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White Canyon Wilderness - GET #3, AZ

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Guide 18 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Superior SW
4.2 of 5 by 5
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 29.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,396 feet
Elevation Gain 1,357 feet
Accumulated Gain 5,112 feet
Avg Time One Way 1-3 days
Kokopelli Seeds 46.24
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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23  2017-11-27
Joe and Bruces Height of Light
8  2017-06-24 gummo
69  2017-01-07
White Canyon Promontory Y Loop
22  2016-12-17
White Canyon Wilderness - Center Loop
10  2016-03-05
AZT17/GET3 - Cottonwood Petroglyph Site Loop
50  2015-10-31
The Rincon Battle Axe Butte Loop
3  2014-12-20
Gila River Canyons - AZT #16
31  2012-02-10
White Canyon Wander
Page 1,  2
Author blisterfree
author avatar Guides 24
Routes 37
Photos 5
Trips 0 map ( 0 miles )
Age 47 Male Gender
Location lithosphere
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Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Nov, Mar, Oct
Seasons   Autumn
Sun  6:09am - 6:28pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

GET Segment 3 overview

Relatively small and little-known, yet big on solitude and Sonoran desert charm, the BLM White Canyon Wilderness is the centerpiece of this adventurous segment. Expect to be surprised and impressed with the Superstition-esque landscapes preserved in this parcel of wildland, but your inspiration here must first be earned. For the hiking is sometimes rugged and primitive, particularly in the Wilderness area itself. The terrain also offers up a healthy dose of elevation gain and loss, with limited access to reliable water.

In late 2011 the final miles of the Arizona Trail between Mexico and Utah were completed above the Gila River at the southern edge of the White Canyon area, where a small ceremony was held and a commemorative survey marker installed. The event was a significant milestone in the evolution of that trail, and tacitly for the GET as well. The GET has, and continues to, benefit from ongoing Arizona Trail construction and maintenance, and so it does in this segment. However, the GET has never been beholden to the AZT, and sometimes the two routes might diverge if it's in the best interest of either route to do so. In fact, while much of GET Segment 3 follows the route of the Arizona Trail, a portion of it now goes its own way, in spite of the availability of newly-built AZT trail miles. A further explanation is probably in order.

Prior to the recent Arizona Trail completion, both the GET and the interim Arizona Trail in this area followed the same route throughout. Now, the two routes diverge partway through GET Segment 3, specifically between milepoint 10.1 and 18.4. Here, the suggested route of the GET remains with the former, "interim" AZ Trail route in this 8-mile stretch, despite it being considerably more primitive than the newly-completed AZ Trail and also involving some 2-track and wash / drainage travel. (The new AZT is located entirely on singletrack trail, wide and clear.) The reasons for keeping the GET along the old route are several. One is that, as a matter of practicality, the old route offers access to the only sure-bet water source in this entire segment - an artesian well located in Walnut Canyon. (The new AZT is generally dry, save for the Gila River which to one extent or another is polluted by agricultural and mining runoff here.) Also, the old route is some 7 miles shorter in length, and while expediency is not the overarching goal of the GET's layout, the newly-built AZ Trail is both longer AND drier, compounding concerns that are avoided by taking the old route. Finally, from a purely philosophical standpoint, the old route runs through the BLM-administered White Canyon Wilderness area, which the new AZ Trail avoids in order to legally accommodate bicycle traffic. Both routes are very scenic, to be sure, but the GET would be remiss if it didn't avail itself of Congressionally-designated Wilderness wherever such an area remains so readily available and, in many ways, more accommodating than the alternative. In any event, both routes are shown on the mapset, and of course either route is available to suit one's particular interest. (The two routes together would make for an excellent loop trip in conjunction with some out-and-back miles between trailheads at either end of the segment.)

Elsewhere in this segment, the GET piggybacks enthusiastically onto the Arizona Trail, including many miles of supremely scenic, well-engineered singletrack that is, to be sure, a dream to travel, be it on foot, by horse, or on a bicycle. Together, the two routes pass the Arizona Trail completion marker set trustily into the desert dirt above the banks of the Gila River, a testament to progress. Just be sure to pack along plenty of water, whichever way you go to get here.

(As mentioned, potable water - of which the long-journeying Gila here is generally not - is scarce in Segment 3, but thankfully there is one excellent, perennial source at an artesian well approximately halfway along. Developed water is also available in the small residential community of Kelvin, half a mile north of the route at the segment's eastern end. See the official GET guidebook and water chart for current information.)

A detailed, mile-by-mile description of this segment is available in the official GET guidebook. See

This segment of the GET forms part of a longer trip option between resupply locations, as described below:

GET Segments 3 - 5, Superior to Mammoth

Continuing southbound along the route of the Arizona Trail (and sometimes apart from it), the GET follows a combination of maintained singletrack and primitive foot trail into the little-known White Canyon Wilderness (BLM), a small but superlative landscape of remnant volcanic peaks and colorful ash-flow sedimentary cliffs. The Sonoran desert here is in fine form, with dense stands of saguaro cacti among a panoply of unique desert flora on display. After a challenging hike along rugged drainages and old mining roads south of the wilderness area, the route rejoins the Arizona Trail alongside the tree-lined banks of the Gila River where it seeks out a bridged crossing upstream. Beyond, the terrain gradually mellows and long-range views highlight the distant Sky Island range of the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson. Here the route continues to follow an adventurous web of singletrack trail and connecting dirt roads as it seeks out lone Antelope Peak, a low volcanic outlier of the Tortilla Mountains. Eventually the GET and AZT part ways for good, as our route turns east along the wide sandy course of Putnam Wash in the company of dark basalt cliffs, then along the gentle San Pedro River in a rare desert riparian oasis, to reach AZ Hwy 77 ten miles north of the small village of Mammoth AZ.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2013-08-08 blisterfree

    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 Triplog Reviews
    White Canyon Wilderness - GET #3
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    White Canyon Wilderness - Center Loop
    Bruce put this loop together by routes from Hank & Mark. When I saw it I knew it would be a great hike. While Brown's Peak got me hiking, White Canyon taught me how to sing.

    Bruce drove in 0.4 miles off SR177 on FR319 to the safe 2WD parking. The road was recently graded. Arnett Creek was already starting a narrow yet deep crevice across the road so some may prefer to walk it.

    43 degrees and windy, with a predicted high of 54. I started off wearing three long sleeve shirts and pants due to the temps. Pants are a good idea if you don't like any scratches. 10 degrees warmer and I'd be in shorts. It rained a bit last night and there was a very light flow in a couple area. All avoidable if careful. Some of the terrain was easy scrambling.

    4-5 miles is road or use trail. Over half of the road walk is within the wilderness and very scenic. The majority of the hike is off trail through the canyon. The high canyon walls of White Canyon are impressive. Especially the eastern wall which is white. The water sculptured rock and narrows in multiple areas are spectacular. Any one of them would be worthy of a hike alone. 2 miles is out of the canyon to ride a ridge back to make the loop. It is a hearty 600 ft climb to the highpoint 3635 atop the ridge. Excellent views down the entire ridge. This loop is just a smorgasbord of bells and whistles. The less exciting final 2.8 miles went by quick.

    Geology rocks a very short, semi boring, video starring Off_trail_Eagle.

    In isolated areas it was moderate and fading.
    White Canyon Wilderness - GET #3
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Fan and I did my favorite AZT section – Gila River Canyons. I parked by artisan well.

    Good news / bad news time.

    Good news the road to the well has been smoothed out with sand. The minor steps by the gate are now gone.

    Bad news: The artisan well is gone! :( The well been capped off a sewer pipe. You can hear the water running but it going underground ‘somewhere’ within the sewer pipe . The creek bed is now dry! ](*,) I parked by the bard wire fence, since the old trailhead is now gated off.

    The hike.
    We went down to the old AZT section and then to the new AZT section. When we got to the Gila, Fan took a break as I went to the Coke Ovens. Since Fan hadn’t completed AZT 16, we took the trail back.
    I was concerned that Walnut Canyon may have been gated off and not passable due to private property fence. Fan was determined that NO fence, no matter how tall or impassible would stop her from getting to the Jeep. The other option would be a 1~2 mile detour on the road.
    Walnut canyon was dry. Which made hiking easier, but not as pretty as it was. There was two spots with some running water, but not like other times.

    We did come across two fences. One was halfway down the canyon. It was game/cattle fence with a gate. Fan immediately wanted to go under the fence. I showed her the gate and we used that. The second fence was the one that I parked by. Again Fan wanted to immediately go through the fence. She wanted me hold up top of the bard wire as she would go through the middle of the fence. I found a place where we could climb a boulder and safely go over the fence. We went over boulder.

    It was a fun hike. The morning was cold. I didn’t warm up until 2 PM. Then it got cold at 5 PM.

    Now Fan has completed AZT #16!
    White Canyon Wilderness - GET #3
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    segment 3 of the GET was another winner. The white canyon area is pure desert magic. wow...all kinds of awesome things to see out here. we had a really nice day too.

    met a very friendly ultra trail runner out near the end and chatted for a bit. had lunch at the artesian well. that was neat to see, since my azt journey took me along the new routes and i never saw it when it was along the old route. surprised to see some poppies blooming

    great, tough hike. we are only 3 segments in but the GET is a winner so far :y:
    White Canyon Wilderness - GET #3
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Hiked from the Kelvin bridge to Picketpost with JJ3. There is a nice smattering of poppies along the southern third of the route. Saw a cardinal and a falcon. The GET route is 8 miles shorter than the AZT, but still is a challenge. Met some mountain bikers from Europe who said not all Americans are lazy when they found out how far we had hiked. Nice seeing Dave and Nick again. Thanks for driving John. :)
    White Canyon Wilderness - GET #3
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Started off at Picketpost just after 7am, to start going south to Kelvin. Once we just got past Picketpost Mountain I was surprised to see a significant burn area out there. Once we got further south past the burn area, I was reminded of all the humongous cacti out there! Some of the largest cholla and saguaros I've seen. I had already done this when I did the AZT, but it's been a while.

    Had lunch at the artesian well, nice :D Last time I didn't risk drinking it unfiltered, but today, I thought there certainly can't be bacteria in this water! Great taste.

    When I did the AZT I did the old route, so it was just a repeat for me. The only new part for me was at the south end near Kelvin, as when I did that part of the AZT a couple or so years ago the trail followed the railroad tracks for a while, now it's all off of that.

    Very little wildlife, though I did enjoy hearing a few cactus wrens in a couple of areas.

    About 5 miles from the south end, we ran into the trail steward for the AZT #16 section. Very nice guy! He's also a professional runner and goes up and down it all the time. He prides himself in some of his mondo cairn creations, check them out :)

    Made it to the car nearly 11 hours later, quite tired but happy for a great day on the GET...
    White Canyon Wilderness - GET #3
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Denny was nice enough to go with me to make up this segment that I could not do when the rest of the crew went out to do this several weeks ago. We met at 4am and were able to get started right at first light. Grace was nice enough to drive Denny and I to the south trailhead so that we didn't have to do a car pickup when we were done.

    We hiked from the gate off of Battle Axe, which meant we re-hiked the last part of segment 16 to the wilderness boundary. Most of the elevation for this hike came in those four miles on this last part of segment 16. A few nice views as we went through the morning, of not just Picketpost but also Weaver's Needle and the Supes ridgeline.

    There is a place almost halfway in where the route has been rerouted in a section. Please note the current "default route" has this new section, but some of the others posted do not.

    Nice flow at the artesian well; it must have been pouring a gallon a minute. As for wildlife, I think I stepped on a garter snake that went across the path, it was so skinny that I didn't even see it, although Denny did and jumped a bit :o Then at another spot a few miles further down, I walked right past a medium-sized diamondback (eight buttons). He only did one single rattle, I actually thought it was the wind blowing through one of the bushes. Then as Denny approached he did that again and Denny saw him. Other than that, we saw lots of quail and a few squirrels, and evidence of lots of javelina in one area. There is a place Was nursing a cold so I thought we'd be a bit slow today, but we still ended up making good time...amazing how quickly you can move with the temperature goes up. We grabbed a quick lunch at the Mexican place in Superior, Denny's treat (thanks!!) and headed home. Thanks also Denny for joining me today!
    White Canyon Wilderness - GET #3
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Didn't get started until 8:35am, we spent an hour down there trying to figure out where the northern TH was. This is one instance where the AZ Trail book is just --NOT-- helpful at all! Follow Grasshopper's track to drive from US177 to this TH, and ignore the book. It made Denny so mad he wanted to pitch the book out the window. :sl:

    This was an interesting hike in a lot of ways. It started at the Kelvin bridge, then soon followed the Gila River and the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks a good ways. Went a little off trail past the turn off the RR tracks, we went all the way to the bridge ahead, really interesting old bridge. The wood beams going over it had big gaps, dropping down dozens of feet to the river below, so you didn't want to make a misstep! (although they weren't so wide a whole body would go through)

    Not much wildlife today, hoped to see some javelina out there as it has some large concentrations of them out there, but no luck. Did see lots of quail and lots of deer tracks, especially around the Gila. Really nice views of the Gila basin!

    Pretty well cut trail throughout. It was a little challenging figuring out how to turn off the RR tracks, there is no marker for a trail leaving the tracks and it is very overgrown, had to go probably 100 yards of more until the trail actually started looking decent, recommend a GPS to find this turnoff, although if you go to the bridge you have gone too far. It has now become customary that we sing terribly off key every time we think of a song with the words in it we're talking about ("here comes the sun" ... "here comes the rain again, falling on my head like a memory" ... "what goes up must come down" ... trust me, the songs are endless). Today on the tracks Denny kicked it off with some Johnny Cash, singing "Folsom Prison Blues", and before long we were all singing it. That led to "Rock Island Line", "Hey Porter" ... it just went downhill quick. Then I found it on my iPhone, and cranked it up. ("Dave listens to Johnny Cash?!" don't ask...) [-X :lol:

    Farther up, there was a stretch going through a creek in Walnut Canyon that was really nice. Lots of boulder hopping and water dodging. We were totally surprised to find two ATVs come through the creekbed, jumping boulders some 6-8 feet off the ground. After we passed them and followed their tracks up, there were several spots we looked and just scratched our heads trying to figure out how they pulled it off. The suspension on those things had to be incredible!

    After leaving the White Canyon Wilderness boundary, trying to figure out where the endpoint of this segment was pretty much impossible. There is no marker denoting the end of the segment, nor is there a marker as described in the AZ Trail book. We did turn around when we saw an unmarked wooden post. The Arizona Trail website says the endpoint is the Tonto National Forest boundary, which butts right up against the White Canyon Wilderness boundary, so my guess is when you come to the two White Canyon Wilderness boundary signs you are at your endpoint.

    The only bad part of today was that I lost my orange cap (in my avatar) somewhere on the trail today, probably in the first half. I took it off a couple of miles in and velcroed it onto my pack, then just over halfway I looked for it and it was gone. Anybody out there who sees it, please get it for me and I'll pick it up from you and will be glad to give you a $20 for your trouble! :M2C: I have worn it on every segment of the AZT we have done (15 segments), so I'm totally bummed to lose it.

    Denny wasn't able to get the Focus all the way down Grasshopper's track to the dropoff spot. A high clearance vehicle could have made it tho. Where we stopped, just outside a gate about a mile or so past the corral, we ended up backtracking from our turnaround point back to the car about 4 1/4 miles.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    Picketpost Trailhead at Forest Route 310. Picketpost Trailhead is accessible by passenger car. ~4.5 miles west of the town of Superior, or 0.4 mi east of marked highway milepoint 221, turn south off US 60 onto FR 231. (Formerly obscure, the turnoff has now been signed "Picketpost Trailhead" by the Forest Service.) Follow dirt FR 231 0.3 mi., passing Picketpost Windmill, to a junction and turn left, now on FR 310. Take this road 0.7 mi. to its end at Picketpost Trailhead, with ample parking. Overnight parking allowed, but no camping at trailhead.
    page created by HAZ_Hikebot on Aug 08 2013 8:23 pm
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