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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.
Deer Creek Trail #45, AZDeer Creek Trail #45, AZDeer Creek Trail #45, AZ
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684 104 5
2016
This trail has received a lot of maintenance since the Willow Fire in 2004. It's still difficult to follow in areas. Avid hikers will like it, casual hiker will probably turn around.

Hike
Deer Creek Trail (#45) reminded me of both the Barnhardt trail (a few miles north) and Secret Mountain trail in Sedona. Barnhardt (BH) has well paced and fairly uniform elevation gain (at least for my tastes) and provides an excellent sampling of all the Arizona terra zones (high desert scrub up to pines). Deer Creek (DC) starts similarly but has a much more modest elevation gain (at least for the first 4 miles or so.all the time I had that day). DC does have, however, high desert, nice sections of riparian growth (cottonwood and sycamore trees, river grasses, ivy), a gurgling creek, grave site (!), and working windmill powered water pump. I thought it was worth doing at least once.


If I had to choose only one, I'd go with BH, but I decided to check out DC since I've already done BH a few times and DC is closer to the valley. The trailhead is literally a stone's throw from highway 87. The turnoff to the trailhead is well marked from SR 87, right at the highway 87/188 juncture (where the rest stop is.rougly highway marker 235.5). Coming from the valley, this is a big plus in travel time and wear/tear to your wheels compared to BH, which has a 5.5 mile rutted, washboardy dirt (sometimes muddy) road you must take to get to the trailhead. Probably saved an hour round trip. It's a minus if highway noise bothers you (I only noticed the first 1/2 mile or so).

I hiked on May 27, 2001 (Memorial weekend), and it wasn't a cool day by any means. Luckily there are sections of shade throughout (some pretty dense), and the trail more or less runs along the north side of a ridge/canyon, so going in you've got ridge/shrub/trees rising to your left, creek to your right. I'd guess that in March/April the sun is low enough in the sky that you're mostly in the shade once you're in the creek area. No other humans in sight on this trail.half dozen cottontails, a harmless water snake, and probably 1,000+ lizards. No deer!

Like BH, it's got that funky mix of desert cactus type veg, mixed with high desert scrub, and oddly colored rock.deep purple, red, green, blue, etc. Prickly pear cactus was in bloom, as were a few blooms of some orange wildflower looking stuff near the creek. You're introduced to the creek after about 3/4 of a mile. Around this area, reach into your pack and pull out any horses you brought (ha ha) to give them a drink from the windmill powered water pump that trickles water into a metal trough.

From there the trail alternates back and forth from being creekside, to only being within earshot/view; brief sections of up/down over natural land contours. At the approx 1.5 to 2 mile mark you'll find a single grave site.'David O. Cowan, 1843-1926'. At the approx 3 1/4 miles you 'officially' enter the Mazatzal Wilderness (a forestry sign tips you off). At this point you're heading back creekside, actually crossing it several times (I think the full hike involves about 20 creek crossings after this point). Water level was maybe ankle high.no big deal. The terrain was really just getting interesting about this point, but had to turn back. Eventually it climbs into pine country. It's 8.8 miles one way to FR201 and numerous connecting trails.

It would be worth returning after a good rain when everything is wet and it's overcast.good photo opportunities. On my particular trip there was only some high diffuse clouds, so most pics ended up washed out.
Description 104 Triplogs  5 Topics
RatedFavorite   Wish List 15 Region
Rated
3.3
3.3 of 5 by 29
 
0
0
 Payson W
Statistics
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 8.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,404 feet
Elevation Gain 2,318 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,586 feet
Avg Time One Way 4-5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 17.22
Interest Seasonal Creek
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Descriptions 12,203
Routes 9,623
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 0 miles )
Age 21 Male Gender
Location Hike, AZ .com
Photos
feature photo
Viewed All Mine Following
8  2018-02-22
South Fork - Gold Ridge Loop
DixieFlyer
8  2018-02-04
South Fork Trail #46
KBKB
1  2017-10-13 friendofThunderg
21  2017-10-01 KBKB
7  2017-09-23 kingsnake
30  2017-05-20
Deer Creek Loop
jacobemerick
9  2016-11-23 hikingaz2
8  2016-10-23 arizonanova
5  2016-05-22 mazatzal
7  2016-05-17 The_N
9  2016-04-17
Deer Creek - Gold Ridge Loop
The_N
8  2016-04-11 MountainMatt
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Forest Tonto
Wilderness Mazatzal
Backpack   Yes & Connecting
Preferred   Mar, Apr, Oct, Nov → 8 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  5:43am - 7:05pm
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Official Route
 
Alternative Routes
 
Water
Nearby Area Water
South Fork Trail #46
0.0 mi away
5.6 mi
2,808 ft
Gold Ridge Trail #47
0.2 mi away
5.5 mi
2,820 ft
South Fork - Gold Ridge Loop
0.2 mi away
13.1 mi
2,920 ft
Jake's Corner Ruin
3.5 mi away
1.0 mi
270 ft
Del Shay Trail #41
4.2 mi away
6.4 mi
2,817 ft
Shake Tree Canyon
4.2 mi away
5.0 mi
3,000 ft
[ View More! ]
Fauna
Black-tailed Rattlesnake
Canyon Tree Frog
Coues White-tailed Deer
Desert Cottontail
Giant Centipede
Green Lynx Spider
Leaf-footed Bug
Oak Apple Gall Wasp
Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly
Red-spotted Purple Butterfly
Red-tailed Hawk
Regal Horned Lizard
Unidentified Fauna
Variegated Fritillary Butterfly
Velvet Ant
Western short-horned walking stick
Western Tanager
Woolly Bear Caterpillar Moth
Flora
Arizona Blue Eyes
Arizona Grape
Arizona Sycamore
Banana Yucca
Butterfly Weed
Desert Senna
Hollyleaf Buckthorn
Salt Cedar
Shrub live oak
Wild Bergamot
Geology
Glance Conglomerate
Meteorology
Autumn - Color Foliage
Clear Ice
Moon
Rainbow
Sunrise
Named place
Bars Canyon
David D. Gowan
Deer Creek / Canyon - Mazatzal Wilderness
Mazatzal Wilderness
Mount Catherine 7358ft - Mazatzal
Mount Peeley
Peak 7532 - Mazatzal Wilderness
Peak 7579 - Mazatzal Wilderness
Saddle Mountain 6,535
Sheep Mountain Peak 6996
Culture
Bushwhack
Cairn
Grave - Identified
Graveyard
HAZ - Selfie
HAZ - SOTA ( Summits on the Air )
HAZ Gear
johnr1
Memorial
Old Glory
Spring Box
Summit Register Log
Windmill
Enter Mazatzal
by HAZ_Hikebot

Likely In-Season!
2016
This trail has received a lot of maintenance since the Willow Fire in 2004. It's still difficult to follow in areas. Avid hikers will like it, casual hiker will probably turn around.

Hike
Deer Creek Trail (#45) reminded me of both the Barnhardt trail (a few miles north) and Secret Mountain trail in Sedona. Barnhardt (BH) has well paced and fairly uniform elevation gain (at least for my tastes) and provides an excellent sampling of all the Arizona terra zones (high desert scrub up to pines). Deer Creek (DC) starts similarly but has a much more modest elevation gain (at least for the first 4 miles or so.all the time I had that day). DC does have, however, high desert, nice sections of riparian growth (cottonwood and sycamore trees, river grasses, ivy), a gurgling creek, grave site (!), and working windmill powered water pump. I thought it was worth doing at least once.


If I had to choose only one, I'd go with BH, but I decided to check out DC since I've already done BH a few times and DC is closer to the valley. The trailhead is literally a stone's throw from highway 87. The turnoff to the trailhead is well marked from SR 87, right at the highway 87/188 juncture (where the rest stop is.rougly highway marker 235.5). Coming from the valley, this is a big plus in travel time and wear/tear to your wheels compared to BH, which has a 5.5 mile rutted, washboardy dirt (sometimes muddy) road you must take to get to the trailhead. Probably saved an hour round trip. It's a minus if highway noise bothers you (I only noticed the first 1/2 mile or so).

I hiked on May 27, 2001 (Memorial weekend), and it wasn't a cool day by any means. Luckily there are sections of shade throughout (some pretty dense), and the trail more or less runs along the north side of a ridge/canyon, so going in you've got ridge/shrub/trees rising to your left, creek to your right. I'd guess that in March/April the sun is low enough in the sky that you're mostly in the shade once you're in the creek area. No other humans in sight on this trail.half dozen cottontails, a harmless water snake, and probably 1,000+ lizards. No deer!

Like BH, it's got that funky mix of desert cactus type veg, mixed with high desert scrub, and oddly colored rock.deep purple, red, green, blue, etc. Prickly pear cactus was in bloom, as were a few blooms of some orange wildflower looking stuff near the creek. You're introduced to the creek after about 3/4 of a mile. Around this area, reach into your pack and pull out any horses you brought (ha ha) to give them a drink from the windmill powered water pump that trickles water into a metal trough.

From there the trail alternates back and forth from being creekside, to only being within earshot/view; brief sections of up/down over natural land contours. At the approx 1.5 to 2 mile mark you'll find a single grave site.'David O. Cowan, 1843-1926'. At the approx 3 1/4 miles you 'officially' enter the Mazatzal Wilderness (a forestry sign tips you off). At this point you're heading back creekside, actually crossing it several times (I think the full hike involves about 20 creek crossings after this point). Water level was maybe ankle high.no big deal. The terrain was really just getting interesting about this point, but had to turn back. Eventually it climbs into pine country. It's 8.8 miles one way to FR201 and numerous connecting trails.

It would be worth returning after a good rain when everything is wet and it's overcast.good photo opportunities. On my particular trip there was only some high diffuse clouds, so most pics ended up washed out.

-

    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.

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
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    Road
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    The trailhead is literally a stone's throw from highway 87 (no dirt, any vehicle). The turnoff to the trailhead is well marked from SR 87. Turn left across the other lane at the highway 87/188 junction where the rest stop facility is (roughly Hwy marker 235.5).

    From the corner of SR87 & SR260 in Payson go south on SR87 for ??? miles to the signed turnoff for Deer Creek trailhead.
    From Phoenix take SR87 north out of Mesa to Payson. The turnoff to the trailhead is right near the 87/188 intersection, to the west.
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