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Hell's Hole Trail #284 - Salome Wilderness, AZ

no permit
767 70 5
Guide 70 Triplogs  5 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Young S
3.4 of 5 by 27
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 5.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,920 feet
Elevation Gain -814 feet
Accumulated Gain 943 feet
Avg Time One Way 3.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.44
Interest Seasonal Waterfall
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
12  2019-09-05
Hopkins Mountain Antler Recovery
8  2019-03-22 ALMAL
16  2019-03-20 Yoder
2  2018-04-21 Eartheist
6  2018-03-24 hikerdw
8  2018-03-08 ALMAL
12  2018-02-01 DixieFlyer
8  2017-09-21 daend4u
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6
Author te_wa
author avatar Guides 3
Routes 0
Photos 977
Trips 294 map ( 3,048 miles )
Age 48 Male Gender
Location 221b Baker St.
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, Sep, Oct → 10 AM
Seasons   Late Summer to Late Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:19pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
steep trail to Workman creek
by te_wa

Likely In-Season!
While many of the more popular areas such as the Superstitions and the Mogollon Rim see hoards of people escaping the valley's drama, the Hells Hole area of the Salome Wilderness offers solitude and silence. It starts as a nice stroll up an old jeep road through pine forest. After 100 ft. in you will come to a sign for the Hells Hole Trail-6 miles, Boyer trail-2 miles. Based on my calculations the Boyer trail is 2.5 miles from the T.H. and the Hells Hole trail is 5.

When the trail steadily climbs to the top of a shoulder it then begins moderately decending through forest including emory oak, manzanita and ponderosa with some juniper thrown in for fun. About 1 mile from the T.H. you come to Armer Ranch, please respect this private property. At the ranch, the trail turns right (north) following the drainage of Reynolds creek for a short distance before dropping into it. Its a nicely shaded area with pools of water and larger, riparian tree life. After crossing the seasonal creek, you will begin a steady and moderate climb past a Salome Wilderness sign to the top of an exposed scrubby hill. Here you will find more dry-climate plantlife, and in October I spotted several lizards and toads enjoying the rocky trail shaded with large manzanita.

Shortly after the top, you will see the left branching Boyer trail, keep right and continue north where the trail starts its rocky, steady descent towards a tributary of Workman creek. Just past this point, the trail starts to turn east through some overgrown areas where I had to fight some pretty gnarly thornbushes. While the going is somewhat easy, there is sun exposure and even at the elevation here (5700 ft)it would be hot in Summer. Continuing on, the trail starts its steep descent into Workman Creek, taking in several great views of the canyon walls. This point of the hike is well shaded, and is well appreciated due to the strenuous climb back up the switchbacks. After more than 1/2 mile of descent, the trail stops at Workman Creek and exploration downstream comes to 2 small campsites. You could go further down the stream to the tiered waterfalls, dry at this time, but none the less impressive as they carve the "bowls" and notches into the granite walls.

I discovered a way up and around the falls to a spot where the creek cuts its way through pink granite. The going would be slow after this point.. it is completely overgrown on one side and a sheer 40' drop-off on the other. You could also attemp a cross country bushwack the mile or so to Salome Creek or farther to the "JUG".

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2004-10-24 te_wa

    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 22 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Hell's Hole Trail #284 - Salome Wilderness
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Hopkins Mountain Antler Recovery
    The highlight of our hike when we bagged Hopkins Mountain on Labor Day weekend two years ago was encountering the right antler of a 12-point elk rack. At the time we had just divested a large collection of horns and antlers collected while hiking so along with the size and weight neither of us cared to haul it out.

    Fast forward two years and four days...
    Another day off for Tracey so how about we head up to the Sierra Ancha to avoid the 110° forecast. Ok, but what hike shall we choose?

    Hmmm... and just then I thought about all the racks MountainMatt has been harvesting so how about we see if the 44" antler is still on Hopkins Mountain. Even if nobody had taken it, how likely is it no be still there? After all it was on a VERY steep slope of Hopkins Mountain, so who knows how far it may have been washed down-slope, and would it still be in one piece?

    Still, it's a worthy hike so let's do it. So we set off on Hell's Hole Trail #284 from the Reynolds TH at a pleasingly cool 66°. Although cool there was plenty of humidity so by time we reached the saddle just north of Jack Mountain I was half-drenched in sweat.
    It felt a bit better due to a slight breeze on the descent to the Workman Creek crossing. But within the next 500' of elevation gain I was sweating faster than I could keep it off my glasses.
    And that was just the ON the trail... the easy part...
    Now comes the OFF-trail fun, ascending roughly 800 feet in less than a mile. While the route sported plenty of thick manzanita and holly, by playing close attention to and making the most the various deer/elk game-trails we minimized the effort.

    Ha! Minimized the effort! Yeah right! The slope was so steep much of it was take three steps up, slide two steps down, repeat... Oh yeah, sometimes it meant slide down ten feet and seek another route back up.
    : rambo : :sweat:
    When we were within a hundred yards along the contour of where we found the antler two years ago our anticipation grew. Ok, to be fair, Tracey was the pessimist... "it ain't gonna be there" [-(
    Me? I was definitely the optimist... "it WILL be there, or at least nearby." :pray:
    But as we closed in we had to abandon the contour and climb another hundred feet due to thick brush and a spate of tree-fall. So when the GPS tells me we are within 100' all we had to do was slide down to the waypoint, which is what I did.

    Wow! Is that crazy or what? Before I reached the exact spot, there it was, not 20 feet downhill of where we left it two years ago.
    Of course it was quite fortuitous it had slid into a tree and was thoroughly locked in place. Yes, it took several attempts of twisting before I was able to remove it.
    : rambo :
    When Tracey picked it up for a comparison photo to the previous trip, her first observation was wow, it is much lighter than before... and it WAS. :o
    Obviously we don't carry a scale with us so we don't know what it weighed two years ago but when weighing it at home it tipped the scale at 10 pounds.

    Ok, we found it again, now what? :-k
    Well, as unwieldy as it is, I might have a tough time with my hiking poles. So I collapsed my poles, put them in Tracey's backpack and tried to find the best way to carry the antler.

    Whoops! Just a few steps and I'm already sliding down the slope, trying desperately not to fall and be gored.
    Wouldn't that be a great story? Hiker, gored by a stray elk antler! ](*,)

    No way I can do this without assistance so I retrieved one of my hiking poles from Tracey and I set off again, roughly following our descent route of two years ago. It wasn't the easiest thing to keep my balance and wind my way in and among the vegetation, what with this 44" curlicued antler sticking out on both sides, almost willing itself to catch and hold onto every tree or bush.

    Thankfully we made it back to the Hell's Hole trail without any major mishap... in fact without a single misstep once I had a hiking pole to aid me. Once on the trail the only thing I had to deal with was trying to find the most comfortable way to carry the antler... which seemed to need re-adjusting every hundred yards or so.

    Back to the Workman Creek crossing and Tracey set about to raid the blackberry bushes, which she did with great relish.
    As for me? Well, I wasn't looking forward to the steep rocky climb through the area where manzanita & cat's-claw are overlapping the trail (not enough traffic to keep it clear I guess) and in the direct sun no less. So while Tracey kept picking I started climbing.

    Just past the sunny area I heard Tracey moving fast to catch up... she was wondering where the heck I was and she didn't expect I had gotten that far ahead of her. I guess that's what happens when one is consumed by the thought of consuming fresh blackberries... only the consumption will have to wait.

    Oh how I hate the climb from near the Armer Ranch to the saddle north of Jack Mountain. Usually I'm carry LESS weight at the end of a hike not 10 pounds MORE so now I'm sloshing in my boots.
    : rambo : :sweat:
    And wouldn't you know it, with just a downhill back to the TH, NOW Tracey volunteers to carry the burden.
    But the photo was priceless... that's some rack Tracey has, huh? :stp:

    Surprisingly with numerous deer encounters along Young Highway including three of the tiniest deer we'd ever seen (alive anyway... see Mount Ord hike) and plenty of evidence of elk, deer, bear, coyote and yes, even a cow, we encountered no of the above during the hike.
    Hell's Hole Trail #284 - Salome Wilderness
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Backpacked into Hell's Hole with some friends. We did the same hike last year and enjoyed it then, so we thought "let's do it again!" Bad call. This year, the overgrowth on the last 1.5 miles of the trail is horrible. We were warned by previous HikeAZ posters to wear long pants and, fortunately, we all did (as you'd end up a bloody mess without them). Even with long pants, the constant pushing through holly bushes with a full pack slows you down considerably and saps your energy on a warm, sunny day. It took 1.5-2 hot, sweaty hours for us to cover the last 1.5 miles.

    One other important note. About 3-3.5 miles from the trailhead, you'll reach a mesa with a few flat campsites and lots of juniper trees. That would make a lovely destination if you don't mind dry camping (as there is no water up there). 1/2 mile beyond that, as the trail starts its long descent into Hell's Hole canyon, there is a FALSE TRAIL heading off to the left of the main trail. Look for it and do NOT take it! It looks so much like a real trail that nearly everyone hiking that day (in our group and others) mistakenly took it. For the first 50-100 feet it looks more like a real trail than the real trail. Then, it has several slippery drop offs that, if taken, will drop you down into an 'off trail' area, making it very difficult to make your way back up after you realize you are lost. On our way out, we loaded up some sticks, logs and rocks to make it much more clear for future hikers.

    While all that sounds pretty bad, there were some highlights to this trip. We did locate the small waterfall that HikeAZ user 'ALMAL' noted in a previous TripLog and it is still flowing lightly and absolutely gorgeous. We were also lucky enough to get a campsite down at the river on a Saturday night. There are 3 sites down there and, if they're all full, then you'll have to hike 1000 vertical feet back up to camp on the mesa (WITH all the water you'll need for the night). Ugggh.

    Another note: Several guidebooks (like Arizona Highways) show a photo of a gorgeous watering hole and waterfall with an implication that that's what you'll see when you get to the campsites. It's not. To get to that photo spot (near the confluence of the Workman and Salome Creeks), it's a rough bushwhack and rock scramble for an additional 1.2 miles past the campsites. We explored in that direction for a distance where we had to climb up to the top of a rock shelf (on the left side of the creek) to make headway. We didn't make it to the confluence but we estimated it would take at least 1 hour each way (beyond the campsites).

    There are two water sources on this trail as it crosses/encounters the Workman Creek at the 2 mile mark and again at the campsites. Both times we visited were in April and the creek was running well both times. Seems to be year-round, but I don't want to make that claim since I've never been there summer/fall.

    Overall, this trip had some pretty significant highs and lows. We definitely wouldn't do it again until there is some trail maintenance. It doesn't seem like that will be anytime soon.
    Hell's Hole Trail #284 - Salome Wilderness
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    First time hiking this trail. Was expecting to be cursing the up hill climb but it was almost easy, kudos to whomever laid out the switchbacks. Went downstream a bit then found a nice spot for lunch. As we were finishing up a group of hikers arrived. Will definitely put this on the redo list.
    Hell's Hole Trail #284 - Salome Wilderness
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Yesterday Tracie, my intrepid hiking partner, and I made our first trek into Hell's Hole. All I can say is that Hell's Hole seems much more like heaven than hell!

    We hit the trail around 8AM with the temperature in the low 30' the time that we got back in the afternoon, the temperature was a very pleasant 64 degrees. We saw a little snow on the ground, and with the dry winter no water shoes were needed to cross Workman's Creek, which is about 2.25 miles into the hike. The trail was in good shape, although it is getting rather overgrown on the descent/ascent to/from Hell's Hole. I was wearing shorts, and on that section I was wishing that I had worn long pants.

    My garmin GPS measured 11 miles and an AEG of around 2,750' to and from Hell's Hole.

    We did not see another soul on the hike, which suited me just fine!
    Hell's Hole Trail #284 - Salome Wilderness
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Great quiet hike, did not run into anyone on a Thursday night. Beautiful shaded and forested hike up to the first creek crossing. At this time of the year it was very simple to cross with the stepping stones. Steady flow and what a beautiful sight with all the green the water brings. Soon after I ran into a Salome Wilderness/Tonto Forrest sign after passing through more forest. From there I noticed the a slight climb and the terrain shifted more toward a desert landscape with the towering forested trees disappearing. Here I found much more smaller shrubs and greater sun exposure. I did run into the wooden sign marking Hells Hole 284 and the Boyer Trail letting me know I was on the right path. After this portion of the trail I began the descent through the switchbacks dropping deeper and deeper. I scrapped my legs from all the overgrowth here, but nothing that required any first aid. Once at the bottom I counted 3 camp sites all creek side. There are some make shift stone fire pits and the ground allowed for tent stakes. I didn't see any fish in the creek and I didn't find the waterfall. Calm and quiet night, I did not run into a lot of wildlife. After the peaceful recharge I made my way up and out easily. The hike back up the switch backs is a beast, but conquerable with time. I remember destroying a lot of spider webs in the morning leaving the creek. The trail is easily followed and would recommend this as a 1st/beginner back packer trip, like myself.
    Hell's Hole Trail #284 - Salome Wilderness
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    Did this hike Memorial Day weekend, tried to hike down to Workman Creek and then was going to follow the creek back up to where it connects about 1/2 way up the trail and scope out some fishing along the way... but the path along the creek is far to steep on the sides and clogged with brush. My short cut wasn't much of a shortcut as it would have taken for ever to go that way I just returned back up the endless switchbacks of Hell and back out. The trail is very overgrown, lots of scratches, nice remote place but not high on my list to return to.
    Hell's Hole Trail #284 - Salome Wilderness
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Met up with Lee, Jackie, 9L, and a gaggle of dogs for a trip to Hells Hole.

    This trail is an unexpected gem! :y:
    The trail is in great shape. The forest is stunning and totally unexpected for this area with old growth pines and tons of young spruce, which surprised me for this elevation.

    And apparently the private property at the Armer Ranch has prevented the Forest Service from burning the place down!

    I was spent and skipped the last 600 foot drop to the bottom of Hells Hole, but I'll be back to check that out sometime. Other hikers reported that all the camp sites down there were taken, so apparently not everybody shares my lack of knowledge about how nice this hike is! Oh well! :lol:
    Hell's Hole Trail #284 - Salome Wilderness
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Hells Hole & Boyer Trails
    Day 3 of our Sierra Ancha hiking/camping trip brought a warm and sunny day so where do we hike today? We decided on starting from Reynolds TH along Young Highway but were unsure whether the destination would be Hells Hole or Peak 5940, just off Boyer Trail 148.

    On the drive from our campsite near Moody TH to Reynolds TH we saw a number of wild turkeys along the road... with hunting season opening on Friday they better be hiding soon! :gun:

    Just before reaching Reynolds TH we came upon Road Closed signs and around the corner we found huge double-dump trucks, back-hoes and other construction gear blocking the way. We couldn't continue for a closer look but it appeared the highway had been washed out by the heavy rains on Tuesday. Thinking we could still park at the trailhead I drove past the barriers and turned in toward the TH but a bunch of pickups were blocking the way so I drove up to the locked gate for the group campsite. When the construction foreman came and I asked if we could park there he said to go back up the road a ways and wait until the last two dump trucks passed by then I could come back and park next to a construction shed at the TH.

    Not wanting to waste time just sitting and waiting, we drove about a half-mile up the highway and parked at the first wide spot next to the road and set off cross-country to hit Hells Hole Trail 284.

    Lots of ups and downs on this trail and lots of trees so there weren't too many wide views of the area. By time we reached the 148/284 trail junction it was getting pretty warm in the sun so we sat there for a moment to decide, which is it? Hells Hole or continue on the Boyer Trail?

    Hells Hole meant another mile along with a thousand-foot drop along with the thousand-foot climb back out later so we opted for the flatter route along Boyer Trail.

    When we reached the spot where the old trail used to go slightly SW along the lower slope of Peak 5940, again it was decision time. Instead of turning off the existing trail to ascend Peak 5940, again we opted to stick with the Boyer Trail, planning on turning back when we hit the saddle at Peak 5404. But that didn't last long... not long after the trail began to drop fast we realized we'd be going well below 5404 before climbing up to the saddle and every mile we continued meant another mile added to the return. So we turned back and found a nice cool area of flat rock and had our usual PB&J lunch and a short nap. Ahhh! That's the life!

    Ok, enough rest already! If we stayed any longer we'd never want to get moving again so it was time to hit the trail again. And again it is up and down and up and down all the way back. When we reached the Hells Hole junction we had a thought of going just a little way to see what it looks like, but that's just what it was, just a thought, and a fleeting one at that.

    Cruising along the last stretch of Trail 248 Tracey managed to see something of interest off to the side. It looked to be a bunker of some type so we went over to take a closer look. Since the horizontal door was unlocked, that was just an invitation to check it out.
    Wow! The horizontal metal door wasn't exactly light! :wlift:
    I pulled the door up vertical to have Tracey keep it in place while I checked it out but she was having none of that!

    What if the door slammed shut and you can't get back out?... and with other relatively irrational what-if's. Ok, to keep her happy I reluctantly closed the door and we left it. (for another time... I'll be back alone if need be) :-$

    Still hearing the heavy equipment working near the TH we didn't even want to see how they were progressing so again cut a bee-line back to the Cherokee.

    Another relatively small photoset so I posted them all on HAZ. Again no video... maybe there will be tomorrow.
    Hell's Hole Trail #284 - Salome Wilderness
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    We did this as an overnight trip. I agree with previous posters that it feels this hike is uphill both ways... but it was very enjoyable. The swimming hole at the bottom was unfortunately all dried out for us. It was a tad warm at the bottom of the canyon as it is June, but not unpleasant. We had a rattlesnake show up in our camp which was exciting. The camping spots were nice... but if I was going to do it all over again, I might have stayed at the nice spot by reynold's creek half way in do to the heat and lack of water down the canyon.
    Hell's Hole Trail #284 - Salome Wilderness
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    With the Anchas flowing good and this weekend opening up, this seemed like the perfect canyon to hit this weekend. :y: My buddy worked the graveyard shift, hence the late start and camping just above the lower narrows of Park Creek. I was hurting also from a cold so a halfday that first day worked out good for both of us. :sweat: The hike to upper Park Canyon isn't that bad and goes by fast plus it's so sweet to see the first waterfall section after all that work to reach it. :D We did a few of the rappels that Saturday afternoon before retiring for the night on some flat creekside red quartzite. :zzz: Sunday was the bulk of the canyon loop for us and we were all suited up for the lower wet Park Canyon with it's pools and slickrock. I elected to do the 40ft slide while by buddies rappelled it. :lol: From that sweet pool room we did another 50ft rappel under the arch to reach the rocky creekbed of upper Salome Creek. Mucho rock hopping, creek wading, and light bushwhacking is required to reach the Grotto section but it is SO worth it. :y: The upper part of those narrows involved some small slides and sweet jumps into the Grotto Pool itself. More boulder climbing thru the narrows to reach the simul-rappel spot with a swim under a boulder bridge. :GB: We were kinna miffed to find some food trash down in this section??? Who hiked cans and large plastic bags in here? :x Careless hikers or hunters or maybe it washed down from above? I picked some of it up and moved it away from the pool, but it was too much trash and too far yet to go for us to haul it out... :roll: Another waterfall rappel, a few more pools, a nice jump, and a few more slides and we were at the confluence with Workman Creek and dropping gear. The hike up Workman is a bit of a challenge esp to get up out of the creek and bushwhack past that 50ft falls but it certainy is a sweet falls. Some more creek hiking and we're on the trail proper and hiking up the steep Hell's Hole trail. :sweat: I was still dragging rear from my cold so it was SO nice to hit some flatish trail up on top yet we still had a few miles to go to reach the TH. Such an amAZing canyon loop but you def have to EARN this one. : rambo :

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Fountain Hills drive north on Hwy. 87 and turn right onto 188 towards Globe. About 12 miles beyond the Roosevelt Dam bridge, turn onto the signed AZ 288 and drive north on this semi-paved, semi-dirt road 26 miles to the Reynolds Trail sign on the left. 120 miles from Fountain Hills, parking for 20 vehicles.
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