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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.

Davey Gowan Loop, AZ

no permit
209 16 4
Guide 16 Triplogs  4 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson W
2.8 of 5 by 5
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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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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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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 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   Oct, Apr, May, Sep → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:10am - 6:30pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Basecamp for the high Mazatzals
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
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 (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 on from the trail junction, the Deer Creek Trail heads up 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 began 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.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

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.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Davey Gowan Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Beautiful hike down to Gowan Camp. Fire damage is minimal to none at Gowan and most of the way...I cleared the trail from Peeley Trailhead to Gowan. Its wide open now and I also threw up a few new cairns over the down tree section. Lots of bear sign. Saw one black rattlesnake. Mazzie Wilderness sign was down again put it back up. Water trickling in creek in a few spots was able to use for drinking. Lots of raspberries/blackberries. :D
    Davey Gowan Loop
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    On 11/1/10 GPSjoe and I hiked this very difficult to navigate loop, our last hike together..

    Today on the way back to Camp Grasshopper I hiked a short .25ml exploratory on this Davey Gowan TR48 to checkout how well GPSjoe and my 11/1/10 Survey Route Taping of this TR48 is holding-up; I am very sorry to report that it now appears that possible all our 11/1 efforts to correctly tape route this very difficult to follow trail to its ending intersection with Deer Creek TR45 (for at least the .25ml distance I hiked in), has all been removed;

    With no TH signage at the parking location for sometime now and probable confirmation of the route taping being removed, I'm guessing that the responsible Tonto NF ranger district must now consider this TR#48 to be decommissioned. My posted 11/1/10 default GPS track for this loop hike is the correct hiking track and will now be a required download by most who choose to on-trail hike this TR48;
    Davey Gowan Loop
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    Since the devastating August'04 "Willow Fire" in our Mazatzal Wilderness much has changed to date with this once easy to follow and enjoyable loop hike. Especially changed is the 2 mile Davey Gowan TR48 connection between its TH Start at FR201 and ending at its intersection with Deer Creek TR45 (at the Gowan Camp area). Having had no obvious trail maintenance since the fire, the significant dead tree downfall, major trail overgrowth, and trail washouts have pretty much taken over.

    GPSjoe (in Oct'03) and Preston Sands (in June'06) are the only two HAZ members I know who have posted against this loop hike and successfully completed it "on trail". After this "Willow Fire", in May'09 I made an unsuccessful and very frustrating attempt to "on trail" hike this loop. The Deer Creek TR45 section of this loop was a challenge but doable, the Davey Gowan TR48 section of this loop was just not possible. Ever since my May'09 unsuccessful attempt, I've had this burning desire to return to correctly route find this original trail segment and mark it before it completely returns to our Mother Nature.

    TODAY WAS THE DAY! Joined by GPSjoe and his excellent route finding abilities, loaded with his previous and correct Oct'03 GPS Track for the Davey Gowan TR48 segment, and with my determination to "let's get it done", I knew all we needed was enough daylight to correctly find and survey tape this illusive trail section. I'm now very happy :D to report that for any advanced hikers that would now like to attempt this Davey Gowan Loop hike, that TR48 segment is now completely tape marked and doable. Also, no guarantees how much longer it will ~safely be hike-able due to continuing tree downfall, overgrowth, trail drainage washouts, and erosion, but if this kind of hiking challenge is for you, then do plan to give it a try soon. Also, I suggest you don't wear light colored hiking clothes.. ;) Also, for your reference and use I have posted what I consider the recommended default (98% on trail for TR48 and 100% on trail for TR45) GPS Route for this entire loop hike. Also, my posted and geocoded pic set with detailed captions for this 11/1/10 trip tells the visual story of what you should now expect along this hiking route loop.

    Ref: Recommended Default GPS Route with all "key" way points included:
    Davey Gowan Loop
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Plan: Park at the Peeley TH & hike the 4.3ml Davey Gowan Loop counter-clockwise by starting east on FR201 for 1.5mls to the official start of the Davey Gowan TH/TR#48. Hike the Davey Gowan TR to its end (~1.5mls) at the intersection of Deer Creek TR#45. Hike NE on DC#45 through Gowan Camp and continue "on trail" down DC#45 for ~2.0mls to where Ken, James Lyding, & I ended our 11/8/08 hike (coming in from the Hwy 87 DC#45 TH Start). Then hike back this ~2.0ml section to the above DG#48 intersection, then continue up DC#45 for 1.5mls (following nonot's JE'08 posted GPS Route) to end back at the Peeley TH... Such a solid, well thought-out plan for hiking in our Mazatzal Wilderness which would also provide an official HAZ-GPS Route for all but nonot's 1.5mls of this total days hike! :D

    Actual: Mother Nature & the Mazatzal's win again!! but still an amAZing day.. We started hiking on schedule at 8:35am from the Peeley TH. The 1.5ml hike on FR201 was uneventful until we reached the Davey Gowen TH/Trail Start which was not signed and had numerous down trees around the TH area. We spent a good 10 minutes trying to determine how to get started on this TR#48. Once we figured it out, then the fun really began (see my attached pic set/log for a "blow by blow" of all the action, some quite scenic). I had spent a considerable amount of time trying to prepare correctly for this hike. We were geared to spend the night if need be unexpectedly. I had read and re-read Preston's hike description and viewed his pic set. We had three GPS units and a copy of Preston's topo map from his pic set. I also had nonot's corrected GPS Route for the known difficult upper 1.5ml segment of the Deer Crk TR#45 downloaded in my Garmin 60CSx. Also, having hiked the Mazatzal's many times before, Ken and I are OK with doing some route finding, but we have learned to never take the Mazatzal Wilderness for granted!

    Eventhough we had the Davey Gowan TR#48 on Ken's new DeLorme GPS Basemap, we still lost the trail less than .5mls in from the TH. Due to trail overgrowth, numerous down trees from the Aug'04 Willow Fire, and washouts, we saw no cairns and very few signs of any previous trail. We ended up trying to parallel the trail on the DeLorme as best we could, but ended up dropping into a steep drainage off trail that we knew flowed into Deer Creek. We arrived Deer Creek/Canyon NE of Gowan Camp at around 12noon. We decided to first hike the lower 2ml segment of Deer Creek, hoping to stay on trail, but it was not to be. We only located about .1ml of trail (we placed cairns at both ends) then continued the slow, time consuming trip down the creek boulder/rock hopping and down tree hopping. At 2:45pm (not yet having a lunch break), and only .24mls from our planned stopping point, we reached a difficult area to proceed with down trees/brush(see pic), and a two waterfall drop area that was probably doable, but would just be too time consuming for an additional 2mls back up creek "plus" 1.5 difficult miles up DC#45 from Gowan Camp to reach our start at the Peeley TH. We arrived together safely the Peeley TH at 7:40pm (dark at 7:50pm). I arrived without my Camelbak hose mouthpiece and without my $$$ Garmin GPS-60CSx. :cry: (lost somewhere in the first .50mls down the DC#45 in from the Peeley TH). My contact info is on the boot-up first screen IF anyone finds it.. I need to go back & look for it, but I have not yet done so.
    Davey Gowan Loop
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    My wife let me go hiking on Saturday morning, with the understanding that I be back by lunchtime. I assumed she meant lunch time in Hawaii's time zone, and off I went. :wink: This was my third weekend of hiking in the same general area of the Mazatzals, and I'm hoping for a fourth.

    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
    1 TB Flash Drive... $40
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