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Tortilla-Fish Mesa, AZ

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Guide 12 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Superstitions NW
3.4 of 5 by 5
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Loop 5.75 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,871 feet
Elevation Gain 914 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,490 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4-5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 13.2
Interest Off Trail Hiking
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
13  2018-01-26 jameslcox44
8  2015-11-14
Tortilla-Fish Mesa - Fish Creek Canyon Loop
30  2015-11-14
Fish Creek Ridge - Fish Creek Canyon Loop
11  2015-11-13 hikerdw
5  2012-09-11 Jonnybackpack
8  2011-03-04 Jonnybackpack
4  2010-02-26 T Harris
5  2010-01-25
Slide Canyon - Fish Creek Loop
Page 1,  2
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,825
Trips 4,256 map ( 21,429 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Feb, Jan → 8 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:29pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Off trail in the wine sipping sense
by joebartels

This easy to moderate off-trail hike spans a mesa that separates Tortilla Creek from Fish Creek. It's presented here as a loop hike starting 0.8 miles into FR 213. The hike crosses the mesa, drops down near Tortilla Trailhead, then follows FR 213 back.

Head out straight east until you drop down and hit a dense foliage ravine. Scroll to your right until you find the least path of resistance across the ravine. Or bush-push your way across as I did. Once across you simply head southeast to Peak 3785 across the mesa. It takes some minor effort getting up on the mesa. Then it's a gentle rise across. The going is simple but pay attention or you'll be wrestling cacti along the way.

Better views favor the Fish Creek edge. Optimum photo ops are likely in the late day fading sun. I roamed the area in mid-day light on an overcast day with off-n-on lite sprinkles. One of the better views of Black Cross Butte is from this western vantage point. The main focal draw is down Fish Creek with distant views of the Four Peaks and Bronco Butte. This isn't an eye popping experience like Coronado Mesa. On the other hand it's a better hike with lots of roaming possibilities. The area doesn't show many obvious signs of previous travel. All the use trails I crossed are certainly wildlife created as they dodge under ocotillo and such.

Peak 3785 is the high point on this mesa / wide-ridge. It's not marked on the USGS topographical map but there is a brass cap and a large cairn. You should be able to make out the water tower at Tortilla Trailhead down to your west-southwest. Find a good route down then take the road back. I headed pretty much west and down and encountered typical catclaw for the Tortilla area. You might have better odds continuing south to Hoolie before swinging west.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2006-03-08 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.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Tortilla-Fish Mesa
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    Fish Creek Ridge - Fish Creek Canyon Loop
    I'd always wanted to hit up the Fish Creek area. We though we might be a little early for some color, but the Temps were gonna be perfect.

    We were the first to park at the Fish Creek Bridge area and headed up the Apache Trail towards our turn off, across from the Comfort Station. We hit up the Fliver mark and made our way across Ridge. We had things we wanted to get to and travel across the top was slower than anticipated, so after 2.5 miles of travel we hit up FR213 to make up some time..

    Next past the old ranch area, we found our way to the old cairned route of Fish Creek via Lost Dutch. This trail is still there, but easy to loose if you don't pay attention. Down in Fish Creek, the first goal here was to find the Fish Creek Cave. [ photo ] Without knowing it's location, you'll walk right past it.

    We had some lunch outside the cave and started the trip back down Fish Creek.

    Smaller rocks turn into bigger rocks turn into boulders, turn into houses. You pick up more and more pools of water and the the superstitions turn into a jungle in spots. I kept getting mad at the scenery as I'd already taken way too many photos.

    The last 1.5 miles is the slowest and demands you have to pick the correct route up, over, under, through boulder mazes. Joe called it a Ninja training ground and that pretty much sums this portion up.

    What a special area and fun time.
    Tortilla-Fish Mesa
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    Tortilla-Fish Mesa - Fish Creek Canyon Loop
    Tortilla-Fish Mesa offers exceptional views. I'll link it in the spirit of The Eagle and 9L... however we only covered a quarter mile of the access. The jellybean and I tackled this monster six years ago. What I recall was a never ending obstacle course and flat out amazement she hiked with me again.

    When I greeted Bruce this morning a deep raspy Jabba the Hut replied hello. Off trail and head/chest colds do not mix but I admired his determination!

    From the Fish Creek bridge the hike up SR88 is easier than anticipated. We headed off trail...

    This was Bruce's pick and I'd hiked it before so all was good. Not. Had I simply read my previous triplogs and looked at the map this may have gone better. Bruce's cold didn't put him into the groove for this adventure and our pace was not working so we aborted to FR213 to bypass the ridge. Which we hoped would net enough time to add in Owen's boy scout cave.

    FR213 is a highway so we had time to hit the alcove/cave. Bruce was amazed a seventy year old dragged jlp and I to the cave. I was amazed that while our hike worked with gps and cairns how easily Owen knew the route. If you miss a cairn it gets ugly quick.

    Fish Creek sprinkled in Autumn foliage is a treat. Our route became much easier than anticipated too. In 2009 Janelle and I dodged and skirted miles of water whereas today the entire upper end was dry.

    Only three small groups of hikers in the half mile near the bridge. Absolutely perfect temps throughout the day.
    Tortilla-Fish Mesa
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    Was looking for something different from the Tortilla area and decided to give this posted hike a try. Great hike. Other than loose cobble sized rocks that made footing a little slippery in areas the off trail wasn't bad at all and we were able to dodge any thick sections of catclaw, number of falls, Ryan 1, me two, but one was actually on FR213 so we aren't counting that one :doh:

    Due to the time of day most of the pictures looking into Fish Canyon were washed out by the sun but they were top notch views first hand :D Lots of bunnies call this mesa home as they were darting out everywhere, I actually almost stepped on one. Saw 2 white-tail deer on the decent off the mesa. Noticed the Wilderness sign off JF Trail was missing. Had lunch off the start of Peter's Trail next to a dry Tortilla creek.
    Tortilla-Fish Mesa
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    Not quite what was expected, but the water made it enjoyable. Nearly lost Suz in Fish Creek a couple of times, be safe out there!

    Afterwards was dinner in the classiest place I've eaten yet in AJ, where used men's briefs adorn the ceiling. :yuck:
    Tortilla-Fish Mesa
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    Headed out with Hikergirl81 for a loop through Fish Creek Canyon. We started at the bridge and hiked the road up. Then it was off trail to the ridge separating Fish Creek and Tortilla Creek(further away). Then returned via the creek.

    Having completed a portion of the ridge years ago I blew off researching the entire ridge. This proved to be a big mistake on my part. Ravine after ravine presented itself resulting in an unplanned rollercoaster. On towards Lost Dutch Canyon we encountered catclaw. This was followed by more catclaw and a vegetation choked canyon. We were in the sun longer than anticipated. At this point I was surprised Hikergirl81 didn't beat me to a pulp for leading her through the catclaw mess in a virtual easy bake oven.

    Into Fish Creek we found it was running. Albeit a nice setting this meant slow going. I could have sworn somebody said Fish Creek was stagnant three weeks ago. Not only was that not the case but there was even water going over the road at Tortilla Flats!

    We took our time heading down canyon and enjoying the sections in the shade. As evening approached we were fortunate enough to have a nice bright moon.

    I'm glad to have experienced it once. Hikergirl81 is a natural born explorer!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To hike
    From Apache Junction head out on SR88. For reference the First Water Trailhead turnoff is just after mile marker 201. You need continue out past Canyon Lake and past Tortilla Flats to the end of the pavement. Continue on the dirt road about 0.8 miles to mile marker 221. There's a good size sign with an arrow for Tortilla Trailhead. This is FS213, take it 0.8 mile and park. You should be situated on a ridge that extends to Peak 3141.
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