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Nelson Trail #159, AZ

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Guide 38 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Camp Verde > Dugas
3.5 of 5 by 10
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 8.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,250 feet
Elevation Gain 984 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,423 feet
Avg Time One Way 4-5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 13.04
Interest Seasonal Creek
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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9  2018-10-13 BiFrost
9  2018-09-08
Nelson - Verde Rim - Salt Flat Loop
13  2018-09-08
Nelson - Verde Rim - Salt Flat Loop
8  2018-09-08
Nelson - Verde Rim - Salt Flat Loop
15  2018-09-08
Nelson - Verde Rim - Salt Flat Loop
4  2018-04-26
Pine Mountain 6814
6  2017-11-05
Pine Mountain Verde Rim Loop
16  2017-11-04
Pine Mountain Verde Rim Loop
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
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
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Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, May, Mar
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:15am - 6:26pm
Official Route
11 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

This trail was originally, and still serves as, a service trail for the livestock industry. It does serve as part of the network of trails traversing the Pine Mountain Wilderness. It connects with the Willow Springs Trail #12, the Verde Rim Trail #161, and the Pine Flat Trail #165. The lower portions of the trail stay mainly in chaparral vegetation. There is considerable ponderosa pine on the portion of the trail from the trailhead near the Nelson Place to Bishop Spring.

The trail enters the wilderness just beyond the Nelson Place Spring and stays within the Sycamore Creek drainage for about 1.75 miles. The trail then turns southeast, climbing steadily to its intersection with TR #12. From TR #12 to TR #14 the climb is short, but steep. The intersection of TR #159 and TR #14 is known as the "Cloverleaf." The trail from here descends to the southwest along Bishop Creek. At about mile 4.5 the trail intersects with TR #161 coming down from the Verde Rim. At about mile 6.2 the trail intersects with TR #165 coming in from the north. The trail then continues almost due west to the wilderness area boundary where it ends on Forest Road 677A. This road is not recommended for travel, although it is passable to high clearance 4WD vehicles.

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2008-04-21 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 of 18 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Nelson Trail #159
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I took the pups up to Pine Mountain Wilderness for a little hike this morning. I wanted to keep our hike close to the valley and as close to 7,000 feet as we could. My best two options for that are Peeley and PMW, Pine Mountain won today, due in large part to the perennial stream section at the beginning that I knew the pups would appreciate on the way back to the trailhead.

    This is my third time to this area and although, I have only done variations of the same hike, I am still generally pretty impressed with the area. The perennial stream section and the robust spring that feeds it is a real gem and this time through I noticed for the first time the semi-large trout that must have been planted there by the forest service. I really can't imagine that small section of perennial stream holding a viable trout through the summer, but someone has and apparently they thrive in their limited environment. The final push to the peak was a tad warm even before 9 in the morning, but it was a little breezy up top and it felt great in the shade where we took a quick break. Solid views as usual from there, but a little hazy today. I didn't think we would see anyone up there today, but we did run into a local rancher on horseback. From the sounds of it, he was scouting the area for the beginning of turkey season, or a turkey hunt tomorrow. I did not make a loop of today's hike and just did an out and back to save a couple minutes, as I needed to be back in Phoenix by early afternoon. We made a couple stops along the creek on the way out for the pups to cool off, but still made it back relatively quickly and I was able to get back in time for some obligations in Phoenix.
    Nelson Trail #159
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Met up with Lee and the pups for a fun hike north of Phoenix. We met at the Happy Valley Park N Ride at 6am and made the drive up. We turned off at the Dugas / Orme exit and headed east. The long dirt road turned into a pain! Overall the road is in good condition but very long and tedious! We were driving in right after the sun peaked over the horizon and spent most of drive with a blinding sun directly in our eyes! We were both glad when we arrived at the TH around 8am. Speaking of that we pulled in and parked next to Chumley’s truck who was car camping. He was sleeping in the back of his truck and I’m glad he didn’t shoot us after waking him up!

    We hung out with Chumley for about 20 minutes and then started our hike. The trail is in good condition as it makes a steady climb. The lower canyon had lots of water and some nice fall colors. We continued up and hit the start of our lasso and opted for a clockwise loop. We continued up and topped out on Pine Mountain. Once there we soaked in the views and ate a snack. From there we continued along the rim and eventually started our descent back to the TH. We cruised down and were back to the TH around 1pm. Chumley was long gone so we packed up and made the drive back to Phoenix.

    This was a nice hike and I’m glad I can finally check it off the list. The road is a pain but the hike is worth doing at least once. Thanks to FOTG for driving!
    Nelson Trail #159
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I had been wanting to get back out to this area since my first hike in the area a couple years ago. The return trip was well worth it and the place still left a good impression on me, but the drive in sucks and I can't believe I had forgot that.

    Luckily with the fall colors and the big views from the rim today, the long drive became an afterthought pretty quickly. This is a really nice area this time of year and a quaint, but worthy little wilderness area. We only saw one person all day (a hunter) and moved pretty quickly on the generally nice trail. The views from the rim were especially nice today due to some nice clouds. There were also some nice sections of fall colors along the way and just about perfect hiking temperatures.
    Nelson Trail #159
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Pine Mountain Plus
    Spent the weekend at Salt Flat Campground. Saturday Matt and I hiked a north loop to Pine Mtn. The weather was perfect! The leaves were sporadic to start, and just a little bit blah/dull overall. Not quite the saturated color I would have hoped for.

    There was a truck at the trailhead with a HAZ sticker, but we didn't manage to cross paths with @nightstalker. We did cross paths with @mr14ner, the 3rd time that's happened for me!

    Sunday 9L and FOTG stopped by in the morning to visit before heading out on a loop of their own.

    I made an effort to drive the road to the Rim, but gave up just past the Oxbow Trail since I had been bumping along for over an hour. I could have made it the rest of the way, but it was really slow going, and I just wasn't enjoying it and the end goal of hiking down to Cold Water Spring just wasn't worth the effort I was putting forth.

    So I turned around and headed back down to where the road is nice again!
    Nelson Trail #159
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Perfect temps, overcast skies, and plenty of trees for today's hike to Pine Mountain. Left McD's at Carefree Hwy and I-17 at 5AM and made it to the trailhead just before 7am. As noted by others, high clearance vehicle recommended! I was pretty spooky doing this road in the dark before sunrise. There were at least 3 campsites in the camping area at the trailhead, no one offered us any bacon before departing though, guess they don't like pretty girls. Lots of hardwoods at peak color throughout the duration of the hike with plenty of pines mixed in for additional color. Got stuck behind cattle two different times on the way in. They got a good working trying to stay ahead of us. Took the side trail up Pine Mountain for the best views of the Verde Valley on the hike. Saw one other person in the 10+ miles of trail.
    Nelson Trail #159
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Just keeping the tradition alive today by completing another nice Veterans Day hike with Chumley. We picked up an extra this year, as Dave joined us. It was a late start because I am a mean coach and made my boys come in and practice on their morning off. Nevertheless, Chumley was able to plan a nearly perfect afternoon hike.

    We completed the Pine Mountain-Verde Rim loop. The drive was not too bad, we appreciated what appeared to be a recently graded road. The temps were great and the trails were in excellent condition for the most part. The views from the rim and Pine Mountain were very nice and there was a considerable amount of water at the lower elevations. There were also several nice sections of Fall colors along the lasso-loop. The hike exceeded my expectations, a nice little area. Nothing in that area was really on my radar until today. Now the wheels in my head are turning, as I think of hikes that could incorporate Pine Mountain, Cedar Bench and the western Mazzys all in one shot.
    Nelson Trail #159
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Pine Mountain Verde Rim
    With existing plans dictating a later start and an early finish I lobbied a bit for an actual "fall" hike despite the moderate drive.

    Turns out it was a great day. The road was as nice as I've ever seen it. Only the last few miles were a little rough, and those will never change. The rest was nicely graded and smooth despite recent storms. Temps got to the 50s, but by the end of the day, I was happy to have a beanie and gloves, though probably only in the mid 40s it wasn't necessary, just more comfortable.

    Only a couple of maples still had some color, but the sycamores flashed some gold, along with ample big green leaves already on the ground. The oaks up here were the ones showing rusty golds most of the day. Great views up top ... the SF Peaks had a very impressive snow pack for November, while the Mazzy ridgeline, 4 peaks and the Supes looked great. Horseshoe lake looks pretty full.

    As the responsible party today I acknowledge leading the group astray for an extra 1.1 miles and 22 minutes. My bad!

    There were a couple of patches of snow remaining in the most sheltered areas and places where some nasty thorns (perhaps wild rose bushes?) were growing in a few spots along the trail.

    There are two apple trees near Nelson spring. I managed to harvest a single green-skinned apple that was tart but good. Earlier in the season this might be a good one!

    Glad Dave was able to join us on this special holiday. Special thanks to Lee and the many other Hazzers who have made personal sacrifices to serve our country. :worthy:

    A few late maples hanging on, but mostly done. Oaks are rusty gold and approaching peak. Sycamores still have some gold but many have fallen. Lots of green leaves of all varieties on the ground already. Big wind last weekend after the snow impacted everything. Cottonwoods in the canyons on the drive in are just getting going. Another week or two for them.
    Nelson Trail #159
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Great hike for a long weekend, the drive out is half the fun...we left Phoenix a bit after 6 to make the drive up. Dugas road is something, glad we were riding in Nick's truck with 4 wheel drive when necessary. There were only a few really rough spots, but definitely slow going. Pine Mountain Wilderness is gorgeous! Amazing how you can drive through miles and miles of scrub desert with One Seed Juniper as the largest plants on the horizon, and then you turn a corner and it is all pines and oaks. The hike is very pleasant (I don't think we ever cracked 70 while we were out), we did the CCW loop up to the peak. Nice break up top for lunch. Views east off the Verde Rim are fantastic, pictures do not do it justice. Made it back home about 3:30 to enjoy the rest of the weekend with the family. There are some nice longer loop options out here, we did see a few nice camp sites too. Great wildflower show!

    Great wildflower color, many different kinds of flowers blooming. Nothing overwhelming, but lots of nice pockets.
    Nelson Trail #159
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Beehouse - Two Cabin - Buck Basin - Nelson
    Some time ago, while perusing TOPO maps, I spotted The area of Mikes Cabin in the Pine Mountain Wilderness. I researched it to see if I could find any info on it, to no avail. So is been on my radar for quite awhile now to see why it was there on the maps. I also spotted another cabin so lets make a loop with some water also!

    After a 20 mile peaceful drive in the JJ Mobile down FR68 :scared: :o, we set our feet on terra firma and made our way up the Nelson Trail #159, to the Pine Flat Trail #165. Another one of the goals on this hike, was to confirm or deny the existence of Trail #72 also shown as Pine Flats on the TOPO maps. This trail is shown to leave the #165 up top and work on down to behind the Double T Ranch below. While it is not signed at the #165, there is evidence of cairns. A job for another day to possibly investigate.

    We dropped into the South Prong of the Sycamore creek from the #165. This area was much cooler than expected. Nice boulders, water, birds.... We made our way down towards the area on the TOPO maps indicated as Mikes Cabin. It became quite evident that we were not the only ones to enjoy this Riparian delight. There were luckily, use trails for much of the length of this creek. Just upstream of the cabin area was an old wooden table, some pots and cans.

    We searched for remnants of "Mikes Cabin" but only found a labyrinth of rock walls, old wooden fence posts and some more pots and cans.
    Maybe we missed something?

    Out of the SP of Sycamore and scramble up through the bramble to join the Nelson Trail #159 again. I was worried about this part since it looked so thick on satellite. We made it up slowly and actually found an old trail (maybe the original way into Mikes Cabin), towards the top.

    The Buck Basin Trail #158 always intrigued me. Probably because of the name. This actually followed an old jeep road to the tank. It was OK, but no need to do it again.

    Next, the second cabin of the day, at Cabin Spring. This cabin is newer and probably used as a hunting camp. Sleeps four inside, wired for electricity (via generator), gas stove, wood stove. Cabin Spring is encased and covered.

    Cabin Spring Cabin Video :next: ... kxtM

    JJ picked us another route down into the SP of Sycamore Creek that worked out pretty well. We followed more use trails next to the creek, until we spotted a trail that left the creek. The trail had seen horse traffic, so we thought it could keep us from boulder hopping. A great trail for awhile until it ended in a catclaw nightmare. We retreated back to the creek. do NOT take this option.

    Now in Sycamore Creek, working upstream, the views just kept getting better. Finishing up in a little slice of Paradise. It's the last scene in this video, that I caught a portion of as my camera battery died.

    South Prong and Sycamore Creek Video :next: ... Vkm4

    Glad we were finally to get to this one.

    Thanks for driving JJ (I think). I'm just getting the feeling back in my grab handle hand.
    Nelson Trail #159
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Beehouse - Two Cabin - Buck Basin - Nelson
    Been anticipating checking out a couple cabins Bruce spied last year. Today was finally the day. Started out at the Salt Flat Trailhead as we have many times over the years. Up Nelson Trail #159 0.95mi. Right up Beehouse Canyon. At 2.1mi you are out of the canyon and continue across Pine Flat Trail #165 until 3.8mi.

    Now off trail we headed down South Prong Sycamore Creek. We found occasional use trails. It wasn't bad but I recall mentioning I didn't want to go back up it. The initial segment off trail was very scenic. Gnarly granite but only pools of water. The search for Mikes Cabin was on. Bruce searched while I relaxed and jj performed self cactus removal. Didn't spot anything, which is best in my book...

    Down South Prong another half mile then up though chaparral to re-catch Nelson Trail #159 heading WSW to Buck Basin Trail #158. Heading up Bruce lost his life or phone depending on how you look at it. So back we went to hunt it down. Bruce found it quick, probably withing ten minutes. So we were all relieved.

    Bruce had a burning desire to check out Buck Basin Trail #158. Mildly interesting. Looked like an old road heading down. Lunched on the way back up under a nice shade tree. Temps all day were outstandingly mild.

    Back up to Nelson and over to Cabin Spring. This cabin was stocked and used by many.

    Backtracked a bit then parted ways with the road/trail and headed back down to South Prong. Followed a bit then picked up a nice trail skirting the right heading down. As it turned out it was only nice for a quarter mile. Then slowly turned to catclaw hell. Of course you don't know until you know. Not even a mile on that and we were back into South Prong. Dear lord thankyou I might add. Basically shredded my good pants!

    Returned back up Sycamore proper. Along the way we ran into a small gem segment of granite. Hands down the cool spot of the entire area.

    Mariposa was outstanding near Cabin Spring

    Permit $$

    Prescott Forest
    Prescott National Forest Pass

    Only trailheads with six "amenities" have fees. Amenities are picnic tables, trash, toilet, parking, interpretive signing and security.

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    Access and trailhead location: To access the trails in the Pine Mountain area, exit the I-17 Freeway at the Dugas Interchange. From there take Forest Road 68 southeast for 18 miles to the trailhead (Salt Flat) for the Nelson Trail #159 at the boundary of the Pine Mountain Wilderness. The boundary is approximately 1.25 miles east of the Double-T Ranch on Sycamore Creek.

    Travel time: 1 hour
    Road condition: High clearance vehicle only
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