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Towel Creek Trail #67, AZ

no permit
3 11 2
Guide 11 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Camp Verde > Camp Verde
2.8 of 5 by 9
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Distance One Way 9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,100 feet
Elevation Gain -1,323 feet
Accumulated Gain 953 feet
Avg Time One Way 3.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 12.18
Interest Ruins & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
13  2016-03-05
Towel Creek Ruins - West Access
16  2014-04-29
Oxbow / Cold Water Loop
3  2012-02-04 toddak
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Apr, Feb
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:11am - 6:31pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Grazin' Beauty
by HAZ_Hikebot

This trail is unique among those on the Coconino National Forest. It leads through an area of picturesque buttes and low bluffy mountains that is quite different from that along any other trail on the forest. It is also one of the few trails on the Coconino that leads to the Verde River, a great place to camp out or cool your feet before starting back to the trailhead.

The main vegetation type in this rugged country is high chaparral. It consists mostly of manzanita, scrub oak, and cliffrose. There are hackberries here too, for which nearby Hackberry Mountain is named. Cottonwoods, sycamores and willows cluster near the few seeps and springs, while stands of pinyons and junipers cling to the higher elevations.

The Towel Creek area has been grazed since the latter half of the nineteenth century. Along the trail, you'll see evidence of its cattle growing past, present, and even its future. One thing you might notice is that the grass cover is comparatively healthy here in spite of its being grazed. That's the result of a progressive management program being used by the local rancher. The Towel Creek Trail is used to move cattle between seasonal ranges.

About 3 miles from the trailhead, a short side-hike leads to Towel Spring. 3.5 miles further along you'll see an old line shack which is still used by cowboys. From here it's two more miles to the Verde River and its cool waters.

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2008-07-27 HAZ_Hikebot

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
Towel Creek Trail #67
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Oxbow / Cold Water Loop
This was my first time in the Pine / Cedar Bench wilderness(s). The drive in was pretty easy. Dugas road was recently graded. There was one interesting sign stating that it is illegal to drive on the road when it’s wet. That’s one way to keep the road in good condition

My original plan was to a big loop with the Verde Rim trail. When I got to the parking spot and got out, the wind was so fierce that it closed my jeep road for me. The wind was bitter cold. I didn't want to spend the day fighting the wind. I went to a plan B, hike down Pine mountain to the Verde River.

I parked 2 miles from the Oxtail TH. The road starts to get rocky after this point. The wind was brutal along Dugas road. I had to wear a wool hat and gloves under I dropped under 4,500 feet!

The Oxtail trail

The trail starts right off of Dugas road by a tank. You enter a gate and take a hard turn to the left. The trail drops fast down to drainage. I lost the trail for a couple of minutes in the drainage. The trail was well cairned and very easy to follow. There was a cairn almost every 15 feet. Sometimes there were to many cairns. This is a very old trail and there’s been recent trail maintenance done to it. The views on the trail very great. I saw snow on Humphreys. My only gripes is the amount of rocks and drops off. There are a lot of rocks on the trail, sometimes it’s almost like scree. There are sections with drops. Sometimes you would get both. Scree rocks with drop-offs! This made for a very slow moving hike. The trail ended at the Brown Spring TH. I took the Towel trail to the Verde. The Towel trail is an old road that follows and crisscrosses the Towel creek. The Towel trail crosses the Verde and continues to Fossil Creek RD. This was an great place to explore, but I had a big climb ahead of me so I didn’t stay long.

Cold Water trail

The Cold Water trail is an old jeep road that doesn’t believe in switch backs! The trail has some great views of the Verde valley. After the Cedar Bench the road turns into trail. The cold water trail is also very easy to follow. There’s been recent maintenance done to this trail as well. Shortly after the Tule Rim intersection, the Cold Water trail takes a sharp turn to the right and climbs up to Dugas road. This was the monster climb of the day. The trail gained 1,000 feet (5,200 to 6,200) in a little more than a half mile. I felt like I should have had a climbing rope! Half way up, the wind started to blow. The Cold water trail ends about a quarter mile from the Verde Rim trail. Once on top, the wind died down.

I went a little down the Verde Rim trail just to see what I pasted up for the day. Once I got on the trail section, I was not impressed. It started out right as a cairn hunting exercise. I liked the Cedar Bench trails better.
It was a fun hike. The Cedar Bench wilderness is a cool area. The trails are cleaned up and the views are great. The cold wind was a bit much. I’ll return on a warmer day.

This was my first hike with HAZ tracks. It was cool to get hiking stats as you hike. The only down side is that the HAZ lady reminds me how slow I am at climbing :(
Towel Creek Trail #67
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I looked more closely at the topo map for this hike, and between that and the description in Bruce Grubb's book is where I got the overall mileage and AEG. Let me tell you, though, I think that with a detailed topo or GPS route you'd get a lot more AEG, because you just keep going up, and down, and up, and down, and up, and down...

Did as a backpack with some other strong hikers from the ABC. Awesome group to hike with. Makes me all warm and fuzzy that they let me in their little club :D . The writeup that we got from Dave made it sound like a walk in the park - or so we thought. I wouldn't rate it as easy, though, especially not with a pack on! Overall, though, I was more impressed with this hike than I think others have been in the past. The canyons and rock formations in this area are quite beautiful, and the expansive views from the saddles and highpoints are a real tribute to the value of the Verde wilderness. It has interesting cultural elements - though we didn't actually make it out to the ruins, so I've still got more exploring to do there. Saw very little real wildlife, though Lilo's first encounter with a Slow Elk was pretty entertaining.

We thought of stopping and making camp at the cowboy cabin, since our hiking day was short and there was plenty of still water in the stream just below the camp. However, the call of the river was too strong, and we pressed on, climbing over yet another low ridge. Past the cabin, the trail is much harder to follow, but the cairns are good and keep you on track. It feels like you're heading in the wrong direction at this point, but just trust in the cairns and you'll make it.

The end of the trail is a rocky stretch of shallow bank near what seems to be an old beaver dam. The water looks slow and deep here (good for swimming?), but there aren't as many trees and vegetation as one might hope for on a hot summer day. We found sufficient camping, and with a little creativity Andy and I were able to have some sweet hanging. Lilo is actually getting used to sleeping in the hammock, and with the very cold night, it was nice to have the extra body heat!

The hike out seemed harder than it should have, but still felt shorter than the way in. It's hard to keep your pace with all of the ankle turners. Made decent time getting out (about 4 1/2 hours) and headed into Camp Verde for some grub. Seems like most everything is closed on Sundays there (typical small town!). Although I loved the salsa and cabbage salad at Las Margaritas, my meal was a tad bland. I was hungry enough that it didn't matter!
Towel Creek Trail #67
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I didn't do the whole thing because the trail was hard to find, and it was getting late. The sign identifying the trail head (if you can call an unmarked gate in a fence a trail head) faced opposite of the direction that the FS tells you to access the trail, and there really wasn't much impressive to see. I might feel differently had I made it to the river, but never did, I don't think I ever will. I don't recommend this one. It will how ever, be free of hikers, so it does offer some solitude.
Towel Creek Trail #67
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I will be making this trip again this weekend.

Easily one of the hardest hikes due to conditions I've ever done. I knew it would be hot, and purposely got to the trail head at 7:00 am. I figured we'd get to the Verde by 11:00 am. The trail head is fairly well marked from the road if you are looking for it. The first couple miles are on a jeep trail through pretty country. Once you reach the second tank, the trail begins it's descent (I'm guessing about 1000 feet initially). At the bottom there was a small (but life saving) pool of water. Another 2 miles or so, and you should see the ruins on the north wall. These are fairly spectacular. They do require a bit of bush-wacking to get to. We continued down the trail with the Verde being the goal. After passing the old Cowboy line shack, you will cross the dry creek bed. At this point the trail became impossible to find. The quadrangle I was using didn't have the last 2 miles of the trail on it, and it was passing noon, and half our water gone, so we turned back. This is the dangerous part. My hiking companions Camelback had the hose come off at the base of the bladder and we lost all her water. This time of year it was already 110 degrees. Needless to say the hike out in that heat with half rations of water was eventful. I would highly recommend the hike as a challenging, and interesting experience. Can't wait to do it again when it's not as hot.
Towel Creek Trail #67
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Take 260 into Camp Verde. From Camp Verde follow 260 for about 7 miles to FR 708 on right. Follow FR 708 for about 8mis on gravel road until you see Needle Rock on the right. Go about 50 yards further until you see the Clearing on the left for parking and the ranch entrance on the right. The actual trail head is about 50-60 yards further on 708. There is a brown sign marking the trail head only visible from the opposite direction. Directly from the sign to the right is a yellow entrance gate. Enter the gate. Look for carins that will lead you to the actual trailhead marker. At marker make a left and follow the cattle trail. About 100yds you will enter another cattle gate. Continue to follow the cattle trail up a steep rocky path. Be careful! Follow cattle trail for about 2.5mis until you see the entrance to a grazing pasture. Go through the entrance. The trail is not highly visible here but continue straight along fence line and it will pick up again. You will have to cross another entrance near the cattle pond on your left. Then another on your right. This is where the trail will begin to follow the creek on the right. The trail is highly visible in some areas and almost non-visible in some. Look for carins to remain on the trail. Many are marked with small white reflector tape. Continue traveling on the trail for about 4.5 miles. Take full advantage of the many shaded resting places that cross the creek. There are many nice rocks to sit with many clear pools of water alongside. After following trail for about 4.5mis you will see the ruins high up on the opposite cliff. The trail becomes very vague as you get directly across from the ruins. Look hard for the carins that will lead you down and across the creek to the other side of the canyon where you can do an easy climb up to the ruins. At the ruins there are several tools and pieces of pottery laying about on stones. Becareful at the large cave ruin as it is home to several large cats. Wear sturdy climbing boots as the trail is steep and rocky perfect for ankle injuries especially on the way back when your muscles are tired. Take plenty of water and some high energy food. You will need it on the way back. I've seen this hike rated moderate. I rate it strenous simply for the distance and rugged up and down trail.

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
Location: 65 miles south and east of Flagstaff (14 miles east of Camp Verde) on paved and graveled Forest Roads.

Access: Drive 50 miles south of Flagstaff on Interstate 17 and take the Middle Verde exit. Drive east through Camp Verde on Forest Highway 9 and continue about 6 miles to FR 708. Turn southeast on FR 708 about 9 miles to the trailhead near Needle Rock.
$17 3L Hydration Bladder
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