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Gila Valley South - GET #11, AZ

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Guide 5 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
1.5 of 5 by 4
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 12.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,665 feet
Elevation Gain -1,744 feet
Accumulated Gain 197 feet
Avg Time One Way 1 day
Kokopelli Seeds 13.46
Interest Historic & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
15  2017-04-05
McInery Tunnel
12  2013-11-03 JuanJaimeiii
4  2013-06-15 azdesertfather
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   Mar, Nov, Apr, Feb
Seasons   Autumn
Sun  6:04am - 6:23pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
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GET Segment 11 overview


Our route descends the eastern foothills of the Pinaleño Mountains to join the broad Gila Valley on the outskirts of Safford. Last encountered in Segment 3, the Gila River here is truly a ribbon of life in this otherwise arid valley of greasewood and mesquite. Aided by a mild, Sonoran-Chihuahuan desert climate, the Gila's reliable flow permits the growing of cotton, the staple commodity of Safford's agricultural economy. You'll pass acres of the fluffy white stuff toward the end of this segment as well as in Segment 12; much of it is grown well away from the river thanks to an elaborate network of aqueducts. (The main GET route doesn't actually cross the Gila until the next segment.)

Hikers begin alongside the riparian canyon of lower Ash Creek (via FR 307, the vehicle approach to the trailhead), then strike off on an adventurous cross-country shortcut toward Mud Springs Knoll, an intriguing landmark where the foothills of Mount Graham meet the open desert. Dry plains and low mesas, dotted with creosote bush and uninhabited, now serve us our companions for several miles of dirt road walking toward the rural outskirts of Thatcher and Safford, Joining 8th Street, our route then heads right on through the bustle of town, a natural stopover for hikers, with numerous services located nearby along US 70, about a quarter mile away. Don't be surprised if you're greeted with the occasional smile and wave from passing motorists; Safford's townfolk are accustomed to seeing self-propelled travelers about, thanks to the Southern Tier bicycle route that comes through town.

Water is available only near the start and end of this segment, at Ash Creek as well as (small, fragile) Mud Spring, and in Thatcher / Safford, respectively. Quiet camping opportunities present themselves here and there in the first half of this terrain, particularly around Mud Springs Knoll.

As a noteworthy aside, a bit north of the GET near the start of this segment lies Cluff Ranch wildlife area. Those approaching this segment by vehicle (as well as mountain bikers and equestrians disinterested in this segment's brief cross-country travel and game for improvising a longer way into Safford) pass by Cluff Ranch along Ash Creek Road, a couple of miles north of the GET route. Administered by the Arizona Department of Game & Fish, the wildlife area supports a variety of upland bird and small game species, as well as a healthy population of white-tailed deer. Scattered small ponds in the area, fed by Ash Creek, attract migratory waterfowl. Fishing is permitted here, as is seasonal hunting, while the surrounding groves of cottonwoods and willows are inviting to all. Developed water is available, as is a short network of trails that wind through the property.

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.

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

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
    Gila Valley South - GET #11
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    Recruited my adventure bud Addie for this one to help scout out and complete a loop idea I've wanted to do for years with the main attraction being the McInery Tunnel. Day of the hike we had 5 early morning family/friend add-ons bringing my hiking tribe up to 7!

    First some brief history - In 1900, Thomas McInery began to acquire land south of Pima to sell shares in a scheme to find both gold and enough water to irrigate all of the Gila Valley. He promoted this tunnel (also called the Mammouth Tunnel and Triumph Tunnel) in a fraudulent money-making scheme before abandoning the project and leaving town. The 250-foot start still remains, dug ten feet high and eight feet wide into solid rock and accessible to exploration.

    We started from Cluff Ranch Pond #3 :next: Off-trailed across the mesa tops and down to FR 681 :next: 681 up to the McInery Tunnel :next: Found an excellent (unknown) cairned trail that led up and over to Lower Ash Creek :next: GET #11 (Lower Ash Creek Rd) back to Cluff Ranch :next: Pond #3 loop back to the start.

    Cluff Ranch looks great right now. Pond #3 is full, leaves are in, wildflowers are in and the whole area is just very scenic.
    McInery Tunnel - The main attraction of the hike. The rocky road across the flowering desert and up to the tunnel was fun. At the tunnel we all first explored the tunnel 250 feet in to it's end. I'm am NOT GOOD going into dark unknown holes, but having the gang with me made it ..... doable. Addie once worked at Kartchner Caverns and gave me a brief tour inside pointing out the white cave crickets and explaining to me the water formations that are starting within the tunnel. Outside the entrance was spent with photo ops and lunch before moving on.
    Ash Creek - Found a good unknown trail that led us up and over a ridge and down to Ash Creek and what a beautiful & shaded section it led to!!! All but 1 managed to cross this tricky section of good flowing creek dry and up onto Lower Ash Creek Rd/GET #11 trail. Along the way back was another break by the cold flowing creek, then a little off-trail to a nice prehistoric ruin I wanted to show & then took the Pond #3 trail back around the lake to the start completing my envisioned loop.

    I love it when a plan works out, everyone in the group was great, the weather was perfect, the creek was perfect, the scenery was perfect ..... just a good ole' time with friends in the Pinaleno foothills!

    McInery Tunnel
    Good read for the history buffs -
    arizonascenicroads. ... html
    Gila Valley South - GET #11
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrating optionrated 1
    worked all night and barely slept, so thankfully this hike was a breeze. a super hot roasting breeze :lol:

    this segment gets the through hiker to safford so it's not the most elegant one around, but hey, i was thrilled to be back out working on the GET.
    Gila Valley South - GET #11
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrating optionrated 1
    OK, so this isn't a destination hike. Not one you put on your wish list to do. But if you are doing the GET, it's a means to an end! Nick and I didn't have a full day, so we decided to knock this shorter segment off today even though he hasn't done segments 5-10 and I'm still missing 8-10.

    Very glad to see the road was in much better shape that has been reported in years past. Need high clearance to make it to Ash Creek TH, but I never had to put in in 4WD.

    The whole segment was road. It starts out from the west at the base of the Pinalenos and is a little wooded, but you quickly drop and it's just a big, wide, dusty dirt road with trucks zooming up and down it. You then make it to railroad track, and follow next to it into to town, with the tracks on one side and paved road on the other. By the way, if you are through-hiking this one, it's nice in that you hike right past Wal-Mart. ;)

    Today was hot. By the time we were done just after 1pm, it was already 103 degrees. Nick and I kept it in 4th gear the whole time, to try to bust this one out as quick as possible. As we drove back up to pick up the vehicle at Ash Creek TH, we could see the dark clouds building over the mountain, and by the time we were on 191 heading out of town the rains had started!

    Definitely looking forward to getting segment 10 done, over the Pinalenos!

    Thanks Nick, one more done! Good times :D
    Gila Valley South - GET #11
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Only got a couple miles of this GET section completed before the pumpkin wind (terrible gusts) forced me back down Berry Patch/#307 Rd. Off-trailed down to Pond 3 at Cluff Ranch and completed the loop then hiked down to the ranch entrance and completed the Bat Barn loop. Saw a few poppies along the way and had a cool encounter with a sounder of javelina (6) by the bat barn. A quick hike up the very short scenic overlook trail ended the trip. Cluff Ranch is always a good time, but the wind really sucked a lot of the fun out of it today!

    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
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    FR 307 at Ash Creek Trailhead. From Safford, follow US 70 west to Pima, then take Main St south to its end. Turn right on Cottonwood Rd, then left on dirt 2WD Cluff Ranch Rd. Reach Cluff Ranch wildlife management area in 4 mi, where 2WD vehicles should park (~5 mi before the actual Beginning Access Point for this segment). Suitable high-clearance vehicles such as Jeeps may continue on Cluff Ranch Rd. Keep left at the fork by main entrance to Cluff Ranch, then turn left at a 3-way junction onto signed Berry Patch Rd. Stay on the main road, which becomes Ash Creek Rd (FR 307) and follows an old water pipeline. The rough rocky road, which crosses Ash Creek three times, ends in ~4 mi from Berry Patch Rd jct, at a turnout nearby the trailhead, which is signed with a metal post. (The final 1.8 mi of this approach is concurrent with the route of the GET in Segment 11.)
    page created by HAZ_Hikebot on Aug 14 2013 9:53 pm
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