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Red Hills - AZT #24, AZ

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Guide 43 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson W
3.5 of 5 by 13
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Distance One Way 10.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,877 feet
Elevation Gain -2,669 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,307 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 15.26
Backpack Yes & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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2  2019-07-29 Sredfield
47  2019-05-07 tibber
51  2018-12-05
Upper Mazatzal Loop
67  2018-03-24
City Creek and AZT Passage 24
15  2017-12-29
Fuller Seep Loop
2  2017-04-16 ttretta
7  2017-04-14
Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23
35  2016-11-27 sandyfortner
Page 1,  2,  3
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
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Preferred   Oct, Apr, May, Sep
Sun  6:13am - 6:24pm
Official Route
6 Alternative
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Flora Nearby
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Culture Nearby

Likely In-Season!
This passage begins at the junction of the Red Hills Trail and the Mazatzal Divide Trail (#23). From here the trail heads crosses the upper end of a City Creek side canyon, passes Knob Mountain, and drops down to the junction with the Brush Trail (#249). Following this trail it crosses a drainage, climbs up the other side and then curves around to the north and drops down to Houston Creek. After crossing several drainages the trail reaches a saddle on Bullfrog Ridge and then switchbacks down into Bullfrog Canyon. It climbs part way out, becomes an old two-track road and then begins descending along the side of the canyon. It turns to the right and becomes a trail again. The trail works its way past Copper Mountain and comes to a road. This is the entry to the LF Ranch. The trail loops around to the east of the ranch and then reaches the East Verde River.

Southern Trailhead
Red Hills Trail Junction
From Payson on AZ 87 drive west on Main Street. Stay on the main road past a golf course, where the pavement ends and the road becomes FR 406. About 10 miles from AZ 87, park at City Creek Trailhead on the east side of the road. Hike southwest up the Mazatzal Divide Trail #23 for approximately 5.75 miles to the junction of the Mazatzal Divide trail and the Red Hills Trail.

Northern Trailhead
The East Verde River - LF Ranch
East Verde River (LF Ranch), via Doll Baby Trailhead: From the town of Payson at the intersection of AZ 87 and Main Street; take Main Street west for 2 miles, which turns into Country Club Drive. Near the end of Country Club Drive, the road passes a sanitation plant, crosses a creek and continues on paved road for another 6 miles. This newly paved road is referred to as Doll Baby Ranch Rd. or LF Ranch Rd. depending on which map is being used. At this point it becomes a dirt doubletrack (FR 406). Continue on FR 406 for approximately 3 miles, passing City Creek Trailhead and Doll Baby Ranch, eventually arriving at the locked gate. This is the Doll Baby Trailhead; parking and camping are allowed. From the trailhead, walk around the gate and hike on the doubletrack for 3.9 miles. The road will wind around the hills and eventually level out in the valley near the ranch. The AZT will intersect the road from the west as a faint singletrack.

Updated 2017-07-24

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.

2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot

    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 of 19 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Red Hills - AZT #24
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    City Creek and AZT Passage 24
    I decided at the last minute on Friday to spend the weekend tackling AZ Trail #24 (Red Hills) as a loop starting from City Creek TH west of Payson and making my way back to City Creek. I planned to camp at the Verde just below LF Ranch, making Saturday about a 15.5 mile trek. I told myself if I could get to the Verde by 4:00pm, I'd just finish the whole thing in the same day.

    I got to the City Creek trailhead right at 6:30am on Saturday with my fastpack overnight kit and headed up the trail. With a brisk 3000' elevation gain in the first 5.5 miles to get to the junction and start of the Red Hills passage, I was feeling good and taking tons of pictures along the climb. This loop starts at 3,450' and tops off at 6100', following a ridgeline with a saddle and second high point before a knee-crushing descent down towards LF Ranch by the East Verde River. A 36 degree start quickly turned into a gorgeous 60 degree day and I shed layers quickly thanks to the climb.

    I was watching my timing, seeing if it was possible to stay on pace and finish the loop the same day. I was cutting it close because I couldn't stop shooting some fantastic landscape shots. I was testing out a new camera so of course I was fidgeting with settings and also getting used to a new polarization filter. After a lunchbreak at Brush Spring (great camp area, btw), I knew I was pushing my 4pm deadline for getting to the Verde so I minimized my photo time and got moving.

    Making great time on the downhill section to LF, I got to the Verde at exactly 3:59pm. One minute ahead of plan :D So, a quick water fill at the Verde to get me through the last ~6 miles and I was back on the trail. Those last few miles, while racing the sunset, were punishing on the knees. Typical PODs beat up my joints and I could feel my right IT band screaming at me. I got to my truck right as the sun was setting and headed into Payson for a 5 Guys celebration meal. Another AZT passage in the books.

    Besides the always-flowing Verde River, the only other trailside water I encountered was right at the 1 mile mark past the start of the Red Hills passage southern terminus. A beautiful Ponderosa-filled drainage with cool and clear pools of standing water over about a 1/4 mile area.

    22.4 miles with 5597' of elevation gain is by far my new PR for a single-day hike. Not bad for an old fat guy.

    No wildflowers yet, but the manzanitas were plump and were just starting to bud.
    Red Hills - AZT #24
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    Fuller Seep Loop
    This was supposed to be a three day backpack, sort of a reverse Midnight Mesa Loop, but the lack of water out there forced me to turn around early. So I guess it turned into sort of training dayhike?

    Mazatzal Divide #23
    Car camped at City Creek Trailhead to the hum of Doll Baby Ranch. It was teeth-chatteringly cold out when I started at 5:30, definitely below freezing, and I didn't stop shivering until I was two miles up the trail and I got away from the lowlands. Trail is in great shape, as expected. The grade is constant and easy to maintain a decent pace going either up or down hill, although my uphill rate was annoyingly slow thanks to my pack weight.

    Red Hills #262
    The first two miles were breathtaking (literally, the temp must have dropped twenty a short distance into valley). This spared forest is beautiful and beats The Park hands down. Trail conditions continued to be great even after leaving the AZT on the far side, where footprints faded and horse tracks took over. Another stand of mostly-untouched pines lurk right before the drop off. Speaking of, that drop is ridiculously steep and I didn't look forward to climbing back out at all. Path was easy to follow all the way to the old corral and there was barely anything trickling through Fuller Seep. Took a quick break here to filter water and eat an early lunch.

    Getting slightly worried about water conditions I pushed onwards, enjoying the easy trail to Midnight junction (which seemed to be in great shape from here) and beyond. 500 yards further west (at the saddle) is where things started to get dicey, and it did so slowly. First it got overgrown with some deadfall, though the tread and cairns were still easy to pick out. Then it got more dicey. A thousand yards to Wet Bottom Creek, while dancing along the ridge, is when elk tracks and two sets of cairns all diverged. Eventually I found a way down and found the anticipated majestic pool of awesome all but dried up.

    This was the breaking straw. If this was dry, I figured there was no way that the branch of Sycamore Creek along my route or Dutchman Grave would have water, so I probably wouldn't see water again until Mountain Spring. That was too far out of my comfort zone, especially as my planned camping (and cramping) site was near Sycamore. Drank some water and turned around, slowly hauling my way back to Fuller Seep for an afternoon snack. Climbing up the overgrown hillside was no fun, and then climbing up the steep drop on the way back to Brush junction even less so.

    Brush #249
    First mile was beautiful and gave me a few good views north, then the second mile got a bit steep and rocky and I had to slow down. Bumped into two AZT section hikers near Brush Spring (there are other people who hike in the Mazzies?!?) and had a quick chat before starting those little climbs out. Sun fell while we were chatting so I only had a third of my loop to do after sunset, he he. Managed to reach the saddle between 5556' and 5610' before I finally gave in and pulled out my headlamp and sweater. Then it was some steep switchbacks in the moonlight until the next junction. All in all this trail was easy to follow, had some good views, and with the exception of that one steep rocky section during the first half, downright enjoyable.

    Bull Spring #34
    Had braced myself for a tough downhill on this trail and was pleasantly surprised to find it sandy, gradual, and easy on the knees. The views seemed good too, from what I could make out in the moonlight. At this point I was starting to get a bit heads-down so I'll have to hit this section again (heard the LF Hilton takes walk-ins). Last mile got a bit rocky and hard to track by headlamp, especially the little hop over Copper Mountain.

    Doll Baby Road
    Did not like. Those rocky sections were worse than anything on the last two trails, and the repeated little climbs after so many miles was just mean. Had to keep my headlamp on to help with navigating all the rocks and only turned it off once I hit Doll Baby trailhead. Speaking of, the road between City Creek and Doll Baby was impeccable compared to City Creek and the pavement - if you're willing to drive your vehicle of choice to the humble City Creek trailhead, the extra mile to the much more established Doll Baby is nothing.

    Mazatzal Miles: 196/275 (71%)
    Red Hills - AZT #24
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    AZT: Roosevelt to Washington Park
    April 9th
    Miles: 19
    AEG: 6,413 ft

    We started the climb from the 188 around 7:30 AM. The goal for the day was to make it to Pigeon Springs. The weather was great, and the views of Roosevelt Lake got more spectacular as we climbed out of the basin. After taking a break at Buckhorn Spring, the trail climbs relentlessly before topping out and contouring the mountain.

    Eventually we turned a corner and BAM!, the four craggy peaks were staring us right in the face. Quite the view! The trail through the Four Peaks passage is very well maintained, except for a small stretch where we were pushing through overgrowth that nearly obscures the trail. Despite the large swaths of burned forest, this passage was one of my favorite so far. Eventually we reached Pigeon Springs and found a relatively flat spot to set up our tents.

    April 10th
    Miles: 19
    AEG: 2,196 ft

    The morning began with a clear sky. After packing up the gear we headed for Pigeon Springs Rd to begin the long road walk. I'm usually not a fan of road walks, but this was an exception. There were great views on either side of the Superstitions, Sierra Ancha, and Lake Roosevelt. The immediate area itself was very beautiful as well. Around 10 AM we could see clouds beginning to build on top of Browns Peak, and a storm hitting the Supes.

    We stopped to take out the rain jackets and a white mini-van rolled up and asked if this road would take them all the way back to the 87. I pulled out my map and told them it looked like the road ended well before reaching the 87 and that they needed to turn around and take El Oso or the other forest road. The wife sitting in the passenger seat seemed concerned that we were about to be backpacking out in the rain. :roll: By 11 AM it was lightly raining, which was initially quite exciting (I needed to test the rain gear anyway).

    Just as we reached the Boulder Creek drainage the storm began to give us its all. Heavy rain, wind, and thunder! By the time we reached Sunflower, the trail was a muddy slip and slide, my phone was soaked and unresponsive (may it RIP ](*,) ), and we were slightly chilled.

    We waited under the 87 underpass for my brother to arrive, who was picking us up so I could take an exam for an online class I'm taking before returning to the trail the next day.

    April 11th
    Miles: 12
    AEG: 2,643 ft

    After finishing up my exam, we were back on trail around 1 PM. Under the 87, we did some last minute gear prep before heading out and ran into three other hikers, Giltch, Kegel, and Minus. They were 17 days into their thru-hike and were excited to get into Pine for some much needed beer. We were all aiming for McFarland Canyon for the night.

    We started up Saddle Mountain and enjoyed all the green scenery in the area. Just before reaching camp, we passed the half way mark for the AZT and celebrated with the thru-hikers before settling down for the night in McFarland Canyon.

    April 12th
    Miles: 21
    AEG: 5,249 ft

    The thru-hikers were up and leaving camp just as we were beginning to pack up. We weren't sure if we would ever see them again. The trail gets a little hard to follow just after McFarland Canyon to Thicket Spring. The Guthooks app says to head straight up a wash but apparently there is an alternative route that is clear of brush and well defined that you can take at the first junction past McFarland.

    Once we reached the junction for the Peeley TH we stopped to take a break and ran into Joe, a gentleman I had met at a trail maintenance event about a month earlier. Quite the coincidence, if we would have left a minute earlier we probably would have never seen him. He was meeting up with another fellow to remove some downed trees along the trail.

    The views along the Mazatzal Divide from Peeley to Y-Bar were my favorite for the entire trip. The rugged peaks of the Mazatzals and expansive views on either side were exciting to see. We ran into Minus again at the Bear Spring junction taking a lunch break. After taking our own lunch break at the spring, we headed for Horse Camp Seep.

    As we approached Horse Camp Seep, we ran into the three thru-hikers again. There was another hour or so of light, so they continued on, we decided to call it a day where there was water. Horse Camp Seep was a sweet spot and had great camping.

    April 13th
    Miles: 18
    AEG: 2,907 ft

    The goal for the day was to make it to the East Verde River, a relatively easy day that was mostly downhill. We made our way along the Divide trail and passed "The Park", an inviting stand of pines and great campsites. We stopped to take a lunch break at the Red Hills seeps. From here the trail descends steeply to the East Verde River. Not very fun for the knees.

    We camped just across the river and enjoyed the warmest night of the trip. We were now done with the Mazzies, and I felt the proposed "overgrowth" was kind of blown out of proportion, or there has been a lot of trail work in the past couple of months. Probably a bit of both. ;) I never felt like the trail was hard to find (except for the stretch between McFarland and Thicket) or that I had to deal with excessive brush that I wouldn't expect on most wilderness trails.

    April 14th
    Miles: 23
    AEG: 4,196 ft

    With burgers and beer on our minds, we got up early to make it into Pine with sufficient time to hit up THAT brewery and the market. The rocks along Whiterock and Hardscrabble Mesas were annoying and it felt like I was constantly stubbing my toes or rolling my ankle. Otherwise the area is quite beautiful and welcoming. The rocks put these two passages high on my list of "one and done" passages.

    We reached Pine around 5pm with plenty of time to get burgers and beer. Lo and behold, we run into Minus, Kegel, and Giltch at the brewery along with another thru-hiker, Thomas, who was taking a zero in town. We joined them and enjoyed the comradery. Thomas decided to join us at camp for the night near the Pine TH while the others reserved the cabin in the back.

    April 15th
    Miles: 17
    AEG: 3,303 ft

    We woke up with frost all over our gear. :yuck: After packing up, Thomas headed for the Highline and we headed for breakfast at the Early Bird. Just before we finished up eating we ran into Minus who was getting some breakfast himself.

    We headed for the Highline. It was nice to be climbing on a well graded trail with less rocks, especially because a hole was beginning to develop in my right shoe. I could feel every rock under my foot on that spot.

    At Red Rock Spring we made a quick stop and finished off the last bit of the Arizona Trail Ale we picked up the night before at the market.

    Once we reached Webber Creek we caught up with Thomas who was drying out all his gear. We stopped to take a break, and eventually Minus came strolling down the trail to join us. Minus decided to hike with us for a stretch after the break. The Rim gets right up in your face along this stretch and red dirt contrasting with the green pines and cedars made for great scenery.

    We were about 9 miles from the finish and a little antsy to finish up. Eventually Minus stopped to take a lunch break and we continued on after filtering some water. Now with only 5 miles left, we kicked it into high gear and made for the Washington Park TH. Clouds started to build along the rim.

    We reached the trailhead and got ready to hunker down for a few hours of inclement weather before our ride would arrive. However, after a few snow flurries, the clouds broke. Eventually Thomas and the other three thru-hikers caught up with us, we exchanged information, and said our goodbyes. All of them were very enthusiastic about Arizona and couldn't stop commenting on the diversity of the state and how we had a pretty cool home.


    Besides my foot issue due to my failing shoe on the last day, I felt great this entire trip. I never woke up sore or feeling exhausted. I listened to my body, and I was proactive about keeping my feet and knees happy. It really paid off and made the trip that much more enjoyable.

    This concludes all of Southern and Central Arizona passages for me. I'm looking forward to the easy walking on the plateau to the UT border!

    Lots of lupine in the middle elevations, not much at the highest and lowest elevations.
    Red Hills - AZT #24
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    AZT Trail: Picketpost to Pine
    I was kind of looking to see where I was at for another big trek this summer and Karl was looking to experiment with a lighter weight higher mileage backpack, so I proposed Picketpost Mountain, or the beginning of section 18 of the Arizona Trail to Pine and the end of section 26 of the Arizona Trail. Karl was down for four days and had a somewhat flexible plan for ending his trip when he needed to. Meanwhile, I was about 50-50 if I could do the entire hike and was content with just seeing how far Karl and I could get and then playing the rest of my trip by ear, or I should say by body.

    Day 1: 29.92 miles 6268 aeg

    We made it to our planned first night's campsite on day one, Walnut Spring. Section 18 really exceeded my expectations. This is about the best time of year to be walking though that desert right now and Whitford proved to be a real treat with the flowing water and abundance of green. The climb was grueling and relentless but it offered some very solid views of the area and was really made manageable by liberal use of switchbacks. Karl was so confident with our performance at that point in the day that he insisted we bag Montana Mountain while we were up there. I agreed, but only because I was born in Montana and I said it had to count it as our break. Reavis Ranch looked like Daytona Beech and I had not apprehensions about making the short trip past it to my cozy little campsite at Walnut Spring. Got to Walnut just at headlamp time. Blew through camp chores, made a fire, ate and got to bed as soon as we could.

    Day 2: 25.67 miles 6392 aeg

    We came up a little short on our proposed campsite on this day, but the hiking was great so no worries. No stranger to the Eastern Supes, but Sunday still offered me all new areas after Two Bar Ridge. Cottonwood Canyon was great! No shortage of water in there and some cool little sites in this random little riparian jungle in the far corners of the northwestern Supes. A little bit of road and then it was the traverse from hell along the 188 waiting for that damn bridge to come into sight. From the bridge it was up the stairway to heaven. Where fittingly we had a trail angel waiting for us with tons of snacks and H20. After our sugar, hops, and caffeine binge at Mills Ridge we decided to just push for Buckhorn Creek. However, on that side of Four Peaks, pushing for a few extra miles usually entails a nice chunk of aeg as well, so we earned it. I did find a set of Indian ruins though along the way, so that was cool. We were both excited to learn that after carrying all that fresh water from Mills Ridge, there was water flowing in Buckhorn Creek. Oh well no filtering to do, quicker camp set-up, quick fire and in bed even earlier than previous night.

    Day 3: 31.24 miles 5239 aeg

    Day three was all new ground for me. Four Peaks makes you work, but alas the beauty of nature is enhanced by the ardor of the journey. I really enjoyed this section, an instant new favorite! I hiked through perhaps one of my nicest sunrises in a long time and marked several rock pile sites along the trail for future exploring. This section just kept getting better for me as we neared Four Peaks and started contouring towards Pigeon Spring. The lingering and previous snow had some of the creeks flowing nicely along this stretch and the trail got very nice as we approached its end. The road felt a little like Mad Max with the amount of Jeeps, trucks and atvs out. However, I must say not one negative experience with any driver and I do not think I have been offered as much water in such a short amount of time as I was along that 11 mile stretch of road. One guy asked, "is there anything else I could give you?" I said I could use some sunscreen and he offered up the whole bottle. The hike down into Sycamore was also very nice, again a great time to be in the lowlands, a little water, some flowers and green. However, it was hard to appreciate at times with the fatigue and anxiety over coordinating a last minute drop off of some additional things I felt I needed, if I was going to have any chance of reaching Pine. The drop and pick went smooth, a small adventure, but relatively smooth. We did not get an ideal spot to camp, but spirits were high after our resupply.

    Day 4: 24.7 miles 6297 aeg

    This was the day Karl and I would be saying our goodbyes. Karl decided on a Peely exit and I would push on to Bear Spring from there. More new trail for me to start the day and again I was not disappointed. The canyons on the way up to Saddle Ridge were picturesque, there was a lot of water and signs of some pretty extensive trail work in spots. I will admit things got a little dicey after we left the quaint McFarland Spring area, but we endured. The trails definitely need some work in there. I found myself kind of embracing the ruggedness and challenge the area presented. However, I could see that area becoming another hiker's hell if they were not expecting it. Karl and I parted at Peely. Losing Karl sucked, as he and I had a good thing going the first few days. Karl was keeping our pace in the areas where I tend to day dream and I was doing what I could do to keep us at a respectable place for some of the more stout climbs. But no time to dwell, I was solo now and needed to reach Bear Spring, just another 2000 feet of aeg and a shade under ten miles. There is no sense harping on the point, but the Divide Trail is getting nasty along there and I did make it to Bear Spring before head lamp conditions, but I was obliterated from that last little push from Peely. I replaced Karl with another Carl at Bear Spring. I am going to assume he spells his with a C. Anyways, I ran into Carl, better known as Spiced Rum on HAZ. He was on the final night of a backpack to gather some information for future work in the area. We chatted it up for awhile and I am not ashamed to admit I took some extra snacks from him. He was leaving a day early and I could not believe the amount of food I was going through on these long days, so I had no problem taking the charity. Superb stuff too, some great dried fruit, trail-mix and a Rice Crispy treat. Good guy all around and a source of wealth on some other major trails that I am interested in. And what a nice little spot to camp near Bear Spring, that saddle is great, I see why toughboots is fond of the place.

    Day 5: 26.9 miles 4051 aeg

    This was my make or break day. I had my city creek trailhead bailout option if needed, or I was pushing for the East Verde via the dreaded Red Hills and making my final push for Pine from there. The divide trail has its ups and downs, both in terrain and condition, but overall it was pretty smooth going. There is a section of Divide Trail that is now immaculate from about the intersection with Brody Seep to the intersection with Barnhardt. Kudos to that trail crew. I stopped for way too long to soak my legs and filter water and then realized I was looking at about ten more miles to include the worst part of the Red Hills and it was nearly three. My rational side said, "set up camp here, hike out LF or Saddle Ridge tomorrow," however, my other side said, "quit making excuses and finish the original plan." I am not sure what it was, but I was really dreading the last half of the Red Hills. Out of paranoia of being too exhausted to complete the entire section and having to dry camp somewhere I carried way too much water. This weighed me down and annoyed me even more as several of the creeks and main valleys I crossed had running water in them. As it turned out, while my worries were warranted, I did just fine and to be honest felt the area did not seem as bad as it had before and I must give props to the horse(s) whose tracks I followed through the entire Red Hills section, a doable stretch, just may require more time and detail. Camped at the Verde where I was serenaded to sleep by cows, frogs, chickens, maybe peacocks, cats and perhaps even a species of monkey. A very lively river at night.

    Day 6: 23.08 miles 4329 aeg

    This was the one I was waiting for, the "easy" day. A nice early start, I don't think there is a better place to be in the world than a half hour before light in the mountains somewhere, just pure serenity. There were ankle breakers abound on this day of Whiterock and Hard Scrabble. A nice steady pace was all I tried to keep and I followed a liberal break plan, as I crawled into Pine. The final two sections were not my favorite, but they were also the last two sections of a 160 mile trek so they would have had to have been perfect to really capture my imagination. Nevertheless, I got through both of them and endured the lava rock tread and bland road. I did find the last few miles to be more redeeming with the scenic Oak Spring and Bradshaw tank area. It was a reunion at the trailhead with Jackie and the pups, Del Taco and then home.

    Final Notes

    I need to work on a better nutrition plan for these big ones. I simply did not bring enough caloric energy for the type of days I was doing and the amount of energy I was putting out. I need to go healthier and more efficient, just a good lesson to learn.

    Karl played a huge role in getting me through those first four days, very glad to have him through there, he was missed later.

    A good song to have stuck in your head while hiking is Passion Pit, "Take a Walk."

    I can definitely go lighter on these ones too, I packed light, but by no means did I make any attempts to go ultra-light. In the future, that may be needed to knock out some of these more ambitious multi day treks.

    The hardest days by far were Day four with its nearly 7000 feet gained and day five with its 27 legit miles through the Mazzies without as much as a foot of road relief until the very end.

    About normal to not so great, to really good in spots. Most action in the first few sections though.
    Red Hills - AZT #24
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    I headed to the Mazzys for some trail maintenance this weekend. I wanted to combine a nice little over-nighter at a cool campsite with a solid afternoon of trail work. I chose the Red Hills, as I had been pining to camp in there since my Mazzys thru hike last year. That little stand of pines dotting the main drainage along the first few miles of the Red Hills trail after you leave the Mazatzal Divide is a real nice little area. I PM'd the boss to make sure it was ok and he offered some tools, but it was easier to borrow some from Chumley rather than drive across the valley late afternoon. On a hunch he might be interested I invited DallinW.

    Jackie, myself and the dog pack met Dallin at City Creek trailhead sometime just before 8. Dallin finished up some packing and Jackie and I got a head start. It was not long before Dallin caught us. I picked his brain for a few miles about the Colorado Trail and then he was off well I coached Jackie up her biggest climb yet. I think there were ten, "one more switchback" from me. A quick hike from the divide to our nice little campsite. Then it was set up, grab a quick snack and hit the trail. Jackie stayed back to nap and enjoy a book. Dallin and I cleared from camp all the way back to the divide intersection. The section we did was certainly not the worst of the Mazzys, however, it was definitely in need of some TLC in a few areas. Chumley's pruners broke like ten meters from the signed intersection, so Dallin finished up that little area and we headed back to camp.

    We rested a little and then continued our work north up trail. Jackie came along this time, but I had lost my zeal after transitioning to the hand clippers and saw. Nevertheless, we cleared another eight tents of a mile. That put the day's total at about 1.8 miles of trail cleared. I was hoping we could have done more, but not having a pair of loppers for our afternoon run, really killed our efficiency and productiveness. But hey if I was thru-hiking that area, I would find much appreciation in hitting a nice little 1.8 mile stretch of pretty good trail.

    We had a raging fire most of the night and ate large amounts of food around it. We were in bed relatively early and generally slept well with what I thought was a chilly, but not overly cold night. There was about a half hour interruption in my slumber somewhere around 2 a.m. after Blanco got sprayed by a skunk. Not sure how it all went down, but he got it pretty good in the face. To his credit he did seem to minimize the smell some by rubbing his face in grass for about 20 minutes. But the initial attack was heavy.

    We all had to be back to Phoenix relatively early so we broke camp rather early and made the easy hike out. Jackie was not overly thrilled about following skunk dog for most of the day, but she did give us two thumbs up for our trail work. The hike out was naturally fast with the 5.5 mile downhill and great trail. The Mazatzal Divide Trail is in great shape along from the divide to City Creek TH.

    Final Notes:

    I hope to get out on one of the more formal trail clearing operations in the near future, but it was still nice to contribute a little drop in the bucket. I could not think of a better place to put in an afternoon of work and it was nice to meet Dallin and get some good intel on the CT. The stand of pines proved to be a great campsite and we really enjoyed our surroundings. In the end, it was just nice that everyone came back with the same amount of fingers and tails after my first real trail clearing endeavor.
    Red Hills - AZT #24
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    5 Days of hiking on the rugged Mazzies passages of the AZT in BEAUTIFUL conditions! Joined by Rob the Wilderness Vagabond, it was a slower-paced adventure than I've had lately, and I loved every second of it. This trip was a plan-B from our original intent of the Gems in the Grand Canyon. That one continues to elude...

    Day 1: Peeley to Ridge at Mile 4.5 Joe Longbotham was a saint and shuttled us from Doll Baby to Peely TH where he was going to be working on cutting deadfall. We ran into THE Shawn Redfield installing a new sign just above the trailhead, so it was like a superstar AZT day! Hike was beautiful, though slightly more work once we passed where Joe'd cleared. That man is a machine with his hand-saw. Our ridge camp was perfect with views of the lake and a slow sunset. Perfect warm-up day for Rob, who was recovering from a nasty head cold (which was why we weren't at the Gems).

    Day 2: To Bear Spring (5.2 miles) After a day tromping through some rugged burned forest, the small patch of remnant trees at Bear Spring feels like a bit of paradise! The spring itself was a bit cloudy but smelled sweet enough. We collected plenty of water then settled in for an easy camp. A trio of through-hikers stopped by, and after a bit of banter it turned out that the 4th (who was shortly to arrive) was a friend who'd worked with me on my AZT passage last year. It was nice to visit with Cindy (Salsa) and her companions Twix, Olive Oyl and Happy Tree and hear some of their stories of the hike so far. They had miles to make, so they blasted off before dark and Rob and I had a delicious dinner next to a modest campfire (it got darned cold!).

    Day 3: To Horse Apple Camp Seep (9.8 miles) From Rob's journal: " Randy of Doll Baby Ranch grins and points past the cantankerous mule, who apparently has no interest in a bareback ride, to the green splotch on the hill above, pointing out the Chilson Spring box on the hillside. Soon Mike, Randy, and Denny pull the folding chairs under the spreading oak and Alligator and roll out the Western." We shared a delightful afternoon (and a pull of whiskey) with some cowboys supporting a hiking group at Chilson Camp. We almost took their invite to stay for green chili chicken enchiladas out of the Dutch oven, but like the girls from the night before, we had some miles to cover. Once we arrived at Horse Camp we were glad we'd moved on - the clear pools of cold water in polished quartzite offered a chance to wash up a touch, and the froggies sang us to sleep.

    Day 4: Past the seep to the head of Boarding House Canyon (9.4 miles) Long distance views enthralled us, and the shade of the Park gave us a delightful rest from the warm day (how can it be so HOT during the day and so COLD at night?). This part of the trail was rougher than what's come before - more downed trees, a loose rocky descent that has us swearing and watching our ankles, confusion at washed out stream bed crossings. THIS is rugged country - Arizona that hasn't been completely tamed by day hikers and trail runners. Yes! We exchange notes with another through-hiker, Sandpiper, who's running out to make LF Ranch in time to visit with family in Payson.

    Day 5:Falling into the LF Ranch (9.7 miles) It's pretty rugged out to Brush Spring, where a hive of angry bees have taken over the best campsite under the old oak. We let them have it. Then the descent from the heights of the Mazatzal to the banks of the East Verde teaches us who is boss in this country. It's steep, relentless, thorny and covered in thick brush. At one point, I really hate it. I have my umbrella out for shade against the ceaseless sun, but I have to collapse it often to crash through the brush which is over my 5'3" crown. But we make the base and stroll into the LF with bruised feet and light hearts knowing we've got a spot at Mary Ann's bunkhouse. She makes us biscuits and beans and we spin tales with Sandpiper and our host into the hours where the stars rein.

    Day 6: Back to Doll Baby (3.4 miles)We take the river trail short cut back to the road which saves us a bit of miles and at least one extra climb. Then we decide to take a few extra minutes and check out the hilltop ruin that both Joe and Mary Ann told us how to find. Spanish Fort is neither Spanish, nor a Fort, but it makes for a fun diversion anyway. From there, its a quick walk back to our cars, where we can shed our dirty duds before heading into Payson for some non-dehydrated Mexican fare.

    What a great way to enjoy AZ - with good company, chance encounters and a million great images burned into my memory!

    Mostly cactus blooms with a few wildflowers along the way
    Red Hills - AZT #24
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    Mount Peeley to Twin Buttes
    I have been meaning to do hike since last Spring when I saw the sign just off Twin Buttes that said Mount Peeley 48 miles. The idea of a north to south or south to north trans-Mazzie hike really appealed to me and it would give me a chance to cover several areas of new ground in the Mazzies. There was also the added bonus of knocking out a couple sections of the AZ Trail, something that is still not really on my radar, but a little closer after this weekend.

    The HAZ network helped make this one possible. I ran into slowandsteady after Serena's event two weeks ago and she mentioned her and bifrost were also looking for a shuttle in the area. As it turns out they needed a car left at Peeley to complete a section of trail they were day hiking and would also be traveling to Flag later that evening. Therefore, they had no problem using my car to complete their shuttle then dropping it off at Twin Buttes on their way to Flag. I should mention though, all week I kept telling Karl yup leave it at the Pine TH, until he informed me that was not on Twin Buttes road and another 12 miles further into town. I am glad we cleared up that before I stepped off with the intention of my car being on Twin Buttes ;)

    My original plans were to do this in an ambitious over night trip. However, after mulling over the miles and AEG, I figured why not make it three days and utilize my Monday off? Even with the trip scaled back to three days, I had a bad feeling about bringing Cup along. I knew from the few areas I had hiked that although it was the AZ Trail, there were certainly some rugged areas in there and I felt with the warmer temps it just might be a little taxing on Cup, so it was just Blanco and I for this quick adventure.

    Even though I planned for three days and packed for three days, I told myself if day one went smooth, I would shoot for two days. I got kind of a late start on the first day, but still seemed to be making pretty good time, so I thought I would revert back to my original plan and just turn this trans-wilderness romp into an ambitious over nighter. I ended up about three miles past the Park at the junction of Red Hills and Mazatzal Divide Trail. 25 miles covered just over 11 hours of hiking and about an hour's worth of breaks and filtering water.

    I thought by hitting 25 miles on my first day, I was setting myself up for a pretty easy hike out to Twin Buttes. I got a much more FOTG approved starting time, however, the going just seemed slower all day on the second day. I was happy to cover some new ground but found Brushy Trail and Bull Spring Trail to be a tad underwhelming for stretches. However, I ran into several elk along Brushy Trail which was a pleasant surprise so there were some redeeming qualities about that stretch of trail. Tons of "goat heads," or what I call goat heads made life miserable for Blanco and myself coming up the initial stretches of White Rock Mesa. Cacti the dogs easily learned to avoid, but impossible to avoid this plant for the dogs, seems to be more prevalant in cattle country. Poor Blanco could barely make it 20 feet without getting several of those balls of spikes in his pad. He even laid down in frustration and gave up at one point. The trail finally got a little more scuffed up and rocky and the goat heads passed. The trail seemed to drag a little towards the end, it got pretty warm and a few of the short climbs kicked my pumpkin a little more then they should have. We reached TH and vehicle just after 5:30 p.m. Just over 22 miles covered on second day in a little over 11 hours with probably an hour of breaks and water refills.

    Overall, a nice little test of endurance and mettle. I wish I did not carry three days worth of stuff and such warm clothes. I certainly had to keep a steady pace, but it never felt too much like a death march, trails are a tad nasty in spots, but I enjoyed their ruggedness. Blanco was a perfect companion for this trip, no complaints, just hard hiking, he hit the wall a little on the first day, but led us out most of day two. In hindsight, I should have ended in Pine and knocked out that final AZT section in there, with the road miles it could still be done as an over-night I think.
    Red Hills - AZT #24
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    I took the road out to LF Ranch / Bull Spring trail and then followed the lower jeep road (3600 contour) out to where it begins to ascend "Bull" peak. From there I headed back to the E Verde and went up Saddle Ridge trail and explored the Polk Spring area. Headed back along the road to the TH. Saw one deer near Polk Spr.
    Red Hills - AZT #24
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    Joe's summed it up well.

    I've finished the Red Hills and the Willow springs trails.

    I doubt I’ll be back on the Midnight Mesa / Willow Springs junction. That area is just too much rock scramble / climbing for me :scared: .

    I brought 6 liters of water and filtered 3 more for a total of 9 liters consumed.

    It was way too cool going to Richard’s avatar spot.
    Red Hills - AZT #24
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    With sub-100 temps, I decided to get in another Mazzy hike.

    I started out at the City Creek TH. The trail has been cleaned up from the TH to the Red Hills intersection. The CREC crew went a little past the Red Hill trail, but by then the trail is pretty wide open anyway. I went past the Red Hills trail and then the sky clouded over and a cool breeze started blowing.
    I then decide to go with my original plan and go to the LF Hilton. I double back to the Red Hill trail and took that to the Brush trail, to the Bull Springs trail.

    There was some recent activity on the Bull Spring trail. There were fresh footprints and cattle prints going to the cabin. I got to the Hilton, but they lost my reservation :sl:
    I took Bull Spring back to FR406. Some part of the Bull Spring trail had been cleared up. The Forest Service did some work at the Doll baby TH. They setup wire mesh cages full of rocks marking the wilderness boundary. They spaced the cages so horse and people could get through. BUT, they left the gate OPEN! :o

    The weather was perfect the entire day. The creeks were boon dry with an occasional small pool of water. The Bull spring looked more like a seep.

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