In the beginning
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The Verde River Trail (Trail #11 on the Tonto Map) is one of three trails that culminate from Sheep's Crossing/ Sheep Bridge area on the Verde River. Feeding both Horseshoe and Bartlett reservoirs - the Verde has a moderate perennial flow.
The trip to the TH is an adventure in itself. You have to drive about 45 miles of forest road; the last 8 of which are un-maintained; and there are several rocky parts. However, due to the remoteness - this area of the Tonto Forest offers plenty of solitude.
This trail heads north into the Mazatzal Wilderness and offers great views of the Verde River/ Cypress Butte and Mazatzal Peak. This is a through trail that goes up to the Strawberry area. I only did the first 3 1/2 miles or so, until the trail left the river! The first mile or so of the trail was easy to follow - however, once you cross into the Mazatzal Wilderness, it seems to be used much less, and at times the trail was difficult to follow.
The TH is around 2100ft. and the trail itself does not have a lot of elevation change (the southern part anyway,) but there is diverse plant and animal life due to the proximity of the river.
There is also a Hot Spring near Sheep Bridge which was surprisingly clean. Someone built a small cement tub and drain, so the water gets recycled. I imagine due to the remoteness of the area, this spring is not used as much as some of the others in Arizona. There was some spray paint on the rocks along the river - but for the most part this area was clean. This would be a great area to set up a base camp on the beach along the river and set out for some day trips to explore further.
There is also another route to get to the TH. This requires crossing the river south of Horseshoe Dam and taking FR479 north. I assume this is shorter - but I have not seen the river at a point where I felt comfortable crossing.
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.