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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Deadman Mesa Trail #17, AZ

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122 12 2
Description 12 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Camp Verde > Verde S
Rated
2.5
2.5 of 5 by 4
 
4
Statistics
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 5.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,476 feet
Elevation Gain -1,865 feet
Accumulated Gain 665 feet
Avg Time One Way 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.82
Interest Perennial Waterfall & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Collective Slideshow
Inaugural Calculation next Tap
7  2017-11-19
Stehr to Childs via Fossil-Verde
MountainMatt
20  2017-06-24
Verde River / Deadman Mesa
jacobemerick
10  2015-02-14
Verde River #11 - Twin Buttes to River
topohiker
22  2014-08-30
Twin Buttes to Fossil Creek
friendofThunderg
57  2014-03-15
East Verde River
friendofThunderg
3  2011-04-16
Verde River #11 - Twin Buttes to River
toddak
10  2006-05-29 desertlavender
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Mar, Nov, Oct
Sun  6:31am - 5:54pm
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Official Route
 
Alternative Routes
 
Water
Nearby Area Water
Fossil Creek - Mazatzal Wilderness Area
1.3 mi away
12.0 mi
820 ft
Ike's Backbone to Fossil Creek
2.8 mi away
2.6 mi
1,379 ft
Verde Hot Springs
3.1 mi away
3.2 mi
300 ft
Flume Trail
3.4 mi away
8.1 mi
1,180 ft
Waterfall Trail - Fossil Creek
3.5 mi away
2.2 mi
210 ft
Cane Springs Mountain
4.5 mi away
Verde River #11 - Twin Buttes to River
4.5 mi away
21.6 mi
3,373 ft
Fossil Springs Trail #18 - Fossil Creek
5.3 mi away
8.8 mi
1,785 ft
Towel Creek Trail #67
5.4 mi away
9.0 mi
953 ft
Squaw Butte 4330 - Verde River
6.9 mi away
2.0 mi
1,491 ft
[ View More! ]
Named place Nearby
Quieter Part of Fossil Creek
by jacobemerick

Likely In-Season!
Overview
Scenic adventure that drops off the tip of Deadman Mesa and follows Fossil Creek before ending at the Verde River Trail. Can be combined with a few other routes, including Ike's Backbone or the creek itself, to make a long dayhike or even multi-day outings. Also happens to be the furthest northwest trail in the Mazatzal Wilderness.


Hike
Reaching the trailhead is the first challenge and, depending on your vehicle, could add up to 7 miles to the official route. FR 591 is a rocky, unmaintained track that descends 1300' after leaving Fossil Creek Road, getting progressively worse the further out on Deadman Mesa it gets. There are multiple washed out sections and steep drops, plus the rocks that make most of the road are hungry for soft tires.

The trailhead itself is unsigned and largely unremarkable. Deadman Tank, a few large trees, and a few sections of fence are strewn around, and there is no obvious spot to pull off a vehicle (assuming one got a vehicle out this far). The first mile or so mostly continues on the two-track, with a cairned path at .5 miles cutting off a western curve. At 1.1 miles the now-heavily overgrown track finally ends with a small turn-about. A cairned footpath continues on, sometimes obscured by grass or greedy bunches of prickly pear, until the tip of Deadman Mesa at 2.0 miles. There are some big views looking out over the Fossil Creek valley to Verde beyond.

Now comes the descent. An iconic 'doorway' shows up, with the remains of an old gate tucked between a large tree and rock outcropping, and then the trail tumbles down 1400' to Fossil Creek. The first half of this drop slides along the eastern side of basalt fins before coming to rest on a small flat. From here the trail twists to the west and leaves the ridge of Deadman Mesa behind, zig-zagging down a steep, grassy hillside. The cairns at this section are large and numerous but may be hard to pick out due to overgrowth.

Thicker clusters of trees show up at 3.4 miles and the trail becomes hard(er) to follow this close to the creek. That's fine - just head towards the sound of rushing water. The trail basically disappears for the next few miles anyways. There are a few flat spots for camping here, nothing obvious or developed. There are also some great pools for cooling off at this point.

Now comes the fun part: follow Fossil Creek downstream beyond the Hardscrabble Creek confluence. There are very few cairns along this section (I only found a handful in one spot in 2017) and no tread to speak of. One could simply jump in the creek and splash through the deep pools and over the waterfalls or try hiking along the overgrown banks. If you do the latter, steep cliffs along the creek will force somewhere between 4 and 8 crossings, many of them 'wet' crossings. Based on the enclosed nature of this creek bed and its apparent ability to flood-out any sort path I can only wish you good luck on this section. At least it's pretty.

A small, likely dry drainage flows in from the east side at 5.0 miles. Get to the east side of Fossil Creek and, near where the dry drainage meets the creek, bushwhack up the crumbling bank. This is a short, unpleasant experience. Above the bank there is the remains of old track and a few cairns. The cairned path climbs up the hill, going south then east then south again, and is sometimes hard to track through fields of foxtails. Aim for the saddle to the southeast if things get hairy. The junction with Verde River Trail has a few huge cairns built up but is unsigned. From here you could follow this new trail left to Twin Buttes Trailhead, right (mostly straight) towards the East Verde / Verde River junction, or turn around and backtrack to Deadman Mesa.

Water Sources
Fossil Creek is a year round and wonderfully clear source. Deadman Tank appears unreliable at best.

Camping
While there are no obvious campsites along the creek, there is plenty of shade and all that water to enjoy.

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.

jacobemerick

    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.

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    Strictly 4x4

    To hike
    Starting at Strawberry, AZ...

    Head east on Fossil Creek Road. Drive 5.2 miles to FR 591 on the left (south) side. Turn down FR 591 and drive 7 miles, or at least as far as you can. Unspecialized vehicles will probably want to park right off of Fossil Creek Road, there is a pull-off here and everything. More ambitious vehicles could attempt to make some, if not all, of the drive to the trailhead.
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