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JF Trail to Tortilla Pass, AZ

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Guide 25 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions NW
2.9 of 5 by 9
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 12 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,110 feet
Elevation Gain 2,026 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,700 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 25.5
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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14  2019-04-13 The_Eagle
8  2019-04-13 joebartels
25  2018-05-07
Peak 3856 - Iron Mountain Quad
9  2016-12-10 wallyfrack
28  2016-02-26 Travis
5  2016-02-24 rtaylor3235
22  2016-02-24 hikingaz2
21  2015-12-25
Central Supes Loop
Page 1,  2,  3
Author Fritzski
author avatar Guides 43
Routes 0
Photos 597
Trips 59 map ( 132 miles )
Age 66 Male Gender
Location Gilbert, AZ
Historical Weather
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:09am - 6:30pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
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Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
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by Fritzski

The JF Trail #106 travels north/south through the central Superstition Wilderness from boundary to boundary. Looking at the topo map it is easy to see that it generally follows one of the few paths of minimal resistance through the range. For this reason you won't see much extreme terrain, but on the other hand, the hiking is relatively casual with open vistas.

The trail is named after a legendary rancher Jack Frasier. He ran cattle throughout this area from his main ranch at the south end of the trail since the 1890s. The ranch has changed hands many times over the years, but is still an active grazing area today. Seeing the mild terrain (by Superstition standards) this trail transits, it's not hard to imagine the trail being a regular thoroughfare for horseback ranchers at one time.

This hike starts from the Tortilla Trailhead going south to Tortilla Pass and back. Carlson puts it at 12.6mi in his guide and the Beartooth map has it right at 12 miles even.

From the parking area at the trailhead proceed south through the fence on the signed JF Trail #106. At about 1/4 miles you'll pass through the Wilderness Area boundary fence. Continue through open terrain and begin the gradual climb past the relics of the old Miller mines on your left and past the Hoolie Bacon Trail intersection at about 2/3mi. Continue straight or left on the JF.

Approaching the 2mi point you'll pass the site of the Lost Dutchman Jr Mine on your right. For more info on this story, access the hike by the same name in the HAZ data base. Form here the terrain begins to get a bit rockier and a few trees begin to dot the landscape.

Approaching the 3mi point you'll cross a drainage just down stream of Clover Spring. The stream had a very healthy flow from recent rains. From here continue back up to the top of the ridge through more rocky terrain. The trail follows the ridge line to about the 4mi point where it drops along the west slope through a nice grassy area. Climb back up to a saddle at the 5mi point and then finally down into the Tortilla Creek bed. This section of the trail gets a bit rugged and bushy in spots, but nothing abusive at all.

The trail finally meets the creek bed at about 5.5mi and follows it up and east to the Rogers Canyon Trail intersection on top of Tortilla Pass at 6mi. This is a nice spot for a break and from here you can either return or continue south on the JF Trail to its southern terminus at the Woodbury Trailhead.

Not a very spectacular hike, but solitude is almost a guarantee. Long pants are a definite recommendation. This general area seems to be the Cat Claw spawning ground of the Superstitions, and while the trail isn't really overgrown, an army of blood thirsty "grabbers and stabbers' lurk trailside in wait of the careless.

Interesting note: this entire hike is basically a matter of following the Tortilla Creek from its end to its very beginning. On the drive up you cross it as it goes over the road in Tortilla Flat where it empties into Canyon Lake. From there you parallel it along the highway to the FR213 turnoff and then continue to follow it up to the ranch. The hike itself then continues to parallel it and finally meet its headwaters at Tortilla Pass.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2005-01-25 Fritzski
    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
    JF Trail to Tortilla Pass
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    Went out to Tortilla Pass scouting areas we want to do some overnight camping. Last time Roger and I backpacked in to Reavis Ranch we carried 38 lbs., enough of this we said, but here comes Rick, he says only 20 lbs. or so. I'll put him to the test Monday as we're going down Peters Trail and over to Charlebois and spend the night.. Stay Tuned .. Back to this hike, we declawed and deneedled the Agave plants and generally cleaned up the trail, after the 1st 3 miles I told Rick, we'd better leave the rest of the last 4 miles for another day or we'll never get back before dark ( TH at 6 PM ). This portion really does need a crew out there as it is really over grown in places.
    As mentioned before the 1st couple of miles reminds me of the grazing land in Western Nebraska ( Go Big Red ) not very interesting, but once you get past this area it really opens up into a great hike !!! 8) Starting to see flowers and bushes put on their show, only seen one little poppy off the trail :cry: Passed by a Trio of hikes going out to the Tortilla Well and other then that, the whole Trail was ours except for 1 black cardinal and one Gecko
    JF Trail to Tortilla Pass
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    I'm calling this the "other" Tortilla Superloop, or maybe the super-duper loop. Clockwise from the Tortilla trailhead: south on JF > west on Woodbury and Coffee Flat > north on Red Tanks and Hoolie Bacon. Trails are all in pretty decent shape. Mountain biked between Hwy 88 and the trailhead.

    Ran into the FOTG backpacking crew of six (4 bipeds and 2 quadrupeds) as they were headed north on JF. Later on Hoolie I ran into another backpacking group, one of whom was a gal I worked with a few years ago. Small world.

    Water conditions going clockwise:
    JF is dry until it crosses the creek in Randolph Canyon near the southern end. Pretty good flow.
    CF going down (west) in Fraser Canyon - increasing intermittent trickles to good flow.
    RT has plenty of water in the lower (south) canyon, decreasing as you go north.
    HB has lots of water where it crosses Tortilla Creek.
    There are isolated pools in many places, mostly scuzzy.
    JF Trail to Tortilla Pass
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    Central Supes Loop
    I took the dogs for a three day walk Christmas morning. Our walk started at the Woodbury trailhead and ended at the Woodbury TH two days later. I did not rush to get to the TH and enjoyed a nice Christmas breakfast before I left the valley. We only had about an 8 mile hike to complete the first day in order to set up our day two off-trail trek down Fish Creek canyon to the Tortilla TH area. Fish Creek canyon ended up not playing out, however, we still enjoyed three nice days in some of my favorite areas of the Supes.

    Got to camp no problem on day one. Even with the late start I still had several hours of daylight at the campsite. It was this time that I realized I had brought the tent poles for my Big Agnes SL2, but had brought my Fly Creek Platinum tent. Ugh! Not the end of the world, but a minor hurdle. It was not exactly as bad as fitting a round peg into a square hole, but a challenge nonetheless. It annoyed my severely when I found out, but I kind of relished the little challenge it created and made the most of it. I had a relatively upright tent with an awkwardly fitting rain fly, but still more comfort than the open ground and air. A really cold night coupled with dealing drying out damp gear from condensation and the thawing out of everything else, led to a later start Saturday morning.

    I knew from the amount of water flowing along Frog Tanks that water could ultimately derail my trip down Fish Creek. It was simply too cold to be getting overly wet and the sun too unreliable too commit to any type of semi-aquatic hike. Nevertheless, we set off down the dark canyon at around 9:30 in the morning. Through not that much effort I was able to make it relatively dry to about a half mile in where the water starts to funnel into a flat rock section. I had read about this in Nonot's description and knew it would be my biggest obstacle of the day. Initially, I was fooled into thinking a thigh deep wade across the first flat rock was all I needed to get through the section. However, as soon as I put my shoes, pants and socks back on I realized very shortly that I had not come to the deep pool obstacle yet. In the end, the pool was simply too deep to go through in those temps/conditions. I went back to the pool three times and contemplated several things, for example, could I even swim in water that cold? Could I could hold my pack above my head and tread across? Would the dogs even follow me? I could see the bypass clearly that Nonot wrote of, but it was too nasty for the pups. I watched Blanco take a pretty good fall on Newman earlier in the week and with that fresh in my mind was being more cautious than usual. Besides I figured the alternative of miles of terrific hiking in some of my favorite areas was not that bad and I could return in warmer weather. The decision was made, back to Frog Tanks and to the Ranch.

    Pretty standard Frog Tanks hiking to the ranch, a tad overgrown in spots and it could probably use a little maintenance, but same old Frog Tanks to me. In terms of maintenance, I can report that there is no longer any prickly pear blocking the trail to a width of less than Blanco and his pack. I took a couple of spines to the foot, but put a considerable dent in the prickly pear over-growth problem along that trail. Camped at the saddle like a tourist, but I will admit I have always wanted to camp there and figured this would be one of those rare times when one could do it and expect solitude. It was super windy, like maybe borderline dangerous windy and equally as cold, but worth it. Although, the moon was like sleeping with a spot light on my tent and I was surprised that I could clearly see some urban area off in the distance. This aside, I still loved the spot, great sunset, great sunrise and it beat the ranch which was bitterly cold and covered in shade when I had went through there earlier in the day. The high winds led to zero condensation and a dry final morning, but like an Antarctica dry final morning, with water so frozen I could not enjoy it until nearly 11 and dog/cooking water that I slept with freezing within minutes of being outside the tent. It took a little will-power just to get out of the tent Sunday morning, but with some quick packing we were on the trail before nine.

    There was a group at the ruins, a solo backpacker at Angel Basin and I passed three who were doing the exact same lasso loop I had just completed. I gave them a heads up on conditions and a couple camping suggestions. The final two miles or so might as well been an entirely different hike with short sleeve, short temps and the dogs seeking the water along the JF for a quick dip.
    JF Trail to Tortilla Pass
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    Central Supes Loop
    This was just a nice relaxing three day back pack to kick off my holiday break. I went in Bluff Springs at Peralta to the Dutchman, Peter's Trail and Tortilla TH, back JF to Woodbury, and Coffee Flats across to Dutchman and completion of loop at Peralta.

    On day one I hiked in with Jim but detoured to summit Bluff Mountain with Chumley and some of his most loyal followers. The trails were littered with HAZers, met one in parking lot who was very happy to finally meet Blanco and Cup. Then I ran into hikerdw and his son as is custom with most of my Supes hikes. It was nice to finally summit Bluff Mountain. The views were great and the weather proved nearly perfect. I said my good bye to the slackpackers and headed for my first nights camp, near Charlebois. I generally just relaxed most of the day, caught up with Jim, read a bunch and went to bed pretty early.

    I left camp a little later then I should of but I was in no real rush Saturday, nor had any concrete plans. Peter's Trail has certainly seen better days. JF seemed like a highway after Peters, camped near Mullin Spring with some minor exploring in the area planned for day three before heading back to TH. It got real cold on the second night. The water in dog's dishes froze all my gear had a heavy frost/ice coating in morning and my leaky air mattress were no match for myself, Cupcake and half of Blanco; the ground got very cold very fast.

    I had more ambitious plans for the final day, but they would have been pretty rough on Cup and I need her ready to go back out by Wed. So I opted for the leisurely exit via Coffee Flats Trail and the very scenic Fraser and Randolph Canyons. One can't go wrong with Randolph and Fraser Canyons this time of year, very scenic. I did do some early morning exploring of the headwaters of Tortilla Creek and Mullin Spring. Very tough going in spots, no big finds, but intrigued by area.
    JF Trail to Tortilla Pass
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    JF Ranch Trail was technically the start of my HAZ life.

    I was doing a very unspectacular Tortilla to Angel Basin over-night and taking advantage of the MLK hoiday when I met two people at Angel Basin who encouraged me to join this thing called HAZ. To this day I can't remember their screen names or real names, however, I know they were doing some trail maintenance on Frog Tanks that day, camped at Angel Basin and it was a man and woman.

    Nevertheless, I went home created an account, probably made an ass of myself a few times on forum, went into lurking mode for several months and finally started posting in November.

    Oh I am also working on catching up my links, I want my red dot in Supes ;)
    JF Trail to Tortilla Pass
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    This was our longest day hike to date, in/out hike to Tortilla Pass from the parking area off SR88. Cool and windy at times but a great hike. Crossed paths with a packer at the Clover Spring area on the way out, otherwise we had the trail to ourselves. We wanted to check out LDM jr. on the return but ran short of time so figured we will hit it on the next trip. Ankles are a little sore this morning but not too bad. Next mile target is now at 20 :)
    JF Trail to Tortilla Pass
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    I invited gpsjoe to join me on this seldom hiked, remote Superstition north section of the JF Trail#106 starting from the Tortilla TH at the end of gnarly 4x4 FR213. Originally I had planned to drive my semi-open Grasshopper(to easily negotiate driving up the two 4x4 step sections of FR213) but the cold temps for this Saturday and my good luck that Sun_Hiker(Gabriele) would also join us, meant that gpsjoe would take his Toyota 4-Runner. We were also looking forward to meeting up on the trail with HAZ te-wa(Mike) and group(wallyfark and Vaporman-Brian) who were hiking a weekend loop backpack trip in from this same TH. Good to see Mike again and to finally meet Wally and Brian for the first time! I did end up with a great group pic of our trail meeting and passing.. these guys are squirrel-speed-like..

    We three were geared-up with our catsclaw pruners, gps units loaded with a know default route, cameras, and of course an amAZing attitude to be so lucky to again have our Superstition Wilderness to hike in. As others have noted in their trip logs, for being so remote, this northern section of the JF Trail is in fairly decent condition for the first five miles in with lots of loose ankle-twisting rocks, also some obscure trail sections where the gps with a loaded route definitely comes in handy. The last one mile section to Tortilla Pass becomes a fairly tough bushwhack where catsclaw pruners are no help at all. After four hours of scenic and fun hiking we three reached Tortilla Pass at 1pm where we had a short lunch break.

    I really did enjoy the scenry on this hike and I hope my pic set kind-of confirms this. Also enjoyed meeting and hiking with Sun-Hiker for the first time and thanks to Joe for driving! Our hike started out well and ended with an amAZing sunset pic opportunity as we exited on FR213- :D

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To Tortilla Trailhead
    From the junction of Idaho Road & SR-88 follow SR-88 23.0 miles east to FR-213.

    If you do not have 4x4 you will need to park here and hike 3.4 miles to the trailhead. Otherwise drive in. The first 0.25 mile section is the most difficult.

    The trailhead is not well defined. If you are hiking out on Peter's Trail #105 steer right(west) at the end to the old windmill and water tower. If you are hiking out on JF Trail #106 or Hoolie Bacon Trail #111 continue straight/right to the fence. JF Trail #106 takes off immediately. Hoolie #111 is 0.8 miles off of #106.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 60.7 mi - about 1 hour 50 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 154 mi - about 3 hours
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 205 mi - about 4 hours
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