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Spencer Spring Trail #275, AZ

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Guide 21 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Queen V NE
3.3 of 5 by 9
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,400 feet
Elevation Gain 1,297 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,610 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.37
Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
15  2018-11-24
Rock Creek Spencer Spring Loop
8  2018-11-24
Rock Creek Spencer Spring Loop
6  2018-11-24
Rock Creek - Spencer Springs loop
22  2017-02-04
Rock Creek Spencer Spring Loop
24  2017-02-04
Rock Creek Spencer Spring Loop
25  2015-03-20
Miles Ranch
5  2015-02-21 hikerdw
20  2013-12-26
Sawtooth Ridge - Spencer Loop
Page 1,  2
Author Tim
author avatar Guides 10
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 356 map ( 2,719 miles )
Age 57 Male Gender
Location Scottsdale
Co-Author mnorris
co-author avatarGuides 1
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 0 map (0 Miles)
Age Female Gender
Location Flagstaff, AZ
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Preferred   Nov, Mar, Apr, Feb → 7 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:12am - 6:21pm
Official Route
8 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Up a Creek
by Tim & mnorris

This hike begins at the Miles Trailhead which is just east of the Kennedy Ranch. Forest Service Road 287A was in very good shape and I had no problem negotiating it in my Ford Mustang. There were a couple of sedans at the trailhead so a high clearance vehicle is not a mandatory requirement by any means.

2.65 mi Access
One begins the hike on the West Pinto Trail #212 which is the only exit out of the trailhead. The trail winds through the forest before coming to a wide clearing after just a 1/2 mile. The Kennedy Ranch is just north of the trail at this point and its fences and a dilapidated structure can be observed in the adjoining meadow. Shortly after this clearing one is a sign for Bull Basin Trail #270. West Pinto continues slightly to the right and drops into a creek bed which you will follow for the next mile and a half or so. The trail crosses the creek bed several times but is well traveled and very easy to follow.

At about 2.3 miles you will come to a sharp left turn away from the creek bed which will begin to ascend. Cuff Button Trail #276 ( 2.4 mi ) is quickly encountered, it heads to the right across the creek bed and begins to climb up the hills. Continue the short ascent over a small rise. Descending down this rise will eventually deposit you on the east end of Oak Flat. Along the way to Oak Flat you will be able to make out a large corral on the north side of the creek bed. Soon after the corral you will come to the intersection with Campaign Trail #256 ( 2.55 mi ).

Continuing west across the Oak Flats, you will very quickly come upon the next major intersection ( 2.65 mi ) for the Spencer Spring and West Pinto Trails. This intersection was exactly 1 hour from the Miles Trailhead.

Spencer Spring Trail #275 ( 0.0 mi )
The Spencer Spring Tail appears to be well traveled and heads off to your left. It trail criss-crosses the Spencer Spring Creek numerous times so one has to be on the lookout for cairns or risk getting off trail which will slow you down and result in cat claw encounters. At one point, the trail follows along the west side of the creek through a 50 yard gauntlet of cat claw which was simply brutal. Reportedly better in 2017. For the most part you are hiking along the creek bed under the trees without any real views to speak of until you get about halfway up the canyon.

At 2.3 mi trail then goes up the left side of the creek, up and over a narrow section of the creek, then back down to the creek. It immediately begins climbing up the the right side of the creek (N) and switchcbacks away from the creek. You gain 600 ft from the creek in a half mile. The trail follows several hundred feet above the canyon. The rest of the trail is on exposed rock with little vegetation other than manzanita. It crosses the creek again at 3.75 mi near Spencer Spring. Right around 4.0 mi the trail ends at FR650.

You can loop Spencer with Rock Creek Trail for 13.9 mi / 2k aeg.

Page History
Original 2003-12-02 Tim
Revision 2017-06-08 mnorris & HAZ_Hikebot

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2017-06-08 Tim & mnorris
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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
Spencer Spring Trail #275
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Rock Creek Spencer Spring Loop
If you use your imagination there are "trails" out there. :lol: This loop is packed with features and we were likes kids on a mission. On the way up Rock Creek "trail" we stopped at the unknown Cowboy grave then over to an old mine which was collapsed but still had lots of cool stuff around. Farther up Rock Creek "trail" we stopped at the waterfall and checked out an old corral. The next section was the easy part of the hike. We walked FR650 to Spencer Spring "trail". We took some time to check out the ruins and hunt for nice pot sherds. The upper section of Spencer Spring "trail" was faint but we stopped at Spencer Spring, then down to a neat slot canyon with a waterfall and finally another old corral. The final stretch going back on West Pinto trail was a luxury. After the hike we stopped for grub at Hermanos and saw Bifrost & Slowandsteady. Just another nice day on the "trail".
Spencer Spring Trail #275
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The high hopes for this hike were dampened almost from the start...
First, the heavy dark clouds made us wonder if we should have left this for another day.
Next, the drive up from the 60 near Picketpost on FR650 was a VERY rough one... pretty close to the worst conditions I've ever encountered on it.
(Tracey was having none of going back down later... she insisted we return via FR172)
And last, although our hiking tool-set included hand trimmer and lopper, we simply weren't prepared to complete this one.

Beginning from FR650 we hadn't gone more than a hundred yards before the trail became a labyrinth of routes. How were we to know if this semi-beaten path was a game trail or 'the trail'? While we encountered cairns here and there, for the most part, they were WRONG. That said, traveling from east-to-west was decidedly easier staying on-trail. But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself...

From the outset we decided we would only trim the thorniest and/or most obtrusive brush. Well and good, except at that rate it would take us 12 hours to do the hike so after 75 minutes for one mile of travel we began trimming only thorny brush. Even that became too slow so we stopped trimming completely and just bulled our way through the thickest stuff.

But it wasn't long before this isn't fun anymore and we stopped for a re-think... Should we continue? If so, how far? In the end, my ankle prompted the decision to turn around. It was fine going up, down or when the up-slope was on the left. But when we had a short bit with the down-slope on the left my ankle protested... so with the realization that 95% of the return trip would be left-side down it was time to turn around. (Yesterday's Mount Peeley hike with Ray yesterday probably played its part here as well.)

Of course we made MUCH better time on the return... the trimmed areas felt like highways and the route-finding was easier, not only because we'd already passed through, but even in the thickest spots we could always tell where the trail was. Which is also when we realized many cairns on the FR650 end were in the wrong place, providing false leads.

Ok, since we didn't complete the hike will we return? By mutual agreement we came up with a resounding NO! Too may other trails and even off-trails more fun (and scenic) than this one.

After the hike we drove back out on FR172, stopping at one point to explore an old road on foot and add a bunch more AEG to our day... at least it was straight up and straight down.

Our biggest surprise for the day was the almost absolute lack of traffic. Only a few ATV's on FR650 and ONE pickup along FR172.

Could it be due to football season? If so, I hope football season soon becomes year-round.
Unfortunately the arrival of snow-bird season will more-than-likely offset the football fans staying home.
Spencer Spring Trail #275
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Sawtooth Ridge - Spencer Loop
When Joe and I did our Cuff Button loop a month or so ago, I saw the look in his eyes when he stared across the at the Saw tooth Range. His jaw dropped, his eyes went glassy, and I think he actually added it to his Christmas list.

I knew he’d be trying to coax me into making the trek (or is it hike) across the ridgeline. He is a crafty little HAZ Master and knows how to work the angles with me. He pointed out a large ruin at the very beginning of the hike which he knows interests me. I don’t ever remember anyone elso talking about this one. Using GE I measured the perimeter of the ruins to be aprox 600’. For comparison purposes, Circlestone is only aprox 430’ around. Circlestone is located 5 miles due north of this location.

Joe painstakingly crafted a 40 point track to get the adventure started. I was surprised (and very happy) that Karl became a late addition to this “Adventure”. First.. to help me keep Joe in line, and second, my two wheel drive would not have made it down the FR650 portion on the drive to the TH, saving 6 miles RT of road walking. The drive in on 172 was the roughest I’d seen it, but still not all that bad.

We parked right up next to the ruins on the other side of the fence. The ruins were not as impressive as I’d hoped, with none of the walls that we witnessed more than 18” – 24” or so high. It appears there are aprox 12 rooms in the ruin. On the way down the ridge we passed another small ruin at I believe at Peak 5144.

So now were making good time along the ridge, talking about what we are going to hike next today since this is only planned to be a 10.5 mile hike and conditions are much better that we had thought. Conditions started getting “Thicker” from 4932 on the way to 4784. Then came 5204. There were portions going up that Karl was making so much noise, I’d swear he had a machete out. It was a bit slow to get to the top. We took our lunch up top and contemplated what we were going to do….. complete the planned loop, or bail down the side. After Karl had his lunchtime beverage, taking the lead, he was flying over, past, around and through the brush. It was determined that before we got to 5010 and 5046 we were going to bail for Spencer Spring Trail. A lot of this decision was made because of the reports for the choked out hell on the last two miles of the Spencer Spring Trail.

The ridge we bailed down was thick. Real Thick. Luckily I’d brought shin pads in anticipation of the brush we’d be going through, but nothing could have prepared me for the hell ahead. This is first hike where my torso took the brunt of the punishment. Going down through the tangled mess continually pulled up my shirt exposing and further etching my skin. Relieve came as we hit our first “Trail” of the day. Spencer Spring Creek is a very picturesque area. There was sign of Bear everywhere on this trail… good…. now I had a new excuse for the scratches all over me..

There was an old corral, spring box and feed box at Cement Spring (circa 1939). Luckily for us the advertised hell on this trail never materialized. If you paid attention and followed a decent GPS track (Irv Kanode’s track was very helpful) there are no problems. It’s not that there was not any brush, but it was nothing like what we’d come through earlier.

We stopped at Spencer Spring (circa 1936), on the way out where it was flowing nicely at more than a gallon a minute.

Thanks for joining and driving Karl…
Joe, Is that itch scratched now?
Spencer Spring Trail #275
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Sawtooth Ridge - Spencer Loop
While hiking Cuff Button recently the Sawtooth Ridge caught my eye. Bruce and Karl kindly joined in.

From the top we headed down the ridge. Immediately you go through what looks like a large mansion outlined in rock. It's more exciting on satellite than in person. Over a mile and a half down I commented... "okay this is so easy it's almost boring". A wildfire made this one travel pretty easy.

Easy until about 2.5 mi. The next 0.25 mi / 550 ft up to Peak 5204 took a solid hour. It is steep. You grab chaparral to pull yourself up. Lifting your feet high enough over and over was the challenge for myself. Near the top is a short class four pitch or you can bypass on either side. It was very windy from the beginning of our hike. That tagged on with the previous quarter mile had the other guys in abort mode. I came loaded with batteries for my high power light to get this one done. Yet it was obvious they didn't share the desire. So off we went down a ridge to Spencer.

It was ridiculous thick going down. Took an hour and twenty minutes to go down 0.7mi / 1170 ft. We were all happy to see #275.

From everything I read I was expecting pure hell on upper Spencer. That never played out. We brushed a few catclaw bushes lightly on maybe three occasions. The trail does require attention to figure out and it is overgrown. Yet nothing that I consider horrible by any means. A pretty cool trail/canyon in my experience.

Wore my rarely used fire hose pants for this one. In the first couple miles they didn't seem as hearty as I recalled. By days end, hearing how the others were scratched up, they served well. The only scratches noted in the shower are near my ankles where coverage lacked. Did get stabbed by a Schott's Agave or similar. Karl and I can both attest to the wicked sting. Bruce wouldn't join in on the fun.

For the entire loop, only one mile was extra challenging. It's disappointing seeing only 60% of the ridge covered on map. The work to reward ratio is probably too thin for most. It's not horrible. The views are fantastic.

Karl was running circles around Bruce and I on top of his 10k week!

FS172 seemed rougher than usual. High clearance is still fine for crafty hearty types. FS650 may be 4WD for some to Spencer from 172. It wouldn't phase me much in 2WD. Ice in areas was the only real concern.

Took 3 quarts agua, consumed 1.5
Spencer Spring Trail #275
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This was a three day loop in a lesser traveled area of the Supes. I started at Cuff Button trail,to Spencer Spring Trail to the Arizona Trail, the crosscut to Roger's Trough, then W. Pinto to Campaign Trail then the decommissioned Pinto Peak Trail back to the Cuff Button TH.

Just getting to the Cuff Button trail head is a task in itself that involves navigating an ant-trail network of roads after you pass the turnoff for Miles TH. I do have that route on GPS if anyone ever gets the itch to do Cuff Button. Cuff Button started off like a breeze the official route I downloaded from HAZ was tracking well and the trail had just received some serious maintenance. However, after passing Cuff Button's most notable attraction, the corral at the northern end of the trail, the trail got increasingly more difficult, to the point that it became a bushwhack and many places. Although, after the initial steep climb,the trail got much easier to follow, and the tread was pretty heavy in spots, from its days as an old road. I passed a couple of prehistoric sites, several springs in disrepair, and a few corrals. Honestly, Cuff Button went much smoother than I thought it would, however, I made a lot of extra work for myself, after getting off trail while coming down Oak Flat, I went on an off-trail adventure fueled by stubbornness, spotting a spring box, and simply losing the trail for a minute. That off-trail excursion took a lot out of the dogs and myself, so I decided I would continue down Spencer Spring until I got tired, knowing there was no way I was going to hike the entire trail, around 4 I found a spot just before you start making your climb out of the Spencer Creek drainage. This trail obviously does not get that much use either, I had tons of firewood, a great spot and I had a huge fire, because it got cool in a hurry, camped at just over 4000 feet.

Day 2

Woke up to frozen over dog dishes, and frozen water. I broke camp and tried to dry out my condensation soaked tent as best as possible before hitting the trail. Was hiking again by 8 in the morning and feeling really good about Spencer Creek Trail, but I could not help but remember reading an HAZ trip-log that cursed the bushwhack of a final climb out of Spencer Creek. That HAZ member could not have been more spot on, the trail was more overgrown than Cuff Button in spots, harder to follow in the upper elevations, eroded, and steep in several spots. I was so relieved to hit FR 650, it made me laugh to myself, how I thought hiking this section of road to Roger's Trough would be the worst part of my hike earlier in the week. After Cuff Button and the southern end of Spencer Creek I embraced the road, and so did the dogs! I passed, or I should I say a convoy of 20 plus jeeps passed me, I briefly chatted with some car campers, hit the Roger's Trough crosscut (thanks Grasshopper) and made my way to Roger's Trough. I had an extended lunch and then started making my climb up W. Pinto. As I approached the pass on Iron Mountain, I notice two hikers literally just off-trail hiking up Iron Mountain. I yelled to them if they were looking for trail and they said yes, I guess they walked off somewhere near Roger's Spring, however, they were now on the opposite side of the major wash that cuts down Iron Mountain there, so I stood on trail near the pass, to give them a frame of reference and they made it to the trail. Anyone who has climbed that section of W. Pinto knows the work those two put in to almost climb that pass, completely off trail. They were actually headed the same way as me, so I ended up passing them a few times over the next couple of days. Although, at 1:30 and not even half way down W. Pinto I had to break the news to them that making it to Fire Line Trail was probably out of the question for them. I was actually doing well on time and already knew where I was camping, so I took a side trip and explored the old Silver Spur Cabin site, which had burnt several years ago. The side trip was worth it, just a half-mile jaunt south up the most obvious wash once you near the riparian area as you descend W. Pinto. Someone has built quite the shack out there, complete with a vanity and everything, it kind of gave me creeps so I made my way back to the W. Pinto trail and headed back down to the Miles/Oak Flat areas. I ran into the same hikers, they were looking for Campaign Trail and debating whether to go for Pinto Divide and Fire Line. I told them I would not attempt, but they were eager and fresh and they made their way down trail, while I hiked not far up Spencer Creek to a nice little camp site I had spotted the day before.

Day 3

All week I debated the best way to make a loop out of Cuff Button, I thought about walking the road back from Miles, but that would have been way too long, I also considered just taking Cuff Button back, but once was enough, so I came up with an alternative on day 2. I would take Campaign Trail past the intersection with Fire Line and take the old alignment of the original Pinto Peak Trail back to Mormon Corral and then just a short walk from there to Cuff Button TH. The Pinto divide went much better than last time, I ended up running into the same two hikers coming down the north side of Pinto Peak and heading down Campaign Creek. They only made it to the highest saddle the night before and stayed there, I guess it was a little cool, but they like it. Campaign Trail is a little bit overgrown in its southern sections, in particular, coming down from the divide can be a little bit of a bushwhack. Not many maps show the old Pinto Peak Trail (213) which use to go from its trail head near Mormon Corral all the way to W. Pinto. Most of it was renamed and became a part of Campaign Trail, however, the 2.5 miles stretch heading to Mormon Corral and the original Pinto Peak TH have been decommissioned. I took that stretch to get back to the Cuff Button TH and found it to be easy to follow, like, I have in the past. The trail is not much of a bushwhack, there is reliable water at Mountain Spring(and a trail camera now??, plus the tread is pretty easy to follow. The couple miles on the road to get to Cuff Button is actually a pretty scenic route through a nice little canyon area with trickling water, and there is almost certainly zero chance of running into a car, as it is a very rugged road, evident by the several rock cairns along the way to guide those not wishing to risk paint and worse damage to their vehicles.

I made it to the car at about three, noticed a big HAZ in the sand in front of my car and wondered all the way until I got home, "who in their right mind would have also been at Cuff Button Trail Head, that trail sees like ten hikers a year!?" Then I got on HAZ and solved the mystery, working on that HAZ sticker :)
Spencer Spring Trail #275
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Wanted to check out the area around Miles trailhead so we hiked to Oak Flat to check out the Pole Corral and then headed down Spencer Spring Trail to Cement Spring. From there we headed back to the Bull Basin trail to find the Unknown Cowboy Grave and then continued up the abandoned Rock Creek Trail for about a mile or so. The highlight of the day was spotting a Coatimundi scrambling on the side of the canyon wall between the trailhead and Oak Flat.
Spencer Spring Trail #275
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I was just checking out the "W" listed hikes in our hike data base, and came across THIS ONE :roll: , which brought back some very vivid memories of how two of us spent APRIL FOOLS DAY-2006!!

On that beautiful April Fools Day, our original plan was to hike the W.Pinto Trail#212 from Rogers Trough TH (leaving at 9:30am) to the other end at the Miles TH, then back... this would have been an 18 mile hike, but by the time the two of us arrived at the Spencer Tr intersection with the West Pinto Tr (about 7 miles in), we were already so chewed-up from cats claw and frustrated with so much trail overgrowth and negotiating downed trees on that West Pinto Tr section, that we decided it had to be easier to take the Spencer Tr#275, its ~4.6 miles back up to FR650 and then just walk on the forest road, the ~3.5 additional miles back to our vehicle and Rogers Trough TH.

Little did we know what was in-store for us on the Spencer Trail hike section... I won't bore you with all the details, but this LONG 4.6 mile SPENCER TRAIL HIKING SECTION is without doubt, the most difficult route finding hike I have yet to do in the past 3 years I have been hiking the Superstitions. It is really a beautiful, scenic view trail with a lot of elevation gain and loss and running seasonal creeks, BUT once you hike in for a distance, once committed!!.. The overgrowth-cats claw on this trail is very bad and there are numerous spots where the carins just end or become very confusing and you can and probably will wander around trying to find the next correct segment of the trail. IF hiked correctly and IF this loop hike really is 14 miles (I think it is more like 16 miles with the walk on FR650), then on 4/1/06 my hiking buddy and I wandered around to find the correct trail for an additional 1 mile at least. With the Superstition Wilderness Map, a GPS, and two of us to sort out the options, we finally arrived at FR650 at 6:30pm,(30 minutes before dark).. then we hiked on FR650 for 2 miles after dark, then I waived down a pick-up truck for a ride the additional ~1.5 miles back to ROGERS TROUGH TH and our vehicle... I think it was after 10:30pm before we arrived home!... IF you decide to do this loop hike, just re-read and note: ALL THAT IS DETAILED IN THE ORIGINAL HIKE WRITE-UP STILL APPLIES TO THIS LOOP HIKE..and..THEN SOME! I am glad I did this hike as it was a big accomplishment for me, but next time I plan a hike on April Fools Day, I will put a lot more thought into where I decide to go when I plan to start hiking at 9:30am.. 8)

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To Rogers Trough Trailhead
Take US 60 east out of Apache Junction. A couple miles past Florence Junction turn north onto Queen Valley Road and follow 1.6 miles. Turn right onto FS 357 (Hewlett Station Road) and follow about three miles to FS 172. Turn left onto FS 172 and follow this for 9.1 miles (keep an eye out to your right near the four mile mark for a thin arch) to FS 172A. Turn right onto FS 172A and follow 3.8 miles to the Rogers Trough trailhead. The last mile of FS 172A is definitely four wheel drive due to the washed ruts and some steepness. A high clearance pick up without four wheel drive could probably make it but you'd be in trouble if it rained. Be sure to stop and look over your shoulder. The views are awesome looking down in valley extending below.

40 minute video of drive
FR 172 - Hewitt Station Road to Rogers Trough TH

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) - 68.4 mi, 2 hours 3 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) - 102 mi, 2 hours 51 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) - 213 mi, 4 hours 19 mins
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