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Goldfield Ovens Loop, AZ

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Guide 66 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Mesa NE
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Loop 7.75 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,373 feet
Elevation Gain 575 feet
Accumulated Gain 775 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 11.63
Interest Ruins & Historic
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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7  2019-06-29 gummo
2  2019-04-28 gummo
6  2019-04-27 gummo
4  2019-03-24 gummo
15  2018-12-01 kenandjude
15  2018-10-26
Blue Point Salt River Loop
3  2018-08-27 gummo
4  2018-03-25 gummo
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Author AZLOT69
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 247
Photos 7,293
Trips 1,818 map ( 15,596 miles )
Age 68 Male Gender
Location Gold Canyon, AZ
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:14am - 6:25pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
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by AZLOT69

This moderate length loop hike offers plenty of perks. Described in a Clockwise direction, the hike begins and ends alongside the Salt River which generally has water flowing year round which in itself is unusual in Arizona. This reliable source of water hosts a variety of waterfowl including Ducks, Egrets, and Great Blue Heron. Passing by the cliffs of Blue Point may have you spotting a Bald Eagle. These cliffs host mating pairs every year and the area is generally posted during mating season. The trail shares a section with the Heber-Reno Sheep Driveway, and passes by the Goldfield Ovens. You can expect to see Wild Horses on this trip. Splendid mature Sonoran flora line the trail. Entering the boulders area the trail follows a high ridgeline with views in all directions including Four Peaks, Stewart Mountain, Fountain Hills, and Saguaro Lake before dipping into Horse Thief Wash as the trail rejoins the Salt River for the final stretch.

While I was unable to locate any specific historical information about the Goldfield Ovens, my research uncovered a remarkable resemblance in size and construction to other ovens built by pioneers in the 1800s and early 1900s. With the additional evidence of limestone all around the immediate location I concluded that this was a Limestone Kiln. These ovens were generally built into the side of a hill fashioned after the beehive design of coke ovens. Producing Quicklime was the object and most likely was used for making mortar, and bricks for building but had other uses such as removing hair from hides in leather making, and medicine.

A Tonto Day Pass (check Fees/Permit below for more info) is required to park at the Blue Point Recreation Site marking the trailhead for this hike. The trail starts behind the restrooms at the far north end of the parking lot. Join the trail by going left and pass thru the mesquite filled area. This brings you to the north bank of the Salt River. Fishermen are often seen along the bank of the river which is lined with cattail and reeds. The trail hugs the cliff face of Blue Point for the first half mile. There is ample evidence of rockslides here from the brittle rock face. Look up often as you quietly pass thru this area watching for Bald Eagles. Their nest sites are often given away by whitewashed rocks from bird scat. The trail descends into a wash at one half mile. This wash is part of the Heber-Reno Sheep Driveway which was established in 1890. To the left is Salt River beachfront land. This is where the sheep cross the Salt River on their way to winter feeding areas in the valley. Take the wash to the right or north. The cliff lined wash is sandy. Almost immediately you may notice large amounts of scat that appear to be from deer. Sheep scat is very similar and hundreds pass this way twice a year. About one third of a mile up the wash watch for a monster Saguaro. At three quarters of a mile up the wash it gets wider with golden cliffs on the left. Watch right for white limestone rock. Piles of loose white limestone indicate the location of the oven in the rock face. After the oven continue up the wash another 200 yards. Another wash joins in from the right. Stay in the main wash headed north. The wash narrows back down now and the walls lining it grow. The wash now curves right and Stewart Mountain appears dead ahead. The wash is continually gaining elevation as you move toward the high point of the trail. Rock outcroppings and boulders now make for interesting landscape. Mature plants abound with some of the largest Ocotillos I have seen. When you come to an unmarked intersection bear right. This is at about the 3.5 mile point. The trail hits a high here as it mounts a ridgeline for a half mile of incredible views in all directions. The trail descends into Horse Thief Wash. Go left in the wash and then bear right at further junctions. A short and interesting slot area has the trail join up with the Stewart Mountain Dam Petroglyph Trail. Continue straight and take the culvert under the Bush Highway. When you come to the old alignment of the Bush Highway bear right. A tunnel of Salt Cedar and a hill will bring you up to the water users recreation site. Walk across the parking area all the way to the west where the trail picks up again behind the restroom next to a road closed sign. The trail crosses two washes then watch for junction to bear right. The trail now passes thru the fence line to cross to the north side of the Bush Highway. The trail passes thru some additional old growth saguaros in this section which has nonstop scenic views of the Goldfields on both sides of the trail. Blue Point looms ahead and is a signal that you are coming to the end of the loop. Picnic tables and a restroom compliment hikes end.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2009-12-20 AZLOT69
    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 of 23 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Goldfield Ovens Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I returned to Goldfield Oven Loop for a 2nd round this year because on the first round, I only saw one snake and minimal wildlife. I was not satisfied with seeing one snake on this hike (and neither should you), so I opted to do a little more stomping around in the sand to find more snakes and wildlife.

    I did better this round, seeing 5 snakes and my first coachwhip of 2017, who was playing dead when I spotted him but gave me a courtesy bite to let me know that he was still alive.

    I ran into a group from Chicago who said they were looking for horses on this hike and saw a bald eagle. They were told that there were no diamondbacks on this hike, probably from one of you all. Shame on you! :x I didn't see any horses on the hike but saw them along the road on the way out.

    Unofficial snake count 2017:
    - Rosy boas: 11
    - Dbacks: 8
    - Red Dbacks: 6
    - Ringneck: 1
    - Blackheads: 7
    - Night snakes: 3
    - Coachwhips: 1
    - Sidewinders: 4
    - Spotted Leafnosed: 1
    Grand total: 42
    Goldfield Ovens Loop
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Headed out to the river and decided to do the Coke Ovens Loop, haven't done this hike since 2013, maybe see some Horses, but nope just myself and the great outdoors and time to think and relax :) Take way the deep sand and this is a great hike with great views.
    Goldfield Ovens Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    It rained where I was at the day before, so I assumed that it rained in the Goldfields. I was wrong, so when I hit the trail, I was trenching thru the washes ankle-deep in dry sand.

    Nonetheless, I spotted 2 tortoises, a dback, and an owl. I wasn't too hot when I ended, so I went back out and found a baby gopher snake. By that time, it got too hot. There wasn't too many tubers on the river. There were a lot of fishermen. I've never hiked this trail in August. It wasn't much different when I hiked it in September.
    Goldfield Ovens Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Originally, I wanted to go to Joshua Tree NP but was not feeling well. I decided to go Goldfield Oven for a quick and, what I thought would be, quiet hike. I saw a few folks in the beginning and a few horse riders toward the end. I ran into MCSO looking for a man on the run. The helicopter was hovering over me for an hour, which scared a lot of the birds away. I thought I would feel better after the hike, but I actually felt worse.
    Goldfield Ovens Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Ryan is having his house painted so something close was in order so that he could check in with the crew in the afternoon, so this loop fit the bill, close and something new. Plan A also included hiking Sunrise Arch if the river was cross-able, plan B was to hit Lone Mountain on the way home.

    Nice easy loop hike although hiking through the loose sand in the wash was a bit tiring. Saw 4 deer off at a distance while checking out the oven. Added in the Stewart Mountain Dam loop to check out the petroglyphs which included hiking though the Saguaro Lake Ranch. I saw a young man cleaning the pool so just gave him a shout out letting him know we were just hiking through, and received a confirmation back that that was OK. Although the river was low, crossing it would have meant wading through water so we opted for plan B. The hike from the Water Users parking lot to Blue Point brought back memories of hiking the road with tubes in tow back in the day before they modernized the area. Added plus, other than at the ranch, and the parking areas, we saw absolutely no others on the trail.
    Goldfield Ovens Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Great day at the Goldfield Oven (Lovin') Loop. I started my hike at 10:41am. Prior to that I stopped at Granite Reef to photograph Red Mountain. A few birders were out at Granite Reef and some fishing folks as well along the river.

    Originally, I was going to do Coon's Bluff, but Coon's Bluff was too crowded for me. Lots of birds were out along the river and in the desert. I was a bit surprised because birds tend to be more active in cooler weather. There were more people along the river than a usual Monday as well, but no one was on the trail.

    I ran into a herd of horses along the river. A lot of them have white noses. As I was photographing the herd, I didn't see one large horse about 15ft behind me until I was finished.

    The sand was awful to walk thru. It's a mixed blessing. The sand makes ambulation difficult, but at the same time, it keeps other bipedal mammals off the trail, so you get the trail to yourself. Also, Goldfield Oven Loop should be called Horse Poop Loop.

    I got lost near the 6 mile mark and ended up on the road prematurely. While finding my way around, I stumbled upon a sweet lyre snake. :D If someone would have bet me that I would see a lyre snake today, I would have lost that bet. I don't see lyre snakes too often (I've only seen 6 before), and November is a tough month for me to find snakes, so I was stoked to find one, and this fella was nice, full-grown, and healthy.

    I searched the river for more birds and found a few near Saguaro Ranch (I think that's what it's called). I also heard a bald eagle in the distance. A lot of lizards started to emerge and be active close to the end of my hike. I had no energy to photograph them, but I was satisfied with what I accomplished today.
    Goldfield Ovens Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Did a little exploring around the Oven Loop. Great hike as expected. I was hoping to see a coral snake and maybe a blacktailed, a tiger rattlesnake, or some bighorn sheep, but instead I saw 2 desert tortoises, a cooper's hawk (my first), and 2 snakes at the end of the hike. I also saw 2 deer, but they did not stick around for a photo.

    The river and trail were void of people. The rain brought out the tortoises and tiny red-spotted toads that were too small and quick to photograph. The damp sand made ambulating a little more bearable. The parking lots nearly empty, but the trash left by river folks made some good flipping spots for snakes. Lots of tracks were seen in the washes, especially javelinas and deer. I still can't find the petroglyphs. I really should do this loop more often.
    Goldfield Ovens Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I decided to do Goldfield Oven Loop today because it rained recently and the wet sand made ambulating easier. The start to my trek started out rough. Midway toward the trail, I saw an accident and was going to photograph it, but discovered that I forgot my memory card, so I returned home to retrieve it. Therefore, I got to the trail late.

    I hit the trail around 9am. I wanted to hit the trail around 8am to have time to photograph birds and then snakes. Unfortunately, I was pressed for time if I wanted to catch some snakes sunny themselves on the trail, so I rushed my bird shots and had no time for flowers.

    I shot a few birds near the river that didn't take much time and effort and made my way thru the washes. I didn't see any snakes, but midway thru the hike, I spotted my first gila monster of the year. It took me a while to spot one, but I usually see one gila monster in the spring and then a few more in the summer.

    Near the road, I spotted one bighorn, which I thought was a deer at first. It took off running, and like the Flash, I ran after it, grabbing it by the horns, and rode it back to my car.

    Okay...not really... But after losing sight of it, I did go in the direction that I predicted it would go to head it off. Careful not to step on any branches, I sneaked up on it and later discovered 2 more in the herd. They scattered onto the mountain, which was fine with me, because after that, I was able to get some clear shot. I later spotted another bighorn higher up the mountain.

    After that, I looked for snakes and spotted one, but it got away. It looked to be a patchnosed snake, but I wasn't sure. The saguaros aren't in full bloom yet. I'd give it another week or two. Goldfield Oven Loop is always a treat. I need to do this loop more often. There's always something new to see there.
    Goldfield Ovens Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Goldfield Ovens Loop with Salt River addition
    My wife and I took a long weekend vacation from Alaska (got a great deal on our flight). We left the kids at home and picked out a few hikes, this was one.
    After spending 2 nights at El Dorado Hot Springs in Tonopah with a great dayhike (see Ben Avery Trail log/route) we headed back through Phoenix and found ourselves on the edge of the Tonto NF. We went polar opposite and got a great deal on a room at the last minute at the WeKoPa hotel outside Fountain Hills for two nights.
    Before we left home, we had decided to do the Ben Avery Trail and this one. However, after reading some of the triplogs I was having serious second thoughts because we wanted to avoid developed areas and we had a less than ideal experience walking in the wash on our previous trip. We considered bailing and heading up to Payson or elsewhere up the highway, but in the end decided to stick with our first idea and do the Goldfield Ovens.
    I had heard about the Tonto Pass, but didn't realize that you couldn't buy the pass anywhere near here. We noticed that there were a few cars parked on the highway near what looked like trailheads and where there was a conspicuous lack of 'no parking' signs. After a quick stop at the 'lodge' by the dam, we learned that the passes were only required to use the developed sites for parking (where there was asphalt - not something we were planning on). We again decided to risk our rental car and parked at one of these turnoffs about halfway between the picnic area and the dam - right next to a trail access. It turned out to be a good decision - we didn't have any problems and we didn't have to drive all the way back to town for a pass.

    Once we left the car, we headed northeast on a series of informal trails until we found the main trail that took us to the picnic area. At this point, I was getting pretty disillusioned since we saw a ton of trash around - primarily beer bottles (mostly broken) It also looked like every cactus had bullet scars. We were starting to regret our decision to not head up the highway, when we encountered our first person. Just east of the picnic area, we came across a younger woman taking her housecat for a walk. Of course, the housecat was black, which my wife saw as another bad omen. This area is very brushy and it would not be possible to walk off-trail. We passed the edge of the parking lot and quickly found that the trail became sandwiched between the river and a steep slope. We followed a huge grey squirrel for a while, and watched some folks on the edge of the river, but they were far enough from the trail that I didn't even feel the need to nod or wave. Once we got 1/4 mile away from the parking area, we noticed a great decrease in trash and signs of use. We didn't see anyone else on foot until we got under the highway at the other end of the trip.

    Once we left the road and the river, the temperature warmed up a bit and we found ourselves back in the wash in somewhat of a narrow canyon. We did what we could to stay on the edges or above the wash, but the triplogs from others are largely correct - the stuff is hard to walk in - even without a substantial pack. There is a point around here where the wash is choked off by large rocks on either side, and it almost feels like you are walking into a theme park entrance.

    After exiting the canyon, we were easily able to stay out of the wash and go overland. The area is fairly heavily vegetated, but was easy to roam around on informal trails. My wife and I have both done some desert hiking, and we knew to beware of Cholla cactus - but we both 'got bit'. I only got it once, but she had unfortunate experiences twice on this trip...This area was neat because we could see the Fountain in Fountain hills, despite the fact it was so far away by road - we were still fairly close as the crow flies. There were a bunch of great rock formations to climb on and we took a few breaks.

    Around here we found a cool white lavender-smelling bush. After wandering we found a few more - it was unexpected to find sweet smelling brush at this time in the year.

    From there the trail climbed a bit to a high point before getting a good view of Saguaro lake and starting to head down hill. As the trail got closer to the road, it became more of a canyon and more of an interesting walk. This is also where the large sheer faces along the lake and river come into view and they looked awesome. Coming down through this area was truly spectacular.

    At the bottom of the hill the trail goes under the highway in two enormous culverts - I can only imagine what this area looks like at flood stage! The road was a bit loud, but on the other side of the culvert, the trail takes a hard right turn on an old roadbed until it disappears into the area between the road and the river.

    We had planned on taking a walk along the river after the hike, so once we were so close, decided to just follow the riverbank from where we were until we got lateral to our rental car. We stayed on a series of informal trails - frequently walking right at the water's edge. We ran into a few folks fishing, one kayaker, and some others walking, but this area was still very empty - especially for a Sunday evening. We had to come up from the river bank a few times at cut banks - but were able to stay far from the road the entire time. Only once did we have to walk along a parking lot - but for just 100 yards or so. We did find a few cool secluded beaches (that were only secluded likely because it was 4:45 in the afternoon and it was only in the high 50's - not swimming weather). We took off our shoes and soaked our feet in the cool water while we had our final snacks and watched the huge spires along the river change color in the evening sun. Once we got across from the place we parked our car, we headed in a bee line for the highway and walked right to the spot. Getting through the barbed wire fences wasn't too hard, although I certainly felt old crawling on the ground under it just before a 20-something duck hunter appeared out of the area by the river and hopped the fence in a single jump to a post. (he was a neat kid, friendly, and we had a nice chat)

    The car was fine (no ticket) and we wound up staying there for 25 minutes or so watching the alpenglow as the sunset finished.

    Since we had come to the area from the North, we decided to head back the opposite way and we drove through Mesa - getting to the Blue Adobe Grill around 6:30. Highly recommended - their Chorizo stuffed Chicken was sublime and went great with the carafe of margaritas we shared!

    One funny anecdote - I thought it was strange another log mentioned the heavy police presence in this area. They weren't kidding. Once we got to the area around the dam we saw at least a dozen sherriff vehicles - most in the process of pulling people over. We drove pretty slow, and I wasn't concerned, but I would recommend everyone drive the speed limit around here.

    Overall this hike was great. My wife and I think it got a bum rap from other triplogs. I especially liked the area along the river at the beginning of the hike and the part from the peak down to the road at the end. We had great weather - mid to high 70s and the trail was great. Again, I especially appreciated your app (which I used on the Ben Avery Trip, although this time I 'cached' the map before the trip so it was more useful). Because this area isn't a designated wilderness, I have no qualms about encouraging use. I was a bit disillusioned about the broken glass and beer bottles near the picnic area, but this is almost to be expected and something that can be cleaned up in a few volunteer excursions. The trail doesn't have much elevation gain, and it is nice to walk along the river - even in the winter.

    Wildlife seen
    Grey squirrel
    Several lizards

    No wild horses :(
    Goldfield Ovens Loop
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    We followed the Dec 2009 description by AZLOT69. This description was very good and resolved some uncertainties along the last stretch ... one can kind of lose the trail when hitting parking lots.

    The wash at the beginning of the trip is very sandy and uphill, but quite isolated and nice. The view on the ridge was indeed spectacular. The trek parallel with the highway was kind of a drag. Also, there were several groups of horses along the trail who expressed surprise in seeing hikers.

    Not bad, but I don't think I will do it again.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    North on Ellsworth in Mesa over Usery Pass to Bush Highway. Right on Bush Highway toward Saguaro Lake for 2.5 miles. After crossing the Salt River on the bridge take the first left marked Blue Point Recreation site. Park at the far north end of the parking lot near the restroom. Parking requires a Tonto Day Pass which must be purchased in town before arriving. Check link in Fees/Permit.

    2010-01-03 tibber writes: If coming from the north Valley, from AZ-101-Loop, take Exit 38 Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. Go about 5 miles and turn left at Shea Blvd for almost 8 miles. Turn L onto AZ-87 N, go 10.3 miles and take the Saguaro Lake/Bush Highway turn-off. Continue on the N Bush Highway for about 4 miles. The Blue Point Recreation site will be on the right hand side of the road (north) - just before the bridge.
    page created by AZLOT69 on Dec 20 2009 4:13 pm
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