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Parker Creek Trail #160, AZ

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Guide 84 Triplogs  8 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Young S
3.8 of 5 by 23
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 4.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,050 feet
Elevation Gain 2,152 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,788 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 13.79
Backpack Yes & Possibly Connect
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3  2019-09-03
Aztec Peak via Abbey's Way 151 Loop
22  2019-08-31 wildwesthikes
7  2019-08-20 CannondaleKid
15  2019-08-08 rayhuston
12  2018-08-18
Tour de Anca
8  2018-08-18
Rim #139 - Murphy #141 - Abbey's #151 Loop
9  2018-06-08 JuanJaimeiii
25  2018-05-31
Aztec Peak Rim Trail Loop
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Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, May, Sep, Oct → 8 AM
Seasons   Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:09am - 6:26pm
Official Route
15 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Stairway to Aztec Peak
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
This was my first hike into the Sierra Anchas, and a great introduction to an incredibly beautiful area. Towards the end of the trail (the last mile or so), you will pass through an area burned by the Coon Creek Fire of April 2000. This trail begins on the southern end of Highway 288, just as you begin to reach the pine country, and ends at Forest Road 487 (currently closed to vehicles) between Workman Creek Falls, and Aztec Peak. This hike makes a great backpack into the Workman Creek Falls/Aztec Peak area. For me, this is in my top five most favorite backpacking trips of all time.

The trailhead is on a short side road off highway 288, at the base of some switchbacks that carry 288 into the high pine country, approximately 23 miles north of the highway 188 junction, just past the ADOT highway maintenance housing. The trailhead has room for four or five cars, I'd say.

Underneath the imposing plateau of the southern end of Carr Mountain, which rises 2000 feet above you, and Grantham Peak, the trail begins climbing up the South Fork of Parker Creek. The canyon walls above you are covered in giant rock towers and cliffs. As you pass under a canopy of white oak trees, you will immediately pass the remains of the old Sierra Ancha Experimental Forest station. The trail soon crosses over to the south side of the canyon, passing through a fair amount of poison ivy. As you begin climbing up the canyon, you will pass by douglas fir trees, and ponderosa pines. There are also some nice box elder and maple trees as you climb higher. This is in contrast to the other side of the canyon, which faces south, and is mostly covered in brush. Rock slides amongst the brush are reminiscent of Picture Mountain, near Tonto Basin. The trail climbs and switchbacks up the canyon, remaining nice and shady. At one spot you will cross a large rockslide with a couple of gigantic old douglas firs growing out of it. I remember the trunks on these two trees being about five feet in diameter! As the canyon makes a bend to the left, the trail begins a steep half mile switchback climb to the 6896 foot saddle, on the ridge south of Carr Peak. After a nice rest at the saddle, the trail began descending slightly as we entered the upper reaches of Coon Creek Canyon. This is where you will enter the burned area of the Coon Creek Fire. (My backpack trip was pre-fire, but I could see the fire's boundary from Aztec peak on a later trip). From the saddle it is about a mile to the trail's summit (7080 feet). You will pass Mud Spring, where we had a lunch break, and the junction for trail #139 along the way. From the summit, it is a quarter mile of gentle downhill to the trailhead on Forest Road 487. In this area you will see locust bushes so tall, I would call them trees, and aspens. This is the end of the Parker Creek Trail, but you could do a backpacking trip like we did, and continue on.

We continued down the road towards Workman Creek Falls, stopping at Workman Creek for water, next to a green, outhouse-like structure (not an outhouse, though). This is about three quarters of a mile north on the road from where the Parker Creek Trail ends. Workman Creek from this point downstream to highway 288 has always had water in it when I have been here. It is only another quarter mile down the road from "the outhouse" to Workman Creek Falls, which, if you have never been there, is a must see! (150 foot drop) DO NOT climb on the slippery rocks next to the very edge of the waterfall, at least two people have fallen to their death here! After seeing Workman Creek Falls, we then hiked half a mile back up the road towards Aztec Peak, and turned north on Abbey's Way Trail #151. We followed this trail a quarter mile into a beautiful meadow, where we camped in the trees on the edge of it. You could continue on this trail to the top of Aztec Peak, like we did, passing by an old ranch site, and through what used to be a dense, old-growth forest of white fir trees (destroyed by the Coon Creek Fire, sadly). There is a lot to see and do in this area, so start early!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2006-02-12 PrestonSands

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    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 of 43 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Parker Creek Trail #160
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Did this as a spur of the moment short overnight backpacking trip. I'd had the Anchas on my list of places to hike n' camp for a while. I decided at the last minute to bail out of Mt. Wrightson to do this, but in hindsight that might have worked out better at the end of August. I actually packed for 3 days thinking I'd do the under the rim loop up to Edward Spring and maybe explore around Moody Point. I wore shorts and a T-shirt based on summer temperatures, and that proved to the the fatal flaw for this trip. :?

    In August trail conditions were very overgrown so I ended up donating a bit of blood to the wilderness. Many downed trees to climb over but still made great time to the top. Because I wasn't sure about the water sources or how far I'd get, I ended up with a ridiculously heavy pack with 10 liters water - enough to last me the full 3 days.

    Camping on top was spectacular, plenty of nice flat spots to setup away from the trail. No developed fire rings, but there are fire restrictions anyway. I had light rain early in the night. As soon as the sun came up, two strong monsoon storm systems converged and pushed through right over me, dropped a ton of rain, thunder and lightning 1st thing in the morning for like 90 minutes. If not for the thunder and lightning it would have lulled me back to bed.

    Once the weather cleared up I was on trail by 9am, but it wasn't long before I turned around from getting badly cut up by the overgrown foliage. Had I worn full coverage clothing it would not have been bad, but would have continued to be very slow miles and kind of a slog. honestly not having much fun at that point so I dumped my extra water and went back down.

    Not a total failure since I camped the one night with a beautiful sunset and starry night - you can see the milky way this time of year. I'll be going back, maybe with my trusty Silky Pocketboy saw and some shears. :lol:
    Parker Creek Trail #160
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    Thanks to Ray's 8/8/19 triplog documenting the conditions we had a good idea what we were getting ourselves into. Forewarned we were prepared for the overgrowth, not only did I have my usual small pruner I also had my titanium shears. I also wore my usual long pants and long-sleeve shirt. Tracey stuck with a short-sleeve top... and she would pay for it in blood.

    Less than a hundred yards from the start we encountered a relatively fresh pile of LARGE bear scat... being within a few miles of our bear encounter last year along with Ray's rattlesnake encounter two weeks ago, needless to say Tracey would be having visions of encountering one or both the whole hike.
    Of course I'm more-or-less oblivious to her concerns... I don't stress whether somethingmight happen, I only deal with a hazard if-and-when it arises.

    As Ray mentioned there were a number of overgrown areas... the first part was thicker-section but not very dense brush so the titanium shears make quick work of the worst of it. Anywhere it was not thorny or dense we just passed on through... otherwise we'd be on the trail far longer than anticipated.

    Later on when we hit the overgrowth again it wasn't thick-section and less dense brush but thin-section, fine-thorny and denser. Although there was a lot of it, much was easy enough to push aside, which is exactly what I did... again, I'm up to some trail work along the way, I just didn't want to spend double the effort. I was using my small pruner for the thickest but that was about it.

    Until Tracey started giving blood... while my long-sleeves just shed off the fine-thorny attacks Tracey's bare arms were taking it all in. Not wanting to deal with it on the return trip, she took charge of the larger shears and went at it with a vengeance. For the next half-mile or so (roughly 6,000-6,200' elevation) I continued to lead the way by trimming the thorny tops of the brush so Tracey could cut it lower without dealing with the thorny part. While it would make for an quicker and easier return, it was warming up fast so as soon as it began to thin out we put the shears away and made for the top.

    Due to the Juniper fire we did not have our favorite log to sit on for our snack break so we continued on a short distance toward Carr Peak in search of a substitute whether a bare rock or unburnt log. Finding nothing suitable we backtracked a bit until deciding just to sit on the ground in an area where we felt a slight breeze.

    It was warmer and more humid than we hoped so our break was much longer than our usual 10-minute break. Almost a record for us... we took a full 30 minutes before heading back.

    I expected the descent to be a monotonous hold-up-pardner on the legs but surprisingly my legs were on cruise-control and before I knew it we were back at the TH. Ok, I had to stop a few times for Tracey to catch up, but I took those short breaks to wring out my skullcap so no big deal.

    Although Tracey gave a small blood sacrifice, with no rattler or bear encounters all was good. :y:
    Parker Creek Trail #160
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I wanted to get some decent elevation gain on a good trail with some shade. I hiked this trail back in 2014 with a couple of swell guys as part of a much bigger hike that included Aztec Peak and the Rim trail. Today I just wanted to get to the top of the canyon and back, about 7 miles round trip with 2000 feet of gain.

    The trail is overgrown the first mile, wildly overgrown the second mile, but clears up (mostly) in the third mile. I walked past a diamondback at the one mile mark. No warning until I was alongside, but we were separated by a shrub so I hustled past. Saw some cat scat a quarter mile in and bear scat several times along the route. After seeing the d-back, I wasn't too excited about venturing into sections of trail where I couldn't see my feet, so I picked up a stick, beat the bushes and moved slowly through. Grasshoppers were bounding all over the place at about the 1.5 mile mark.

    The hike back was uneventful. The d-back was still there but I knew where it was and started beating the bushes before I got to it. I got a nice loud warning in return. The dog days of August isn't the best time to hike this trail, but it beats trying to do something similar in the valley. It was warm/hot at the bottom, the last third of a mile or so when you're exposed to the sun.

    In spite of the overgrown trail, this is still a delightful hike and the drive in is paved all the way to the TH. I drove for longer than I hiked, but the drive to and from was enjoyable, too. Great day.
    Parker Creek Trail #160
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Aztec Peak Rim Trail Loop
    Tracey wasn't happy with the bush-whacking on our previous 2-day trip so I was tasked with coming up with ON-trail hikes for this Thursday/Friday weekend... somewhere no too hot and not off-limits. Since we hadn't been in the Aztec Peak area for 3-4 years I figured we'd have plenty of trails to choose from.

    First up would be a road-walk, trails 140, 139, 160, road-walk, off-trail wandering, road-walk... or something like that. Of course, I didn't mention to Tracey the conditions of Trail 139 or the off-trail stuff. Having read hikerdw's triplog from last weekend as well as the comments referring to the conditions, I remembered we were led astray by elk trails when we did the loop 4 years ago. So I figured I'd bring my titanium shears along and clean up the worst areas. Since it was so easy to lose the trail going counter-clockwise, I decided we'd hike it clockwise.

    The road-walk, Moody Trail and the first part on the Rim Trail went easy enough but when we got to the thick stuff I wasted no time pulling out the shears and getting to work. As much as Tracey doesn't like going through thick and thorny brush, she would push ahead to locate the next rock cairn, while I cut through the brush in the straightest line to that point. She split her time between tossing the trimmed brush to the side and located the next cairn, and we would repeat the sequence.

    Whenever a rock cairn was almost completely covered by brush, I cut right to the ground so the cairn would be visible from either direction. As we continued toward Armor Corral Spring every once in a while I retraced my steps to make sure the cairn lines-of-sight were adequate. When doing so, I realized part of the problem staying on-trail in this area was due not only to the myriads of elk trails, but to placement of additional rock cairns where they most likely did not belong... again on elk trails. While those placements may have seemed correct when going counter-clockwise, as we located the oldest cairns going clockwise, it was more obvious which were more likely where they belong and which were leading astray.

    Only after completing the heavy trimming did I realize it took over an hour to travel just over 200 yards. After all that effort, the rest of the hike would be a breeze. Items of note were the numerous bear tracks and scat, one of which was fresh (VERY fresh... still wet), a large elk antler, which we found while wandering aimlessly near our camp as well as what appeared to be a system of wood poles to measure humidity.

    I'm posting my GPS track for the Rim Trail from Moody to Parker, which I edited to remove the extraneous back-and-forth travel.
    Parker Creek Trail #160
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    Sierra Ancha Rim
    Started at Carr Trailhead, 7057' with about 3" of snow. Descended the #160, Parker Trail and the snow quickly turned to mud. In about ¾-mile at 6700’ picked up the 139 Rim Trail, #139 showed evidence of recent maintenance, a good sign. Followed untracked 139, some snow, some mud but mostly dry a little less than 2-miles to Armor Corral Spring, 6680’. Pleasant uneventful rim hike, nice views.

    At Armor Corral Spring the trail disappeared in a grove of crucifixion thorn . Took me 15-min to bumble my way the 100-yds of crucifixion thorn to reacquire the trail on the east side.

    After Armor Corral Spring the trail was noticeably fainter with no evidence of maintenance, but there were infrequent small cairns if you paid attention. I had to backtrack several times when I lost the trail. Continued another mile until the trail disappeared in a clearing with several large cairns. Did several loops looking for a trail, no luck.

    Since I had the 140 trail on my GPS map I decided to bushwhack the ¼ mile to the ridge. Gaining the ridge, zigzagging across the trail line, no trail to be found. At this point I was only 0.6-mile and 600’ from FR 487, should be an easy bushwhack.

    The remaining 0.6 mile was almost continuous crucifixion thorn frequently 10’ tall. Since this wasn’t my first Arizona rodeo, I had with me a handheld pruning shear and leather gloves. All told it took me 2:15 to go the 1.1 miles from the clearing to FR 487, by comparison the 1.2 mi back to my vehicle took 30-min.

    When I got back to my RV I got a shower, my chest and legs looked like a pincushion with many 2” scratches. My only previous experience with crucifixion thorn was in the Gila Wilderness; those were less than 4’ tall.

    Parker Creek Trail #160
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    Aztec Peak via Parker Creek
    Met up with Kyle, Chumley & Claire for a nice hike in the Sierra Ancha. We left Tempe around 6:45am and made the drive to the Parker Creek TH & started hiking around 8:45. The Parker Creek Trail is in good condition & made for relatively fast trail as the trail climbs in elevation. We took a few breaks to admire the views & catch our breath. We continued on & took a snack break about two miles below the peak. From there we made the final climb & took a long lunch break on the summit. The summit had a lot of activity with at least one group car camping & several others making the drive up. After lunch we followed the road down & stopped to talk to a hunter & someone from the forest service. After that we connected back onto trail and bombed back to the trailhead. We had a light sprinkling of rain for the last mile or so & it was really enjoyable.

    Aztec Peak via Parker Canyon is a real nice hike. I really enjoyed climbing up into the forest and the cool mountain air. The views up top were nice & this would be a great spot for car camping.
    Parker Creek Trail #160
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    Aztec Peak via Parker Creek
    I haven't done this hike in 5 years so I was happy to get back out there with Lily, 9L, Claire, and Chumley. Its uphill pretty much the entire way but I thought the grade was challenging yet pleasant. We never got caught in any rain even though we expected to and the temps couldn't have been more perfect.
    Parker Creek Trail #160
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Aztec Peak via Parker Creek
    Incredibly awesome weather for April 30. Highs on the peak barely hit 50. :y:

    The morning featured good breaks of sun, but by afternoon it was solidly cloudy with quite a few showers visible from the peak. This pushed our decision to skip the longer Rim trail loop and we only got sprinkled on a couple of times on the way down.

    Quite a bit of deadfall in the stretch of Abbey's above the ranch, but the last stretch to the peak was nicely cleared. A little poison ivy along Parker Creek kept those of us who are easily affected by this devil plant on our toes. Literally.

    Not sure why I'd never done this one before, but glad to knock it off the list. Thanks 9L for the idea, planning and driving. :)
    Parker Creek Trail #160
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    Aztec peak via Parker Creek Trail
    Great hike for my first trip to the Sierra Anchas. We had plans of getting in a nice long day hike and then camping out, so we made the drive up tot he TH, and then carried on a bit further to look for a good camping spot. We checked out the Rose Creek campground, and there were about 20 cars so we looked elsewhere. We found a nice spot about a quarter mile up the road for the TH and got our tents set up to claim the spot. We got started hiking about 10, a bit later than hoped for but still not too bad. Parker Canyon had some nice tree cover and good scenery, although there were a few patches of poison ivy to work our way around. It is a good solid push up to about 7000' once you get up on the ridge. We took a snack break here, and then continued on to the Carr TH. from here, we walked the road north a bit to the Abbey's Way trail. This came with much anticipation, I have been an Abbey fan for quite a long time so it is nice to enjoy a little history. Trail 151 was about how I expected it: crooked, brush choked, and having some fantastic views at the end. Aztec Peak made the effort all worth it (never mind that you can drive up, that is cheating), the fire tower was closed, but I went up as high as I could for some photos and the view. We took a nice lunch break over at the Flintstone Furniture, this was a really nice touch and a great spot to eat lunch. We had plans of doing the loop with the Rim trail, but it was already 3:30 and I did not want to be hiking by headlamp and trying to avoid poison ivy and such. We decided to make a small loop with the forest road, hiked that around back to the Carr TH and then Parker Creek back to the truck. I will say as far as road walks go, this is about as good as it gets. As we were getting back close to the truck we came to the conclusion that we were going to skip the camp to sleep in our own beds, getting back early so I could watch the Cardinals game on Sunday was a plus too...We packed up our tents by the truck headlights and were on the road by 7:30. Once we got back in to Phoenix we crashed my friend's 40th birthday party for a celebratory beer with a couple pretty stinky guys. Got to see quite a bit of wildlife on this one, we saw 4 owls, a skunk, a deer, lots of squirrels, and at least 4 snakes on the road on the way out. Loved this trip, definitely on the return radar!

    A few spotty wildflowers, but not too much...
    Parker Creek Trail #160
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    Carr Peak Ridge - Sierra Ancha
    For day two of our three-day Sierra Ancha camping trip we decided to follow a route we used last year along the ridge south of Carr Peak, except this time continue all the way to the end before looping back. We hoped for some great views but due to the thick vegetation (mainly pine trees) and very few outcrops we were a bit disappointed.

    But no matter, the weather was nice with 53° in the morning rising to 75° at the end of the hike. Even though it was a bit humid it was great just to be out in the clean air.

    No drama today... all the rattlesnake sightings for the weekend happened yesterday. ](*,)

    OH WAIT! All the drama took place while in the tent overnight. Here we were, sleeping peacefully... and I woke with a sense something wasn't quite right. So without moving a muscle, I listened as carefully as I could with all the crickets and such making a racket. But the more I thought about I realized the critters in the vicinity of our tent.
    And then I heard a quiet trudging of a bi-pedal animal, namely human. I say that because the foot-falls had the sound of leather boots along with an almost silent swish of pants with each step. I heard about a dozen steps toward our tent from the far side of the Jeep until they stopped at what I figured would be the other side of the fire-ring.
    After hearing absolutely NOTHING for what seemed like an hour, I ever-so-slowly leaned up far enough to see through the screen what was out there. And the moment I did that, I heard a swish as though whatever/whoever it was turned slightly, whether to look directly at me or provide a narrow silhouette to my line-of-sight, I have no idea, but then there was absolute silence again...
    This time it truly felt like an hour but of course was probably only a few minutes as it felt like a stare-down, although in the midst of the pines I couldn't see ANYTHING. Which got me to thinking... if this IS a human, it must be using some form of night-vision, because to move that far across the campsite yet miss all the various hazards of rocks and tree roots... well I certainly could not.

    Finally I decided to pick up my sun-in-the-eyes flashlight (which was within a few inches of my hand) and shine it through the screen and see who/what was still there. And at that very moment, from the opposite side of our tent here comes some relatively small animal prancing up to the tent and start scratching at it. When it sounded like it was about to rip the tent I grabbed the flashlight to shine that direction but the flashlight wouldn't come on... first, I hit the wrong switch... ](*,)
    Inside its holster it's almost impossible to know which of 2 buttons is the on-switch, so I had to pull it out and by time I got it on here comes a SKUNK around the corner of the tent. And all I saw was this white upside-down U-shaped fan of its tail as it trundled off to dig up grubs. (Of which I will accidentally dig up a few when going to answer the call of nature)
    And of course, through all this, not only did Tracey not know any of it until I said SKUNK, but it the commotion, whatever/whoever was standing there was now gone. But it did make for a fitful night of unrest.
    And I still wonder what or who it was. Hey, maybe next time maybe I'll bring along one of them firearms and try some of that there recon-by-fire. Whadda'ya think, huh? :gun:

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Globe (Miami), take AZ highway 188 north to the junction with AZ Highway 288. Take highway 288 north approximately 20 miles to the trailhead. The trailhead will be on the east (right) side of the road, just past the Arizona Department Of Transportation maintainence yard and housing. On the east (right) side of the road, there will be a square brown and white trailhead sign with trail number 160, marking the parking area. This sign is only visible to traffic coming from the south, and it is easy to miss (if you hit the 180 degree curve to the left where highway 288 crosses Parker Creek, you have gone too far north).
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