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Gila Valley North - GET #12, AZ

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11 6 1
Guide 6 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
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3 of 5 by 3
 
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 21.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,923 feet
Elevation Gain 2,216 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,515 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 30.28
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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11  2013-07-08 SkyIslander18
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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Preferred   Nov, Mar, Feb, Jan
Seasons   Autumn
Sun  6:04am - 6:22pm
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GET Segment 12 overview

The Grand Enchantment Trail rejoins cotton-spangled farmland once more as it departs Safford environs, then ascends gradually out of the Gila Valley and into the Gila Mountains on our tour of this segment. The Gila Mountains of Arizona are of course not to be confused with the Gila National Forest in New Mexico, farther ahead on our route. This comparatively low-elevation mountain range is fault-block in origin, a colorful, rock-studded upheaval that delineates the broad Gila Valley for many miles on its north.


The geology changes markedly as we enter this high-desert range. Gone from the surface environment are the sturdy granites, gneisses, and schists that form the heart and character of the Pinaleños, Santa Teresas, and other sky island ranges, replaced instead by the cobbly sedimentary and volcanic rock of the Gila Conglomerate. As is common throughout southeastern Arizona, the mineral copper is abundant in this area, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by mining interests over the years. In 2005, the Phelps-Dodge Corporation (now Freeport-McMoRan) secured plans to develop a pair of open pit mines in the Gila Mountains west of our route and only a few miles north of Safford, a boon to the rural economy here, if in some ways a transformation of the town's very soul. And so our route looks on from afar, offering vantages from this range of the distant past, the heady present, and an uncertain future.

In essence, this segment is a lead-in to the historic Old Safford-Morenci Trail which we explore in Segment 13. Along with Segment 14, these three segments - collectively the G.E.T.'s "mining miles" - make for a good 3-5 day section hike physically linking the Safford area with Morenci and the historic mining town of Clfton. Segment 12 here offers the fewest water sources of the three. Be sure to carry an adequate supply out of Safford, and consider detouring to the community of Solomon - 5 miles into the segment and about a half mile off-route - as all of the potential sources in this segment are either rancher-dependent or otherwise unreliable. (The Gila River may be fine for "camp water," but would not be suitable for drinking due to agricultural use of the valley.) Overall, the hiking route in this segment, a mish-mash of developed roads, jeep tracks, and drainages, is quiet and sufficiently remote-feeling, and becomes ever more so as you make tracks into the desert hills beyond town.

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

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

GET Segments 12 - 14, Safford to Morenci & Clifton

The Old Safford-Morenci Trail follows a former trade route between the two towns from which it finds its name. The GET follows quiet, viewful dirt roads and washes north of Safford to join this BLM-administered historic trail in the high desert Gila Mountains of Arizona, where developed singletrack trail, old roads, and cairned drainage courses make for interesting, remote, and highly varied trekking. Colorful box canyons lead into and out of the secluded riparian corridor of Bonita Creek about half way along, and beyond the route climbs to Bellmeyer Saddle, a scenic grassy expanse at 6000 feet in elevation. Descending to Eagle Creek in its rugged, winding gorge - prime bighorn sheep country - an alternate route soon climbs away, while the main GET turns north, following Eagle Creek's canyon upstream, with numerous (though generally mild) fords. White-nosed coati are often seen cavorting among sycamores and cottonwoods in the creekside riparian forest. At length the Painted Bluff Trail leads us east away from the river, along the way offering glimpses of ancient petroglyphs in a high-desert mountain landscape rich with solitude. Views at last open toward the vast open-pit of the Morenci copper mine as our route descends to cross the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway, a famously serpentine paved auto route with potential opportunities for a ride into Morenci village. Historic Clifton, another resupply option, lies several miles farther downhill, a virtual living history museum to the region's early mining days.


Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2013-08-25 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 North - GET #12
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Started hiking from the top of Soloman Pass.
    Took the road down/up north just a couple of miles towards Gila Box.
    Great scenery as always with many nice cactus blooms along the way.
    Then drove out to the CCC Camp and looped the ruins.
    Very cool place to visit, have always been fascinated with the CCC history.
    Stormy lookin clouds overhead most of the trip with cool temps.
    Good day out & around the pass!

    Wildflowers
    Lots of nice cactus blooms and others.
    Gila Valley North - GET #12
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    After reading & hearing a couple tales yesterday of bighorn sheep on Solomon Pass road, decided to spend my afternoon today out "sheeping" along the pass.
    On the drive out, I got a call from a co-worker at Roper Lake SP telling me that a bald eagle was at the park (very rare) :o Oh man ..... I had to pull over and think about my direction ](*,)
    Decided to stay the original course and head up and look for bighorns.
    Parked at the lower corrals and took the GET #12 trail up to the pass, then went over just a short distance into (friendofThundergod's new playground) Gila Box. Turned around at the first cattle tank and took Solomon Pass road back down with a short side trip to a couple of mines.
    Never saw or heard a bighorn, but what I did see on this warm February day was a couple hundred poppies. I like wildflowers, but just not this early in the season, too soon for me!
    Punxsutawney Phil is full of :pk:
    Gila Valley North - GET #12
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Inspired by the recent triplogs on the GET #12, I decided to get it done this evening before I headed out on my nightly storm chase. But, not the whole 22 miles in July (that's just plain crazy!) I have drove up through Solomon Pass half a dozen times on my travels to Gila Box and thought today it would be cool to hike it up from the corrals and back down on the actual Gila Valley North trail forming a short loop, and that's what I did.
    I've always loved the look of the Solomon Pass hills and with nice storm clouds overhead, it made for some very cool photography up, down & out across the valley below! I now have 1.5 miles logged on the GET, only 728.5 left to complete :y:

    fricknaley - I saw that you came across a very old scaredy, I found your calling card in the middle of the trail! :-k :lol:
    Gila Valley North - GET #12
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    wasn't sure what to expect of this one, but ended up being a really solid segment. yay :)

    walking through the fields made me feel like i was back in indiana. once in tidwell wash i almost immediately stepped on a rattlesnake..i see you buddy, it's cool. everyone just be cool :lol:

    the hike up soloman pass in the heat was a buttkicker but was cool, and everything afterwards was really neat with some exceptional views out towards the end.

    Very hot day, but very enjoyable.

    this completes 6 of 39 segments.
    Gila Valley North - GET #12
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Up at 2:30am, picked up Nick at 3am & headed to Safford to get on the GET again. Left my Jeep for JJ to pick up at the western TH, then we started hiking out of Safford at 5:20am, with temps around 80 and 65% humidity :sweat:

    The first part of this segment cuts down a paved road to some cotton fields, and then the segment follows the northern edge of the fields between the fields and the river for a few miles. Eventually you hit paved road again and cross the Gila River. More paved road for a little ways, then we jumped off the road and into Tidwell Wash. Nick got his morning surprise right off the bat when he nearly stepped on a juvenile diamondback rattler (no, that is NOT a stick!). Black and white stripes on the tail. A little farther up the wash I saw 3 mule deer bounding through, nice sized. We make our way back onto dirt road and turn onto another dirt road that's a service road for power lines...it eventually took us past a power substation, then another connecting dirt road dumped us out on Solomon Pass Road.

    As we start heading up Solomon Pass Road, we missed the shortcut off the road that takes maybe a half mile off the hike and gets you off the road a bit. In this half mile we missed JJ, who actually DID follow it! After huffing all the way up the road, we eventually see where the turnoff connected back into Solomon Pass Road, at Solomon Pass. Was nice to stop and take a breather there, but the heat was intensifying so couldn't stay long!

    Worked our way further down the road until we hit Bear Spring Canyon and its wash, then headed up that wash for several miles. Eventually it tops out around 5100 feet and drops down the final mile to the TH, which is also the western TH for the Safford-Morenci Trail (and the start of GET #13!). We made it back to the Jeep around 12:40pm.

    Nick and I made our way back down the mountain to Safford for fuel and Arby's, and the trip back home. Amazingly, we never hit any rain, on the hike or the drive...thanks in part no doubt to finishing fairly early.

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    US 70 at 8th St & Hollywood Rd:
    The GET crosses US 70 here, a half mile east of downtown Safford. Free, long-term parking may be available in town; inquire at the Chamber of Commerce office on US 70 between 8th Ave and 14th Ave (with a large parking lot nearby), or at the USFS/BLM office on 14th Ave at 8th St.

    Alternative access - Sanchez Rd at Gila River bridge:
    Section hikers with vehicle support can bypass the first 5 miles of this segment, which follow pavement and dirt agricultural roads out of town. From US 70 at 8th St & Hollywood Rd in Safford, follow US 70 east 4.3 mi. to Solomon, turn left (north) on Sanchez Rd, and continue 0.8 mi. to the bridge over the Gila River. A dirt turnout is on the left just beyond the overpass.
    page created by HAZ_Hikebot on Aug 25 2013 6:44 pm
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