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Ash Creek Trail #307, AZ

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Guide 112 Triplogs  6 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
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4.5 of 5 by 37
 
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Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 7.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,300 feet
Elevation Gain -4,866 feet
Accumulated Gain 270 feet
Avg Time One Way 7-8 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.2
Interest Perennial Waterfall & Perennial Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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17  2019-09-12
Webb Peak Loop
markthurman53
54  2018-09-02 chumley
4  2017-10-22
Swift Trail (State Hwy 366)
SkyIslander18
12  2017-04-22
Webb Peak from Ash Creek TH
The_N
17  2017-03-11 friendofThunderg
9  2016-11-10 SkyIslander18
6  2016-10-13 toddak
13  2016-10-02 azterrim
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Author madhiker
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 1
Photos 0
Trips 13 map ( 127 miles )
Age 51 Male Gender
Location Tempe, AZ
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Preferred   Apr, Jun, Jul, Aug → 8 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:07am - 6:18pm
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by madhiker

2017 Frye Fire
Best read the current triplogs.

Pre Frye
Some time during the sweltering heat of the Phoenix summer when asphalt becomes soft from the scorching sun and gives off a shimmering mirage as you walk down the street to your mailbox, you'll be wishing for a stroll in a lush cool forest with mountain streams flowing by fields of green grass and golden wildflowers. Come on, you know what I'm talking about! What you might not know is that such a place is only a few hours away. Yes, even in August! The forest is located on top of Mount Graham near Safford and that "stroll" is along the Ash Creek Trail #307.


Ash Creek is one of the most beautiful forested hikes in Arizona. I would recommend a summer camping trip where you camp in the coolness of the mountains, 9000 ft above sea level. It's one of the fewest places in AZ where you still need a jacket in the middle of August, and it's not as crowded as Flagstaff. Get up early the next morning and hike the Ash Creek Trail from top to bottom, and then work your way back up. This is the route I'll describe here. Those bottom up hikers can just read it in reverse.

The trailhead is located 25 miles or so up AZ366 (Swift Trail) at the Columbine Visitor Center, about 9,300 ft in elevation. There's a small well-signed parking area on the north side of the dirt road, and a plaque marking the trailhead. Four miles to Oak Flat and 8 miles to the forest boundary it says. What it neglects to mention is that the elevation change is over 5,000 ft, quite a work out for a day hike but worth every minute of your travails. We went from the trailhead down to the 4x4 road, and my altimeter put the elevation change at around 5,200 ft.

This is a challenging but beautiful hike. Those who do not wish to brave the entire trek should consider turning around at Oak Flat (it'll be obvious when you get there) for about half the work. As you start out, the trail descends the north side of Mount Graham through pleasant tall pines and fields of grasses dotted with wildflowers. The air is heavy with moisture and lush flora line the trail. Don't be surprised to see lots of wild mushrooms and leafy green plants. It's almost like a tropical rainforest if it wasn't 9,000 ft high. Ash Creek trickles by the side of the trail and you'll have the distinct privilege of crossing it many times along the hike.

Soon you'll come to the remains of an old boiler at a trail junction. Don't worry, the wooden posts and signs are quite good on the upper half of this trail, and save for the occasional downed log to hop over, the trail is wide and easy to follow. There's a pack trail junction where horses go one way (along a longer path) and the more steady biped creatures go another. Along the main trail, you'll come to some scenic rocky areas reminiscent of Yosemite and have to walk along some platforms built into the rock. There's a small waterfall worth admiring as you descend through this area.

The trail gets steep and you'll encounter the bottom fork where the pack trail rejoins the main trail. Below that the steepness continues and zigzags through some brush. You'll finally come to a wide grassy clearing with old campfire rings. Welcome to Oak Flat. Lots of shade here to take a rest. Those in their right minds should consider returning at this point. It takes 3 times as long to go back up as it does to come down, so save some gusto for the uphill.

OK, the rest of you insane hikers like me should forge forward for some truly amazing hiking. The trail gets a bit overgrown and difficult to find past Oak Flat. You can tell that the pack animals for which the trail was originally built haven't trampled these grounds in a good many years. The lack of human presence means the forest is even more pristine and beautiful. We saw plenty of fresh bear droppings, a whole family of coatimundi, and some cougars on the next hill over. The lower forest has more live oaks and maples as opposed to the pines higher up, but the lush vegetation make it seem like you're hiking in the Appalachians instead of Arizona. Years of fallen leaves cover the ground and softened our steps. Though, we had to look for the trail several times to make sure we're on the right track.

After some switchbacks down a loose steep slope, the trail eventually levels out a bit and suddenly opens up. It's like there's an instant "threshold" between deep forest and desert riparian terrain. You'll start to catch some views toward the desert floor to the north of Mount Graham. Hiking down through the dirt trail lined by cacti and agaves makes it more of an Arizona hiking experience. We stopped when the trail ended at a dirt road seemingly accessible via 4x4 from the town of Pima (Cliff Ranch Road I think). Though there was no sign here, I gather this is the "forest boundary" mentioned on the plaque at the upper trailhead. (?)

One drawback to hiking down first is the fact that you have to work hard to go back up, but the nice thing is the view improves as you go higher, and the temperature gets cooler. It's a pure pleasure to cross the "threshold" into the shaded forest. The part from Oak Flat back up to the rocky waterfall area is KILLER though! I'd estimate a mile and a half of steadily steep uphill. Sure gets the heart pumping! Your reward for the hard work is to end your hike among the fields of wildflowers and pine scented forest in the upper reaches of Ash Creek. This is one awesome butt-kicking hike, and I highly recommend it.

NOTE 1: Watch out for poison ivy along the way. Come prepared with long pants.

NOTE 2: According to the Safford Ranger Station, the recent fire (2004) spared this trail. It runs between the two burned out regions on Mount Graham.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Note
This is a more difficult hike. It would be unwise to attempt this without prior experience hiking.

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

2004-08-11 madhiker

Coronado FS Details
Ash Creek Trail #307 & Ash Creek Detour Trail #307A

One of the Pinaleno range's larger streams has carved the route for this popular trail. As it drops from alpine forest to desert valley, Ash Creek Trail passes through all of the varied life zones that find a home on this unique mountain. Such a diverse set of surroundings makes this an excellent trail for encountering some of the varied wildlife species that inhabit the Pinalenos. Black bear, mountain lion, both mule and white-tailed deer, javelina and coatimundi are just some of the animals you're likely to encounter if you proceed slowly and quietly and keep a watchful eye.

If you like to fish for trout, you'll be interested to know that pools in the middle reaches of Ash Creek hold populations of native Apache trout. Ash Creek is not a large stream, so the fish are small, but they're wild and feisty nevertheless. If you come with that in mind, you'll enjoy the fact that they are quite a challenge to catch.

Since this prominent drainage has long been used as a major travel route up the mountain, it has also accumulated a number of historic relics. Along the trail are remains of an old sawmill and a logging flume, as well as boilers for steam engines used by loggers. These rusty artifacts serve as evidence that this area was used for timber harvest before modern transportation methods made it cheaper to haul lumber from areas where it could be harvested more economically.

Notes: This trail is suitable for horseback as well as foot travel; however, there is a stretch of the trail called slickrock that is particularly hazardous for horses. To avoid this section, take the 307A detour.

Ash Creek has water in it year-round. Purification of water is recommended prior to use.

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 51 deeper Triplog Reviews
Ash Creek Trail #307
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Met up with Chad bright and early after another all-nighter working at the telescope on Mount Graham, and we started up the Swift Trail. The focus of the day was to tour the Pinalenos and see first hand the effects of the Frye Fire of June 2017. Our first stop of the day was at a small canyon that I had passed so many times without ever stopping to explore it. This little hidden gem was loaded with changing maples and flowing water.

As we passed the top end of the Shake Trail, we entered into the main burn area of the Frye Fire. Pitchfork Canyon looked like it had been skewered by the Devil’s flaming pitchfork. A mountain side of black sticks where a lush stand of mature firs had once provided dense shade. The Arrow Tree still stood.

Stop 2 was at Snow Flat. Most of this area had fared well, with the exception being the back road to Treasure Park (Treasure Park via Snow Flat hike is charcoal city). Hospital Flat had some damage but is still beautiful, I think.

Stop 3 was Grant Hill Trailhead. Grant Hill was almost entirely consumed in a crown fire. Hopefully aspens will thrive here in the coming decades, but it looks pretty bad right now, and the trail loops on it are closed for the foreseeable future. We talked with the Squirrel Girl here, and heard the latest Red Squirrel census, which was pretty grim (35 found during the post-fire count, I heard).

The Grant Creek area didn’t look too bad, with only moderate fire damage, as we approached Stop 4: Cunningham Campground, next to the western trailhead of the Cunningham Loop. We talked with some
Forest Service employees briefly, and checked out the the Grant Creek Trailhead before continuing on. The Moonshine Creek area fared well, with fall aspens and ferns adding some color.

The Fort Grant overlook revealed Grant Creek Canyon to have a mosaic burn pattern, with plenty of green forest left intact.

Approaching Columbine through the singed spruce-fir, we turned down Bible Camp Road toward the Deadman-Highline Trailhead. Bible Camp Road had seen mosaic burn, and while there was heavy damage in places, there were some patches of surviving spruce-fir. I knew that much of Deadman had been thoroughly torched, but I had hope that my trail sign might have survived. As we rounded the first corner of Deadman, there was the trail sign I had made in 2010, perfectly undamaged among burned logs. I couldn’t believe it, and it was one of the few sights that day that made me smile. I unbolted my soot-covered creation to bring it home, as Deadman-Highline, my favorite Pinaleno trail, will probably not ever reopen.

The next stop was one Chad and I were both apprehensive over: Columbine Corral/Ash Creek Trailhead. We had heard that Ash Creek and Webb Peak were severely burned and a sea of black sticks. Sadly, that was true. The jewel of the Pinalenos was completely devoid of green, save for some small aspen and raspberry sprouts in places. Heartbreaking. On to the next spot...

Soldier Creek Campground looked great, just like old times.

As we drove toward Chesley Flat across the black skeleton slopes of Webb Peak, we wondered if any of the top was untouched by this mega-fire. Fire damage beyond Chesley Flat was less severe, and finally ceased at the turnoff for Riggs Lake. There is some ground fire evidence on the east side of Riggs, but very minor. We walked around the lake on the Lakeshore Trail, finally able to see a healthy, familiar favorite.

We continued down the last mile plus of the Swift Trail through the unburned forests of old, to the Clark Peak Trailhead, where we started the CP Flat Loop hike. The west end of the Pinalenos was deserted and we enjoyed a great hike through the aspens and mixed conifer woodland.
The rugged cliffs of Grandview Peak above Hell’s Hole looked amazing with a small strip of golden aspens clinging precariously.

Making our way home, I pulled over at Chesley Flat to check out the upper end of the Blair Canyon Trail and the old “spooky woods” area. This area was on the edge of the Webb Peak inferno and sustained heavy but not total damage. Still some survivor trees, including the tumor tree, and the ancient Blair Canyon Trail sign.

We continued back down the mountain, discussing our findings and thoughts on the matter, and made one final stop at the upper Shake Trailhead to see trees caked in red retardant from the fire.

Back on the straightaway at the base of the Pinalenos, Chad headed for home, and I grabbed a sandwich at Mount Graham Market for dinner on the road to home.

A few observations, which are totally my opinion...
Most of the burn area, which includes the majority of the top of the Pinalenos, appeared to me to have about 50% tree mortality. Of that 50%, a large portion of these trees were covered in dead needles with no sign of green (heat scorched trees, rather than burn, maybe?). The most severe burn areas appeared to be Pitchfork Canyon, Grant Hill, Ash Creek, and Webb Peak. The least severe/most green areas appeared to be Snow Flat, the area north of Hospital Flat, and Grant Creek watershed. The top of Graham Ridge between Shannon Campground and the summit of Mount Graham was severely burned, with almost total tree mortality. Severe erosion scarred most of the drainages and creeks on top. I won’t discuss my personal feelings here, other than to say the burn was worse than I had feared. I still love the Pinalenos, and always will, but they sure do look rough right now. I might post a photo set.

Chad, thanks for another great adventure! Much better to see sights like this with a like-minded friend.
Ash Creek Trail #307
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My final trip up to the top of Graham to survey the damage left from the Frye Fire before the November 15th winter closure. I met up with Preston and together we headed up the mountain as we have done so many times before. Plan was to survey as many sites as we could and also get in a hike at the end of the Swift Trail. We drove the entire road to it's end and this is what we saw & know .....

We first stopped on the way up for a quick trek up "secret canyon" for some fall colors, looked good and is only gonna get better. A return trip up will be made soon.
Second stop up was made at Ladybug Saddle to show Preston where & how I dislocated my shoulder last week, I was in need of some sympathy.
Then around to the backside/top and into the burn -

Snow Flat - Road down to the CG hit with med intensity burn, campground unaffected and beautiful.
Treasure Park CG - Road down med burn, meadow and CG mostly unaffected and beautiful, the "back" CG hit hard and now gated with "forest closed" sign.
Cunningham CG - Intact, but high burn all around CG. The trail-head for Grant Creek & Moonshine has "closed forest" sign. We could see golden aspens down in Moonshine and a later overlook view showed that lower Grant Creek from Ft Grant TH was unaffected, the upper trail has burned. At Cunningham we talked with a high up Forest Service employee who gave up permission to hike a bit into Ash Creek for a look a little further up the road.
Soldier Creek CG - One of my favorites and I was very happy to see an intact CG with minimal burn around it. The Grant Goudy Ridge (and Ice Caves) TH is open with the standard "caution burn area" sign.
Deadman-Highline Trail - The feel good story of the day! We drove down Bible Camp road to see if the trail-head sign that Preston made and posted back in 2010 made it through the fire. We hiked a bit up the trail through a hard hit area to find burn all-around the perfectly intact sign! It damn near brought a manly tear to my eye to see Preston's joy that it made it through -
[ photo ]
Columbine Corrals CG - From the happiest part of the day to the saddest. We parked at Columbine visitor center and hiked in across the road to the corrals. This whole area is closed including Webb Peak & Ash Creek due to high intensity burn. As stated earlier we had permission to hike a bit in. We took the trail just to where the switchbacks start down and that's about as far as you can go. Of all my trips up since the re-opening, this one punched me in the chest the hardest. I just could not believe I was looking down Ash Creek Canyon ..... black sticks as far as I could see down and on both sides of the canyon. We were told by Forest Service earlier at Cunningham that a decision was made to close and not work on Ash Creek & Frye Mesa Trail (where the fire started) for at least the next 3 years. Webb Peak is also black sticks, but was told that a loop may be re-opened next year.
Riggs Flat Lake - After Ash Creek we continued down the road through much more burn until finally reaching Riggs where the west end of the fire came to an end. We drove down to the lake that does have some minimal burn down, then through the campgrounds & ended with a nice hike around the lake on the Lakeshore Trail. Riggs Lake area for the most part was unaffected by the fire. Merrill Peak was hit on top and I'm sure the backside was too. There is a "burn" sign posted for the Jesus Babcock Trail behind the campground.
CP Flat - Finally on to the end of the road to hike CP Flat. A very needed break from fire damage with an autumn walk through Letty's Grove. I knew we were late for the golden aspen leaves up high, but just as beautiful hiking on the golden leaf road!
Blair Canyon - On the drive back out we stopped at Chesley Flat to see how Blair Canyon fared and as expected ..... not well. High burn and I'm sure Chesley Flat to Webb Peak looks the same.
Quick last stop at the Shake Trail to show Preston the red slurry covered trees at the start of the trail, this entire trail survived and is one of the very few left unaffected.

Our trip ended on the straightaway where Preston dropped me off at my truck, we said our good-bye's & I drove home still processing what I saw on top.

I have now seen the entire top of Graham and have a good understanding to the condition of the majority of the forest & trails. As stated in other logs - I am still shook, bitter & angry over this fire. The damage is much worse then I ever expected. There is still a lot of green up there and I have found a few places that still holds some un-burned beauty that will keep me looking for more. I have spent my entire life going up that mountain and this will take many years to come to peace with ..... I just hope someday I will get there.
I understand that most don't want to read about others personal hardships as I honestly don't like reading them myself. What has happened has happened and I cannot change it only move on - This will be my last log about the Frye Fire of 2017!

To close I just want to thank Preston for taking me up the mountain to view the destruction with me. Seeing it with a good friend made it more bearable. There will be many more great trips up & around Ole' Graham my friend!!!
Ash Creek Trail #307
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Headed south to cover some new territory with Dallin. I was expecting an experience similar to our previous sky island outing in the Rincons and Mt Lemmon. This trip exceed my expectations. We got a nice early start and could immediately hear the creek raging below as we started up Ash Creek Trail. Once the trail met back up with the creek, we knew we were in for a gorgeous but long day. This entire riparian area was lush with vegetation that was not only green, but also flowered already. Big Sycamores loomed over head and patches of Columbines lined the raging creek. Waterfalls and deep pools were around every corner. This narrow, cliffed out section turned to a dense Maple and Fern forest. After a good climb, we reached the upper section of the creek as it runs through peaceful Pine forest. I was surprised how warm it was even at higher elevations. Must've been like this for a while now because it had the appearance of a mid-summer Pine forest elswehere. The Pines seemed to get taller as we climbed onto the ridgeline and enjoyed a stroll over to Webb Peak via Webb Peak Trail. A few small patches of snow lingered in the last couple of miles. Once on the peak, we checked out the lookout tower and had a snack before heading down. Definitely nice to get up the tower and over the tree line for those expansive views. We started the trek down on Ash Creek Trail this time. It was littered with deadfall at first but cleared up eventually. The scenery and views were enough to make 9 miles of downhill on an out and back about as enjoyable as possible. From the riparian zone to the Pines, it was beautiful all around.
Ash Creek Trail #307
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A couple different places in eastern Arizona were on the radar this weekend, but since this was only going to be a day hike it needed to be relatively close. The plan was to car camp near the TH, head up to Webb Peak from Ash Creek as an out and back in the morning, then drive back to Phoenix that night.

We woke up earlier than expected and I got my first glimpses of the Pinalenos with the sunrise. Holy crap, this Sky Island is HUGE.

I was head over heels for Ash Creek within the first few miles. This is an amazing creek-side hike! The forest along the creek is lush and dense, the creek lines up amazing waterfalls one after another, and every once in a while you pop out of the vegetation to superb views looking back or further up at the mountain. A perfect balance in my opinion.

The trail is in pretty good condition from the bottom all the way to the Webb Peak Trail JCT. A few blow downs, and some damaged tread. There are a bunch of blow downs between the Webb Peak/Ash Creek JCT and the top of Ash Creek, though.

The lookout makes the side trip to Webb Peak worth it. The view was a very fresh one for me. There is a lot of new territory for me to explore out there... I was hoping to find a few big patches of snow near the top to test out a new toy, but the bulk of the snow up there is long gone. It was too warm by the time we reached the top anyway. What's left of the snow is small patches in the trees.

I really can't say anything bad about this hike. The Pinalenos met and exceeded my expectations. With plenty of great camping options along Ash Creek, I can't wait to come back and do some more exploring in this area and the greater Pinaleno range.

Wildflowers
At the lower elevations along the creek.
Ash Creek Trail #307
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The goal of this backpack was to escape anything related to 90 degree temperatures, to visit some waterfalls and find some snow. It was successful on all fronts. A tremendous over night trip into the premier sky island, Mount Graham.

We started our backpack at the lower Ash Creek trailhead. This trail is a climb from the start and it can feel like a real slog at times, especially, when carrying an extra tent and old sleeping bag for the pups. In particular, the 1,000 feet gained between mile four and fivish, is brutal. There were a few newly fallen obstacles along the way and some higher than average creek crossing as well to add to the ardor. After enjoying the falls from the trailside lookout, Jackie stayed with the pups so I could get a "closer" look. After dropping down one viewpoint, I started to realize that although it was very steep and a little dicey looking, one could scramble all the way to the base of the falls, an area that has been on my wish list for awhile. I yelled back to Jackie and let her know I was going down further, she acknowledged and I began the wild descent, which actually went pretty well.

However, about a 100, or so feet from the bottom I kicked up a pretty good rock slide, one that ended with a couple hundred plus pound boulders smashing to the bottom of the raging creek and echoing something thunderous and chilling. I immediately thought Jackie might get worried and yelled back, "I'm ok," even though I knew there was probably no way she could hear me. After that, the base of the falls came pretty easily and I marveled at the cool little area, After exploring and snapping a few pics of the cool little cascades below the falls, I began my crawl up. After reaching the top, I found out pretty quickly from a shook up Jackie that she had been assuming the worst since hearing the rock slide, In fact, she had even sent out a couple of distressed texts to people assuming the worst, after not seeing, or hearing from me in about 45 minutes. The poor girl was about 15 minutes away from collecting her gear, the pups and heading back to the TH to get proper help. I felt horrible for not communicating my intentions to reach the bottom and for not finding away to signal back that I was alright, after the rock slide; a tad humbling seeing how greatly thoughts of your demise might impact someone close to you. In the end though, all was well and nobody was hurt, so we continued on after collecting ourselves a little.

We took the nearly devoid of snow Ash Creek bypass trail over the snowed in route over slick rock. We ended up calling it a day near the old mill site. We found a great site along the robust snow fed creek and set up camp quickly to potentially pursue some exploring up trail. However, that thought devolved into a nap and the usual camp chores. We enjoyed a chilly, but not overly cold night and while the temperatures definitely reached freezing, I do not think they dipped too far below that. The moon never really allowed darkness to take hold, but we still slept well, thanks in part to a tough little day and climb.

We decided to head for Webb Peak Sunday morning, but got turned around by some real deep snow just after clearing 9,500 feet. We had got lucky for most of the hike up and were able to cruise with micro-spikes on some hard crusted 3-4 feet deep snow for large sections, however, as the temperature warmed the post holing began. However, it was still only a minor inconvenience until we got to just under a half a mile from the summit where the snow got really deep and soft, deep enough to lose a dog in deep! We'd had such a good time playing in the snow up until then, that it really did not bother us to turn around. We did the quick hike back to camp, broke camp and started the relentless descent. The trip down seemed to fly by in comparison to the hike up. I visited an old favorite set of falls on the way down and then finally made it to another one I had been meaning to get to. We finished to complaining about the heat and in shorts and t-shirts, slightly different than the wintry conditions we began our day with, Arizona at its finest.
Ash Creek Trail #307
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Haven't been down to the falls in 2 years and my visiting friends have never seen the falls.
This area is now a little "out of season", but that's OK, this trail is awesome anytime of the year!
We headed down Ash Creek #307, quick side trip to the old mill site, then down to the falls overlook with a short off-trail route to a frontal view. I then, as my partners ate lunch, made a decision to once and for all climb down the canyon wall to the base of the falls. Was a bit of a risky path down, but it all worked out and I finally got to look up the falls from the bottom ..... bucket list check!
:y:
We then took the Bypass trail back out completing the lasso loop. The autumn colors are just about all gone now and the creek/falls were flowing a little below average, but that was expected today for this date. Snow will be coming soon and the road in will be closing in 5 days. Ash Creek Trail IMO will always be the gem on top of this mountain and I was very happy to get to show it to my friends before they leave town (they loved it).
Lots of deer sightings today, I believe we counted 12 along the way.
:D
Ash Creek Trail #307
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Excellent climb from the lower trailhead at 4700' to the top of Webb Peak at just over 10,000'. The first mile is out in open scrub, but the rest of the hike stays right along the beautiful creek and/or in shady forest. Nicely routed and very well-maintained trail. The last 4 miles of the drive to the trailhead are rough and rocky, with 3 creek crossings. Thanks to chumley and FOTG for the inspiration and some good area info.
Ash Creek Trail #307
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Amazing backpacking trip with Kristen. Opted for the bypass which is now the main trail (don't believe this was the case last time I was here), as I wasn't sure of the condition of the trail near slickrock, especially with the volume of water flowing through the creek after Newton (which was the whole point of the trip). Plenty of water after 6" rain earlier last week. Various observations indicated the water had been quite a bit higher recently, which isn't surprising. We set up camp just above the fork near the falls lookout point. The campsite I used to use is now full of cut logs and stumps from trail maintenance. I guess they figure a flat spot next to the trail is better to store that stuff than kicking it down the mountain. Or maybe they wanted to decommission the only semi-established little campsite in the area. Regardless, we made do nearby and obviously made sure to LNT. Scrambled to a viewpoint for both sunset and sunrise. Such a photogenic waterfall when it's running strong. Long drive for a single night but totally worth it when conditions are that perfect.
Ash Creek Trail #307
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Webb Peak Ash Creek
second day in the pinalenos
up at first light, took our time for coffee and breakfast
decided to move camp to soldier creek
john had seen randy's [ photoset ] and thought it looked pretty nice
stopped at columbine in hopes of finding a map, but the visitor center wasn't open yet
threw up a tent at soldier creek campground, then went back to the ash creek trailhead for a hike
went up to webb peak first and were able to go up in the unoccupied/abandoned tower
very hazy sunday
back down to take the trail over to ash creek
rather than head right back to the trailhead, we went further along ash creek trail to the falls overlook
thought about going down to the bottom of the falls, but just made the little bypass loop and returned
nice to hike along flowing water
saw lots of sawmill remnants
ash creek trail goes through a cool slickrock area
the falls were impressive, and it would fun to get closer
after the hike, went back to columbine for a few minutes
lunch at camp, then i wanted to see riggs lake
wasn't really impressed - too crowded
walked around the lake just because while john took a snooze
back at camp, we had heard about a cave just off the grant goudy ridge trail, so we hiked out to a couple of overlooks, then started looking for the cave on the way back
found a smaller cave, and went in a few feet, until bats started flying at my flashlight
decided that wasn't it, and kept looking until we found it just to the east of and below the trail
climbed down about 20-25 feet, until going further looked more committing than we were up for
very cool air coming from it, and apparently one can go down 80 feet or more
mileage includes the riggs lake stroll and the cave search
my gps track is just for the webb peak ash creek hike
i have a track for the cave location, if anyone is interested
chatted with some of our neighbors, had dinner and another fire
breezier and cooler sunday night
soldier creek is a great place to camp
Ash Creek Trail #307
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A little over one hour from house to TH ... 46 degrees when I got there.
I had a big stupid grin on my face for the whole hike ... partly because starting at over 9000 ft gave me a pleasantly buzzed, light-headed feeling - but mostly because it's such a fun hike.
Waterfalls galore!
Only saw one group of three guys all day - at the start of the bypass trail, and was glad they told me not to take the "official" trail ... by doing so, you would miss some of the best things - including the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th biggest falls.
The main attraction is amazing - anyone know how tall it is? The trail only brings you to an overlook ... you cant get close to the fall or to the bottom without risking your life - which I probably will next time. :)
It was in this area that I'm pretty sure I smelled a bear. A while later I came around a curve in the trail and almost tripped over a turkey. Hehe. Saw another turkey later, as well as many deer, squirrels, lizards, birds ... lots of beautiful red-faced warblers!
54 degrees back at the trailhead ... an hour later back in Safford it was 81 at 6pm.
Checked out Hospital Flat for future camping ... that little camping area is a winner.

Permit $$
Information is listed below

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


Directions
Map Drive
or
Road
FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

To hike
Upper Trailhead: From Safford, go south on US191 and turn right on AZ366 (aka Swift Trail) to go up Mount Graham. The road is paved to start with, but eventually turns into graded dirt. Passenger cars should be OK. The upper trailhead for the Ash Creek Trail starts at the Columbine Visitor Center (9300 ft) 25 miles or so from the 366 turn off. There's a small parking area next to the trailhead. Though there's no parking fee, there is a nominal $10/night charge to camp on top of Graham at one of the campgrounds.

Lower Trailhead: From the town of Pima, drive south on Cluff Ranch Road. When you reach the entrance to Cluff Ranch, turn left. Cross the cattle guard, continue until you reach a 3-way intersection and turn left. Follow this road approximately 1 mile to the trailhead.

Please Note: Lower trailhead is not accessible by passenger vehicles. Cluff Ranch Road is privately owned and is not very well maintained recommend 4WD truck/SUV/ATV with moderate clearance due to ruts in the road 2WD trucks/jeeps should be ok. There is a small camping area before the trailhead that you can park your vehicles for free, it is isolated and vulnerable to possible theft/break-ins - from there +/- 1 hr walk to trailhead.
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