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Whetrock Canyon Loop, AZ

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Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Queen V NE
Rated
3.6
3.6 of 5 by 5
 
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Loop 6.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,516 feet
Elevation Gain 700 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3.5 Hours
Kokopelli Seeds 10
Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
28  2017-03-09 Steph_and_Blake
14  2014-04-27 friendofThunderg
18  2014-04-27 Oregon_Hiker
26  2014-04-27 Grasshopper
50  2012-11-17 CannondaleKid
7  2010-11-29 sventre
13  2007-02-11 joebartels
8  2006-02-15 AZLOT69
Author Tim
author avatar Guides 10
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 356 map ( 2,719 miles )
Age 57 Male Gender
Location Scottsdale
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Preferred   Nov, Mar, Feb, Apr → 8 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:13am - 6:22pm
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Mining Bushwhack
by Tim

This 6.5 mile loop hike starts off from the Woodbury Trailhead and heads out the Coffee Flat Trail to the junction of Fraser and Whetrock canyons. The return trip up Whetrock Canyon is an off trail adventure leading to a couple of mines before exiting onto an old Forest Service Road for the return to the trailhead. The hike is best described in Carlson's "Hiker's Guide to the Superstition Wilderness" under trip #51.

Carolyn and I set out on a beautiful Saturday morning on January 29th at 10:00 with the temperatures in the mid 60's. Rather than park at the Woodbury Trailhead itself, we parked a little ways up the road from the Woodbury turnoff right next to the gate blocking the road to the JF Ranch. This parking selection probably shaved off 1/2 mile of road hiking from the loop. We were expecting this 6.5 mile hike, (now closer to 6 miles), to be a 3+ hour "cupcake" with the biggest challenge being some potential creek bed "boulder hopping" in Whetrock Canyon. Once again, I underestimated the Superstitions. (smile)

Initially, this hike is nothing spectacular as one is merely hiking the road to the JF Ranch. As one approaches the ranch, the gate for the signed Coffee Flat Trail is just to the north, (hiker's right), along the fence line. It's pretty much just open desert grazing country until one gets west of the ranch and into Fraser Canyon. Water was running in the stream bed but it was nothing to skirt and remain feet dry on the numerous wash crossings. Just before the entrance to Whetrock Canyon, the trail climbs up the north side of Fraser Canyon 100 feet or so before dropping back down to the creek bed. The entrance to Whetrock Canyon itself is really cool and just under an hour into the hike. This entrance is a recessed narrow crack in the rock wall on the southern side of the creek bed that one could easily walk right past if you weren't looking for it. For the first 50 feet, this passage is no more than 6 to 10 feet wide. On this particular day, due to the recent rains, it was impassable as there were several thigh deep pools with no "safe" or dry way around them. (This was to be a harbinger of things to come.) We elected to back track a few yards down Fraser Canyon and scramble over the top and drop back down into Whetrock Canyon. However, once we got up on top, we elected to stay up on the bench as the creek bed below was full of water and brush. In Carlson's book, they recommend staying up high on the east side of the canyon and to follow the cow paths. While we found no sign of a cow path or any kind of path for that matter, it was relatively clear and easy going. We eventually dropped back down into the creek bed and followed it until either water or brush, (or both), made it impassable. It was then a scramble up the sides of the creek bed. The entire trip up Whetrock Canyon became a bushwhack as there is no trail. We simply took the course of least resistance which alternated between the creek bed and the bench above it, usually on the east side.

After about a 1/2 to 3/4 mile trek, one can see the upper mine's tailings way at the canyon's end. It turns out that this is the hike's exit out of Whetrock Canyon. Further up the canyon, the creek bed becomes more of a steep ravine. (On the topo map, this occurs shortly after the "n" in canyon.) Once we got down in the bottom of this ravine, we lost sight of the upper mine tailings which represented our bearing line. We knew we were on track when we came across the remains of the old dairy truck. This is where we made our first mistake. We continued up the relatively clear drainage containing the dairy truck thinking that it would eventually lead to the old "road" servicing the mines. How else would the dairy truck get to where it was? However, this drainage wound around and was taking us too far north from our bearing line. After a short while, this drainage became impassable due to the undergrowth. It was at this point that Carolyn suggested backtracking to the dairy truck and looking for another way, which she did. I scrambled up the drainage, (ie: hikers right), and stumbled upon the tailings of the first, (ie: the lower), mine. I yelled down to Carolyn and she ended up back tracking about 30 yards past the dairy truck and came around and up the other drainage to the right. From there it was a much easier scramble up to where I was at the lower mine. (Carlson's book suggest scrambling directly up the slope above the dairy truck which would work too, but Carolyn's way was easier I think.) There's an old refrigerator and cement trough just to the right of these tailings. The mine entrance itself has been closed off with a dirt cave in.

This is where we made out second mistake. From this lower mine, we could make out the remains of a faint road heading down and across the drainage to the south, (hiker's right), and heading up a ridge. We went this way as we thought, incorrectly, that this was the former mine road providing our exit. Once we climbed up the ridge on the other side we saw the error of our ways. From this higher vantage point, we could make out the tailings of the upper mine and, more importantly, what appeared to be a "road" winding up the slope between the upper and lower mine. Once again at Carolyn's urging, we headed back to the lower mine and found this "road" climbing out in a northerly direction. While we were resting at the lower mine, we heard the rumble of ATVs above us and could make a few riders above the upper tailings. (Apparently they disregarded the "No Motor Vehicles" sign at the Wilderness Boundary which is around the corner from the upper mine.) At it's beginning at the lower mine, the "road" is nothing more than a path clear of trees & scrub brush and covered in rocks and grass which even ATVs would have difficulty negotiating. It is this grass that outlined the path and made it visible from across the canyon. The path then cut back across the face of the slope before switching back in front of the upper mine. The further up we climbed, the more distinct this path became. When we got to the upper mine entrance, the path resembled a narrow road and was covered in ATV tracks. From here we hiked around the hill to the intersection with the former Forest Service Road #192B. We followed this road for about a mile until we branched out on the short cut to Woodbury Trailhead. The short cut is a former FS Road and shown on Carlson's map. It is marked with a post and sign declaring "No Motor Vehicle Access". From this point we could make out the Woodbury Trailhead and our Jeep in the distance.

All in all, the hike measured 6.5 miles and took us 4 1/4 hours. We probably could have done it in 3 1/2 hours without as much water and our misdirection around the lower mine.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

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

2005-03-21 Tim
    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
    Whetrock Canyon Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    In December'07 while vehicle camping under Byous Butte for Christmas week with friends (re: my then typical holiday week at "Camp Grasshopper" http://hikearizona.com/photo=117175 ), one of our planned day hikes was to attempt the upper mining section down to Whetrock Canyon to visit the old wrecked "Modern Dairy- Globe,AZ" milk truck that I had only seen in 8) HAZ pictures- :next: http://hikearizona.com/photo=37459

    Here is a quote from my Dec 26th 2007 trip log:
    "It was a beautiful blue sky day with no wind as we topped-out at the saddle. Heading down the backside of this saddle it was only about .125mls before this old, rocky mining road became completely washed-out and disappeared with bushwhacking required to reach the lower mine and our planned stopping point at that old Dairy Truck. Just too much of a hassle for us to enjoy continuing." :( In hindsight now 6+ years later, that rocky old, washed out, bushwhack mining road really did not disappear. What happened is that shortly after the 1st mine adit (see my posted GPS Route), the old road took a 90 degree turn to the right downhill, and I just missed it and continued straight "into a blood sucking jungle" ;) .

    Honestly I never thought I would have the opportunity again to correctly hike this loop, but thanks to the invite from our HAZ- friendofThundergod(Lee), his long time Supes backpacking buddy-Jim, and Oregon Hiker(Larry) offering to drive us, I was off on another Whetrock Canyon adventure. This time a much more enjoyable visit and success! :thanx: http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ID=413970
    Whetrock Canyon Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    After the beating Tracey took on our White Canyon Promontory hike last week she wanted something a bit less challenging featuring an actual trail. Maybe a hike in the Supes but somewhere we hadn't hiked before. We'd never hiked west from Woodbury TH so figured that might be a good place to start. Then scanning the trails and GPS routes of the area the lines got a bit blurred and we settled for Whetrock Canyon loop... only a 6+ mile loop hike.

    Now if she had read the description or any of the triplogs, I'm sure she would have put the kibosh on that real quick-like. But, she didn't, so who was I to say anything. [-(
    But in truth, neither the drive up nor the hike were anything like what I read in the triplogs.

    Even with the Cherokee being over a foot longer than a Wrangler and a 6" longer wheelbase, with a little extra care choosing the line we made it up FR1928 fine. Ok, so Tracey was ready to bail out a few times, but it really wasn't that bad... I didn't use either front or rear locker.
    Note: The road is FR1928, not FR192B as designated in some triplogs.

    As far as the trail conditions... yes there was plenty of thorny brush and cats-claw, but with no beaten path other than game trails it was just a matter of careful route selection to stay out of it. Neither of us got so much as a scratch from brush, and the only scrape Tracey got was from falling down when a rock turned over as she stepped on it.

    The mine areas were interesting but we spent the most time taking photos at the remains of the old New Modern Dairy truck body hung up in the wash below the mines. With no frame who knows the how and why of it being there. From there we traversed across the slope for a while before dropping to canyon floor where we stayed for most of the hike while in Whetrock Canyon. The closer we got to Coffee Flat Trail, the more the terrain looked like White Canyon, Tracey's nemesis of last week. So once we turned onto the Coffee Flat Trail it was clear sailing for us. Most of the time when the trail left the wash we kept to the wash to avoid the somewhat overgrown thorny areas.

    The road segment from JF Ranch to the gates above Woodbury TH went the smoothest of course, but it was just the beginning of our climb way back up to where we began. From the gates it was cross-country loosely following what may have been a road possibly 75 years ago crossing a fence line back and forth a number of times to avoid steep drops. So when we came over the last hill and saw the Cherokee below us, boy did that feel good.

    And now the drive back down... a little more care was required on two deeply rutted turns than on the uphill but the only drama was how tight Tracey held onto the oh :pk: ! strap.

    Overall though, it was a great hike and we took tons of photos. I cut it down to to the 50 I posted here on HAZ with the full set on my website as usual.
    Whetrock Canyon Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    On our last full day of Merry Christmas week camping under Byous Butte, I took our group further up FR172 to the intersection of FR172B/192B to hike up FR192B.

    The plan was to hike past the Millsite Canyon TH, then up and past that old wooden mine shoot at the end of FR192B, then continue past the wilderness boundary fence and down the backside of the saddle on an old mining road to explore the area around two old mines and hopefully find that old Globe Dairy Truck that was ditched down in Whetrock Canyon. It was a beautiful blue sky day with no wind as we topped-out at the saddle. Heading down the backside of this saddle it was only about .125mls before this old, rocky mining road became completely washed-out and disappeared with the bushwhacking required to reach the lower mine and our planned stopping point at that old Dairy Truck just too much of a hassle for us to enjoy continuing.

    It was still a nice ~5 mile in & out day hike in the Superstitions and I made-up for what I was not able to deliver on the hike by cooking for five hungry hikers, a nice stir-fry shrimp, fresh vegetable, and pasta lunch! :biggrin:
    Whetrock Canyon Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Back in late March'07 I hiked the south section of this Millsite Canyon TR#237 for 4.25mls in from its TH start at Quail Springs(no signage) to Maverick Springs. While camping under Byous Butte this 10/31-11/3/07 trip, I wanted to complete this trail hike by starting at the northern TH start at its intersection with FR172(trail start which is actually 1.2mls in on FR192B from the intersection of FR172/192B).

    Let me start by re-emphasizing Irv Kanode's 10/27 trip log comments regarding the 1.2ml drive in/out on serious 4x4 road FR192B IF you so chose to do so: For safety reasons, in my opinion, unless you are an experienced 4x4 driver with a very capable, non-stock vehicle(33" tires or larger,lower gears,differential locker(s)..& "not" all wheel drive), and also have a short wheel base vehicle, then don't try driving it. Instead, as per Joe's hike description recommends, park at the intersection of FR172/192B and just enjoy the scenic hike in on FR192B for 1.2mls to this old mining road/trail#237 canyon start(veer left).

    Pixley and I hiked past the 1.2ml intersection on FR192B with Tr#237 and continued further up FR192B for another .8mls to its road end at around 3900'elev. on a nice saddle area where a large old wooden ore mining chute was still partially in-tact. We explored this immediate mining area for about 30 minutes on foot looking for more old mines, but we did not find any. There appears to be a lot of possibilities for more mining history and cool finds in this area*, but it was approaching 11am and we had not even started our planned hike yet.

    We started in on our planned Trail#237 hike at 11:30am. On this HOT day we took advantage of the small pockets of shade and scenic-rugged rock formation views along the way to the old Maverick Camp where we had a relaxing lunch just off the trail among the shade of some large sycamore trees. On our much hotter afternoon hike back we viewed from a distance one very nice "Superstition Arch" back in on the southwest side between Maverick Camp and Maverick Springs. We saw no water seeps or pooling along this whole route, but did see recent 4WD activity on this designated hiking TRAIL :(

    Also, just to update since this hike description was originally issued in Dec'03, at TR#237 start:
    The "flimsy fiberglass marker states no motorized travel beyond this point" no longer exists as of this trip log writing, and also no longer exists that "a not so old Chevy lodged in the declining creek".

    Update at 11/12/07: * =Reference HAZ Hike Description "Whetrock Canyon Loop" for details of this mining history that abounds in this area- on the old mining road PAST the "large old wooden ore mining chute".
    Whetrock Canyon Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Drove up in the dark to get a sunrise start. Turned out to be cloudy so the sunrise never panned out. Parked at the green gate to JF and headed off for a clockwise loop. About two minutes in I turned around and went looking for my gaiters as I've seen Whetrock from the ridges above. Realizing I hadn't brought 'em I opted for the trekking poles.

    I headed out with a programmed route to ease into 192B. Heading down into Whetrock via the old road is pleasant. Passed a dumped atv after the upper mine. The road fades out at the lower mine. Up to this point I was rating this hike a fabulous 4!

    The next 1.25 miles to Fraser Canyon took about 3 hours in shorts. I stayed in the canyon bottom as much as possible. Had to climb out maybe four times to avoid thickets. The flora requirement for Whetrock is all plant life must have thorns. Not little prickly thorns, we're talking skin rippin' man stopping force thorns. After the first hour the stabbing almost became therapeutic.

    Whetrock never seemed to end. There's a few nice stretches of slick rock in various deep red hues. I crossed paths with one of the nicest looking Pinon Pines I've ever seen. This healthy bad boy was protected by the canyon and grew straight as a post but wider than most. It was raining at the time so I didn't get a photo. I bent over to avoid a limb and thought I felt my sunglasses falling off. A quick check and they were still on my cap.

    About five minutes down the canyon I realized I didn't have my left trekking pole. I believe it fell out near the pine as it was stowed in my pack. I couldn't stomach turning around even for a minute and figured I could really use a new pair anyhow!

    Whetrock just never seemed to end. It was good to the last drop in thickets of razor sharp thorns. Heading up Fraser it started to really pour. The pain of Whetrock continued as the water ran down the scrapes. Saw a few horses at JF and finished the hike and headed home through the atv crowds.

    I'm glad I went but I hesitate to recommend.
    Whetrock Canyon Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    DID A GEO CACHE IN THE AREA, SO BEING INTERESTED WITH THE WRITE UPS ON THIS TRAIL DECIDED TO OPEN UP THE SOUTHEAST WILDERNESS WITH THIS HIKE. IT STARTED OUT ON THE TAME SIDE PROCEEDING THROUGH FRAZIER CANYON, AND PROCEEDS TO BE WELL MARKED AND MUCH MORE INTERESTING AS YOU PROCEED PAST THE JF RANCH. SAW SEVERAL DEER IN THE ARE AND KEPT AS CLOSE WATCH FOR THE NARROW ENTRANCE TO THE WHETROCK CANYON, A GREAT PLACE FOR LUNCH. IT IS NOW ALL UP HILL. THE CANYON DOES NOT APPEAR TO HAVE HAD ANY VISITORS FOR QUITE A WHILE. IT IS EASILY TRAVERSED AND QUITE INTERESTING. MAINLY A BUSHWHACK LONG PANTS ARE A PLUS. A LITTLE WATER WOULD SURELY ADD TO THE AMBIENCE. THE FEATURES MENTIONED IN THE OTHER TRIP LOGS ARE ACCURATE AS WELL AS " A HIKERS GUIDE TO THE SUPERSTITION WILDERNESS INCLUDING THE MINES, AND THE MILK TRUCK. SAW ONLY ONE CAIRN THE ENTIRE CANYON, SO ROUTE FINDING IS NOT MUCH OF A PROBLEM JUST STAY WITH THE OBVIOUS. DIDN'T SEE ANOTHER SOUL. THIS IS TRULY A WILDERNESS HIKE. THE GPS HELPED IN LOCATING WHETROCK
    CANYON-ITS ON THE TOPO MAPS.

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    Directions
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    High Clearance possible when dry

    To Woodbury Trailhead
    Take US 60 east out of Apache Junction. A couple miles past Florence Junction at MP214.2 turn north onto Queen Valley Road and drive for 1.6 miles. Turn right onto FR357 (Hewlett Station Road) and drive for 3.0 miles to signed FR172. Turn left onto FR172 and drive for 9.1 miles to the intersection of FR172A/172B. IF going to Rogers Trough TH/Parking, then turn right onto FR172A and drive 3.8 rough miles to the Rogers Trough TH; IF going to Woodbury TH, then turn left onto FR172B and drive 1.1 miles to the Woodbury TH/Parking.

    Notice This trailhead may or may not be accessible by sedan. The road is generally grated once a year. Opinions differ on what is and is not doable.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 65.6 mi - about 1 hour 49 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 98.9 mi - about 2 hours 39 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 210 mi - about 3 hours 52 mins
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