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Pinaleno Mountains - GET #10, AZ

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Guide 11 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
4 of 5 by 4
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 25.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,251 feet
Elevation Gain 4,757 feet
Accumulated Gain 6,460 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 days
Kokopelli Seeds 47.43
Interest Historic, Perennial Waterfall, Seasonal Creek, Perennial Creek & Peak
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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28  2017-08-27
Blue Jay Ridge Loop
9  2016-11-10
Ash Creek Trail #307
14  2015-12-10
West Peak C-50 Crash Site
12  2015-12-10
West Peak C-50 Crash Site
15  2014-10-16 JuanJaimeiii
9  2014-10-16 azdesertfather
14  2014-08-16 gummo
15  2011-07-19 gummo
Page 1,  2
Author blisterfree
author avatar Guides 24
Routes 37
Photos 5
Trips 0 map ( 0 miles )
Age 47 Male Gender
Location lithosphere
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Sep, Aug, May, Jul
Seasons   Spring
Sun  6:08am - 6:17pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

Likely In-Season!
GET Segment 10 overview

The Pinaleños are a range defined by their considerable prominence. Rising to a height of nearly 11,000 feet above the sea, they are by a respectable margin the tallest of the true Southwestern Sky Islands. The range culminates atop Mount Graham, with a vertical relief of nearly 8000 feet the most prominent peak in the state of Arizona. According to the Nature Conservancy, the Pinaleños traverse five ecological communities and "contain the highest diversity of habitats in the shortest vertical distance of any mountain range in North America." Prickly pear and agave are at home here, only a few trail miles below an old growth forest of spruce and fir, the southernmost such forest on the continent.

In this segment our route traverses a portion of this remarkable range, often nicknamed simply "the Grahams." Using a combination of foot trails and pleasant forest roads, the GET follows the main northwest-southeast trending ridgeline, passing near scenic Riggs Lake, climbing forested Webb Peak (10,030'), and passing within range of the historic summer cabins at Old Columbine, before descending sharply along the range's dramatic east face toward the Gila Valley. The route bypasses the summit of Mount Graham itself, as the trails there are presently off-limits for the purpose of protecting one of the mountain's rare fauna, the Mount Graham red squirrel, found only here. For nearly two decades the mountain and its endangered red squirrels have been the subject of unlikely controversy between wildlife conservationists and the astronomical community, since the Pinaleños are also now home to the Mt Graham International Observatory, and indeed the dark, clear skies atop the range make this among the world's premier locations for stargazing. Nature and science appear to be coexisting for now, however harmoniously; hikers will note the telescope housing atop one of Mt Graham's sub-peaks from several vantages along the route.

In June and July of 2004, the lightning-caused Nuttall Complex fire burned some 30,000 acres of forest and brush, mostly on the Pinaleños' steep east-facing slopes. This fire and attendant erosion have caused considerable damage to the trail network as well as the ecology on this part of the range. Thankfully, Ash Creek Trail, which the GET uses here, received major trail rehabilitation in 2009 and 2010, resulting in a much improved hiking experience. (Forested Ash Creek Canyon was largely spared the direct effects of the fire, but not the subsequent flooding.) Still, several small burn areas and sections of vague or overgrown tread create ongoing challenges elsewhere in this segment; in addition to this guide description and the topo map set, plan to pack along an adventurous attitude - the rugged scenery here will reward those who are willing to persevere.

Spring season snowpack potentially poses another challenge. Snow on the Pinaleños often lingers above 9000 feet well into April, or later following an especially wet winter. As such, hikers at that time of year can expect to encounter at least some snowpack between milepoints 9 and 21 in this segment, and may want to remain open to the idea of detouring to avoid some or all of it. The primary concerns are the labor of postholing through saturated spring snow and the challenge of following snowbound trail, although slope exposure may also be of concern near Clark Peak, largely avoidable with care. Refer to the route details in the GET guidebook for more specific info, as well as the Snow Travel chapter of the GET Trek Planner.

NOTE: Hikers intending to traverse this entire segment may prefer to make use of the FR 286 Alternate in the segment's early miles. This alternate route avoids Johns Canyon Ridge Trail 313, which in places can be very difficult to follow due to ill-defined and overgrown trail.

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 Pinaleño 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.

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2013-08-14 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
    Pinaleno Mountains - GET #10
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Definition: after a long time, typically involving difficulty or delay.

    After talking with Preston for years now about hiking Blue Jay, we finally got it done!
    Preston picked me up in Safford and together we took off up Tripp Canyon road to the Pinaleno's west side.
    With this mountain range being my backyard wonderland and love, I really don't know why I haven't been up this side in well over a decade. I was just blown away with the scenery on the drive up including Bear Springs Flat down low and the road's beauty going up high. There is so much along the way I never knew about.

    We arrived and parked at the Turkey Spring trailhead under the lush forest. We chose to do the loop counter clockwise which IMO is the way to do this one. Up the steep & rocky road we headed :next: side trip up to West Peak and the lookout tower at 8670 elev :next: back down and around the south side :next: then looped Blue Jay peak :next: back down to Turkey Spring on the north side.

    I loved every second & step of this hike!
    West Peak, the lookout tower, the views over to the east side range, Taylor Pass (next trip for sure), expansive views down to the north & east, Blue Jay Peak, the mossy green north side forest, ferns, ferns & ferns throughout, endless amounts of summer flowers & butterflies and a lot more that I would just end up rambling about.

    The drive back home down Tripp Canyon road was the cherry on top with an amazing sunset/storm scene back at Bear Springs that I won't soon forget.

    Blue Jay was well worth the wait, the long wait won't happen again. The eastern range will Always be my heart, but right now she needs time to recover ..... I shall return to West Peak and continue to explore all it has.

    I rarely use this word, but on this day with this good friend and on this trail ..... Epic!

    Moderate throughout - Substantial in places.
    Pinaleno Mountains - GET #10
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    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!
    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.
    Pinaleno Mountains - GET #10
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    This morning, we converged from two different counties and two different points on the compass to our rendezvous. From there, we began our long bumpy drive to our parking point below West Peak and were now all about the hike. Today’s hike would be a rather unique one to visit a decades old crash site of a tanker plane. The description tells its story, so I shan’t go into details about that.

    For lack of an actual, recorded track, Roy had come up with some sort of an extrapolation that landed us right where we wanted to be with minimal difficulty (Way to go Roy!!!).

    Once at the crash site, everyone seemed to be in their own world, connecting (or at least trying to) with each piece of debris which littered an enormous area. Everywhere you turned, there was more debris. Each time you turned, it was a new angle on what you’d already seen. The scene is very complex and will probably only make any sense to those lucky enough to revisit again and again.

    Before our return, we took lunch at the site, and whilst all participants were in one spot, Roy laid the history of this craft, and its final flight on us all. I can only speak for myself, but felt I had done an honor by sweating my way here to absorb the air where this father and son team gave their lives defying their greatest foe. In that sense, this is a monumental hike. Not a feather in the cap, not one off the list, not accepting the challenge. This is a visit to an actual monument to human spirit and is quite worth the long commute, rough road, sweat and blood-letting that is all part of this quest.
    Pinaleno Mountains - GET #10
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    As I start this, let me say that nothing IMO beats the Arizona Trail. I have tons of awesome memories from it for life. But if you want to do a long-distance trail that is truly RUGGED? More rugged than the AZT? Then get on the GET. So far I've done 11 segments of the GET, and 2 of them already have been more difficult than any segment of the AZT, solely factoring distance and elevation. That's not even considering the route finding and bushwhacking; most if not all of the segments (once the GET leaves the AZT in segment 5) have these challenges, since no one maintains the trails and they are so remote. This segment was by far no exception, with a number of miles of route finding and, in some places, fairly dense vegetation.

    A few other HAZ people working on the GET wanted to go but we couldn't get the dates nailed down, so JJ and I did it. As usual, we hiked in opposite directions. Anticipating this might be a doozy, I was able to find a marathon runner friend in town (Norm) to go out and do this one with me.

    Left the house at 3:30am, swapped Jeeps with JJ at 5:45 in Thatcher, and I was hiking a few minutes before 7am. There are a few places on this segment where the trail is almost gone, but by far the worst of it is in the first 12 miles. Slowed us down more than we anticipated. JJ was a monster machine, we ran into him just 10 miles into our trip. We finally reached Webb Peak at 4pm, and started the 8.5-mile descent.

    Other than underestimating the route finding, Norm and I did make one crucial oversight; he didn't have the GPS track on him and we didn't have walkie talkies or anything to communicate. He and I are opposites in that he is fast on climbing elevation but slow on the downs; I'm fast on the downhills but not on the uphills. Because he didn't have a track, 2-3 times he had to wait for me to catch up to him to let him know which direction to go for a total of about an hour wasted. If he hadn't had to wait for me, I could have caught up to him going down. Then, going down I waited for him, which put us both doing the last part of this segment in the dark, and became very slow. We didn't finish until a few minutes before 8:30pm and didn't get back home until midnight.

    Through this segment we saw a number of piles of bear scat, especially on the western side, and even fresh bear paw prints in the water around Ash Creek. JJ's right, the waterfalls and flows in Ash Creek were pretty awesome. We also saw tons of those balls that when you step on them, they put out green smoke. Do you know what I'm talking about? Everywhere! :)

    Thanks JJ for getting us going again; it's been too long. 11 segments, 32% of mileage completed (69% of Arizona).

    Aspen groves were gorgeous.
    Pinaleno Mountains - GET #10
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Ooooooooooo Boy, Ash Creek Trail under a heavy monsoon storm :o :scared: :y:

    Arrived at Columbine from Riggs Lake to find the entire mountain top now covered in a huge storm cell and starting to produce. Addie, Lauren & myself huddled inside the bathroom for about a half hour waiting for the rain to let up a bit, but it only grew stronger. After a brief talk, we decided that we were all "down" for this! we put on our ponchos and headed down the soaked Ash Creek Trail : rambo :

    The rain fell good as we made our way down to the boiler/Webb Peak Y and the trail all the way down to the mill site was flooding, looked like a small river in places. The storm then let up a bit as we toured the mill site then making our way down to the Bypass trail. There was a little concern about hiking the Slick Rock section in the rain, but we were there and just had to do it! The lower section is no longer maintained and was quite an overgrown bushwack down to Slick Rock, but a hell of a lot of fun. Then the monsoon gods decided we had had enough and turned off the rain the entire time between Slick Rock down to Ash Creek Falls. We first viewed the falls from above before off-trailing down to the lower full view and my God ..... the falls were flowing heavy and looked spectacular !!!

    We rested a bit before the climb back up agreeing to take the much more easy Bypass Trail out. As soon as we hit the Bypass, low flying clouds came up from the canyon and we were hiking in the clouds the entire route. It was Awesome!
    Back at the split, the rain came down again and never let up the entire climb back up to Columbine.

    Monsoon rain, lightning, trail flooding, heavy creek & falls flow, the rain soaked rich colors of the flora, canyon & skies, and all of it with my 2 wonderful friends =

    And one of the most memorable hikes of my life!

    Twas also a bittersweet end to my 2 day trip with the girls :(
    This was our last trip together as the self named "Roper Lake State Park Ranger Hiking Club".
    These last 3 months have produced in one combination or another 39 trips spent outside of work to just hang out on a mountain, in a canyon or across the flatland.
    Cherished friends, wonderful experiences & a deep hope that someday we will do it all over again.
    Thank you so much Addie & Lauren (I'll still see ya at work ;) )
    Pinaleno Mountains - GET #10
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Went to the Pinalenos to join a meetup group. I got there late and couldn't find the group, so I ventured out on my own. After cornering a skunk and trying to photograph it, I realized that my camera was not storing any images. After some investigating, I discovered that my memory card cracked and was unable to store photos. My camera doesn't store photos at all, so since it was late, I decided to do a morning hike and then to go Walmart to get another memory card.

    Since I had no camera, I wasn't looking for wildlife, but just scoping out areas to hit in the future. I ended up seeing a twin spotted rattler, deer, a pair of foxes, a bunch of skunks on the road, and a black bear at close range - all of which I could have photographed, with the exception of a few skunks and deer.

    After getting my memory card, I was only able to see a few more deer and a gopher snake and then took a bunch of flower pics. Pinaleno Mtns are awesome, and I should probably come here more often. At least I was able to scope out the area a bit, and now I have a plan to scope out some wildlife on my next visit.

    The lesson here is: bring an additional camera or memory card.

    Permit $$

    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
    Junction of FR 286 at FR 675 in Tripp Canyon, Coronado NF. From Safford, take US 70 west to Pima and turn left at sign for Tripp Canyon Road / FR 286. Reach an intersection with Patterson Mesa Rd within a half mile and turn left. FR 286 resumes at right within a quarter mile, marked by metal signs (brief easement through private land). A large swinging gate soon encountered should be left as it was found. Proceed southwest on dirt 2WD FR 286. In ~15 miles from Pima reach a junction with 4WD FR 351. Keep straight on FR 286, heading up Tripp Canyon. A dirt lot and car camping area is on the right at ~19 mi. from Pima, at a signed junction with FR 675. (A 4WD vehicle could also get here via Klondyke Rd by following the directions for Segment 9's starting point, but turning off at FR 351, taking this 4WD road to the junction with FR 286, and continuing as described above.)
    page created by HAZ_Hikebot on Aug 14 2013 9:24 pm
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