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Towel Creek Ruins - West Access, AZ

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Guide 15 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Camp Verde > Dugas
3.3 of 5 by 7
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 6.08 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,977 feet
Elevation Gain 542 feet
Accumulated Gain 712 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 - 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.64
Interest Ruins & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
11  2017-05-01 survivordude
13  2016-03-05 friendofThunderg
13  2013-01-04
Gap Creek to Verde River
7  2011-01-10 hippiepunkpirate
12  2009-10-19 scottfyfe
7  2005-12-14 cyn
4  2002-12-04 T150
10  2002-05-20 Desertboots
Author Desertboots
author avatar Guides 8
Routes 0
Photos 114
Trips 14 map ( 68 miles )
Age Female Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Feb, Mar, Jan → 10 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:12am - 6:30pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Named place Nearby
Holly Guano Methane Batman!
by Desertboots

I questioned the wisdom of posting this trail as when I hiked it I thought I was in the wrong place. As it turns out I was in exactly the right place.

This trail can be accessed from two different places. You can reach a trailhead off Fossil Springs Road and make it a 14-mile hike, or you can reach the trailhead via Gap Creek trail from Camp Verde. We chose Camp Verde as that makes it a fairly easy 6-mile out and back trail.

The area is beautiful, lush and fairly easy to get to. We started out on a nice sunny and windy morning from Phoenix and drove up to Camp Verde. The driving directions I've included are exact. From the parking area at the D-Tail ranch, you follow the Gap Creek Trail down to the Verde River. You haven't actually reached the Towel Creek trail, but if you look across the Verde at a confluence between two red cliffs and the draw that cuts between them, that's Towel Creek. To reach the actual trail #67, you have to bushwhack a bit upstream, then cross the Verde. It's not hard to do, and we didn't cross the river just yet. We walked roughly a half-mile upstream first. If you can find a place to ford the river, do so at any time. The coordinates for where the trailhead is roughly 33 35.81N 112 14.86W. This reading was taken while standing across the river from the trailhead. The Verde is deep in places along here and so we just walked upstream till we found a place to cross, then walked back downstream the to trailhead. A cairn marks it. The trail goes straight up to a fence line. You then follow the fence line to a gate. Go through the gate and follow the Cairns and the beaten path. Sometimes the trail is hard to find but as long as you look for Cairns, you'll be okay.

After about 2.5 miles the trail dips down to Towel Creek. Follow the creek in lieu of a trail. I only went a little ways before I tripped and fell and hurt my knee. My hiking companion went a little further and found and old cowboy shack. From here, there is no trail to the ruins and I determined we were still a half a mile from the ruins. The GPS coordinates for the ruins are 34 24.45N 111 45.16W. We were about .45 miles from the ruins at the Cowboy shed. We never did find them.

Follow the same trail back. When you cross the Verde, it's a good idea to have Tevas or something to cross in, as the bottom is rocky. My hiking partner didn't tie her shoes tight enough to her pack and so they ker-plunked into the river, but floated downstream aways and came to rest on the shore where we retrieved them. That was lucky.

If you chose this trail, let me know if you ever find the ruins. Then you can take me there!

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.

2002-05-20 Desertboots
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Towel Creek Ruins - West Access
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Wanted to go somewhere new, wanted water, and wanted to explore some ruins. Triple check.. Hit the TH at 7AM and made the short walk to the Verde. The crossing was real easy. Only about knee deep and Gabby had no problem crossing either. The trail is well cairned and only got confusing in a few spots, but the topo was real easy to follow. Passed a small empty shack and saw some javelina jaw bones. Made it to the ruins in just over an hour and explored around for a while. Lots of pottery pieces scattered about. There was a huge room with a small wall in front that is now home to many bats because there were piles of guano all over in there. The second and fourth alcove had some very intact walls and very defined entrances. Was great to hang out there imagining what it was like 800+ years ago. Looking west across to the Verde Rim, I could imagine seeing smoke signals or other signals coming from dwellings on that side of the river. Most wildflowers are all gone but the cactus flowers were blooming real nice. Saguaros should be popping real soon. I really enjoyed the solitude here. I really want to start finding and visiting more ruin sites. ..if I ever get some time away from baseball ..which is not likely anytime soon..
    Towel Creek Ruins - West Access
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    River was up. Spent an hour looking for a "safe" place to cross. Spent an another half hour trying to find the trailhead on the other side. It's just south (downriver) of the power lines that cross the river. There's a large cairn but it kind of blends into the lava rock background. Promptly lost the trail at the top of the first mesa. It kind of disappears through a thick mesquite thicket. Finally got on track although the trail is VERY faint in places and looks like some of the cairns have fallen down. Had to backtrack and circle a few times to stay on course. I was running out of time when I finally came upon the tin line shack where the trail crosses the creek bottom. I thought about making that my turnaround point, then looked up to the Northeast and could plainly see the ruins on the cliff wall. Made it up to the main ruins and the smaller one to the east, but didn't have a lot of time to explore. Looked like an interesting area. Some huge pot shards, many colors, all over the place. Had to hump back because I didn't want to cross the river in the dark
    Towel Creek Ruins - West Access
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Went with my friends Brian and Kat, and their friend Jesse. Gap Creek was flowing, but just a bit. Crossing the Verde was cold, but did not seem nearly as cold as last winter crossing it on an overcast day to get to the hot springs. We lost the trail twice going in, which actually saved us about 200 of elevation gain. Made it to the ruins, and explored further up-canyon about a half mile to try to find a larger ruin that Brian had only seen in pictures. Didn't find the bigger ruin, but spooked a herd of javelina that booked it down a drainage below us. Brian had a better angle than I, and estimated about 30 javelina, including 3 babies. Managed to follow the trail the entire way on the way back. It was a nice hike, and good to see Brian and Kat again. I really liked Towel Creek, nice solitude and interesting metamorphic geology. The route was pretty well-cairned, but very faint in sections, and thus easy to get off trail. The trail seems to do at least one very unnecessary climb. As I said, going off-trail saved us about 200 feet of elevation going in, and could've saved another 200 going out doing the same. Brian was pretty familiar with the area, I had a GPS, and the weather was very other circumstances I would not have been so comfortable, and probably wouldn't recommend off-trail travel to those unfamiliar to the area without reasonable route-finding and physical abilities, or during the hot months.
    Towel Creek Ruins - West Access
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Traveled from California to search for the Towel Creek Ruins from the West access. Unfortunately the Verde was just too full to cross. We hiked all the way north from Gap Creek to Punk Rock Rapids (as referred to by some local rafters), which is as far as you can go on the river's edge; about 1.5 miles and no sign of a place to cross less than 3-4 feet deep with a strong current. Had lunch and called it a day. Nevertheless the scramble/walk along the beautiful Verde was great and we had gorgeous weather. We'll be back to try again, but a warning to others - November may be too late to cross the Verde.

    Permit $$

    Prescott Forest
    Prescott National Forest Pass

    Only trailheads with six "amenities" have fees. Amenities are picnic tables, trash, toilet, parking, interpretive signing and security.

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    From Camp Verde, follow 260 to Salt Mine Road and head west. Salt Mine Road just north of the Verde River crossing. The road eventually curves south and turns into a gravel road. I would say a passenger car would be okay, but at least high clearance would be ideal. At about 3 miles, the main dirt road turns left toward Beasley Flat and the Verde River. Do not go to Beasly Flat. Keep driving straight on FR 574, which gets narrower and rougher. You'll cross Gap Creek after about 8 miles and then you'll reach the D-Tail Ranch. On the USGS quad for Horner Mountain, the ranch is called Brown Springs Ranch. That was circa 1967. That topo also features the trail and is a good reference. Park at the D-Tail Ranch, there is a little parking area and some trail signs.
    128 GB Flash Drive... $14
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