Cottonwood Creek - Upper Falls, AZ

Guide 2 Triplogs Mine 0 0 Topics
2 of 5 
no permit
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 1.1 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,427 feet
Elevation Gain 210 feet
Accumulated Gain 210 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 2.15
Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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24  2013-02-22
Soldier Camp Trail #83
11  2005-05-07 joebartels
author avatar Guides 253
Routes 841
Photos 12,826
Trips 5,234 map ( 26,555 miles )
Age 52 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov → 10 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Spring
Sun  5:36am - 7:27pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 2020 Bush Fire193.5k
🔥 2005 Edge Complex Fire72.3k
🔥 1996 Lone Fire65.1k
🔥 1975 Bob Fire12.9k
🔥 View (All) - over Official Route 🔥
Nearby Area Water
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Named place Nearby
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Megan's destiny unfolds
by joebartels

This simple loop starts from the Mud Springs Trailhead on the Soldier Camp Trail. Immediately you cross the ravine which is home to Mud Springs. The creek was only a trickle on this outing. Trees refreshingly canopy the area (pre-2020 Bush Fire). However, it's short-lived and soon you're back into typical Brushy Basin foliage. Which are occasional bushes and in May lots of irritating dry grass foxtails. This hike would likely be most enjoyable in March.

Soon you'll cross Cottonwood Creek. On this outing, it was running slow, but three to four times as good as Mud Spring. The hike continues away and up from Cottonwood Creek. Stop at 0.5 miles and go off-trail back/left to Cottonwood Creek. It's pretty easy, but if you're unsure I'd recommend downloading my GPS route.

There's a slanted 12 to 15-foot waterfall in the granite. I wouldn't say I was impressed but I was flat out stunned, to say the least. Granted we just experienced one of the wettest winters on record, but I believe the last round of showers was over two months ago! It must have been phenomenal here in March!

Follow Cottonwood Creek a little over a quarter-mile back down to Soldier Camp Trail. You'll have to be slightly acrobatic to make it down the creek. The rewards are slim with two somewhat notable waterfalls and one granite-etched swirling cascade. Depending on the route you choose you may have to climb/descend some walls and shimmy across slabs of granite with drop-off exposure. The largest pool is barely large enough for a one-man bath.

I only rate this hike a 2 out of 5, just don't expect much. This loop is just outside the Four Peaks Wilderness boundary so feel free to mountain bike it in large groups.

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2005-05-07 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.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    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 for (guessing) 15 miles to Mud Spring Trailhead.
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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