Walls of rocks at The Box
These Salado ruins along Tonto Creek just downstream of Gisela are described in Dave Wilson's book "Hiking Ruins Seldom Seen". Access to these ruins will not be possible if Tonto Creek is in flood stage.
Starting at the end of Tonto Creek Drive in the little village of Gisela, (just south of Buckboard Trail), follow the dusty 4x4 path through the cottonwoods and mesquite trees. Soon you will arrive at Tonto Creek, where, if it has not gone dry, you will find a nice swimming hole next to an unusual conglomerate rock formation. Look for a place where you can cross over to the east side of the creek (you may get wet), and go for it. On the east bank of the creek, there is a jeep trail that you can follow through the mesquite flats. There are many small roads criss-crossing this area, probably due to weekend parties . Soon the mesquite flat narrows, and eventually ends at a shelf of rock along Tonto Creek. Along here I came across the recent work of a beaver: a cottonwood tree cut down by teeth. Head downstream along the eastern bank for a short ways, and cross a dry wash coming in from the east (Cocomunga Canyon), until you reach the base of a hill on the east side of the creek. At the top of this hill is the ruin.
While hiking up the hillside, I came across several old rock walled terraces, with no apparent purpose. I wondered if these terraces were built by the Salado for dry farming. I continued the short climb up to the top of the hill through the jojoba bushes and junipers, and over to the rocky outcropping overlooking "The Box" on Tonto Creek. On top of this rocky granite hilltop, you will see chest high walls built of the red granite rocks that surround you. There is little to see here in the way of relics, but I did see of couple of rocks that could have been cutting tools. The big oval wall is the main attraction at these ruins, it is about sixty feet in diameter. After you have seen all you want, return the way you came. If there is water in Tonto Creek, this is a great hike to enjoy a way home swim.
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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.
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