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Indian Mesa Ruins, AZ

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Guide 26 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NW
3.5 of 5 by 8
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 0.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 0.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,000 feet
Elevation Gain 246 feet
Accumulated Gain 279 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 0.5 - 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 2.1
Interest Ruins
Backpack No
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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25  2018-11-24
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24  2017-12-02
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36  2017-11-11
FT. Tule Trifecta: Cabin - Ruins - Petroglyphs
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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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Preferred   Oct, Nov, Dec → Any
Seasons   Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:16am - 6:27pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Short and sweet
by HAZ_Hikebot

Area to, near or in this hike is closed Dec 15th to Jun 15th.

This is a very short hike at a quarter mile if that. You'd probably walk further going up into the stands at a Cardinals game if they actually sold out a game.

The drive in from the west takes you through some slightly interesting territory. It definitely requires four wheel drive and probably more if it's muddy. You need a permit to even drive in the area, so you better stop by somewhere and get one! According to "Ruins Seldom Seen" the east approach requires a 2.5 mile hike, but you don't need any permits. There is a road from I-17 but the book states a building and such makes it unaccessable. That may be true when the lake is actually present, wouldn't that be pleasant.

The hike is steep but it's over in like five minutes so get over it. The views are pretty awesome. Multi colored cliffs with an autumn splash of yellow leaves along with some green grass fields might get you thinking you're in a different part of Arizona. Go check it out, but plan on checking out some other local quick sites like Black Cave or a handful of springs scattered about the area.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2004-10-21 HAZ_Hikebot
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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
Indian Mesa Ruins
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Looks like I had this on my wish list since 12/2009 and 6 years later, wish is complete thanks to Wade. I think I bugged him about it a couple years ago and he agreed to take me up. I took the day off as his schedule doesn't usually include weekends off. I met up with him and Mary Jo and their neighbor Stephanie for the drive to the TH on Table Mesa Road. It's one of those exits you drive by on the way up north so it was cool to check it out. The drive out there is rather interesting.

We paid our dues and got started in the chill of the morning. This is quite the staging area. As we hiked to the riverbed I didn't realize how wide the Agua Fria was here so that was already impressive to start. Wade's Dec 2013 trip log [ photoset ] describes our hike rather well.
    The road parallels the river and for the first half mile or so looks a lot like a park, someplace you'd like to camp perhaps. (The only addition is the fencing is apparently new and in this one section there were three road closed sign gates.)
    Cockle burrs love the sand and are here in abundance.
    Indian Mesa looms straight ahead.
    Along the north side of the trail a grove of eucalyptus trees interspersed with a cottonwood or two.
    The white bluffs flank the north side of the hike (and they truly are really cool looking! :D )

and then you hike alongside the hill on the old road to meet the new road. You have a couple little climbs and go thru a few open gates and on up the new road before reaching the cairns for the way up. There are some steep moments getting up to the ruins but once you're up there :y: . The ruins are so pretty in white and of course the views are awesome toward Lake Pleasant. We spotted what we think was a spring way over and across the river bed to the SE. I zoomed in to see if it was water seeping or shiny rock; still can't tell. And then off to the west are the spectacular looking Hieroglyphic Mountains, I took several photos of them including a pano.

We wandered around a bit before walking the whole outside of the mesa and peering over the edge from time to time. You can also see the New River Mountains to the NE. From here we spotted the two palm trees we had seen across the river bed and you could look way yonder to see the the Little Grand Canyon Rancho. It was a bit windy on the east end so we headed back to where we started where we lingered a bit more before our hike back down the mountain, by the river bed and to the truck. We got a treat as Wade spotted a herd of burros through the trees in the river bed so we jumped the fence to get a closer look-see. They didn't stick around long so we continued on our way.

We finished off the day with lunch at BCC. Thank you Wade! The bad news is my camera lens seems to have a permanent spot, maybe two BUT only in movie mode and only when the sunlight hits a certain way. I think my warranty company may disown me but I've got to see if they can fix it. I sure hope so.

hiking the road near the Agua River bed ... XmPU
Roads by the River Bed and the roads ... xTSM
Road and hike to the Mesa ... sX8s
The Mesa and the Ruins - in production 12/4/2015, done 12/7/2015 ... 6dtU
The Mesa & Ruins and Burros done 12/7/2015 ... mFeg
Indian Mesa Ruins
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I've had a hankering lately to visit Indian ruins. Last week was the ones just north of Chalk Canyon. Today I headed to the northeast corner of Lake Pleasant to visit Indian Mesa. Drove the Jeep to the remote but well signed (WE WANT YOUR MONEY) Lake Pleasant trailhead via Table Mesa Road. Cowboys were corralling cattle just east of the trailhead. This area is still a working ranch.

Dropped into the very dry Aqua Fria for a short distance and then took the old jeep road, still used by the ranchers and various ATVers. The road parallels the river and for the first half mile or so looks a lot like a park, someplace you'd like to camp perhaps. The trail then breaks into an open and sandy area that can be flooded by Lake Pleasant when it is high. Cockle burrs love the sand and are here in abundance. Indian Mesa looms straight ahead. Along the north side of the trail a grove of eucalyptus trees interspersed with a cottonwood or two offered a shady and aromatic resting spot.

Just beyond this little oasis the white bluffs flank the north side of the hike. The soft limestone and sands of these bluffs erode easily. The harder cap rock at the top protect the soft material below until the cap rock itself erodes, or more likely, enough of the softer material below it collapses and undermines the entire structure. Hmmm, seems a fitting metaphor for whats happening to our own country these days. But back to the hike.

The familiar sound of four big propellers broke the silence as I trudged along. A USAF C-130 aircraft was on a low level training mission roaring ever so clumsily up the Agua Fria river valley from west to east. I've ridden in the back of these beasts in a previous life. They are slow, loud and massively uncomfortable, far more suited to hauling beans and bullets to end-of-the-line forward operating bases than people, especially THIS fighter flying, missile launching, bomb dropping, gun shooting people. The guy flying it probably had a spoon stuck in the pencil pocket of his flight suit, too. Trash haulers! God love 'em cause no one else will. (OK, wife says enough of the pilot rivalry stuff, get on with the real story.)

Soon after the sandy bottom, the trail turns back northwest and begins to climb up towards the mesa. Ran into about two dozen hikers, probably some kind of a hiking club, headed opposite to my direction. Footprints later told me they'd visited the mesa ruins earlier.

Two cairns mark the foot trail up to the mesa's top and the ruins. A short steep climb brings you to the entry to the ruins, a small notch in the vertical walls that comprise the "castle" of the mesa. Besides the obligatory government sign at the top of the entry way, you notice small windows in the protective walls of the ruin. I half expected to see a pair of dark suspicious eyes peering at me as I scaled the entry into this ancient site.

The top of the mesa is spacious and has a commanding view of the river valley below and the surrounding desert, mesas and hills. Many of the fortification walls and those of some of the rooms are very well preserved. Most of the structures are along the northern side of the mesa. I explored a bit and then worked over to the southern end with its fantastic view of the river below and lake to the west. Snacked, listened to the wind and admired the view, wondering how it had changed in the hundreds of years since the site was occupied. Was the rock upon which I now rested my modern posterior a favorite sitting and thinking place for a Hohokam resident a century ago? If I could have a conversation with him/her I think I'd ask how the fishing was back then. I suspect he/she'd want to know what the heck those paddle boarders thought they were doing anyway.

Explored a bit more finding plenty of pottery shards in the main area. Nice to find them, but they belong here. Found a grinding hole, but no metates or petroglyphs. I don't think the porous easily eroding limestone lends itself to petroglyphs.

Time marches on, and so then must I. Began working my way back to the Jeep. Sidetracked across the dry river bed to explore what I think is an old rock and mortar cistern on the south side of the river. There is lots of old fencing in this area and some pretty much unused jeep trails. If there once was a cabin or ranch line shack here, I found no evidence of it. About 150 feet east I found a spring seeping under a large sandstone bluff. Lots of tracks in the sand of critters and cows watering here.

Visiting these types of ruins has always inspired me while simultaneously reminding me of my very small and very fleeting place in this vast universe. Rocks stacked well remain after a century. What evidence of me will some wanderer find a 1000 years into the future? Anything?
Indian Mesa Ruins
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Fun little trip that was noteable for Wendi's legs, up to her knees, getting sucked into some quicksand. We thought it would be nice to walk along side the cool waters of the Agua Fria when it happened that the sand bar gave way. With some effort I was able to break her free of the suction but her shoe required more effort still. Carefull on the sandbars. Along the hike in we saw cormarant fly in and forage in a shaded calm waters, shopping for groceries. We were impressed with our destination. The ruins easily still held up the memories of what life must have been like, even bearing in mind that Lake Pleasant wouldn't have been there, it wasn't hard to imagine waking up to the views of the Fria.
It was awhile before we realized we weren't alone on the Mesa. Another group was on the far east side of the Mesa, they asked for assistance with a photo-op, I obliged. After they made their way down, we sat down for lunch. While we ate another group on 2 side-by-sides drove up on the road in, then to our bewildered amazement they tried to drive up the steep trail, finally the vehicles couldn't get traction
and they gave up after about 75' from the road... not sure how much exercise it saved them, but to each his own. It was on that note the headed back to the exit.
We kept to the high ground on the way back and found a trail along the northern bench. Nice hiking, coming back for sure.
Indian Mesa Ruins
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Indian Mesa Ruins and Tule Creek
A first try looking at old Indian stuff on the west side of I-17. I had Oregon Hiker's GPS track but didn't pay much attention to the drive in instructions so I made some wrong turns. Just remember this: take the Table Mesa exit and follow the west side frontage road to the north...that'll get you there.

First problem was getting across the Agua Fria. Certainly this is no Peoples Canyon, but there was no dry crossing places so I did it barefoot. After that I followed the jeep road toward the obvious mesa. I skipped the side trail up the mesa on the first pass and continued along to Tule Creek. I had noticed that some ancient cartographer had written "Petroglyphs" on the topo map, a couple miles up the creek.

It was pretty good walking up the relatively flat and open creek drainage which had some water. Unfortunately the glyphs were underwhelming, I only found two on low dark stones hidden among the desert flora. Returning I mainly stayed above the creek cut(s) and this was also good walking, much of it on horse trails or cow paths.

The ruins on top of the mesa are impressive, quite a few rooms with well preserved walls (I wondered if there had been some reconstruction). It's clear people lived on top of this small mesa but pottery pieces were pretty sparse and I only noticed one grinding hole. Quite different from most of the nearby ruins on the other side of the freeway where the walls are less preserved but pottery sherds are everywhere.

Only people I saw all day were 4 ATVers...I wondered why those things have to be so loud? Also as I walked out the jeep road I noticed 3 separate places with barrier fences across the road. These all had hiker turnstyles but the wires across the road had been cut. It was confusing to me: I don't think a horse could get through the styles but there were plenty of horse tracks (and ATV/Jeep tracks) on the road. I'm not sure what the management plan is in this area but its not working.

Permit $$
Maricopa Regional Parks - Fees more info

$7 per vehicle,$85 annual or trade your first born for the life pass

$2 walk, bike or horse ride into park

Map Drive
Strictly 4x4

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