02-22
Yew Thicket Trail #52
8  2013-04-26
Henderson Trail #53
Page 1,  2,  3
Author GTG_AZH
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 0
Photos 381
Trips 7 map ( 21 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Peoria, AZ - Originally from Roc
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Feb, Jan → 8 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:16am - 6:25pm
Official Route
7 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Culture Nearby
Long walk across the mesa

Packard Trail to Sycamore Tank out and back. This is a description of the hike to Sycamore Tank and back along with a description of circling behind the tank back down into Sycamore Canyon. This trail has no drinkable water so bring your own.

This hike starts at the Sycamore Canyon trailhead. Take the left at the trail junction at the bottom of the hill. "The left option crosses the creek and heads up for a long venture over Packard Mesa." Sycamore Canyon calls with its water and beauty, but you have a climb ahead of you friend. My pictures were taken in late September and late November thus explaining the different foliage colors and inconsistencies.

At the intersection of Parsons Trail (144) and Packard Trail (66) hang a left and go west across the boulders. Getting across the creek during low water is fairly easy. Sycamore Creek makes a big pool here so cross at the spillway, you will see the cairns. Once across the creek head north along the barbed wire fence until you come to a pass-through in the fence. This section of the trail is fairly brushy for a bit so you may want long pants or gaiters for this. Go ahead and on up to the top of the mountain, to Packard Mesa. The trail doubles back towards the parking-lot and then takes off for two miles up the mountain. This climb is great, I compare it to one and a half to two Squaw Peak ascents with no concrete trail. The trail goes up and up for a while until it finally flattens out on Packard Mesa. Hiking across the mesa gives some great views east into Prescott Forrest, upper Sycamore Canyon and if you look close enough you can see the San Francisco Peaks.

From what I can surmise, Packard Ranch would use this trail to move their cattle up to graze and so forth up on the mesa, letting the cattle roam further north into higher, cooler ground. The Packard Trail follows a cow path for 3 miles or so across the mesa headed north. The trail meanders back and forth between juniper, pinon pine and low growing prickly pear. The trail can become confusing at times as the worn paths are from meandering cows that don't always go the same way. Just keep an eye out for the cowboy sized cairns. I suppose these large cairns were made by cowboys to be easier to spot in a moving herd. I can only guess that the prickly pear grow so low because of the wind they get up here. If you have time, bring a kite, I guarantee it will fly. This area also seem like it would be very cold in winter months as well due to the exposure you get up there.

Continue north across the mesa to Sycamore Tank, which is basically a cow pond. I would not recommend drinking the water here at all due to the cattle fouling it. You will know you're at the tank when you see the gate. When the tank is low you can take a break under the big cottonwood. It's one of the nicer specimens that I have ever seen. It must do well because of the water and fertilizer it gets. Out the back gate around the east side of the tank is a corral and a couple of metal storage boxes. Sycamore Tank makes a good turn-around spot. Return the way you came in for a 10-mile roundtrip day hike.

If you are adventurous and wish to explore the steep canyon going back down into Sycamore Creek then read on.

Warning! This portion of the hike can be dangerous due to the ruggedness of the canyon. This is also a major drainage from Packard Mesa down into Sycamore Creek. Do not enter the wash or the canyon if you suspect the slightest hint of rain. There are boulders that have been pushed around by some pretty strong water in here.

The canyon starts as a gentle wash, quickly becoming a canyon with steep walls. At about a mile from Sycamore Tank down into the canyon you encounter your first drop-off. It's about a 70 foot high cliff that you must skirt around the edge of down to the bottom. This thing is huge. I took the east side down. Continuing on down the canyon you will encounter many more cliffs like this. Some you can boulder down to the bottom, others I had to go high to the side to make it down. I was solo on this one so things were a little scary with the cliffs sometimes. You will encounter numerous pools and small caves along the way.

Plan your time accordingly. I got to within a few hundred yards of Sycamore Creek and couldn't go any further. All that far and no donut! I could even see Parsons Trail! You may be able to complete the loop I was trying to complete the loop and return via Parsons Trail. I believe the loop can be done and I will complete it someday. On this day I couldn't find a way past this set of pools. I underestimated my time and wanted to be out of the canyon by dark so I had to bushwhack up to the top of the west side of the canyon. There is a break in the cliffs at the top and I was able to get to it and make it out of canyon in an hour or less. Then I hiked cross-country until I ran across Packard Trail and headed back. From the beginning of the wash to my turn around point with one small break took 2.25 hours. It took me 45 - 50 minutes to climb out of the canyon through the brush straight up. You can see my reference points on my map.

1. Entered wash into canyon.
2. Encountered first cliffs.
3. Turned around.
4. Exited canyon.
5. Hiked cross-country.
6. Returned on Packard Trail.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

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

2001-12-09 GTG_AZH

    Coconino FS Details
    This trail serves mainly as access to other Sycamore Canyon Wilderness trails. It also provides access to this area from the Cottonwood-Clarkdale area. This is strictly a recreational trail and is used by both hikers and horseback riders.

    Maps, other resources: Prescott National Forest, east half; U.S.G.S. topographic 7.5' quad for Clarkdale and Sycamore Basin.

    Trail layout: The trail climbs immediately from Sycamore Creek to Packard Mesa to an elevation of about 4,800 ft. This is the only moderately difficult portion of the trail. The trail then stays on the mesa to where it intersects TR #63. Riders continuing north on TR #63 will find water for horses at Sycamore Tank, just 0.5 miles north of the trail junction. The Sycamore Canyon Wilderness trailhead for TR #63 lies another 0.5 miles north of the tank.

    Precautions: There is no drinking water along this trail.

    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 Triplog Reviews
    Packard Trail #66
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Packard Parsons Loop
    Chumley put together this loop and it turned out to be a winner. We started on the Packard Trail and headed for the ruins which are amazing! The view of Sedona is awesome. From there we dropped down a drainage into Sycamore Creek. The final drop proved to be difficult. There is a huge fall that needs to be bypassed. I followed a route I had preloaded and found staying hard left was the best option. The descent is steep and loose but has no exposure. After we dropped into the creek we made haste to Parson’s Spring. From there it was easy going back to the trailhead.
    Packard Trail #66
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Packard Parsons Loop
    This is four hikes in one. Only the boulder hop gets a little bit old, but even that isn't a big deal, and connects 3 other gems. The variety on one hike is awesome.

    Perfect weather today, not over 65 on the plateau, and downright chilly in the shaded canyon bottom. Then we turned a corner and the sun warmed things up again.

    A range of foliage colors from some cottonwoods that had lost all their leaves to some that were still green. Plenty of yellows that were prime. Absolutely no reds. A few sycamores were nice, but most were rusty.

    With 5.5 hours and 11.5 hours as the two previous trip times, I wasn't sure how long it would take. Probably should have slept an hour later this morning. Oh well.

    I could see myself exploring more of this side of the wilderness on future visits.
    Packard Trail #66
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Excellent lasso loop from the Parson Springs trailhead - north on Packard #66 and Sycamore Basin #63, then counter-clockwise loop up Yew Thicket #53, down Unknown #61 (aka Lonesome Pocket according to the sign) and back east on Henderson #53.

    I had a little trouble finding the Yew Thicket trail where it supposedly meets Sycamore Basin, but after a little wandering in the general direction it became clear. I doubt this trail gets much use but it is in surprisingly good condition, with a huge number of well-spaced cairns taking you up steeply to the rim and onto a lonely mesa with big views. The intersection with trail #61 was unmarked but very obvious.

    Trail #61 down to Henderson Flat follows a loose, rocky ridge through open scrub, and would be very unpleasant in the uphill direction under hot sun. The west end of Henderson #53 is faint and overgrown in spots, but improves greatly as it travels southeast along the base of gorgeous red rock cliffs.
    Packard Trail #66
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    As soon as you cross the creek you start climbing and going up for about two miles. Then you have a have a long walk across the mesa but are rewarded with beautiful views. The trip is well worth it when you get to the ruins. What a view! Then turn around and head 7 miles back. Saw a bald eagle on the Verde and pronghorn on the way in and then two snakes and deer on the trail. This one is well worth the effort.
    Packard Trail #66
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Packard Parsons Loop
    Had never done Parsons, but I don't prefer to do out and backs, so I decided to see if we could possibly make a loop out of this w/ Packard. Throw in a sprinkle of Ruins, and the hike was on.

    I did not expect a lot from Packard, but was pleasantly surprised. The views while climbing, were very nice. The hike across the Mesa, while not exciting, was nothing as bad
    as I'd expected.

    We got to the spot for the side trip to the ruins. Joe though about waiting for me, but reluctantly followed me uphill. Not checking these out on site ahead of time, I wasn't expecting much. Maybe a few stones piled up here and there.

    I was in awe by what I saw. Not only were the ruins (rookie ruin explorer here) incredible.,
    but the views...oh man the views! New #1 lunch spot. We didn't want to leave. First because of the views and second, because it was much cooler out of the sun.

    But we needed to go, because the question mark for this hike was up next. I hadn't seen a track or read were anyone was successful in negotiating a path from the top of Packard to Sycamore creek below. Once in Sycamore it would just be a rock hop to Parsons. Looking at the Topo and Satellite views on HAZ, I came up w/ 2 options. The first was a mile down a drainage, and the second a 3 miler that would have taken us around the north side of Packard.
    We opted for the shorter hop to the east.

    *** If exposure or loose ground are not your cup of tea, do not attempt this route ***
    There was probably 5 or so drops that we had to traverse, but they all actually worked out.

    A Short Video

    It was nice finally reaching Parsons spring and the cover of trees. This was a pretty area.

    We stopped by and said hi to the HAZ gang that was spending the night. Liz, Mike, Steve, Todd and good to meet Travis. The rest of the hike was under cover and next to water. There looks to be some nice swimming areas. I especially enjoyed the ledge walks next to the water.

    I'm 83% sure Joe enjoyed himself
    Packard Trail #66
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Packard Parson Daily Double
    My interest level was set pretty low but chalk up Bruce for another winner. Heading up Packard was better than expected. It goes up and up and the views increase with each upward step too. Heading across the top was pretty drab. Plenty of large junipers are available for breaks so it's not horrible. The tail end gets mighty sweet considering it's a cow pasture.

    The hike to the ruins blew me away. With a smorgasbord of pain issues I almost told Bruce to go check them out while I waited. I'm not much of a ruins guy but these are pretty cool. Even more dynamic is the setting. It's better than wow, I'll even go as far as wow wow.

    Next was finding a route down to Parsons. Seemed I read long ago of people cliffing out and bla bla bla so I wasn't keen on the idea. This turned out to be the next best part of the entire hike. Heading down was semi shaded and just a fun ride! Somehow we got lucky and made every right decision through the maze. Only one six to ten foot down climb with good enough hand holds for this amateur of amateurs.

    The boulder hopping to Parsons is boulder hopping. I was just glad it wasn't half an afternoon like Woods Canyon. What I expected to be the most enjoyable part of the day along Parsons was just okay for me. Apparently the snow capped peak views from the ruins down the fun obstacle view-course spoiled me.

    Along the way we met up with the HAZ campers group too! Everyone seemed cool with their passwords and the group annuity 401k so we moved on.

    5 quarts was just enough for this seemingly hot day.

    Wildflowers Quite a bit of tiny stuff throughout. Lots of Indian Paintbrush in areas. Not the incredible Jackass Clover show August thrills crowds with but a Columbine show near Summer Spring that was quite impressive!
    Packard Trail #66
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I hiked what's considered a Sycomore Canyon lower loop on which starts at the Parson TH, goes up Packard #66, which dumps into Sycamore Basin #63, take a right on Dogie #116, once you hit the dry Sycamore Canyon you hop off trail and 'hop' down the drainage back to the Parsons TH. Total loop is about 24 miles and completed a tad over 11 hours.

    This loop only puts you on the lower third of the complete trail, but it passes thru the very scenic Sycamore Basin before it drops you into Sycamore Canyon itself. From that point it about 8 miles to Parsons Spring and another 4 miles to Parsons TH.
    Packard Trail #66
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I hiked what's considered a Sycomore Canyon lower loop on which starts at the Parson TH, goes up Packard #66, which dumps into Sycamore Basin #63, take a right on Dogie #116, once you hit the dry Sycamore Canyon you hop off trail and 'hop' down the drainage back to the Parsons TH. Total loop is about 24 miles and completed a tad over 11 hours.

    The Packard trail has some great views of the lower Sycamore Canyon, the Packard Mesa had some sweeping views, and at the northern terminus of the trail there's a dirt road to the east that leads to a trail that goes to some sweet Indian Ruins. All in all, this was probably the least scenic part of the whole loop (so hit this trail first), but it did have some stiff competition to go up against. 8)
    Packard Trail #66
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I hiked what's considered a Sycomore Canyon lower loop on which starts at the Parson TH, goes up Packard #66, which dumps into Sycamore Basin #63, take a right on Dogie #116, once you hit the dry Sycamore Canyon you hop off trail and 'hop' down the drainage back to the Parsons TH. Definetly a Spring/Fall hike and bring at least 4L of water, sun protection, & the FS sells a good map of the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness.

    Wow, what else can I say, that place just took my breath away. I knew the place would be scenic, but this place was absolutely gorgeous. This canyon is like Sedona's quiet & unrefined, yet equally beautiful younger sister. The ruins were quite impressive, the views up on the mesa were sweet, the panoramas of Sycamore canyon were equally impressive, the 8 mile 'hop' along the boulder-strewn dry creek bed was very draining yet still scenic, but the highlight of the trip was that last section from Parsons spring back to the TH. Unfortunately it's still a bit too cold
    for swimming to be enjoyable this time of year and I was too exhausted to explore much of the area, but I'm definitely going back here this summer to play in the water.

    The geology above the springs was normal for the area with Basalt on top, followed by the tan Coconino Sandstone, with the red Supai Sandstone on bottom, but once I was below the springs it changed quite a bit. I hit the Redwall Limestone layer that I think I've only seen before in the Grand Canyon. The cool thing about this limestone is how it has eroded from the constant source of water with caves & holes, chunky looking cliffs, with sections missing every now and then. And to mix things up a bit, a basalt layer would be thrown in every now and then from a past lava flow. I had some help from my 'Hiking AZ's Geology' book to fully understand
    all that was going on here. :D
    Packard Trail #66
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Holy cow I LOVED this hike! Can't wait to get back out there again. We managed to find some ruins, but whether they were the ruins described in "Hiking Ruins Seldom Seen" I do not know. We got way off track looking for them and actually found them from the wrong side of the canyon, though the view was stupendous. We eventually made our way back around the other side of the canyon to just above the ruin but couldn't find a clear way to get to them without a rope. It being late in the day, caution won out over bravery and we headed back.

    This hike has some of the BEST views I've ever seen on a hike in Arizona. I intend to explore the area more extensively as soon as I can. More later!! Anyone want to come along, send pm.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From I-17 take 260 west out of Camp Verde and head on over to Cottonwood. Turn left onto 89A and follow through Old Town Cottonwood on the slow 25mph Main St. Continue on to the Tuzigoot National Monument turn off going right. Soon after turning you cross a good size bridge. Take the first left after the bridge onto Sycamore Canyon Road. After 1.4 miles the pavement ends and your rolling across a washboard hard packed dirt road. At 4.6 miles you cross the Coconino National Forest boundary. The sign at the boundary reads 6 miles to Sycamore Canyon. (It's really only 5.6 miles more as the trailhead is just before the road the dips into the canyon.) From here on the road is called FS 131 not that it really matters. The road is smooth hard packed dirt. There is one creek crossing at about 8.1 miles but nothing to even get worried about. Keep your eyes open for horse grazing in the canyon below. After the 9 mile mark the road gets rougher to the trailhead. The total distance from the turn after bridge is about 10.2 miles.

    Access and trailhead location: From Clarkdale take the road to Tutzigoot Monument. After crossing the Verde River bridge turn left immediately on the road that parallels the river. This becomes FR 131. Take this road for approximately 10 miles to the Sycamore Canyon overlook and the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness boundary just east of the Packard Ranch.

    Travel time: Approximately 20 min. from Clarkdale. Road condition: Paved, then graded dirt
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