register help

Turkey Creek Trail #34, AZ

241 31 0
Guide 31 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson
3.5 of 5 by 10
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 4 of 5
Distance One Way 4.82 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,626 feet
Elevation Gain 2,661 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,839 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 14.28
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
35  2019-04-05
Rincon Backpack
22  2019-04-02
Turkey Creek & Misc Trails
9  2017-05-12 gunungapi
15  2016-09-19
Manning Camp via the Tub to Turkey Creek TH
27  2016-09-17
Rincon Manning Camp Turkey Creek
35  2016-09-17
Manning Camp Hike via Turkey Creek Trail #34
13  2015-11-13 mdfabbrini
28  2015-03-24
Rincon Loop
Page 1,  2
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
Expand Map
Preferred   Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:09am - 6:20pm
Official Route
9 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby

This trail provides an access route into the eastern portion of the Saguaro National Park. It is part of the Arizona Trail, a system of trails that spans the entire state from north to south.

The portion of the Turkey Creek Trail which is in the Coronado National Forest follows a ridge that separates Turkey Creek and Mesquite canyons. Part of this section of the trail is within the boundaries of the Rincon Mountain Wilderness. The landscape through which it passes is similar to that of the Saguaro National Park, dotted with large saguaros and other vegetation characteristic of the Sonoran Desert. Views stretch to Rincon Peak on the south and the Santa Catalinas to the north.

Saguaro National Park restrictions: No hunting, weapons, pets or bicycles. Camping in designated areas only. Must have a wilderness permit which is available at the Park Visitor Center.

Nearby History
Spud Rock - Outstanding point of bare rock in plain view from Tucson at north end of the Rincons, elevation 8,590 feet. About 24 miles east of Tucson. George F. Kitt of Tucson says: "Two Southern Pacific railroad engineers, William H. Barnett and Jim Miller, had a shack here and raised potatoes and cabbage on a little flat close to the rock. They called it Spud Rock for their major crop --spuds. Barnett fell from his horse one day coming down the trail and was killed."

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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

2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot
  • description related image
    guide related
  • Rincon HAZ Map
    area related
    Rincon HAZ Map
  • Rincon Mountain Distric East
    area related
    Rincon Mountain Distric East
  • Tucson Mountain District West
    area related
    Tucson Mountain District West
  • SNP Cactus Forest Map
    area related
    SNP Cactus Forest Map
  • nps related
  • sub-region related

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 of 11 deeper Triplog Reviews
Turkey Creek Trail #34
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Manning Camp via the Tub to Turkey Creek TH
After a nice evening and morning we now had to go back. Kind of sad to leave this place. The question is which way do we want to go back, the way we came or via the Tub? I wanted to see the Tub but it would add about 1 1/2 to our journey and it would be warm as we got toward the bottom of the mountain. K&K assured the trail was nice (cuz after yesterday's North Slope adventure I wasn't in the mood for working too hard again, ha!). I couldn't make up my mind so Wendy said we would do the Tub; which turned out to be the right choice and that way, I got to see one of the "must do" when you come up to Manning Camp.

And wow was that a downhill to get to the Tub. So glad we didn't come up that way which was one of the options we were originally going to do. The hike down thru here is really pretty thru the forest and with occasional views to the far valley and mountains. There were a couple areas with water which is always a nice treat in the desert. The Devil's Bathtub wasn't draining very much but it was still a pretty cool site. We actually spent a little time here hanging around so that was nice and then it was off toward Spud Rock Campground Junction on part of the East Slope Trail.

Once again you had off and on views to the valleys as you hike off and on thru the forest. It's very entertaining hiking up here as the terrain changes quite a bit. We followed some more running water as we continued on part of the East Slope Trail to what we dubbed The Park. It was a clear forest floor with large trees sprouting to the sky. Down the Switchback Trail we went to the ferned meadow of Spud Rock Campground Junction. From there our next stop would be Deer Head Spring. However, there is one part of the trail just above the spring that is a bit difficult to decipher but we made it down though I don't know if it was the right way. We hung at the Spring for a bit. We were trying to take advantage of the shade as much as we could.

The next part of the trail was probably the worst as we headed down to Mud Hole Spring which would be our last shaded stop. The trail is a little gully as you hike down and then you encounter the rock n roll rocky sections. You go thru manzanita sections and more foresty sections though the size of the trees is smaller now. I was having a little trouble getting my pack comfortable so that was not fun. I was disappointed because on my trip up; my pack didn't give me any issues. I packed it like Wendy did; at least I thot so, but it wasn't fitting quite right.

At Mud Hole Spring we hung out and Karl showed me the spring. It didn't have much water in it but enough to filter fairly nicely. We still had quite a bit of down to go but at least on this part, there would be steps that really helped - although I despised them on the way up as I'd rather hike up on the less stable ground than have to lift my body up those steps. Kathy, on the other hand, loves steps on the way up. The trail that didn't have the steps, once again, was in pretty shabby shape. It was also starting to get warmer now but every once in awhile we would get a breeze. We were sure glad to get to the saddle though as from here on out, the trail conditions would be much better.

Karl agreed to one more stop for what little shade there was at the Park Boundary. This was actually kind of nice because we could look back at where we had been. Filtered light was now coming in as the residual from the hurricane was making its way north. This was indeed welcomed even though the humidity came with it. From here it's the hills and ridgeline hike back to the TH. K&K took off and we made our way thru the grassy hillsides and cowsh...t (they're eating well ;) ) to join them. Thx for the beer and gatorade.

I didn't take any video after the Switchback Trail intersection as I was holding on to the mountain so I couldn't really hike and film. I doubt I even took that many pictures once we started heading down. It's too bad really cuz once the filtered light came in, it was good viewing. But by that time, I was just too tired.

Thx Wendy for getting me up and down this mountain and still being my friend after all this and other times. I still don't know how you get me to do those things :-k that are out of my comfort zone and at the edge of my capability. Karl, thx for keeping that fire going on Sunday nite. K&K, Thx for the beer and gatorade and chips.

It was absolutely great! well except for the hard parts :lol:

2-15-2017 finally the two part video:
Part 1 from Manning Camp to Devil's Bathtub [ youtube video ]
Part 2 from Devil's Bathtub toward Turkey Creek Trailhead [ youtube video ]
Turkey Creek Trail #34
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Manning Camp Hike via Turkey Creek Trail #34
She (that being Wendy) is crazy thinking I could hike this trail, let alone want to but nonetheless, this was our mission and who doesn't want to hang out at Manning Camp for a couple nights. So Saturday AM we loaded up the Tamale and headed for the TH. It took us about 1:45 by the time all was said and done. A big :y: to Wendy's driving skills for getting the AWD Subaru she calls Tamale all the way to the end of the 4 wheel drive road. Rambler Hill was a doozie and on the fourth go at it, Wendy grabbed the edge of the road where the grass was to get us by the spot that wouldn't let the Tamale pass. Thank goodness as that road walk would not have been pleasant at all on top of climbing the mountain. I hate to think how bad it would have been if I would have had to hike from the start of the 4-wheel drive road.

And so it begins at 8:20AM, me not being in great hiking shape with a loaded backpack (and that's after Wendy lightened up what I was going to put in it)... up and over the roller coaster ridgeline we went. Each time we went down I whined cuz I know the objective is UP for a very long time (in fact that would be 5 Shaw Buttes in 5 miles). It's beautiful out there right now as everything is so green. When you looked at our objective it really seemed nearly impossible that we would be on top of that, hopefully in time for Happy Hour (I did carry a can of huckleberry beer left over from my birthday party last year).

Once you finish the ridgeline you head southwest along the side of one of the taller hills to the Park Boundary and then arrive at the TH register, seemingly in the middle of nowhere on the saddle. Wendy signed us in as we started our nearly endless "UP" of this mountain. The first part has some beautiful steps and grading but that soon ends as the trail has taken a real beating from all of the rain. And occasionally my new Z-poles (their maiden voyage) would flip out of hold until Wendy pointed out that I hadn't snapped them in :doh: . We would find ourselves stopping quite a bit to check out the flora including this great lemon smelling plant and giant banana yucca fruit. We would also stop and look for Karl and Kathy (K&K) as they would be joining us for our adventure.

We finally made it to Mud Hole Spring (not quite 4 miles, 1351 elev gain with most of that in the last 2 1/2 miles at noon), though we didn't see the spring (didn't look too hard either). We took a break here in the shade as there isn't much until this point. A short way past here I realized I had left my head band and Wendy offered to go back for it. While waiting for her I thot I heard other voices which I did. We stopped about 1/2 hour or so later for lunch once we found some more shade. The trail here is just not good with narrow gullies in the middle of the trail and lots of loose rock. While we were having lunch I heard the voices again and this time it was K&K.

We still had a pretty decent climb, I mean hike, up to Deer Head Spring (5 1/2 miles at 7192 feet) and a couple times it was difficult discerning where the trail was. We did stop a couple times to take in the different views too. The Little Rincons are sure pretty. Karl filtered up some water here and we eventually made it up to Spud Rock Campground intersection (6 miles at 7434 feet) through a very lush fern-filled meadow. K&K went to check out the campground, Wendy went to find the spring, I rested my laurels.

Next would be the Switchback Trail which was really full of flora as well and it sure made some of that UP less painful. Alas, there was still a little over 1/2 of Shaw Butte to go and 2 miles. We topped out at around 8250 (I was thinking 8000 since that's where the camp is but ](*,) ). I was sure pretty tired by this time however everyone was very patient as I whined about the "almosts". We sat on some rocks for a bit before continuing on where we checked out a drainage crossing to see a great view of Wrightson. Yep, I've been there.

As we got closer, we crossed another creek area and you could see the storms had caused a rush of water to come through due to all the debris. Yeah we finally made it to Manning Camp and the smile returned to my face.... that is until we had to go get water after setting up our tents. Thankfully there is a beautiful waterfall that flows into a large pool to enjoy before having to walk back up the hill to camp and now I can sit and drink my beer, CHEERS! and WTG Wendy, you got me UP another Sky Island. We got the fire going fairly quickly as it started to get nippy once that sun starts to go down. It really made a difference too.

Surprisingly, I didn't even go through one battery on my camera which means I didn't take the normal amount of video and pictures as I was obviously hanging onto the mountain for the most part ;) . After finishing off my piece of pizza and some good chatter around the fire, it was time to crawl into my sleeping bag. I made it up into the Rincons :) (with a little help from my friends).

to Park Boundary ... TaIk
to Mud Hole Spring ... 8MeI
to Spud Rock Campground Jct ... gMkg
Switchback Trail to Manning Camp ... dT88

there was some flora off and on but not of the autumn kind other than the ferns turning.
Turkey Creek Trail #34
rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
Rincon Mountains
Day 1: Parked at Turkey Creek TH (not at the actual TH, just where the road gets bad), walked to Miller Creek TH, hiked up to Happy Valley, dropped our heavy stuff, and headed up Rincon Peak.

Day 2: HBR trail up to Spud Rock Campground via the Deerhead Spring Trail, again dropped stuff off, then waddled up the rest of the way to see Mica Mtn, Spud Rock, Manning Camp, and all sorts of other goodies I hadn't seen before. Everything up there was amazing and well worth the schlep...

Day 3: Down Turkey Creek Trail. It was a much nicer trail than I was expecting, but it's not something I would want to do during typical May weather given how exposed it is.

No issues aside from a few scary looking clouds the second afternoon and lots of very excited (but non-threatening) bees on the Heartbreak Ridge Trail on the way up to Happy Valley Lookout. The Manzanitas were blossoming and there was a constantly disconcerting buzz the entire time... :scared: Otherwise it's a fantastic trail.
Turkey Creek Trail #34
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Rincon Loop
Wanting to return to the Rincons since last fall, today was to be a great hike in the main body of the range, though without the Mica MT area. I was really pleased that my car got me to the four wheel drive trailhead, as I took it up the 2 track and started from there, instead of lower down. This gave me more time higher up, and I was able to visit Manning Camp, as a result. The 4WD road was less about clearance, than actual 4WD, and beefy tires would make a difference. However, a fictional AWD civic never would have made it.

The hike was better than expected and I was up in the pines in under 3 hours. I really just hiked through the Deer Head fire area and was less impressed with it than I hoped. This is no central Gila Wilderness. Most of the affects seem to be top killing brush and oaks, and needle cast consumption, but there was less grass than hoped for. I did hike up a ridge (not GPSed) and look at some old growth pines, still with some grass under them. I found the area around Manning Camp to be highly reminiscent of some of the low spots in the WOR, specifically around the nice camping spot with the massive pines. This is because it is almost all pine litter, little grass, and a dense stand of tall poles, with some larger orange barkers, but nothing characteristic of the way it would have been 120 years ago.

The Fire Loop is one of the nicer areas, and the granite domes are fun to look at, and climb on if you chose. In that regard, the Rincons have a Yosemite feel to them. Manning Camp itself is OK, but it just feels like a NPS camp area, nothing that special, save for the water and weather station. The Manning Camp trail south of the camp does have great canyons, falling water, and westward views to the Tucson Mountains. The Devil's Bathtub trail and area is really nice, and if flowing when warm might be a nice place to hangout, but I expect it is dry when warm. Heartbreak Ridge has great views, and as always looking east is fantastic.

With the current appearance of the east slopes, the species composition, and the fire affects, I would almost prefer it had not burned, since the oaks and other brush will coppice, some younger pines were killed, a lot of soil will and has eroded post fire, and it isn't going to return to pine, or mixed oaks over grass anytime soon. The grassy and pine covered areas do look better, and at least fuel loads are reduced. Still, the top of the mountain would benefit from something it will never get: mechanical thinning. The current composition of this area seems to have been influenced by (the Manning's?) grazing a lot more than Mica Mountain proper, but there appears to be slightly more soil here, too.

Overall, a great hike, my longest of the year, and with some serious AEG. It was nice down low, and cool, but tolerable while constantly switching between a sweater and t-shirt up higher. It was also breezy, but that created some lenticular clouds. I think it is still early in the higher terrain, as despite the above normal temps, it is still only late March, and there were fewer bird calls than expected. I did see some mountain quail, I think, or some other birds with flight sounds like a quail. Most of the life is still below 6,000'.
Turkey Creek Trail #34
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Had a day off and was passing by Mescal, so I whipped it over to Happy Valley for a Rincon Mountain traverse. Not much to report, but with zero negative issues, it was as perfect as this day could get. Headed up the Turkey Creek trail, hit Spud Rock campsite, took the East Slope to Heartbreak Ridge, over to Happy Valley campsite, down the Miller Creek trail and back to the Exploder. Pretty much a sunup to sundown stroll :)
Turkey Creek Trail #34
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Spud Rock Camp/Manning Camp Lollipop
Had a fantastic time on our first Rincons trip!

Saturday -- Got to Turkey Creek Trailhead at 5:30. Parked the Matrix, which did okay on the dirt roads, and said hi to the campers who had set up their compound at the th. We geared up, making sure we had packed all of our water for the dry camp at Spud Rock, and headed out on the trail around 6 to start the uphill climb. The morning light was fabulous and we made good time to the forest service trailhead at 1.5 miles, and then to the National Park border at 3 miles, and then the trail register. Then the real climbing started. We took our time heading up the exposed slopes, and made it to Mud Hole, which is nicely shaded, around 9:30am. The spring was dribbling a bit and there is a small pool that is mostly clogged with water plants. After fueling up, we continued up the slopes, gradually getting into cooler temps and piney woods. We arrived at Spud Rock Camp at around 1:30 and took a moment to locate the campsites and find the perfect set of trees for setting up both of our hammocks under one tarp, then quickly set up camp. Of course, nap time was soon to follow, but I couldn't sleep, so I took a walk around the campsites and checked out the spring, which was dry. We had set up at campsite #1, and it turned out to be closest to the toilets. Sites 2 and 3 were a bit further down slope and tucked in amongst large boulders. If we hadn't been so tired, I would have moved camp to one of those. I got back to camp and we made dinner, played some cards, and fell asleep by 7:30pm.

Sunday -- Got up bright and early. We were skimping on water, so we skipped coffee and had our breakfast that used the least water, Texas scramble breakfast burritos, yum! We quickly packed up camp and started up the Switchback Trail around 7:30am, where I almost stepped on the first rattlesnake of our trip. He was easily bypassed, and we made our way along the trails, settling in to Manning Camp around 9am. The cabin was deserted, so we got to work filtering water, setting up camp and checking out the surroundings. Around noon, we decided to try to explore some of the trails around Mica Mountain, even though the clouds had been forming since we had arrived at camp. Well, we got about half a mile down the trail before being pelted by quite large amounts of hail and then the lightning started. So, we turned around and ran back to camp, so at least we got that exercise in :) We waited out the storm and then spent the rest of the day around camp and scrambling down the nearby stream. We found some great spots with pools and small waterfalls to enjoy. We found some boulders a bit south of camp that have a good view of Rincon Peak, so we decided to cook and eat dinner there, and it was perfect. We saw our only other person as the day ended. He had come up from Douglas Springs and was pretty wiped out, so there wasn't much socializing.

Monday -- Tried to get up early... we are so bad at that. Cooked up a big breakfast to super-fuel up, and managed to hit the trail around 7am. We were feeling pretty good, so kept up a good pace. We passed Devil's Bathtub and it was running enough to have a nice falls. We also passed through several park areas that made us wish we could stay. Soon we got to the intersection with the East Slope Trail and followed it down to Turkey Creek Trail. The East Slope Trail actually provided me with another rattlesnake stepping opportunity :o , this one was a much closer call and I"m afraid I upset the poor snake. So, we quickly went our separate ways. Whew! As we dropped elevation, the temps got warmer of course, and we started moving slower. We eventually passed through a burnt area that I believe might have been the Fox Fire that happened back in June. The end of our hike came at 12pm, topped off with a free beer from the campers.

What a fun trip! We definitely need to get back up there and check out some more of the trails. I'm thinking in the Spring, when the water sources are more likely to be reliable.
Turkey Creek Trail #34
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Friends in town who wanted to hit the Rincons

Day 1) Breezy but warm. I'm out of shape at this point, trying to keep up with Lynn and Teri up the Miller Creek trail. We dropped our packs at HV camp, headed up to Rincon Peak and back down to the camp to call it a day.

Day 2) NICE day. We headed out to Manning Camp via Devil's Bathtub, took some time to rest, then headed up the Fire Loop trail/s to Spud Rock, Mica and Reef Rock. I had not been to Mica or Spud Rock before. The Spud Rock views are unbelievable. Mica Mountain, though quite pretty, doesn't offer much for views. After our stop at Reef Rock, we headed down to Spud Rock Camp to settle in. I was beat by this point, but Lynn and Teri still had energy to explore the area. We started getting spurts of rain in the early evening, and the sky opened up a few times through the night (of course it always sounds worse when you're in a tent).

Day 3) It was quite a bit colder and pretty windy with not much for sun shine. Now worried about the threat of more rain, we hurriedly packed and headed out down the Turkey Creek trail. We made it back to the car by early afternoon just before the next round of rain hit.
Turkey Creek Trail #34
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
We did a key-swap backpack with the Tucson Backpacking meetup. Joel and I started from Douglas Springs Trailhead Saturday morning at 6 am and arrived at Spud Rock Spring Campground at 4 pm. The first section to Douglas Springs Campground was a breeze. We had a short break at the lunch rock before reaching the campground. At the campground we didn't stop except to note that there was water! The section up to Cow Head Saddle started to feel a bit hard. By the time we got to the saddle I definitely needed a break. We sat under the Juniper for a bit and refueled. From that point on I started to feel the miles. We climbed the stairs to hell one step at a time and paused at a good overlook to look across to the Catalina mountains. We continued to climb until we hit another set up rock outcroppings that allowed us views of Rincon Peak and also toward Helen's Dome. We had lunch here and rested for a while. But we continued on and hiked past Helen's Dome down into the Manning camp area. We ran into the SAHC group that was doing Mica Mountain. I had to stop and swing on the rope at the cabin. We then tanked up on water as we had heard that Spud Rock Spring was dry. That final break refueled us enough to make it to the other Campground where we were to meet the two people who had hiked up the Turkey Creek Trailhead. We decided to go by the Devil's Bathtub instead of the direct route so that we could see what water options were in the area in case our friends did not have enough water. We paused briefly at the tub to see that it was very slowly trickling over the falls. For the last couple of miles my legs were starting to feel as though they were going to revolt! They had never carried a heavy backpack that far with that amount of elevation gain in one day. We finally spotted the aspen and knew that we were nearly there. We found the others at the campground and set up our tent and collapsed. One other of our party came into camp after 5 pm from DSTH. That night, I could not seem to eat enough food. Luckily, Joel had brought some Jiffy Popcorn so we have a treat while we stayed warm by the campfire. We were expecting low 30s for the temperature, but it probably didn't get that low since in the morning it was still in the 40s in our tent. I slept like the dead - I may have found the cure for my insomnia :)

On Sunday, we packed up and took the most direct route back to Manning Camp. I felt so exhausted still climbing up the steep Switchback Trail. We set up camp and then headed out for a day hike. We did the Fire Loop to explore a good chuck of the upper part of the Rincons. At Man Head we saw the old telephone tree still standing. We also think we found the view that caused people to call it Man Head. We had lunch at Reef of Rocks and enjoyed the view of the aspens near Spud Rock Spring Campground and Rincon Peak. Along the trail we encountered two deer that were not at all afraid of us. We watched them eat for a while. We also stopped at Mica Secondary and saw some rocks below that looked interesting - maybe another trip we can go check them out from Reddington Pass. We made the climb up to Mica Mountain and paused only for a second to try to figure out what the antenna was for that was coming out of a big box attached to a solar panel. Then we climbed up Spud Rock and enjoyed the view back into town and of the Catalinas. From there we descended back to camp. We again had a fire and we wished we had marshmallows to go with our chocolate and graham crackers - maybe next time!

Monday, we headed down to the truck at the very bottom of the Turkey Creek Trailhead (walking the jeep road). We managed to make it from Manning Camp to the truck in 4 hours. We in fact beat the other party back to Douglas Spring TH even though we went into Benson for food!

What a great way to spend a weekend! The Rincons never fail to amaze me.
Turkey Creek Trail #34
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
This is actually part of a two-day backpack, I split it into two trip logs because I wanted to keep track of monthly mileage.

Last weekend we did Rincon Peak, which got us into a mood to explore more of the Rincons. Plus what a better way to follow-up one tough hike than with a tough backpack!

We car camped at the trailhead on Friday night so that we wouldn't have to get up really early to start hiking. In the morning we were greeted by a few turkeys - which is appropriate since the Trail is called Turkey Creek. The first half of this hike is in juniper/grasslands and a burn area with scrub oak and manzanita. Therefore, it can be quite hot. We lucked out because it was windy this weekend which kept the heat at bay.

The first 1.5 miles is on a jeep road which has several steep sections as well as uneven tracks which means we didn't want to take our Outback on it. Instead we hiked. Once the road ended we headed off on the trail which followed a ridge line and the skirted around a hill to the Saguaro National Park boundary (3 miles). After another quarter to half mile, we signed the Park registry and then started the steep ascent. For about another mile, we were in the old burn area, so we didn't want to take a break. We waited until we finally reached some tall trees and then we rested for a bit. From there it wasn't too far to Mud Hole Spring, which surprisingly had about an 1-2 inches of water in the catchment. From there it is a very long and steep 1 (or 1.2) miles to Deer Head Spring through juniper and pine forest. Deer Head Spring did not have any standing water. There was no catchment, which might explain why there wasn't any standing water. The ground was slightly wet. From there it was just a little bit up to the Deer Head Springs Trail which we took to the cut-off for Spud Rock Springs Campground.

Spud Rock Springs Campground is one of my favorite in the Rincons. Both times we've stayed here we haven't encountered other humans. Campsite #1 is great for larger parties. However, it is close to the toilets. The old one is still in operation, while the new one might be ready to go if you don't mind exposing yourself to your companions. This particular site has many nice flat areas and you could easily get far enough away from the toilets to enjoy the peacefulness of the campsite. The other two sites are near to the spring but the do not have many flat areas. The Spud Rock Spring catchment did have water in it - about 12 inches.

After we assembled our camp, we decided to for-go lounging around camp. Instead, we did a loop day-hike going up the Switchback trail to the Fire Loop trail. From there we took the shortest route to Manning Camp. We saw a few deer near the pond and then later they were in the mule corral. We took some time to play with the rope swing. From there we headed over to the Devil's Bathtub. This was the lowest I had ever seen the water and we actually could really make out why it has it's name. There is a tinaja which is as large as a bathtub, but it's right on the edge of a cliff. You'd be playing with the Devil if you decided to take a dip. From the Devil's Bathtub, we continued on taking the shortest routes to Spud Rock Campground.

As we approached camp, we found several colonies of Tent Caterpillars in which the caterpillars were actually outside of their tents. The larvae of the tent caterpillars construct silken tents on branches that are used for shelter and molting during the daytime. At night, caterpillars feed outside of the tents. Source:

We did finally get to lounge around camp. We made our dinner - mine was a burrito filled with rehydrated carnitas and veggies. Yum!

What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday in Southern Arizona!
Turkey Creek Trail #34
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Epic backpack! Wow! Wrote a 5 page trip description for the friends and fam- if you want more details, just drop me a note! My group varied in size from 2 to 5 people as different players came and went. So much fun - all of them GREAT hikers!

Day 1: Turkey Creek TH to Manning Camp
Snow, sleet, wind. Rincons are beautiful in the snow - never thought I'd see it. We got lucky with a very hospitable ranger at the top and spent a lovely, warm evening.
Day 2: Manning Camp to Mica Mountain then Down Italian Springs
Started out hiking in stocking caps and mittens, ended up in shorts and tank tops! Italian Springs trail was in better condition than last summer, one of my favorite trails for views. Water in Italian Spring and a couple of the small drainages along the way. Camped about 2 miles west of Reddington Road on the Bellota Ranch Trail.
Day 3: Reddington Pass to Sycamore Reservoir
Hot day! Loved to rolling hills and grasslands of Reddington Pass, but that climb before Molino Basin was tough in the heat! No water at Molino CG so we kept going, no water at Prison Camp, so we kept going... Water at Sycamore, hooray! Beautiful place to camp - lots of lush trees and birdsong in the morning!
Day 4: Sycamore Reservoir to Cathedral Rock Trail Junction
Hiked nearly the whole length of the Sabino Basin - great for continuity. Sabino was flowing so strong and beautifully! Saw more people than we expected at Hutch's - good thing we went on a week day. Above Lemmon Creek confluence Sabino was dry again. Found water again near the trail junction, so it was another nice camp. Wind picked up and kept us dancing all evening around the campfire. Put it out early because we were nervous about some of those gusts!
Day 5: Trail Junction to Mt. Lemmon
Windy windy windy! Trail from Romero Pass to Wilderness of Rocks was impressive and relentless, just like I'd read. Wind made it even more interesting. We decided to do the detour through the Wilderness of Rocks, and I'm glad we did. Fantastic trail. Can't say the same for the Lemmon Rock trail, though. Erosion and downed trees made it slow going. Exposed to the wind, we hauled up there and hit the peak around 1:30, just to wait in the freezing wind for our ride home! Walked down to Ski Valley hoping for hot coco and a warm place to wait only to discover they're closed on Tuesday and Wednesday! Ak!

I have to say that it is mentally much more difficult to do a long hike like this so close to home. My mind kept rebelling, saying "just turn down this trail, you'll be home for dinner"... But, at the same time, it is fantastic to know that so much wild, wonderful land is so close at every moment!

Permit $$
See Forest Service Data Above

Coronado Forest
MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

Saguaro National Park
2019 $20 vehicle, $15 motorcycle or $10 for any individual on foot or bicycle - the receipt is valid for 7 days Fees

Map Drive

To hike
Drive east 39 miles from Tucson on Interstate 10 to the J-Six-Mescal road exit (#297). Turn north on the Mescal Road and continue 16.4 miles to FR 4408. Turn left and travel 0.4 mile through a gate to a parking area with large sycamore trees. The trail starts on the opposite side of the creek and follows a 4-wheel drive road 1.5 miles to the single track.
help comment issue

end of page marker