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Davey Gowan Loop, AZ

Guide 16 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
  2.5 of 5 
no permit
1 Active
209 16 3
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Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Loop 5.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,130 feet
Elevation Gain -1,456 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,500 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4-5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 13
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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10  2018-08-26 kelly14
30  2017-05-20
Deer Creek Loop
1  2016-02-14 shellmer
8  2010-12-05 easytec
20  2010-11-01 gpsjoe
30  2010-11-01 Grasshopper
18  2009-08-22 easytec
27  2009-05-24 Grasshopper
Page 1,  2
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 169
Routes 148
Photos 5,617
Trips 1,516 map ( 7,711 miles )
Age 43 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Apr, May, Sep → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:34am - 7:31pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 Willow 2004117.2 mi*
🔥 2020 Bush Fire193.5k
🔥 2012 Sunflower Fire16.1k
🔥 2004 Willow Fire120k
🔥 2004 Willow117.2 mi*
🔥 View All over Official Route 🔥
*perimeter length in miles

Basecamp for the high Mazatzals
by PrestonSands

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The Davey Gowan loop hike makes use of the Davey Gowan Trail, Deer Creek Trail, and forest road 201. This hike passes near the old "Gowan Camp" homestead, named for David Gowan.

David Gowan was an early Payson area pioneer and the first settler at Tonto Natural Bridge on Pine Creek in 1882. In 1916, seeking solitude, Gowan settled on upper Deer Creek in the Mazatzal Mountains, where he built a log cabin, planted a garden and an orchard, and mined some silver claims. Gowan died in 1924 while hiking out of his homestead and was buried at the intersection of Deer Creek Canyon and Bars Canyon.

The Davey Gowan Trail #48 begins at a hairpin curve along forest road 201, where there is a small parking area and a forest service trail marker. Most of this trail is overgrown and can be difficult to find in places. Route finding skills and the ability to read a topographical map are helpful. The Davey Gowan trail begins by following a forested ridge northeast until it reaches a small saddle about a half-mile in. The trail passes in and out of areas burned by the Willow Fire and will do so for the rest of the loop. However, except for the bottom of Deer Creek Canyon, the fire wasn't too severe in this area of the Mazatzals. Below the saddle, the trail starts to switchback and begins a 1000 foot drop through the fir trees down the southern slope of Deer Creek Canyon. There are some great views along here of a couple unnamed peaks towering 3000 feet above the canyon floor. As the Davey Gowan Trail starts to level out, it rounds a corner and passes a small spring. Along here, the trail is a one foot wide, barely visible shelf on a shady hillside. I found it amazing that there would be a dense douglas fir forest growing at 4800 feet (same elevation as the top of the Flatiron).

Near the bottom of Deer Creek Canyon, I stumbled onto the junction with the Deer Creek Trail (trail 45). If you take the Deer Creek Trail right (down canyon), you will soon come to the site of Gowan Camp. There is little left to see here: a few rock foundations buried in the bushes and some broken pieces of china. However, the large grassy meadow makes a nice place to rest or camp.

Continuing from the trail junction, the Deer Creek Trail heads up the canyon through the charred skeletons of once mighty trees. The trail is a little hard to follow until it starts to climb the hillside along the south side of the creek. There were some small pools of water in the bedrock of the creek bed in this area, as the trail left the worst of the burned area behind. Now the trail began to get steeper, and switchbacks were once again encountered as the Deer Creek Trail started its final push back to the road. On top, at the Mount Peeley trailhead, I took a short break, then headed east on forest road 201. This last segment, although a road, sees very little traffic and passes through some more nice wooded hillsides. I followed the narrow road for a mile and a half back to my waiting truck, enjoying the great views and cool breeze.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a more difficult hike. It would be unwise to attempt this without prior experience hiking.

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2006-06-13 PrestonSands
    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
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To Gowan Trailhead
    Take state highway 87 east to signed turnoff for Sycamore Creek about 0.5 miles north of mile post 222 (near Maricopa/ Gila County line). Turn left across divided highway and follow paved road to dirt road on right at 1.2 miles. Cross the cattleguard and go 1.2 miles to the fork of forest road 25 and forest road 201. Veer right and follow forest road 201 to the trail 48 marker (brown fiberglass post, about 9 miles total from highway).

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 69.9 mi, 1 hour 43 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 167 mi, 3 hours 13 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 150 mi, 3 hours 11 mins
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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