register help
This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Sunset Loop Drive to Galiuro Wilderness, AZ

34 9 0
Guide 9 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
3 of 5 by 3
clicktap icons for details
Distance Loop 39.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,349 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Interest Historic & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Collective Slideshow
Inaugural Calculation next Tap
25  2016-10-29
Bassett Peak and B24 Wreck via Ash Creek
55  2012-11-09
Bassett Peak
22  2010-11-08
Bassett Peak
15  2009-11-08 Randal_Schulhaus
55  2009-11-07
Bassett Peak
19  2009-11-06 Randal_Schulhaus
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Nov, Mar, Feb, Jan
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:51am - 5:18pm
Route Scout App
Official Route
1 Linked
Nearby Area Water
Bark Trick Tank
Bark Trick Tank
10.5 mi away
6.0 mi
997 ft
Shake Trail #309
Shake Trail #309
11.1 mi away
8.5 mi
3,151 ft
Grant Creek Trail #305
Grant Creek Trail #305
11.8 mi away
6.9 mi
3,956 ft
Bear Canyon Trail #299
Bear Canyon Trail #299
11.9 mi away
6.0 mi
3,966 ft
Cove Canyon Trail
Cove Canyon Trail
12.7 mi away
4.3 mi
924 ft
Twilight Peak 9320
Twilight Peak 9320'
13.6 mi away
1.5 mi
520 ft
Ladybug Peak 8780
Ladybug Peak 8780
13.8 mi away
0.9 mi
256 ft
P Ranch Canyon
P Ranch Canyon
14.2 mi away
8.8 mi
950 ft
Snow Flat Campground
14.2 mi away
Treasure Park from Snow Flat
Treasure Park from Snow Flat
14.3 mi away
3.2 mi
487 ft
[ View More! ]
Flora Nearby
Guns and Gold (and Goats)
by Randal_Schulhauser

Likely In-Season!
History: Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado crossed what is now southern Arizona in 1540, probably passing just east of the Galiuros. His army may have followed the San Pedro River Valley northward from Mexico, and then continued along the Sulphur Spring and Aravaipa Valleys with the Galiuro Mountains on their left. Somewhere near the Galiuros, Coronado's chroniclers noted a large abandoned structure they called "Chichilticale," or Red House. No one knows exactly where this structure was. One of the chroniclers wrote that the natives of the region lived by hunting and in rancherias, without permanent settlements.

The first gold discoveries nearly coincided with President Theodore Roosevelt's July 22, 1902 declaration of the higher part of the Galiuros as a Forest Reserve. Six years later the Forest Reserves in Graham County became part of Crook National Forest. The protection here was not for the timber, of which the Galiuros had very little, but for the watershed, which in desert lands is an even greater consideration. In 1953 the Crook National Forest was incorporated into the Coronado National Forest.

Early-day Forest Rangers had enforcement duties, which meant that they customarily went around armed. Occasionally they wound up in a gunfight, including the Kirby vs. Tucker skirmish in 1912 and the bloody 1918 Powers brother's shootout and subsequent manhunt that left 4 dead men. Ranching got its start in the Galiuros at almost the same time as mining. In the 1890's and through the first decade of the 20th Century, the principal type of livestock was probably Angora goats rather than cattle. Goat ranching paid well and the slopes of the Galiuros and neighboring hills were ideal range for these browsing animals.
Excerpts from "Guns and Gold: History of the Galiuro Wilderness" by John P. Wilson, September 1977, ASIN B0006P0F68.

More History: Fort Grant resulted from the relocation of Old Camp Grant in the aftermath of the 1871 "Camp Grant Massacre". The fort was strategically placed at the southern slopes of Mount Graham so as to protect local settlers and played a prominent role in the 1880s Apache Wars.

William Bonney reportedly settled in the vicinity of Ft. Grant in 1876 working as a ranch-hand and tending sheep nearby. In nearby Bonita, Bonney killed the local blacksmith and was taken into custody at the Ft. Grant stockade. He escaped back to New Mexico before he could be tried for the first killing committed by the boy who would become known as "Billy the Kid".

In 1905 the Army abandoned the fort and transferred all troops to Fort Huachuca. Today the Fort Grant site is occupied by a State Prison.

Bonus History: Sunset is a ghost town near the South Oak Creek road crossing. Sunset owed its existence to the mines on Sunset Peak just west of the town site. It had a post office from 1917 to 1932. After his imprisonment for the 1918 shootings and draft evasion, John Powers passed away at his residence in Sunset AZ in 1970.

Drive/Hike: This is not a true hike, but a 4x4 (or high clearance) excursion along a Backcountry Byway - the Sunset Loop - with plenty of stops for hiking, photo opportunities and soaking in a little AZ history. Hiking is primarily limited to the Galiuro Wilderness with the majority of the Sunset Loop traversing private ranch lands. Please respect notices on private lands.

Mile 0.0: 4-way stop at junction of Ash Creek Road and Fort Grant Road - where the pavement ends marks the beginning of our current day Sunset Loop route. The 4-way stop marked the western terminus of the Eurofresh Farms greenhouses - 3 miles of greenhouse tomatoes. Nearby Crop Circle Winery seems to pay homage to the monster irrigation rigs.

Mile 3.0: Hi-tech agriculture soon gives way to the cattle grazing grasslands of Sulfur Springs Valley. The valley plain is dotted with Soaptree Yuccas. The Winchester Mountains dominate the view to the immediate south.

Mile 5.8: Ash Creek Road bends due west and this is cow country. There's a surprising number of abandoned farms and Mount Graham looms to the north.

Mile 10.4: As Ash Creek Road blends into Sunset Loop Road, you enter into the Ash Creek Black Hills. Bassett Peak and other topographical prominence of the eastern Galiuro Mountains come into view. Derelict machinery dots both sides of the road.

Mile 14.3: Sunset Loop Road bends north near the junction with FR660. FR660 takes you to the Basset Peak/Ash Creek Canyon trail head (about 2 1/2 miles from Sunset Loop Road). There are plenty of campsites along FR660. See Bassett Peak for more information.

Mile 15.6: As Sunset Loop Road gradually dips into the Oak Creek drainage, note the abandoned buildings and foundation remnants. This is all that remains of the ghost town of Sunset.

Mile 17.8: You arrive at the junction of Sunset Loop Road and High Creek Road. Head west on High Creek Road/FR159 about 4 miles to reach the Sunset Peak/High Creek trail head. This TH provides spur trail access to the East Divide Trail, Rattlesnake Canyon, Kennedy Peak, and so much more. Powers Cabin, Mine, and Garden are also accessible from this TH. See Powers Garden for more information.

Mile 23.8: Continuing east along High Creek Road, you'll arrive at the junction of Wells Ranch Road. There are views of the Pinaleno Mountains to the north, the Winchester Mountains and Ash Creek Black Hills to the south, and the Galiuro Mountains to the west.

Mile 31.4: The return to paved road and stop sign at Fort Grant Road indicates that you are in Bonita. The collection of abandoned buildings could cause one to wonder if Bonita should be reclassified as a ghost town. The nearby state prison marks the grounds of historic Fort Grant.

Mile 39.7: Continue south on Fort Grant Road until you reach the 4-way stop sign to complete the Sunset Loop.

Summary: The "Sunset Loop" provides a unique opportunity to investigate remnants of some obscure Arizona history. With access to FR660 and the Bassett Peak TH and FR159 and the Sunset Peak TH, there is a primo shuttle hike/backpacking opportunity along the Eastern Divide of the Galiuro Mountains with access to Powers Cabin! Enjoy! .

    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 $$

    Coronado Forest
    MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
    Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To scenic drive
    From Phoenix (or Tucson)
    1. Take I-10 east about 190 miles until you reach Wilcox AZ.
    2. Take exit 340 for Fort Grant Road.
    3. Travel about 18 miles north on Fort Grant Road.
    4. At the stop sign, turn left onto Ash Creek Road.
    5. Travel about 3 miles west until you reach the 4-way stop at the intersection of Ash Creek Road and Fort Grant Road.
    6. Continue west leaving the pavement onto the graded dirt road. This is the start of the Sunset Loop.
    page created by Randal_Schulhauser on Nov 15 2009 12:13 am
    help comment issue

    end of page marker