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Santa Teresa Wilderness - GET #8, AZ

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Guide 7 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Globe S
4.3 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 37.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,180 feet
Elevation Gain 4,117 feet
Accumulated Gain 7,800 feet
Avg Time One Way 2-3 days
Kokopelli Seeds 63.89
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Historic, Seasonal Waterfall, Seasonal Creek & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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24  2015-10-30
Holdout Black Rock Loop
45  2014-12-27
GET 7 through 9
22  2013-04-24 JuanJaimeiii
8  2013-04-18 JuanJaimeiii
39  2010-04-12 sirena
Author blisterfree
author avatar Guides 24
Routes 37
Photos 5
Trips 0 map ( 0 miles )
Age 47 Male Gender
Location lithosphere
Associated Areas
list map done
Gila - Safford BLM
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Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Apr, May, Sep
Sun  6:09am - 6:20pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

Likely In-Season!
GET Segment 8 overview

Jaw-dropping. This is the expression that came to mind (and face!) upon the author's first glimpse of Holdout Canyon in the Santa Teresa Wilderness. A wonderland of oddly shaped pinnacles, fins, and domes completely overwhelmed the scene before me, a vantage made all the more incredible by the unexpectedness of it all. Nothing I'd read about the area had quite prepared me for the wilderness of rock I was about to enter.

The Santa Teresa Mountains are comprised of an upthrusted and eroded granitic batholith similar in geology and appearance to the "Wilderness of Rock" area of the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, though arguably on a grander scale. Like the Catalinas, the Santa Teresas are a Sky Island range, rising boldly from the surrounding desert and capped with an isolated montane community of flora and fauna. Yet the Santa Teresa Wilderness remains comparatively obscure and is seldom visited, partly owing to the sheer ruggedness of this range's splendor. (Legend has it that the name Holdout Canyon recalls Old West outlaws who once eluded justice among the maze of boulders here.) The other reason for the range's modern-day esoterica relates to trailhead access. Many of the forest roads that approach the Wilderness boundary cross private inholdings with locked gates and no public access, while the few remaining trailheads are accessible only by high-clearance 4WD. (2WD vehicles can access this segment near its end points, but foot travel is then required to reach the Forest and Wilderness boundaries.)

Perhaps not surprisingly, foot trails in the Santa Teresa Wilderness are little-used and run the gamut from rough-but-followable to abandoned and non-discernible. This segment of the GET attempts to navigate both the trail condition and access concerns, and the upshot is a notably long, rugged and challenging walk with several options for travel available. If you're acclimated to hiking in the wilder reaches of southern Arizona's mountain ranges and are comfortable with the possibility of occasionally losing the trail in remote terrain, then by all means consider following this segment's main route through the Santa Teresa Wilderness. Otherwise you should consider following an easier, alternate route around the wilderness (the Buford Hill alternate) in order to complete this segment. (Those prepared to meet this wilderness area's challenges will be duly rewarded for their efforts, as veteran GET hikers will attest.)

Flowing surface water is sometimes in short supply in the modestly-sized Santa Teresas, though the community of Klondyke as well as nearby Fourmile Canyon Campground have water available year-round, and springs, rock pockets, stock ponds and troughs are encountered sporadically along the route. Most long-distance hikers will probably also want to send a resupply parcel to Klondyke, which is located directly along a suggested alternate route. Plan to budget about two and a half days of food between Klondyke and segment's end if going through the Wilderness (not including any down time in Klondyke environs).

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 6 - 11, Mammoth to Safford

East of AZ Hwy 77 the Grand Enchantment Trail heads into Sonoran desert foothills of the sky-island Galiuro Mountains, wherein lies the entrance to spectacular Aravaipa Canyon (BLM Wilderness). Sheer canyon walls rise a thousand feet above the lush, deciduous banks of perennial Aravaipa Creek, where we linger, wet feet and broad smiles, for some 12 unforgettable miles. Quiet dirt roads resume east of the canyon, leading within range of the remote outpost of Klondyke - another potential maildrop resupply location - before our route turns northeast to climb into the extreme rugged terrain of the Santa Teresa Wilderness (Coronado National Forest). Little-used trails provide supreme solitude as we navigate the adventurous granite-domed wonderland of Holdout Canyon, then over 7000-foot Cottonwood Mountain near well-named Pinnacle Ridge, and south to reach Klondyke Road. A fun yet challenging cross-country connection culminates at Tripp Canyon, where the GET soon rejoins foot trail to climb high into the forested Pinaleno Mountains (Coronado NF), passing serene Riggs Lake and the viewful fire tower atop 10,000-foot Webb Peak, where snow may linger well into spring. The desert heat seems as far away as the distant horizon atop this tallest of Arizona's Sky Island ranges, where broad panoramas reveal such distinguished neighbors as the Rincons, Huachucas, Chiricahuas, as well as the Mogollon Mountains in New Mexico farther along the GET. Leaving the high country by and by, we follow the magnificent craggy defile of forested Ash Creek Canyon on down toward the open desert nearly a vertical mile-and-a-half below, passing through an astonishing range of life zones in only a few miles of travel. Finally the route joins quiet greasewood-flanked dirt roads to reach the outskirts of bustling Safford, with most services available.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

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.

2013-08-12 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
    Santa Teresa Wilderness - GET #8
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Grand Enchantment Trail #7-9
    This was an epic trip and a great way to end 2014. It's one I have wanted to do for over a year and just waiting for someone crazy enough to take this on as a backpack trip, as GET #8 as a day trip was out of my league (left for guys like juanjaimeiii!). Super thankful to find friendofThundergod eager to take it on and help me get one of the most remote sections of the GET checked off the list.

    One of the first challenges was just finding someone to help us with the shuttle on this one. I originally had a friend who had committed to do the drop off at the beginning of GET 8 (east end of Aravaipa) whenever I was ready to go, but when the dates were finally picked, he was going to be out of town. Lee hadn't done GET 7 (Aravaipa Creek), and shuttle help for the west end of Aravaipa was going to be much easier to pull off, so we chose to make it GET 7-8-9 rather than just 8-9. Big shout out to friends Al & Kevin for making the 3-hour drive to Aravaipa to pick up my Jeep and drive it home, saving a bunch of extra drive time on trip out.

    Sat 27, GET #7-8 (~15mi/1100aeg, 5hr 48min)
    Started out about 4am, met up with Lee in Pima to set up a crazy shuttle on the NW end of the Pinalenos. Had a 45-minute detour due to an accident, but he left his vehicle at the end point and I drove us around to the west Aravaipa TH. About 7½ hours after starting the shuttle, we were finally set up and descending into Aravaipa to begin the adventure. Knowing that wet shoes are part of the game when doing Aravaipa (and that we were doing this in late December), I opted to bring a pair of water shoes for Aravaipa, which worked out great. Knowing we had a long ways to go, we opted to do Aravaipa without any exploration. We didn't see any wildlife except for one deer, but we were blazing through pretty quick, finishing all of Aravaipa in 5 hours on the dot. We finished about a half mile ahead of plan, past the old Salazar church, camping out the first night about a half mile or so into GET 8.

    Sun 28, GET #8 (~17mi/3300aeg, 9hr 24min)
    We woke up to some chilly temps as expected. In retrospect, the one thing I wish I had added to my pack was an extra liner for my sleeping bag. We were in the 20s the first 2 nights, but it was all right, it just gave us extra motivation to get our packs on early each day and take off. One other thing I wish I had done differently was carry less water on this day. Uncertain with water reliability, I carried 6 liters to get to the end of GET 8, which I didn't need to do and put my pack that day at over 50 lbs.

    The day started with a little dirt road action before we could hit the western edge of the Santa Teresas to get the blood flowing, and started our climb. Heading down Aravaipa Road at sunrise, we came upon over a dozen wild turkeys waking up from their roost; amazing watching these big birds make their way up and down off of high tree branches! Coming up on the Teresas, it was so cool to know that this beautiful range is one that very, very few Arizonans ever see. We made our way up and into the western end of the Teresas, ending the day at a beautiful, sandy spot in Fisher Canyon, just inside the northern border of the wilderness. We could have gone farther, but knowing we would have to hike another 8 miles before the next campsite possibility, we decided to burn the final hour of daylight and build up a good woodpile for the night.

    Mon 29, GET #8 (~16mi/4700aeg, 10hr 36min)
    If you are doing GET 8, there is something you should know — there are few trails. In fact, there is no trail or series of trails you can use to go from one end to the other; the only way to do so is to go from the west end to the north end, hike outside the wilderness for a while to the east and then drop back down, hiking south to the southeast end. Topo maps show a trail just outside the wilderness that once existed (they are marked on some topo maps as Black Rock and Cottonwood Mountain trails). Because of two ranchers in this area who I have been told have a particular dislike for visitors of any sort, you have to be really careful in this area. The Black Rock Trail goes onto one of the rancher's land now and cannot be hiked, and this rancher has let the Cottonwood Trail basically fade into nonexistence (as it is on his land now also). The only legal option is to hike a careful loop of about 8 miles out of the wilderness, around the boundaries of their properties, and back into the wilderness, doing some bushwhacking along the way. I actually attempted to find a way to contact these ranchers to ask permission for access beforehand, but was totally unsuccessful.

    We started off talking up a storm and soon realized we were following the trail that leads to the ranch (and trouble). Lee boldly decided, rather than to backtrack, to instead bushwhack up a mountainside and back down to a road I was familiar with. The bushwhack was doable and saved us some otherwise useless miles, but it did in looking back on our track put us on one of these rancher's land for almost a mile. It was marked as a forest service road but is apparently an FS road that he also owns (my sincere apologies to the rancher). If you do GET 8, I recommend following the standard route in respect of the ranchers.

    After getting this behind us, then the elevation was set to begin, with a climb to well over 7,200 feet near the peak of Cottonwood Mountain. We followed a pack trail up into the wilderness gate and headed toward Kane Spring, which is generally one of the few locations along the route with somewhat dependable water. We headed up the ridgeline, hitting consistent snow around 6,000 feet but thankfully not too deep (we were punching through only an inch or two). Nice views at the overlook on top, I spent some time myself soaking it in before jumping back into catching up with Lee (he was a man on a mission!). My plans were to get to a nice campsite in cottonwood & sycamore trees about 4 miles down the south side of the mountain (outside the Santa Teresa Wilderness), but we ended up pushing a mile beyond that since we had enough sunlight left, making it to a nice campsite right at the boundary of the Coronado National Forest.

    Tue 30, GET #8-9 (~14mi/2500aeg, 5hr 30min)
    This was the coldest morning of all, getting down into the 10s. My water bottles were literally next to me as I slept, and when I woke up they were frozen. I told Lee, I was especially eager to get up and going super early, and we started out before daylight. Once I got my soreness worked out, we were both hiking at a steady >4mph clip down trails and roads to finish GET #8 and start GET #9. Knowing how eager Lee was to cut the trip short, and my skinny self having had enough of a 40+ lb pack for 55 miles, I came up with a plan to drop the pack as we left Klondike Road. I knew there was a water cache site there for the GET and it would be easy for me to drive back and pick up with minimal time lost...and it would give me a chance to get my running legs on. :y: For those of you who know me, I find it hard to resist not jogging out the home stretch of any hike, particularly if it is downhill!! Plus, I knew GET #9 wasn't the most beautiful section, with a good amount of dirt road walking, so it wasn't a big deal to just bust out the last 8 miles and help a buddy get home a little earlier to his awesome doggies, which I had already met on a prior hike. :D

    I jogged part of it, pausing to keep Lee in sight. This guy is amazing with a pack though, and he was able to pass me when we reached the final stretch that has the elevation and cross-country bushwhack to it! :wlift: By the time we we lost all trail and had to bushwhack a trail for ourselves up and over the Dick Peak ridgeline, through thick catsclaw, holly, cactus and manzanita, he was nowhere to be seen. Once I reached the cattle tank at the top of the ridgeline, there was an old trail that descended into a 4WD road and back down to the car.

    My plan was to finish by 11:21am (when we started the first day), so that we would have a 3-day finish. I thought dropping my pack would ensure that for me, and Lee pretty much made it; but the final bushwhack added more time than I expected. No real trail and finding only 1 cairn and 1 piece of blue tape in a tree about halfway up, and I finished 26 minutes outside of my goal. It still was a great way to end this segment (the highlight of segment #9 for me), and is one of the things you have to be comfortable with on the GET — some parts are just cross-country and you have to feel comfortable blazing your own trail to a specific destination. Blisterfree (organizer of the GET) in most places like this has done a great job of blue-taping trees for added confidence — but you can't depend on that in every area. Total time on the trail: 31 hours 18 minutes, putting our average at 2 mph over the whole trip.

    I have to tell you — if you are looking for remote, GET 8 is the place to be. Actually, with the entire trip, we never encountered a single person (except a few in vehicles on Aravaipa & Klondike Roads). Normally when doing GET 8, water is going to be an issue. One of the plus sides to doing this when we did was that there were recent rains and snow melting off the higher peaks, giving us all the water we needed.

    Had a blast getting to know Lee better, lots of cool discussions about American & world history, religion, politics, and even his great taste I share in several alternative rock bands. Great stories from his service time in Afghanistan, & grateful for his service for all of us. : app :

    One final reason to :y: for this trip: getting segments 8 & 9 done puts juanjaimeiii & I both at having completed the first 13 segments of the Grand Enchantment Trail, from Apache Junction to Morenci!
    Santa Teresa Wilderness - GET #8
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    GET 7 through 9
    The Grand Enchantment Trail was never on my radar until azdesertfather suggested knocking out segments 7,8,9 over a three day trek. I thought it sounded cool and said sure. After all I had never did Aravaipa and had heard great things about the Santa Teresa's from the few that have hiked them. I had to leave the pups back on this one because of Aravaipa which was a bit of a bummer. However, I was excited to get to a new area and knock out some more mileage over my holiday break and I knew the kiddos would be in good hands at uncle Chumleys.

    Day 1: Section 7, Aravaipa Wilderness

    This day would be characterized by closed highways, a late start, wet boots and cold water. We knew we were going to get a late start on the first day, as we had to set up our shuttle. This meant a 330 departure time from Phoenix for me and a very early dog drop off at Chumleys. HAZ appreciation Chumleys way one more time for taking on my unruly children, I swear I am going to pay you one of these times ;) After the dog drop off, things were going perfect for our 0630 Pima link up. Then we hit a small snag an accident just outside of Superior on the 60 necessitated a scenic 0530 in the morning detour through Winkleman. Nevertheless, we only found ourselves about 45 minutes behind schedule by the time we reached Pima. We set up our shuttle and were stepping off at Araviapa just after 11:30. Aravaipa was simply amazing for me even with the extremely cold water and long stretches of sunless very cold canyon we had to wade through, if the water was not running it was frozen in these sections. Aravaipa was so scenic I am almost ashamed to say I spent less then five hours in the beautiful canyon, no worries though, it will be there next time and we had a mission to complete. Day one culminated with a very liberal interpretation of the Nature Conservatory's no camping policy.

    Day 2: GET 8, Santa Teresa Wilderness

    Day two started very cold, and I mean like Stalingrad winter of 43 cold! I have woke up to cold boots, wet boots and torn up boots, however courtesy of Ariviapa Creek this was the first time I woke up to frozen solid boots. I got a quick fire going and coaxed Dave out of his tent, but I could tell from the start he was feeling the effects of a very cold morning and uncomfortable night. I had listened to my go to guy for weather and bought an 11-20 degree liner for my 25 degree down bag, as I was told to be prepared for a deep freeze. I got my first real view of the Santa Teresas just after Reef Tank and all I will say is if you have not made it there, find away to get there. A stunning landscape of rocks, snow covered peaks, mixed in with some pine and several partially frozen cascades along the robust flowing inner drainages and creeks. I coaxed, prodded and annoyed Dave literally about as far as he could go on day two. We made camp, refueled and prepared for another night in the Arctic.

    Day 3: GET 8, Cottonwood Mountain

    The second morning was some how colder. The water I had brought up from creek for breakfast and hot drinks froze in the little less then 15 minutes it took me to get to ready to heat it. The first part of day three was spent finding a "creative" way to skirt the stretch of private land that breaks up the section 8 of the GET as you leave and reenter the Santa Teresa. From there it was up Cottonwood Mountain. The climb was not overly bad and other then a few faint spots the trail was great, cacti mingling with ponderosa and snow covered agave. Dave equally enjoyed this section, albeit it at a much more leisurely pace. We regrouped at the top and started making our way down. I will admit I still had small aspirations of pushing through head lamp marathon style, but it simply was not in the cards for Dave on this day. He did allow/tolerate me to push him until just after sunset, as I did not want anything to do with camping above 5000 feet with the temps we had been dealing with. I think we made it to exactly 5000 feet and actually enjoyed are nicest camp site of trip. Although, I may be using the word enjoy a little loosely, as night three proved to be hands down the coldest night of trip. We found our water freezing in mere minutes if taken away from the fire and even as we unpacked our gear ice formed on any object with the slightest amount of moisture left on it from the previous night's condensation. I slept relatively well, Dave had a bit of a restless cold night, but we survived and it did not take us much to get going the next morning.

    Day 4: GET 9

    Aravaipa and the Santa Teresa's were amazing, however, I would rate this segment somewhere between dull and stale. Although, the above mentioned are two tough acts to follow, it would have taken a lot for segement 9 to impress me. Dave was doing much better on the initial stretches of quad trails and forest roads, however, he knew he was not where he would normally be and certainly not where I was. He suggested leaving his gear at Klondike road and finishing the last 8 miles pack free. Initially, I was dreading the detour back to Klondike, but I knew it meant a lot for him to complete the segment and heck I only had a trip to Tuscon and Phoenix still left on my day, so what was a small detour at this point? ;) It would have made perfect sense for me to leave my gear as well, but I opted to carry mine out. Anyone who knows me, knows I have no problem leaving people in the wilderness, but never gear, too expensive to replace. It actually turned out to be a pretty good idea, Dave was like a new man once he shed that pack and was able to knock out the final 8 miles at a pretty good clip and arrived at the TH about 20 minutes after me. We both agreed had he carried pack, we would have been looking at a mid afternoon finish instead of our lunchtime finish. Dave found a nice shortcut via a decent forest road that got us back to his gear quicker then we had expected. I think the trip back to his gear mall only ended up costing us a little over a half hour. In the end a really good four day trek, rugged, a little challenging, great company, some tremendous areas, and generally good times. It was really nice to get back to that part of the state and I am already planning a return. I am grateful to have gotten the invite to help Dave knock out some coveted sections of the GET.

    Final Notes: Blisterfree writes superb descriptions, with spot on routes and directions, so some well deserved HAZ is appreciation his way, as he blazed this very rugged rewarding route.

    Trail humor: Apparently my very dry humor is equally as unappreciated among hiking partners as it is in the classroom. For example, Dave says, " I think this is the last trip for these shoes they are no good anymore" my response, "ya, but you can save the "souls" right?" Dave, "huh?" Me, "never mind."
    Santa Teresa Wilderness - GET #8
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Day 1- The Santa Teresa Wilderness is only 50 miles northeast of Tucson, as the crow flies, yet it can take 4 hours to drive there with many miles of dirt road. No trip in this area would be complete without an explanation of what the conditions were like getting to and from the Aravaipa East trailhead. I left my house in NW Tucson at 7:30 am. I drive a 1996 Ford Thunderbird with rear wheel drive, basically the worst type of car for off-asphalt pursuits. If my car can make it, any sedan-type car can. (but it's best to call and get recent road conditions) After driving along wildflower-strewn Highway 191 north, I met my hiking partner for this segment, Judy Eidson, at the turnoff for Aravaipa Road off of Highway 70, north of Safford at 10:30 am. Judy finished the Arizona Trail in 2008 and I knew she would be a good partner to help with navigation in this tough, rarely maintained 35-mile segment. Since we lost a half-day on each end of the trip from driving, we planned to take 5 days to complete this passage. I figured we would have a leisurely trip with plenty of time for exploring and relaxing in camp. Ha! We drove 18 miles along Aravaipa-Klondyke Road and dropped her Jeep off at our segment's end, at a road with a sign for the lazy JM ranch. We then continued on in my T-Bird, hoping to be able to make it through the crossings of Aravaipa Creek to the Aravaipa Canyon East Trailhead. We stopped to stash our backpacks and cache some water where the GET leaves Aravaipa Road, so that we wouldn't have to carry all the weight for the roadwalk up to this point. There were 5 crossings of Aravaipa Creek, thankfully all low enough to make it through in my car. 40 miles of dirt-road driving later, we finally reached the East TH at 1 pm.

    Now, we had to cross Aravaipa Creek 5 times, but we'd forgotten our water shoes back where we'd stashed our packs, so we took our shoes off for each crossing so that we wouldn't be stuck with wet boots. The roadwalking along Aravaipa Rd. went quickly, and was made much more enjoyable because of all of the wildflowers. There were tons of Cream Cups, lupine, chicory, and bladderwort on the hillsides. We passed a junkyard with interesting sculptures made out of car and motorcycle parts. We turned off onto FR94, and picked up our backpacks and filled our water from our cache for the following evening and the next day. The maps said that there was only a short walk in the wash before climbing onto a ridge that would take us to Reef Tank. We decided to make camp in the wash before climbing out, so that we would save the climb for the early morning hours. We had dinner, and went to bed fairly early.

    Judy was already asleep, and I was writing in my journal. I hadn't turned on my GPS, leaving the navigation up to Judy. When I got my GPS out to put a waypoint for our first camp, to my surprise (and I'm a little embarrased to admit), we weren't on the GET at all! We were on FR94, thankfully only about a half-mile away from where we needed to be, but shocking nonetheless. I had been told by Brett Tucker that this was one of the most navigationally challenging parts of the whole Grand Enchantment Trail. Which is why I had brought Judy along in the first place, to have another set of eyes to search for the trail. And here we were making a complete newbie blunder like not paying attention to the guidebook and making a mistake on a roadwalk. I had to laugh at ourselves.

    Day 2- As soon as I heard that Judy was up, I informed her of our mistake, and we both couldn't believe it. I figured it was a wake-up call for us to pay close attention to our guidebook. We went back and managed to get on the correct road, 50 feet east of FR 94, and began our climb up into the Santa Teresas. The foothills were covered in wildflowers- some of the lupine and poppies were so thick it made the hillsides change colors, and there were many Winding Mariposa Lilies. We reached the National Forest Boundary, and blew right past our turnoff onto singletrack. When we realized it, about a quarter of a mile later, we turned back around. I'm glad we initially missed the turnoff, because as we came back down the road, there was a beautiful Gila Monster. Gila Monster sightings are pretty rare, because they spend 95% of their time underground. And that's where this guy went after I'd shot a couple of pictures.

    We went back to the Forest Boundary and turned off the road onto the Reef Basin Trail, just north of a very faded wooden sign. We contoured into Laurel Canyon, and were pleased to see water running in the creek. The trail was in pretty good shape, and in confusing parts there was usually a piece of orange flagging tape (even if it was just a small nub) to show us the way. Brett Tucker, the person who pioneered the Grand Enchantment Trail, re-flags the trail while thru-hiking it most years. This flagging was probably from a year ago, and we were thankful for whatever shreds were left. There were fields of white, blooming Cliff Fendlerbush lining the trail in Laurel Canyon, and soon after, we made one last climb to reach Reef Tank. We took a nice, long break for lunch and birdwatching.

    I saw the weirdest thing- a bat flying in the middle of the day, swooping down to eat insects off the top of the water. Judy said that it was probably rabid. The next leg of our trip took Holdout Trail from Reef Tank to Holdout Canyon. The turnoff for Holdout Trail is only marked by a small cairn on the north side of the tank, not even a faded sign. Holdout Canyon is one of the places I had been dying to see- one of the reasons I got interested in the GET in the first place. The trail took us in and out of five drainages with some of the largest Manzanita and Alligator Junipers I have ever seen. Finally, we turned a corner and there it was:

    What a beautiful place! It was everything that I had hoped it would be, as well as much more vast than I had expected. We hiked toward Holdout Creek, and I found a perfect spot for camp, right before the trail dips to meet Holdout Creek. We had a great view of all the fantastic rock formations as well as Cottonwood Mountain, which we would be hiking on Day 4. I explored the rocks near our campsite, and found a perfect perch to watch the colors and shadows change as the sun set.

    Day 3- What a wonderful thing to wake up in Holdout Canyon! It is close to the new moon, so sleeping under the stars last night was spectacular. This morning, I went exploring around Holdout Canyon for a couple of hours, while Judy stayed in camp and journaled. I absolutely love this place and its fantastic rock formations, fragrant juniper trees, deep blue skies. I found a great rocky perch with a view and enjoyed some alone time. I am usually a solo hiker, and I don't think I've ever been on a five day trip with someone before. Judy and I met several years ago through her website Hiken Girls, which has journals from her Arizona Trail hike that she finished in 2008. We corresponded a bit before I started my Arizona Trail hike, and when I did the passage from Oracle to the Gila River, I found a note that she'd left for me sitting on a cairn in the middle of nowhere! Judy and I have never backpacked together before, but thankfully our hiking paces and styles seem to mesh well.

    On my way back to camp, I decided to institute Sirena's Cairn Rehabilitation and Beautification project (rebuilding fallen cairns or adding a small decorative rock on top). Judy and I packed up and got ourselves ready for what I had heard was the most overgrown and navigationally challenging part of this segment. I had brought leather gloves to attempt to protect my hands from scratches from the catclaw and other thorny plants- as a massage therapist it would be unsightly to go back to work with shredded hands. We were surprised to see that the rock formations in Holdout Canyon were so extensive- they went on for miles and miles. We maneuvered our way as the faint trail wove in and out of rocky outcrops on the north side of Holdout, searching for cairns, pieces of flagging tape, and stopping often to read and re-read the intricate notes in the guidebook. At times, the catclaw and live oak was so tall and thick it obscured the trail on the other side. I would hate to be caught out here in shorts and a t-shirt. Judy and I were enjoying the routefinding- each cairn and flag was a clue to solve the puzzle of how to get through to Black Rock Canyon.

    We finally saw Black Rock Canyon in the valley below, and the trail took us back to Holdout Canyon just before the confluence. I have never seen an area so thick with animal prints of every kind! Mountain lion, bobcat, coyote, ringtail, deer, all clearly visible in the damp sand of the drainage. From our camp to the confluence, we were moving at about a mile an hour, because of brush and routefinding. We were happy to reach the Black Rock Trail, which wasn't a trail at all, but instead followed in the bottom of the drainage, which had a nice flow running through it. We crossed a fence into the North Santa Teresa Wilderness and promptly came upon a group of cows and calves. At about 6pm, we passed a flat area with a good sitting rock and a juniper tree and decided to set up camp. Even though we didn't make as many miles as we had been expecting, it had been an exciting day with lots of challenges and the amazing scenery was well worth it. We both tried not to think of all the mountain lion prints we'd seen as we went to bed. What a day- this was some of the most interesting, challenging, and beautiful miles I've ever hiked. I look forward to coming back to this area to explore more in the future.

    Day 4- Judy and I got an early start and we continued following the twists and turns of the Black Rock drainage. Black Rock itself finally came into view. The scenery changed dramatically with dark brown and red rock formations Judy said, "Here comes a dog- it's a pitbull." Well, this beautiful brown and white dog was so excited to see us and was one of the most submissive dogs I've ever seen. He was a juvenile, all excited to have someone to play with, and flopped down, belly-up to show that he meant no harm. We missed our turnoff into Preacher Canyon, which resulted in a beautiful little detour into a small narrows of Black Rock Canyon. After we got back on track and started climbing up Preacher Canyon, we tried to tell the dog to go home several times, but he would just hide behind a bush and we'd see him a minute later, slinking up behind us. Finally, he got the hint and went back to where he'd come from. In Preacher Canyon, we followed a water pipeline trail and then had a stint of cross-country travel to attain a ridge. The whole hillside was filled with blooming fairy duster and Lilies. The view from the ridge was fantastic!

    Judy realized she had cell phone reception on the ridge so she called her mom and I called my husband, Brian. I carry a SPOT satellite messenger, so our families had been getting OK messages twice a day. SPOT OK's are no substitute for conversation, though, and I was glad to be able to talk to Brian and assure him that everything was going ok with our trip. For the rest of the day, we were headed uphill, toward our highpoint of the trip at 7250 ft. on the crest of Cottonwood Mountain.

    The tread was good on the way up to Kane Spring, which made the climbing easier. We stopped for a snack and water break, and realized that we probably weren't going to make it up to the highpoint to camp before dark. I had wanted to carry water up for a dry camp, but that would have to wait for another trip. Our next water source was 3.5 miles and almost a thousand feet higher on the mountain, and we had good tread and cairns until the gate at the saddle. Past that, there were quite a few newly downed trees and overgrowth in an area that had burned in the 1980s. I missed a switchback when we were getting close to our camp, which resulted in a scary-steep traverse on crumbly rock and a bushwhack straight up the hill to regain the trail. The last third of a mile to camp was exhausting. We finally heard water and found a flat spot to set up next to the trail. It had been a long, hot day with a tough climb and we were both beat.

    Day 5- Judy and I woke up and got out of camp as early as we could- we had 9 miles to hike to Judy's car, then about 60 miles of dusty dirt-road driving to get my car and get out of here, then another two hours to get home. Fortunately, it was going to be mostly downhill today, so we had some hope of not having to drive the long dirt roads in the dark. First, we had a short climb to our highpoint, with amazing views of where we'd spent the last five days.

    It was somewhat overcast, which made for great conditions, as the terrain became more and more exposed as we dropped in elevation. The trail down Cottonwood was in great shape, and was welcome after all the brush fighting we'd done over the past 4 days. There were fields of fragrant blooming Desert Ceanothus on the way down from Cottonwood Mountain. The trail reached Cottonwood Canyon and we made a wrong turn and followed a cow path for a short distance before realizing we were off track. I was pushing through some brush and thought I was all the way through, but I came up and got a branch to the face! Fortunately, it only scratched my nose and lip- I could have broken my nose or lost an eye. After we got back on trail, we reached a beautiful waterfall where we sat for our lunch break.

    After our break, we soon reached the boundary of the Santa Teresa Wilderness and FR 677, which we took to a 4wd track that continued in Cottonwood Canyon. There was water in the canyon, but it was very polluted by cattle- I was glad I filled up before the wilderness boundary. The two-track wound through boulder fields and crossed and recrossed the creek. We saw a lot of wildlife: deer, 2 zone-tailed hawks, numerous songbirds, and this hilariously fat horned lizard.

    We reached Judy's car at about 2:30 and drove over to my car at the Aravaipa East TH. I was very happy with my choice of hiking partners and I think Judy may have caught the Grand Enchantment Trail bug. Though we could see rain off in the distance, there was none in our area, which was good because I had to drive my T-Bird across Aravaipa Creek five times to get out of there. It was 38 miles of good, recently graded dirt road through the Sulphur Springs Valley to Bonita, where I finally turned onto blacktop again. Total miles hiked (including inadvertent scenic detours and some exploring) was only 40 miles in five days. I feel very lucky that I got to experience this remote, wild, and beautiful place.

    Here's a link to the full set of pictures from this trip: ... directlink

    Permit $$
    AZ State Land Recreational Permits are available for an individual ($15.00), or a family limited to two adults and children under the age of 18 ($20.00).

    Land Parcel Map

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

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness east trailhead. (NOTE: An Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness use permit must be obtained before arriving here if entering the Wilderness in GET Segment 7.)

    From I-10 at Willcox: Take Exit 340 north (left) toward Bonita along the Ft. Grant Road. At the "T" in Bonita, turn left and go 38 miles on the graded dirt road to the East trailhead.

    From US 70 at Safford: Take US 70 west past Pima and turn left on Klondyke Road (signed Aravaipa Road). On this graded dirt road, go 24 miles to the "Y" intersection, turn right and go another 16 miles to the trailhead, which is near the junction of Aravaipa and Bear canyons.

    NOTE: Several shallow crossings of Aravaipa Creek are normally encountered within the last few miles to the trailhead.
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