register help

Cottonwood Spring - Goldfield Mtns, AZ

no permit
140 10 0
Guide 10 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Mesa NE
3.3 of 5 by 3
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 5 of 5
Distance Shuttle 7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,081 feet
Elevation Gain 400 feet
Avg Time Hiking 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.33
Backpack Yes
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
7  2017-04-22 gummo
6  2017-04-01 paulholland
25  2017-03-04
Trans Goldfield
14  2017-01-08
Goldfield Horse Lasso
4  2016-11-26 hikerdw
9  2013-01-27
Packsaddle Trail
21  2012-01-07
Packsaddle Trail
11  2011-03-15 sventre
Page 1,  2
Author OhOh7
author avatar Guides 15
Routes 2
Photos 1,591
Trips 81 map ( 435 miles )
Age 83 Male Gender
Location Gold Canyon, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Jan, Dec, Feb, Nov → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:30pm
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Off trail in the Goldfield Mountains
by OhOh7

Since I started hiking two years ago I have wanted to try some off trail routes (on purpose). I've also wanted to hike in the Goldfield Mountains as lots of gold was mined there unlike the popular Superstition Mountains nearby. Please be carefull as there are many old mines and mine openings all over.

I had great fun joining some people who hike with waypoints and GPS units (something I do not yet understand but am working on--and it seems very complicated to me). I know this type of hiking is old hat to most of you but very new to me. We left from the Willow Springs trailhead on the Apache Trail at mile post 204. After following a jeep road for about 300 yards we abruptly turned right and remained off trail for the next 4 hours. The interesting thing to me is that a marked waypoint is set and we then have a number of alternative routes to get to it. Sometimes we get to a ridgeline with too steep a way down and other times we select some canyon to see if it reaches the waypoint. Since I have a GPS unit that I do not know how to use I would have been lost many times and actually was turned around in directions a couple of times after I checked my compass. Maybe I will study the book directions but being retired it is hard to find the time!!! Don't forget that in retirement there are no days off.

I did learn some things about a GPS unit. I also realize that most of the readers on this site are far more advanced than I and attempt far more difficult hikes. However, for the beginners like me this adventure was lots of fun. I really liked the "set the waypoint" and then try various routes to get to it. I felt in very good hands as the leader knows the landmarks and waypoints he set in the Goldfields. A major difference between the Superstitions and the Goldfields is that there are very few trails in the Goldfields. There are some jeep roads--more like wide trails-- but they usually follow creek beds. Our routes were really overland. There was some fairly easy climbing, a couple of more rigorous climbs, some ridgeline walking and some fairly steep descents into certain canyons.

One thing about the no trails aspect is that you are really out in the wilderness and you do not see anyone. There is no trail to follow and you take routes that "aim" for some waypoint or landmark. This was my first experience doing the deliberate off trail journey and I did like it lots. The Superstitions probably have some more spectacular scenery and jagged cliffs but don't discount the Goldfields for color, geology, surprising canyons, crests and beautiful foilage.

Please note that it took 6 hours for the 7 miles simply because there is no trail--until you reach the Cottonwood Springs creekbed canyon where you hit an ATV road that you follow back to the trailhead. Basically the route takes you behind the town of Goldfield. I actually did know about where I was most of the time because you can see the Flatiron from many points. However, as I mentioned before, there were a couple times down in the canyons when I was very turned around in direction.

Thanks to Ted of the Arizona Trailblazers who really knows the Goldfields. He has a book coming out soon on the Goldfields. I can trust him completely to not get lost as he's hiked all over the them with nary a trail to follow. Next I will search out some of the major arches!

Check out the Triplogs.

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

2005-01-02 OhOh7
    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
    Cottonwood Spring - Goldfield Mtns
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Kelley joined our hike today so we kept it on the shorter side, a lasso loop to Cottonwood Spring in the Goldfield's. While exploring around Cottonwood Spring we found a decapitated falcon. The body was in perfect condition but no head :o Not sure what happened there. Did manage to add in a short stretch of off trail hiking which Kelley even enjoyed. Nice overcast day today.
    Cottonwood Spring - Goldfield Mtns
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Did this as a loop hike. To arrive at Cottonwood Spring we took Hackamore Road off SR 88 to the Bull Dog Canyon OHV area. As you approach it a gate is in place. If you have an off road vehicle and have the necessary permit(free of Charge) from the Tonto National Forest you will have the gate combination and can continue 2.6 miles to Cottonwood Spring. This is where our trip began and ended. Starting at Cottonwood Spring, be observant, we have spotted frogs-toads-turtles-deer-javalina-diamondback rattlesnakes-a variety of lizards, and big cat footprints. We proceeded north in the wash. There really is no trail although it starts out with an atv trail which continues for about a mile fading away. There are no cairns on this entire journey, not one was spotted or placed, its not necessary as long as you have a GPS just stay in the wash. At about a mile north of Cottonwood there are some spectacular cave like formations. The wash makes a turn toward the northeast-then north , then northeast again offering some beautiful canyon beauty. Evidence of propectors activity is everywhere. Some small mines can also be located. A right turn at the first major wash is the route we took now heading in a southeasterly direction. The canyons and rocks are very colorful in this area and we note there are no physical signs of any others being in this canyon other than the rock damage created by prospectors long ago. Mixed up geology is noted with unusual rock types. We found some Obsidian, Crystal, Quartz, and other rock collector pieces worthy of display. We continued on meandering in the wash generally in a southern direction. It was a warm day and we wore shorts. The washes are open from vegitation for the most part and very little cat claw was noted. Finally we came to a wash which generally headed back in a southwest direction toward Cottonwood Spring. When the GPS showed we were adjacent to our vehicle we began a bushwhack out of the wash and across three mountains to our vehicle. A fantastic day, and the area begs our return for future exploration. We did not see another person the entire day.

    Total elevation gained 2083 feet almost entirely with the final bushwhack

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To Willow the arbitrary/unofficial Trailhead
    Apache trail Northeast from Idaho Road in Apache Junction. About 10 miles northeast to highway marker 204. Just before the marker turn left into parking area. A reference point is the Needle Vista viewpoint on the south of the highway. The trailhead is not marked but is a clear pulloff area just before the 204 sign.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 42.5 mi - about 48 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 136 mi - 2 hours 14 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 186 mi - 3 hours 2 mins
    (Trailhead is generic)
    3 pack - loud whistle
    safety first
    help comment issue

    end of page marker