register help

Hell's Hip Pocket Ridge, AZ

no permit
44 6 1
Guide 6 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Mesa NE
4.5 of 5 by 4
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Round Trip 8.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,871 feet
Elevation Gain 188 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,460 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 - 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 20.7
Interest Off Trail Hiking
Backpack Yes
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
28  2014-02-22
Skeleton Cave Loop
15  2011-10-05
Skeleton Cave via Cane TH
12  2011-09-20 CannondaleKid
13  2008-11-12 joebartels
19  2004-12-27 joebartels
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,834
Trips 4,261 map ( 21,471 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Mar, Nov, Apr, Oct → 7 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Late Winter
Sun  6:13am - 6:22pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Wicked stroll
by joebartels

This hike is from Cane Spring Trailhead out to the semi circle ridge around Hell's Hip Pocket and return by the same route. You might prefer to make it a loop or backpack and explore the area in detail. The hike is mainly off-trail over fairly easy but uneven terrain. It's not recommended for dogs due to countless cacti encounters.

From the trailhead head out on the old jeep road that now serves as the Cane Spring Trail #82. You curve into one drainage/canyon and then skirt over into another drainage/canyon. The road dips through the creek abruptly. At 0.7 miles fork right onto a faint jeep road. Only continue for a tenth of a mile. Turn right and head off trail dipping through the creek bed and UP the mountain on your right. It's a short bushwhack through catclaw to the creek bed. Don't hesitate as it's over quick and you won't be dealing with bushwhacking anymore on this hike.

It's a 400 foot gain over the west end of hill 3777. Then you give it right back with a 400 foot drop to the ridge. It's a little steep coming down but nothing too rough. Once down on the ridge it's pretty easy hiking. Look to your right and you're starring down Blue Tank Canyon.

After maybe five minutes of relaxed ridgeline strolling there's a 200 foot gain. That's followed by about another 100 foot dip & gain to topo high point 3509. From here looking south and southeast is a fab view of Hell's Hip Pocket. Continue on the crescent curved ridge to topo high point 3260. Along the way you will find impressive views of the Salt River below.

Upon reaching 3260 it's just over a quarter mile to Hell's Bridge where the smooth ridge gives way to erroded terrain. This hike ends here for now. There's a first class view of Black Cross Butte across the river. Other great views include Horse Mesa, Peak 3042, Sheep Mountain & the SRP maintentance community near Horse Mesa Dam.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2004-12-27 joebartels
    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
    Hell's Hip Pocket Ridge
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Skeleton Cave via Cane TH
    5:20am and just on FR401A

    Thump, thump, thump... something wasn't right. Mark pulled over. We looked underneath anticipating a drive shaft, universal joint or related issue. When all that checked out attention went immediately to the differential... after all we had just crawled a three foot step and it sounded like we hit a rock.

    So Mark drives a little and I watch with a flashlight. I see the rear axle and differential flopping to and fro. Crap... the hike today will be home. We check it out and there really wasn't a fresh scratch nor did anything seem wrong. Mark says lets try again and told me to watch the transfer case. It was definitely the transfer case flipping around like an egg beater which in turn yoked the drive shaft and toggled the axle. Upon closer inspection it was simply a torn mount. Simple eh? Did I mention it's a Suzuki Samurai. This ain't no two ton dually we just need something like a twist tie off a loaf of bread! Okay not that simple but with two veteran DIY'ers this was almost more fun at this point than a disappointment. Using a bolt from the jack and a block of wood we created a wooden bushing and the mount was back in business.

    It's amazing I forget but the drive in is possibly more exhausting than any hike. I was excited to get back in a Samurai. My last ride was 1987 in high school. Friends Terry, Mark and I took a couple trips off road where the Scottsdale Pavilions and 101 now reside. Apparently I've grown a little since those days. Today I had maybe a half inch to spare before my knee caps where cracked off by the dash. Yeah I was gripping the OS bars pretty tight the entire

    8:00am and we were actually hiking. The plan was to follow my previous Hell's Hip Ridge route, drop into Hells Hip Pocket then jump the ridge and visit Skeleton Cave. The weather was perfect. We made good time to HHP. We dropped in the top and worked our way down. There were a couple decision areas but nothing too bad. I showed Mark the Grasshopper Lounge then we continued down. The pocket is one of my favorite areas and I was enjoying it thoroughly today.

    With a later start I set our turnaround target at 1pm. It seemed pretty iffy at best. Yet we found ourselves above the cave with an hour to go. Unfortunately Mark's leg was giving him issues from a previous injury. I don't think the exposure was to his liking either and the steep hike down the alluvial fan just wasn't in the cards. I wasn't too disappointed as I've been to the cave before and I was pretty tired rolling on two hours sleep. In addition I'd neglected to bring my headlamp and was not looking forward to hiking in the dark. So perched on a rather uncomfortable rock I had the best lunch view of my life. This was the edge of the cliff looking right down into Skeleton Cave with BCB across the Salt River goose-necking through the high-walled canyon corridor.

    Heading back I just wanted to take a nap. The flush white skys we experienced all morning were deep blue and the sun was singing. As much as I enjoy HHP I was ecstatic when we found an easier route. You can only have so much fun in a day on two hours sleep ;)

    Thanks for a great hike Mark
    Hell's Hip Pocket Ridge
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I scouted Forest Road 401A for 4 of the 6+ miles just four days before and although it was VERY rough with many boulders in the road I figured if I left early enough I would have time to drive out to Cane Spring TH, hike to Hell's Hip Pocket Ridge and back with plenty of time to spare before dark. Although I used up all that spare time thankfully I still made it out to the Beeline before dark.

    Here's the timeline for the day:
    0500 - Left the house in Mesa
    0540 - Turned off 87 onto Four Peaks Road
    0605 - Started the slow and very rough drive on 401A toward the TH
    0726 - Six miles and 80 minutes later I arrived at the Cane Spring TH

    I spent (wasted) close to half an hour checking out a corrugated tin shack near the trail head when I should have been hiking.
    Another 10 minutes getting everything in my pack, including a 64 oz bottle of Gatorade to cache on the trail (I knew I'd need it but didn't want to lug it for 75-80% of the trip)

    0806 - Hit the trail for Hell's Hip Pocket Ridge. (Barely 74 degrees)
    1106 - Arrived at the end of Hank & Joe B's GPS track. (86 degrees)
    1400 - Began a VERY steep 400' climb from a wasted side trip up to my Gatorade cache (98 degrees)
    1450 - Completed the grueling climb back to the cache - 50 minutes to climb 400'/.3 mile (99 degrees)
    1500 - Began the relatively easier 400' climb up to Peak 3777 where it would all be downhill from there
    1616 - Arrived back at the TH (96 degrees)

    Close to another half-hour getting everything secured for the rough ride back. (To keep a little cooler I had taken the doors off about .5 mile on 401A on the way out and cached them for the return)

    1641 - Left the TH for the drive home.
    1815 - Reached the end of FR 401A
    1915 - Pulled into the driveway just 14 hours and 15 minutes after my start.

    And all that for probably the remotest hike within 30 miles as-the-crow-flies from home. But what a blast... as much trouble as I encountered I'll be heading back for more as soon as I can find someone else willing to take the beating on the "road" to the TH. (I guess I should add someone willing to go when it's still hot)

    The hike:
    Based on Hank and Joe's triplogs in late '08 I wore heavy khaki pants and long sleeve shirt to guard against the cats-claw. The pants handled the brush very well and although I didn't go through cats-claw high enough to need it, the light shirt helped ward off the heat. Of course reliable Teva's were my choice in foot gear.

    Barely 13 minutes from the TH and I almost stepped on a Gila Monster on the trail. I was so surprised by its beauty (coral pink contrasting with shiny black) I almost forgot to take a picture before it started heading off, which meant it wasn't a great photo. But with the help of my snake hook I was able to coax him back out for a video:

    Just under a mile out I turned right at a cairn and headed up the 400' climb up Peak 3777. Once at the top the views were awesome. The 400' climb down to the beginning of the ridge led to a nice level area where I decided to cache my extra fluid. Now began a long and winding steady climb along the ridge. Every time I came to a high point and thought my destination was the next high point, I'd get to the next one and see another farther out. Due to the huge amounts of low thorny brush and uneven/loose rocks, even though I was being extra careful with every step, somewhere along here I managed to step into a dead pincushion cactus hidden by some low grass. :tt: It was a wake-up call for added vigilance, but once I got used to the pain I was no longer bothered by the continual small scratches to my feet with almost every step.

    I stopped just a moment to pick out the best route for the last mile when I heard a rock fall not far away. I looked over to a small outcrop and saw six Big Horn Sheep moving away. If I had been looking that direction I would have had a closer opportunity for photos and video. I shot a video at high zoom but it was too fuzzy but I did get a few decent photos. :D The Big Horn photos are about halfway through the 135 photos in the link at the end of the triplog.

    I followed Joe's track pretty much along the top of the ridge to the end point. But since that area was devoid of game trails, I returned via a shelf along the river side below the ridge which was not only much easier with no low brush to deal with, it was more scenic as well. Once the shelf ended and I had to climb back up I crossed over to the west side and dropped down to a shelf on that side, following some nice game trails again. When I got to the point just over the ridge from where I saw the sheep earlier I hoped to pop over the ridge and get more photos. Unfortunately I underestimated how far back I had traveled and was well past the outcrop. :doh: No matter, I had another side trip planned for below the ridge later.

    By this time I was getting so tired of lifting my feet up so high to step over the 4-12" clumps of cats-claw that it was becoming a chore. And on one particularly high step over a dead Century Plant the rock I was stepping from slid out. I didn't fall but I should have as I strained my left thigh while avoiding the fall, and I found now I couldn't raise my left foot more than a few inches without a shooting pain. ](*,) So now I had step my right foot first over any obstacle, then kind of drag my left along it. But this just caused my right leg to cramp up and with almost 3 miles back to the trail head the pain was great enough I could no longer walk. :stretch: I sat down in the shade of a large boulder and spent 10 minutes massaging both legs. But I wasn't getting any closer to the fluid ache or the trail head so I got up and started moving making sure not to step too far at a time, which meant baby-steps. :roll:

    Already a significant distance below the ridge I thought I'd drop down to check out what seemed to be more than just a cave. That turned out to be wasted effort as there was nothing of interest when I got there. Doubly wasted, because now I was an extra 500' BELOW the trail where I had left my fluid cache. ](*,) I'd already emptied my CamelBak bladder and a 20 oz bottle of Gatorade, leaving me with but 8 oz of HOT Gatorade in my last bottle, so at this point my only goal was to reach the cache. That .3 mile up to the cache was brutal with the steep angle as well as the loose ground. I was reduced to picking out a spot 10 steps up, climbing to it, taking 10-15 seconds to catch my breath, picking out the next spot and taking the next 10 steps. :wlift:

    What a relief it was to make it to my cache and find the 64 oz bottle of Gatorade still cool. :y: Thankfully I thought ahead and had frozen it, wrapped in a heavy towel inside a white canvas bag and left it hanging in the shade. First I ate two granola bars and washed it down with the last of the hot Gatorade then drank 6 oz of the cool stuff and poured the rest of it into my CamelBak bladder, which kept it cool enough for the rest of the return trip. As it turned out I ran out of fluid within a hundred yards of the car, which had another three COLD 64 oz bottles. And I felt like I had gone to hell and back and was now in heaven.

    I took just enough time to secure everything for the rough and rocky drive out, attach my GoPro HeroHD video camera to the windshield to document the trials and tribulations of the trip out and set out for home. Of course all but a few of the worst areas to drive through were now on the uphill, so instead of using the rear diff-locker only once like on the drive out, it was put to use a half-dozen times. Due to not being able to take the same line going up I did hit the front differential truss solidly on a boulder, ](*,) but it happened only once and the guard did its job. Even though My Sammy has less than 70 HP it came through with flying colors.

    I'll probably post only a few high and low lights here on HAZ but I've already posted 135 of over 150 photos here:
    Hell's Hip Pocket Ridge
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This was a "3 in 1" hiking day to a very remote and seldom visited section of the Four Peaks Wilderness:
    +1.. a serious 4x4 trip going in and even more so coming out;
    +1.. a trip to the ZOO;
    +1.. a special hiking experience in this mystery section of the Four Peaks Wild;

    Regarding our 4x4 drive in and out, there will be more discussions on this topic via the present & active HAZ forum thread for the upcoming Brown's Cave hike on 12/7. I think that Joe will soon add some additional comments regarding the 12/7 trip requirements but just let me now say that for our ride today in my highly modified Jeep with a 7" lift, 35x12.50 BFG All Terrains aired down to 15psi, and fully-locked diffs front and back with 488x1 diff. gearing- for the last 6.2ml section of FR401 to Cane Springs TH it took us 2.5 hrs to 4x4 in and took ~3.0hrs to 4x4 out and this amount of time was for just one very capable vehicle having no problems come up and not with a group of various vehicles going in and coming out. Just out of curiosity I checked the Tonto NF Recreation Page write-up for the Cane Springs TH, and it says "A 4WD vehicle is required to reach this trailhead, but travel is not recommended for any type of vehicle" :lol:

    I knew we were in a very remote and seldom visited area of the wilderness to hike when the day was done and we could recount the number of varied wildlife we encounted on our 6+ hour hike & drive. We saw two cardinals, 3 deer, numerous bunnies, 1 snake, 2-3 foxes, and a family of ~12 javalina(the BIG daddy almost took-out Joe, but I saved him, but Joe won't ever admit it!) [-( ..

    I am sure glad that Joe knew where we were and where to lead us on this mostly off-trail hike as I was totally at awe in this pristine and remote area of Four Peaks. It truly was worth the effort to get here and to be able to experience such a lovely, seldom unexplored place only 30 miles away from the Phoenix area. We started hiking in on the Adler TR#82(the same trail for the hike to Brown's Cave), but there are also two other trails in the immediate area of Cane Springs TH- the Cane Springs TR#77 and the Lower Soldier TR#84. Much more to explore here and Browns Cave hike to look forward to on Dec 7th!
    Hell's Hip Pocket Ridge
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Hank and I hiked out to views of the desert disneyland thirty miles from Phoenix. With the ride in/out the day is a mental challenge tagged onto the actual hike. I believe Hank can attest the 4x4 approach is more than most anticipate.

    The ridge was more overgrown than I recalled (perhaps due to last springs record rains) so my legs ended up looking like a piece of ground sausage.

    We got off onto the wrong ridge which turned out to be the highlight of the hike. We met up with a pack of probably twelve scattered javalina. The daddy decided to head straight for me. Although I'd heard stories of charging javalina that hasn't been my experience in a half dozen encounters. So as I'm whipping out the camera I thought man this dude is getting close. The camera dropped and the Leki went into defensive mode. Thankfully he altered course at about eight feet out. The fun continues. We quickly realized we were on the wrong ridge and decided to drop through Hells Hip Pocket to the destined south ridge. Nobody was waiting to take our tickets so we tipped toed into desert disneyland in awe. I thought we were nudging the bottom of the pocket. Upon viewing the maps this morning it's apparent we barely scratched the surface of an upper canyon in this beast of mystery.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To Cane Trailhead
    From Scottsdale follow Shea Blvd East to its terminus at SR87. Turn Left onto SR87. Follow SR87(this is the Beeline) to the Four Peaks Turnoff which is FR143. FR143 is well marked. Follow FR143 to FR 401. Hang a right onto FR401 and follow past Cottonwood Camp. Continue to where FR401 ascends out of Cottonwood Creek up the side of mountain. Here on it's strictly 4x4. It starts out low key for the first couple miles then turns... fun! It's 6 miles to Cane Spring Trailhead. The 4x4 section alone takes 1 to 1.5 hours.

    Keep in mind albeit near the valley this is about 5 hours round trip depending on variables.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 52.0 mi, 1 hour 37 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 150 mi, 3 hours 7 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 179 mi, 3 hours 38 mins In current traffic: 3 hours 38 mins I-17 S
    help comment issue

    end of page marker