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E Cross L Trail #281, AZ

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Guide 7 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Prescott > Prescott S
3.4 of 5 by 7
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 4.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,084 feet
Elevation Gain -1,312 feet
Accumulated Gain 959 feet
Avg Time One Way 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.9
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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22  2015-07-18
Collins Venezia Senator ExL Loop
15  2015-07-18
Crooks Canyon - Ash Creek Canyon Loop
18  2014-08-02
E Cross L #281 Loop w/ Palace Station Cem.
16  2014-08-02
E Cross L #281 Loop w/ Palace Station Cem.
15  2010-07-12 PrestonSands
8  2003-09-06 Abe
Author Abe
author avatar Guides 17
Routes 0
Photos 296
Trips 59 map ( 426 miles )
Age 61 Male Gender
Location Prescott, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, May, Apr, Sep → Early
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:17am - 6:28pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
by Abe

Likely In-Season!
The sun just topped over the horizon and settled behind mid-level clouds, covering the harsh sunlight when I arrived at the E Cross L trailhead Labor Day morning. Quiet, ears ringing in the silence; engine in my jeep snaps, crackle, and pops as it cools down, almost like heaving a sigh of relieve after traveling down the Senator Highway from Prescott.

Stepping out of my vehicle and stretching, I began to survey the area. There is no water and vaulted toilet available. I enjoyed the cool air trying to soak it into my body as I pulled my gear out to get ready for my hike. Naturally, I have a ritual before the hike, throw my gear on top of the jeep, put my wallet and keys in the pack, place the walking stick nearby, find a large rock; I found a large cement block to sit on instead, pull my Teva sandals off, put on my socks and pull my Hi-Tech boots. Survey the area some more, finish sipping the last of my coffee, gawd I love coffee early in the morning, and I am ready to hit the trail!

The start of the trail is easy to find and so I start, uphill! The first mile climbs up to Ash Creek Ridge. Starts easy, deceiving at first, and then turns steep during the 700 feet elevation gain. On top of the ridge the trail hits Forest Road 70 and I hooked right walking just a short distance before the trail hooks left and resumes. On the right is trail # 381 going back down into Crook Canyon. I decided to break here and sit under an aged, gnarly Juniper to write in my journal.

The sad thing I noted was the number of pines dead. Dead, brown, shadows of their former selves. No longer the guardians of the trail. Casualties of the long drought and bark beetles. Standing bravely in death, or cut down, and what amazed me was the number of trees around the trail or across the trail that were fell I would guess because of high winds during a monsoon storm. And I am sure some fell because they could no longer support their own weight due to the cancer bugs eating them out. I say this because at one point later in the hike, in Ash Creek, my silence was broken when I heard a loud crack and the sound of crashing trees startled me. My imagination kicked in! Thoughts of a tree falling on me! Instead, it was large dead pine limb that broke, ripping through other limbs in its travel to hit the ground. A final note, the oak, junipers, and manzanita are doing fine.

Rapid footfall on the ground, slapping of skin against the low shrub, and heavy breathing caught my attention during my break. I looked down the trail on which I will soon hike and spotted movement through brush. It was a runner! A damn runner running up my trail, a trail runner! Another runner followed. They stopped and we talked about the weather, trail, destinations, and the like; well I talked, they were breathing hard, taking deep breath between words. We bid farewell and they continued, hooking a left and running, stumbling, up Forest Road 70.

I got up and resumed my leisure hike off Ash Creek Ridge.

The trail down is fast, steep, and heavily eroded as it drops 800 feet to Ash Creek. The erosion bothered me and I wondered if it was because of the dirt bikers that travel back in here, Maybe not, but I have been following motorcycle tracks since starting the hike. I am upset about this; trail 281 is designated for hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers, the human power kind. And here is this idiot ripping up my trail.

About twenty minutes down the ridge something caught my attention left of the trail. Peering through the trees I spied a small water tank just below me. The tank for August Spring, sitting just above the creek bed. I walked down to have a look see. It was dry. I did not follow the pipe to its source, instead, I turned around returning back to the trail. From here the hike levels a bit and follows a small, semi-dry creek bed the rest of the way to Ash Creek. Small pockets of water is all that remains from the recent monsoon storms and it is clear the creek is dry most of the year.

I come across a broke down gate. Passing by it I got the impression I was in a compound of sorts, I spotted another gate on the other side. Man-made artifacts from the past scattered about, foundation of a small shack, and water tank. I can only guess it was a miner's home, further down the trail are signs of what looks like small mining activities.

Soon afterwards I arrive at Ash Creek. Trail 281 hooks to the right. Another trail hooks left and heads to what appears to be a ranch site.

I did not explore the area; time was running out, I had a cookout to attend at my daughter's home in Cordes Lake. So I plugged on climbing back up Ash Creek Ridge, via Ash Creek and through some beautiful country. The first half of the trail pretty much follows Ash Creek. It is seasonal and I spotted more pockets of water in the creek bed. Not deep enough to go skinny dipping in though. I did not locate the E Cross L spring, nor Quail spring, but I was not trying. I had plenty of water on hand still.

Eventually the trail does veer to the right away from the creek and I labored up the ridge until it terminated at a different point on Forest Road 70. The end of trail 281. The trail itself is 4.8 miles; however, when I hooked right I tacked on an additional 3 miles walking Forest Road 70. If you want to call it a road! I thought it was more like a trail, with numerous dead pines across it. Pretty much all the way downhill from here. Nice. My pace quicken to get back to the trailhead.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

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

2003-09-06 Abe

    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
    E Cross L Trail #281
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Collins Venezia Senator ExL Loop
    I got together with Chumley and The Eagle for a hike in the Bradshaws. We drove up on Saturday morning and started hiking making a clockwise loop. The first few miles were along road and went by fairly quickly. We explored some of the features of the area and continued our hike. We eventually left the road and hiked through a wooded section. There were some cool old buildings along the way. It must have been a cool place to live back in the day. This was a nice hike and I really enjoyed the historical aspect of this area.
    E Cross L Trail #281
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Crooks Canyon - Ash Creek Canyon Loop
    With a 70% chance of Rain, we were all ready to get soaked on the day. Only problem, Ma Nature just decided to crank up the humidity a bit. Chums wanted to try the area Joe and I had been to before and I wanted to click off the Venezia Trail and search south of Palace Station on FR82 and Crooks Canyon.

    I showed the guys Palace Station, the Palace Station Cemetery and headed down tree covered Crooks Canyon. Nice area w/ lots of camping opportunities. I still need to head further south in the future. The Elouise Mine area was posted "No Tresspassing", but it didn't appear that anyone had driven up there in quite some time.

    We made a turn to the west, past the Bodie Mine area. At this point we were climbing and out of the trees, so none of us felt the urge to hike down to the area.

    After 9L had us pass up the Collins Trail, we back tracked to get back on this single track. This short trail dead ends and the E Cross L Cabin Area and the E Cross L Trail. We searched around the shed and the the Cabin area. Found some old stone walls, steps and what appeared to be a pile of old lumber from the old torn down cabin. a newer cabin from the 60's (in rough shape, but has seen some use in the past 5 of years) stands just west of the pile.

    Up the E Cross L now, it climbs steadily for 3 miles, up 1300', to an old forest road. Once at the top, we opted to cut a couple of road miles off by scrambling down a "steepish" slope to the Senator.

    The Venezia trail does offer some pretty views as it climbs 400' up from the Senator to meet the E Cross L Trail. Anyone hiking the E Cross L trail, should either hike it, ending at the TH by Palace Station, or take the official GPS Track. The lower sections are overgrown and it's easy to see where Joe and I got offtrack last time here.

    Temps for the most part were 75 - 80 with scattered clouds, so it made it real nice for hiking. Good company, good conversation, fun times.

    Thanks for driving Mr. Chums
    E Cross L Trail #281
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Collins Venezia Senator ExL Loop
    Bruce hadn't hiked the 1.5 mile Venezia trail and somehow we hiked 17 miles looking for it.

    It was humid, but generally pleasant, mostly cloudy, and rain free. 9L got caught up in the poison ivy, and missed the waterfalls and swimming hole at the spring.

    After a few detours we decided to cut a corner off the top of the route, and it resulted in a short but steep bushwhack from the top of Collins down to the Senator Highway. It wasn't at all prickly, so it was a worthwhile shortcut.

    Venezia is a great trail and especially nice in cloudy or cooler weather. E Cross L is overgrown but can be followed if attentive. The GPS track helps. Collins is a pleasure. The road hike is great on Senator. Crooks Canyon is quite scenic. The hike on FR82 is not great, but the views make up for it. We missed the turn for 281, but once found, it was a really nice climb to the top of the ridge.

    Notes: the Elouise Trail #306 doesn't exist ... at least if it does it's on well-marked private property. Don't plan a trip on that one.
    HAZ lists the E Cross L Trail. One sign has it as E & L. The sign near Palace Station has it as E+L. So there's that.
    E Cross L Trail #281
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    E Cross L #281 Loop w/ Palace Station Cem.
    Hike one of two on the day.

    Exploring new areas in the Bradshaw's, and this one was a gem!

    Access from Mayer is on super smooth and recently graded FR67 for 12 miles to get to the Senator Highway intersection (FR52). Then 4 miles on the Senator Highway to get to the historic Palace Station area was high clearance.

    Forecast for the day was 70's with a 90% chance of rain.

    I'd done some sleuthing prior to the hike to get some ideas on what was around the area.

    Plans for the day was to Check Out
    :next: 2 new seldom traveled trails, under tree canopy.
    :next: Historic Palace Station
    :next: Palace Station Cemetery
    :next: What appeared to be 2 cabins on Satellite and Topo.
    :next: Ruins of the Venezia Town & Mil area and 2 more graves.

    We parked by Palace Station, just off the road, not knowing there was parking for 10+ cars at the TH.

    We checked out the Palace Cemetery area first and then from the exterior, the Palace Station building, one of the oldest in the state (1877). Access is not allowed and is now a Forest Service building and is manned.

    The worst trail finding all day long, was close to the South Eastern TH. This goes through a burn zone from a fire in 2007 or 2008. After this, it was clear sailing with no trail finding issues. The trail is undercover for most of the way. There are remnants of bygone mining days along the way. We passed an old cast iron stove and other household items. A car or mining implement frame with a straight six engine was nearby.

    We headed down the Collins #282 for a bit to check out the first of two structures I'd seen on Satellite. It appeared to be an old storage building. There were other building footings in the area.

    Next we mad the turn and headed toward the northern TH. We stopped and checked out the other building which appeared to be Mobile home like in size and shape, with no indications that it'd been one.

    It seems like almost all the hikes I've been on recently was loaded with sign of bear. This hike had the occasional deer prints and the squirrels were quite active, but that was about it. So I was shocked when Joe yells (no too loud) BEAR!. Up on the hillside, and climbing swiftly, was a Momma and her cub, probably 75 yards away. I was only able to get off 1 discernible photo. But finally, my first bear sighting while hiking!

    We continued up the incline to the Northern TH. Beautiful forest everywhere.

    We hopped on FS70 :next: 81 :next: FR52B :next: FR52. Next stop the Venenzia townsite ruins.

    We got rained on just a bit on the walk and then while at the Site, the sky opened up and lightning crackled around us. Didn't look too long for the other two graves in the area and also cancelled the other trail we were going to go on. It would have taken us up higher (closer to the Lightning). Should have gone because 10 minutes later we walked out of the storm and the road was even dry. Oh well, another reason to go back.

    I really enjoyed this trail... and the Bear encounter made it even more memorable!
    E Cross L Trail #281
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    The Sands family hike-athon continued on Monday. With a forecasted high of 95 in Prescott, I knew it was going to be hot!!! My dad, my uncle Bill, my brother Ryan, and I headed into the Bradshaws. Ryan, who had recently received his learner's permit, was faced with passing both a propane tanker truck and an 18 wheeler tractor trailer on the steep, one lane Senator Highway. He succeeds.

    A bit later, we locate the trailhead, park, and begin the short hike along FR 70 to the E Cross L Trailhead. It is quite warm, and humid. We descend into the scenic confines of Ash Creek Canyon through a forest of ponderosa and gambel oak, spotting a few deer along the way. Soon the lush character of the creek bottom begins to show. Huge thickets of healthy lupines and columbines carpet the creek bed, which itself has a gentle flow of water and a few little pools. Very pretty! I dunk my shirt in the creek to cool off, and we break for lunch in the shade of ponderosas. Continuing on, we pass an old bathtub. We sit inside it for a photo op. The trail reaches the end of the Ash Creek stretch near an old barn, which we stop to investigate. It's hot now, at 90+ degrees, and we begin a 1000 foot, mostly shadeless climb to a saddle on Ash Creek Ridge, where the unmarked Venezia Trail joins the E Cross L.

    From the saddle, we decide to follow Ash Creek Ridge back to our car, following the steep and rough route of Forest Road 70 (which no longer connects with the saddle, as the Forest Service blocked the lower end of the road with bulldozer mounds). The temps ease up on Ash Creek Ridge, and we enjoy fine views of the eastern and southern Bradshaws from breaks in the forest. We pass plenty of bluish tinged white firs as we approach our car in the soft, late afternoon light. Back in Prescott, I buy us a round of Gatorades.

    Our hike was tough due to the July heat, but all in all, it was a great hike on a very scenic and well maintained trail. I'll likely do it again.

    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
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    O.K. The fun. In Prescott at the intersection of Gurley and Mt Vernon Street, aka, the Senator Highway, turn left.

    *The intersection: 0 mile. Victorian homes line the street, you begin the climb, Prescott and Thumb Butte in the background. You disappear in the forest.

    *Dirt road, Forest Road 52: 7.3 miles. The fun begins! I would suggest at least a high clearnce vehicle from this point. Road is narrow, with pullouts along the way. The monsoons did its best to destroy this man-made craving through the forest.

    *Senator: 10.4 miles. To the right, in the canyon, you can see some remains of serious mining activities of this old mining town. Just pass Senator a road turns left and heads up. If you desire to quit and head out early, this road will take you to Walker, Lynx Lake, and Costco on Highway 69. Otherwise you may go forward.

    *Fork to Mt. Union: 12.6 miles. Hook right, or you may find yourself plugging up to the top of Mt. Union.

    *Turn off to the site of Crook City: 14.7 miles. Popular camping site now. Bear to the right.

    *White Well: 15.1 miles. I have no idea the story behind this.

    *E Cross L trailhead: 17.0 miles. On the right. A one hour drive from the intersection.

    After the hike I decided rather than head back the same way, I would head to Mayer on my way to Cordes Lake. The mileage reflects the distance from the intersection in Prescott.

    *The Palace Station: 17.2 miles. From the brochure, "Palace Station is one of the few remaining stagecoach stations dating from the settlement of the Arizona Territory,,,," Half way point between Prescott and Crown King.

    *Orofino Mine: 18.4 miles.

    *Goodwin Jct/site: 21.2 miles. Hook left to Mayer. Or straight if you wish to continue to Crown King.

    *Pavement in Mayer: 32.3 miles. From here, I will let you find your way to highway 69. Have fun!
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