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Saddle Mountain Trail to Squaw Flat, AZ

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Guide 45 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3.4 of 5 by 9
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 10 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,926 feet
Elevation Gain 500 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,093 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 20.47
Backpack Yes & Possibly Connect
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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10  2018-01-04
Saddle Mountain #91
30  2017-11-18
Sheep Creek Cabin
23  2017-06-11
S Mazatzal Roundup
15  2017-05-15
Saddle Mountain - AZT #22
7  2017-03-18 BobP
14  2017-03-18
Saddle Mountain 6535 - Mazatzals
45  2016-04-09
Saddle Mountain - Mazatzals
20  2015-04-12
Saddle - Thicket - West Fork - Cornucopia
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author sidijoel
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 0
Photos 10
Trips 0 map ( 0 miles )
Age 59 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, May, Oct, Nov → 8 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:10am - 6:31pm
Official Route
9 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Gentle scenic mountain stroll
by sidijoel

Overview: This is a very scenic 10-mile hike (5 miles out and back) with about 500 ft of elevation gain. There was no water available on this hike... all creeks and springs were dry in early November 2005. Daytime temperature was in the mid 60's. There was good cell phone coverage at the trailhead and on the trail until about half way... at the Potato Patch.

Summary The trail starts at the Wilderness Area sign post at the Mormon Grove Trailhead.

The first stage of the hike follows the Saddle Mountain Trail... which is not marked - and starts with a gentle climb up a wide rocky lane. After 1/2 mile you will reach the Trail Post marking the intersection of Saddle Mountain Trail and Little Saddle Trail (which joins you from the left).

Continue along Saddle Mountain Trail another 1.4 miles (1.9 miles from trailhead) of gentle rocky uphill till you get to a rock cairn. There are bluffs to your right.

Back on the main trail, after the cairn, you continue around the bluffs and pass through a gate as you meander around the base of Saddle Mountain.

Saddle Mountain is above you and to your left. The trail becomes narrower and rock-free hard pack and is precipitous to your right for a short while so take care. You pass the trail high point (about 500 ft above the start point) and gently drop about 200 ft until you reach the Trail Post marking the intersection of the Sheep Creek Trail and the Saddle Mountain Trail. (Note: At this trail intersection, The Saddle Mountain Trail shows continuing Northeast which will take you to the Old Story Mine site).

Take the Sheep Creek Trail downhill to your left. You will enter a dry wash at the bottom and about 25 yds into the wash, the trail exits up and to the left. The trail is now narrow and more overgrown.

You will climb a little and contour around the west side of McFarland Canyon for a short distance and then the trail drops sharply 300 ft down a series of dusty switchbacks into the canyon. Check out the mine entrance across the creek to your right as you near the bottom of the canyon.

You will find the next Trail Post marking the intersection of the Sheep Creek Trail and Thicket Spring Trail in the bottom of the canyon. You are 4 miles from the trailhead.

The mine entrance is just a short hop up the Thicket Spring Trail.

Follow the Sheep Creek Trail alongside the creek bed. The trail may become less distinct because of leaves and pine needles. There are many cairns alongside the trail to mark the way. After about 1/2 mile you will reach a corral at Squaw Flat Spring.

The spring comes up in a concrete water trough inside the corral... it was dry when we visited in early November.

Walk through the corral and across the creek bed. The trail continues alongside the creek up a rocky lane until you reach the Trail Post marking the intersection of Sheep Creek Trail and Copper Camp Trail. Take Sheep Creek Trail uphill for a nice view back over the Matzatzals. You need go no further than 1/4 to 1/2 mile up Sheep Creek Trail.

The hike back to the trailhead is the reverse of the outward journey.

Driving GPS Coordinates:
- Start of FR201 (at old highway 87) - N33.55.869 W111.27.841
- FR25/FR25A Y in the road - N33.56.486 W111.28.978

Hiking GPS Coordinates:
- Mormon Grove Trail Head - N33.56.357 W111.30.126, Elevation 4926 ft
- 1st Trail Post (Saddle Mountain/Little Saddle Trail intersection) - N33.56.415 W111.30.535, Elevation 5029 ft
- Cairn at Potato Patch - N33.57.150 and W111.30.958, Elevation 5480 ft
- 2nd Trail Post (Sheep Creek Trail/Saddle Mountain Trail intersection) - N33.57.800 W111.30.487, Elevation 5297 ft
- 3rd Trail Post (Sheep Creek Trail/Thicket Spring Trail intersection) - N33.58.140 W111.30.489, Elevation 4930 ft
- 4th Trail Post (Sheep Creek Trail/Copper Camp Trail intersection) - N33.58.230 W111.31.252, Elevation 5141 ft

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.

2005-11-07 sidijoel
    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
    Saddle Mountain Trail to Squaw Flat
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    I set out to see the damage of the Sunflower fire. I parked at the intersection of FR210 & FR25. There was a troop of Boy Scouts getting ready for a backpack. A couple of adults came over to ask if I've been to the mine at the end of FR201a. I told them that I've never been to that one. They mentioned that they got the idea from HikeAZ and that one of the scout leaders was Preston the Yenti's dad.

    I headed down FR25. About 1.30 miles in, I got sidetracked. I came to a decommissioned road behind a locked gate. I've always wondered what was behind here. My GPS showed that the road was about half mile long. I went down and saw the remains of some structures and the road went into the East Fork of the Sycamore creek. The creek was wide and mostly sandy. After a bit it turned into a box canyon with ample shade. I set my turn around point to whenever there was any rock hoping or climbing. To my surprise I didn't find any. There was maybe two spots with some rocks. Then a there was some water flowing down the creek. At one point, I saw the boy scouts up on FR201. I also found a busty water gauge in the creek. I hit a T section that was burned out. The creek flowed from the left, so I followed it. My GPS showed that the creek crossed a FR. So that was my new interim goal, to find the road and see where it takes me.

    Right by the road was a mine and a furnace. This is the mine that the boy scouts were going to! I hiked up FR201a and saw the troop. We talked a bit and I headed back down FR201a. I found a semi-fresh graded road right off of 201a. It lead to a pretty flat area and continued on for about 1/4 mile. I wonder if this was used as a staging area for the Sunflower fire. I returned to FR201a and took it to a 4 - way intersection. To the south was FR4721 (that leads to FR25a), to the west was FR201a(that leads to the Davey Gowan TH) and to the east was an unnumbered road (that one leads back to the locked gate).

    I took the FR4721 to FR25a. FR4721 had some pretty bad washouts on it. At FR25A,I turned to the East and headed towards FR25. Right before the bridge was a major washout, that would stop all vehicles from passing. The bridge was covered in sand. About a 1/4 mile from FR25, there was a new locked gate. Then past that, FR25a had a major 10 foot wide washout. It was too steep to climb down, so I bushwhacked around it.

    Now I finally was going up to the Mormon Groove TH. The fire did a number on FR25. I took me a bit to figure out where the road was or is. This area needs some serious work to allow vehicle to get through. Once I started climbing up FR25, the road was pretty good. There was a couple of rough spots and one rock slide.

    At the Mormon Groove TH, there's a new ~10foot radio tower. I'm guessing this was a radio repeater for the fire fighters.

    I went down the Little Saddle trail for a couple of miles. There are some burnt sections. The silver lining to the fire is that now you have some better views of the area. I could see some roads that I couldn't before.

    I returned down FR25 to the Jeep. I was in the dark for the last hour.
    Saddle Mountain Trail to Squaw Flat
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    Mazatzal Spring Break 2011

    Part 1:

    After a quick breakfast at the Beeline Cafe in Payson Saturday morning, I went south and met John, Jason, and Gary at the Mormon Grove trailhead. Temps were a bit warmer than expected as we headed north along the rocky Saddle Mountain Trail, our packs loaded down with choice beverages. We took a short break among the changing oaks at Potato Patch, then continued on across brushy hillsides. Lupines, penstemon, and other flowers added contrasting colors to the sea of green that is this part of the Mazatzals.

    Reaching McFarland Canyon, we entered a fine forest of pine and fir, then continued west to our campsite along the creek. The rest of the day was spent relaxing in the shade and just enjoying our surroundings. John and I ventured down canyon a ways. I made a late afternoon trip up the Sheep Creek Trail to Squaw Flat to enjoy the views and watch the sunset on the Mazatzal peaks. The only others we saw the entire weekend came passing by on Saturday evening: two guys with four mules. We shared our campsite with them, but kept to ourselves. Jason, John, and Gary cooked steaks on the fire, and I did my usual quesadillas.

    I awoke Sunday morning from a miserable night's sleep with an aching back to find the sun turning my tent into an oven. The mule train soon left, and the rest of us spent the day in the shade being lazy among the tall pines.

    Late Sunday afternoon, John and I climbed out of the canyon and hiked over to the Story Mine. Wanting to see the old cabin and apple trees that Fritzski had written about, we continued down the old road to the bottom of the canyon, getting torn apart by all manner of unforgiving plants along the way. The bottom of the canyon was a welcoming scene of huge douglas firs, a few maple and apple trees, and an ancient cabin, with water trickling down the creek bed. Being late, we cut our visit short, hiked back out, and returned to our campsite by sunset. Jason was serving up the very flavorful tortellini he had cooked, which was enjoyed by all. The rest of the night was spent around the fire, discussing many subjects, and watching the stars.

    Monday morning we packed up our gear and parted ways. John, Jason, and Gary headed back the way we had come in on the Saddle Mountain Trail. I had Tuesday off, and decided to take the long way back...

    Part 2:

    Wishing I had gotten an earlier start due to the very warm sun, I went east up the Thicket Spring Trail, then turned off onto the West Fork Trail, whose scrub oak gauntlet I endured while dropping down to the Cornucopia Trail. There I hung my food from a tall oak and stashed my backpack. I threw on my daypack, and headed north along the Cornucopia Trail. Cornucopia creek was flowing nicely, and spring was in full gear.

    I nearly stepped on a gopher snake shortly before reaching the big ponderosa below Thicket Spring, where I took a break in the shade. I filtered some water, ate lunch, soaked my hat and shirt in the creek, then continued hiking up to the Mazatzal Divide Trail.

    A welcome breeze picked up as I climbed the east side of Mount Peeley, where I stashed some water for the return trip. I left the Mazatzal Divide Trail at Peeley's northeast corner, and followed the northeast ridge to the summit of Mount Peeley. Clouds had begun to roll in, and the wind was strong. I sat down among the rocks to enjoy the view and send a photo to some friends. Before leaving I placed a register on the summit (I'm not sure why there has never been one here on my previous visits). I took the standard northwest ridge back down to the Mazatzal Divide Trail, then headed back the way I had come. The cloud cover and breeze made a world of difference hiking south along the Cornucopia Trail.

    Back at the West Fork junction, I retrieved my backpack, and continued down along Forest Road 25A, passing the turnoff for the absolutley insane Forest "Road" 3722 (the "Cornucopia via E. Fork Sycamore" hike). I hadn't been on this section of the West Fork Sycamore Creek since 1999, and I was impressed with its beauty. The canyon was lush, full of water and greenery, and even had a couple of douglas firs growing at 4400 feet.

    By the time I reached the bottom end of McFarland Canyon, the sun was about to set. Frogs were croaking, the air felt absolutely perfect, and I didn't want to leave. I debated whether to camp here for the night, or continue on to my truck at the end of FR 25A like I had planned, and just explore the mercury mines the next day. The thought of ice cold drinks at my truck sealed my decision. I reached my truck at the bottom of FR 25A at 8 pm, where Jason had kindly moved it that morning. It had been a 15 mile, 10 hour day, and I was tired. I cooked dinner, watched a dvd in my truck, and then crashed in the bed. Ramen noodles never tasted so good.

    Tuesday I slept in, shaded by huge oak trees. Eventually I got moving, and hiked back up FR 25A along the West Fork of Sycamore Creek. I hadn't seen this area in years, and the scenery was even better than I had remembered. Sycamores, cliffs, pools of water, and colorful rock everywhere! I have a lifetime of memories of this place, and all of them are good. It was great to come back.

    I popped into what John and I refer to as the "Junk Mine", to discover most of the junk was gone. Cresting a little saddle just beyond, I laid eyes on the old mercury mill for the first time in years. I explored the inside of the mill, taking many photos. It's steadily deteriorating, sadly. Just an FYI, there's a bee hive living in the bottom end of the big furnace/crusher tube. I stopped to visit the Sunflower Mine itself on the way out, hoping to pick up a nice sample of cinnabar ore. After a good bit of searching, I found a couple of pieces. Before I left the West Fork, I had a good soaking in one of its pools. The water was cold, but it felt great. I hated to leave.

    I was surprised (disappointed?) that I hadn't seen even one rattlesnake the entire trip. That changed only five minutes from my truck, when a large Black-tailed Rattlesnake, in full coil, buzzed me. I finally saw one. Yay! Once back at my truck, I began the long drive home, through my favorite Mazatzal Mountains. It had been a perfect trip with great friends, wonderful scenery, and adventure. I'll remember this trip forever.

    Part 1: ... ZfunMrcTHU

    Part 2: ... D7Y_TNjH_Y
    Saddle Mountain Trail to Squaw Flat
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Really fun hike. Started out at the Cross F TH, taking the 344 to the Little Saddle Mountain Trail #244. At the intersection with the 91 I took the Saddle Mountain via Mormon Grove trail to the turnoff to the mines. Turnoff to the mines isn't marked of course, but if you know where to look for the trail (GPS!) it's pretty easy to find.

    While going up the Little Saddle Mountain trail, there were cows EVERYWHERE, and because the terrain was a little rough off the trail, I basically had a dozen or more cows running from me up the trail almost the entire way. I finally lost them just before the 91.

    The mines were really cool to see, I saw 5 mine shafts in all and the processing plant. I didn't go into any of the shafts, however...alone, no one around, NOT a good idea ;) The one spot where it is reported that there are two mines I actually found 3 mine shafts. I did a little more exploring in the area, looking for other shafts, but didn't find any. With all these mines, I'm curious now, I've got to find some reading on the history of the mines in that area.

    Outside of seeing a couple of cars at the abandoned processing plant, the only other person I saw all day out there was a hunter on the way back. As I turned on to Little Saddle Mountain, a hunter shot a grey fox just in front of me. I was maybe 200 yards away. It wasn't an adult fox, was still fairly young.

    A bit muddy out there, there was some buildup on the shoes to scrape off...but nothing compared to Bob and my trip out to the area earlier this year!! Some ice about 5000 ft, mostly frozen mud puddles...but not really any snow.

    Early on I saw a pretty interesting cactus, I'm posting it with my pictures from the mines. There was a little water running in Cat Spring and the spring just north of it, which was a welcome sight after the months of no rain!

    Yeah...I made my year's goal of 400 with this one! Not bad for a husband and dad of 2, working a 50-hour+ job!!! :y:
    Saddle Mountain Trail to Squaw Flat
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    Well, actually we didn't do a lot of this trail...we got a half mile in before we turned back. So why nearly 11 miles? OK, here's the story...

    Bob & I drove up in the rain, and when we got there it was still drizzling. We reached the split in the road where you turn onto FR205 (at the cattle guard) and the road was so slippery that we just did not want to go any further. So we decided to hike FR205 (an extra 4.8 miles) to the Saddle Mountain TH. Mud so thick on my shoes I kept kicking my boots in the air and slinging off chunks. :lol:

    We kept getting rained on. It would fade back to a light drizzle, then pour harder. We passed the corral and got about a half-mile into this trail, looked at each other and said, "Are we enjoying this?" Constant rain, mud. We finally decided to head back.

    On the way back one guy in a Ford F150 (I believe) was stuck on the edge of the road and about to slip off the edge. We helped them pile rocks and sticks under the tires and push him out (and thought "Glad this wasn't us!").

    Look forward to heading back out there...when it's a little more dry!

    My time shows 3:30 with 20 minutes of breaks, not counting our time digging out the Ford ;)
    Saddle Mountain Trail to Squaw Flat
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    This was my fifth trip to the Mormon Grove TH in our southern Mazatzal Wilderness over the past two years.. I DO LIKE THIS AREA :) !

    This hike I wanted to explore the more remote & scenic "upper end" of seven mile "inner trail"-
    The Copper Camp Tr#87. There are only a limited number of ways to reach the upper end of this trail, all of which make for a relatively long hiking day. In my opinion, going in from the Mormon Grove TH gives one the "biggest bang for the time spent". The first 3 miles on Saddle Mtn Tr#91(which is actually the old-now closed mining road that goes to the Old Story Mercury Mine & also a segment of the AZ Trail) has very scenic vistas. The next 2 miles, also with a one mile segment of the AZ Trail, is on historic Sheep Creek Tr#88 which offers most ALL (with scenic views, seasonal creeks, nice varieties of flora, purple slate, an historic corral, ~springs, and at least one old mercury mine shaft along the way).

    At this 5 mile point, the intersection with Sheep Creek Tr#88 and Copper Camp Tr#87 is where this subject hike descripton actually begins. As the author of this "Saddle Mountain to Plateau Overlook Pt" hike description, I encourage you to read it to hopefully entice some of you to add it to your HAZ "wish list". It turned out to be ALL I had hoped it would be- another very rewarding hike in our remote, diverse, and very scenic Mazatzal Wilderness!
    Saddle Mountain Trail to Squaw Flat
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    Having done this very enjoyable Mazatzal Wilderness hike three times over the past year, this time we decided to attempt it as a LOOP HIKE AROUND SADDLE MTN to include part-of the SADDLE MTN. MINE TOUR HIKE(a hike through the OLD SUNFLOWER MURCERY MINE COMPLEX). From the remote Mormon Grove TH, two of us started this hike at 9am, hiking the first 1.9 miles up Saddle Mtn Tr#91 to the large carin (as detailed in the original writeup), then, at this carin hiking West through a small meadow where we started a most difficult, time consuming, but very scenic six mile off-trail bushwhacking effort continuing West, then Northwest, and North-Northeast behind and around Saddle Mountain to finally connect with the Copper Camp Tr#87 just Northwest of its intersection with the Sheep Creek Tr#88. We then hiked South on the Sheep Creek Tr to its intersection with the Saddle Mtn Tr#91, then left(East) at this trail intersection and hiked past the OLD STORY MINE down to the creek bed and again bushwhacked our way East and Southeast in this creek bed to its end at the OLD SUNFLOWER MURCERY MINE COMPLEX... From here we hiked down to FR25A, then hiked out FR25A to its intesection with FR25 where we had earlier parked one of our two vehicles to complete this full day and some night :roll: , super loop hike.

    Trip Highlights: Beautiful, scenic views behind Saddle Mtn. of the remote Western Mazatzal's and Bartlett Lake; A high sense of satisfaction and accomplishment regarding our decision making/route finding skills for the very remote six mile off trail bushwhacking portion of this loop hike; Doing this hike as a vehicle shuttle, we were able to cover a lot of very remote, beautiful, scenic, and historic miles in the South portion of the Mazatzal's;

    Note: GPS Route for this hike:

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To Mormon Grove Trailhead
    Driving from Phoenix, take the Beeline Highway (87) North toward Payson. Take the Sycamore Creek exit (just past mile marker 222), turning left across the divided highway and down the paved road 'Old Highway 87' for 1.2 miles to FR201.

    Turn right over the cattle guard onto the gravel road (FR201) and proceed 1.2 miles to cross another cattle guard just before a split in the road at FR25. Take the sharp left turn downhill (FR25) and proceed 2.6 miles to a Y in the road. Stay left again and downhill on FR25 (the right leg takes you onto FR25A). Proceed uphill for 2.2 miles (switchbacks) to the Mormon Grove Trailhead.

    Both FR201 and FR25 are gravel roads - FR25 is slow/rough- loose & hard packed rock, steeper climb up/down than FR201.

    The Mormon Grove Trailhead is not signed but is obvious since it is where FR25 ends at an old wooden corral.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 66.6 mi - about 1 hour 21 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 164 mi - about 2 hours 42 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 145 mi - about 3 hours 10 mins
    2+ mi range whistle
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