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Cottonwood Mountain Trail #66 - Santa Teresas, AZ

Guide 11 Triplogs  0 Topics
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 10.84 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,302 feet
Elevation Gain 1,967 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,469 feet
Avg Time One Way 5+ hours
Kokopelli Seeds 19.07
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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6  2020-10-11
Cottonwood BM 7481
7  2020-10-11 LindaAnn
13  2018-12-09 chumley
22  2017-10-01 CanyonWanderer
45  2014-12-27
GET 7 through 9
32  2013-08-24 RedRoxx44
22  2013-04-24
Santa Teresa Wilderness - GET #8
39  2010-04-12
Santa Teresa Wilderness - GET #8
Page 1,  2
Author RedRoxx44
author avatar Guides 5
Routes 0
Photos 21,883
Trips 627 map ( 3,413 miles )
Age Female Gender
Location outside, anywhere
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Apr, May, Sep → 8 AM
Seasons   Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  6:04am - 6:27pm
Official Route
2 Alternative

Get ready for trail finding!
by RedRoxx44

Likely In-Season!
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2020 Note
Route and conditions have changed over the years. Check triplogs for current known conditions.

The Santa Teresa Mountains rise in a sort of triangle with the Pinalenos and the Galiuros. It is a rough and wild area. Trails are minimal and mostly pack stock trails. The trail to Cottonwood Mountain, the high point of the Santa Teresas at a little over 7000 feet, is off an established stock route. However, as in most things, would it be so simple if the trail was not as severely deteriorated as this one.

You start at Sand Tank, described in one guide book I have as a TH. There is no marked TH out here. The end of the road to Sand Tank, forest 677, is very steep and washed out. My Jeep with 33-inch tires and lots of articulation had to work a little here. There are several rather nice vehicle campsites along the way if you don't have a vehicle to make it to the end of the road, and a couple have stellar views of the Pinalenos and Galiuros.

You will pass through three gates, and please close them. I camped before the final gate, which shows use of a quad trail in a riparian area. You will follow the vehicle tracks in the wash, by a lovely grove of Arizona Sycamores, by a huge lone cottonwood tree. Usually, this is a dry wash, but a little water was flowing while I was here. At this point, you better have a map with you and a compass or GPS.

Looking up, you will see the jagged rock teeth of Pinnacle Ridge and the rounded humps of the mountains above. The highest gentle curve is Cottonwood mountain, and it is not clear how you will broach the ascent. The trail I found was about 15% easily followed, and for the rest, you have to look for it, pay close attention to any faint path, and use your map. I never found one area where the trail leaves cottonwood wash; I continued upcanyon and climbed out after it slotted up and no horse or cow could easily climb the rocky narrows. I intersected the trail on its climb north up the hill. Soon you come to switchbacks and big views opening up. The switchbacks and part of the trail are cairned, but at times the trail behaves somewhat strangely. Brush from all the rains made it a real challenge to follow.

Persevere, you will climb laterally to a small pass located to the north. The slopes you have been on have been burned in the past and show high desert flora. After you top out at the saddle, some tall pines and grassy areas greet you. Fantastic views of the inner mountains are had near several rock outcroppings nearby. One rock shelf is incredibly level and would make an excellent campsite. Amazing rock monoliths abound. Some voids in the rocks are small alcoves. There is a faint use trail to cottonwood mountain, and you can also continue along the ridgeline for a while.

When you retrace your route, pay close attention to the trail, as it is still not clear in areas the right way to go. If you get to the wash and follow that, you will get to the road and your vehicle.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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.

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

2006-09-11 RedRoxx44

    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 $$
    AZ State Recreational Land Permits
    For hiking, driving & sightseeing purposes, you seek the recreational permit.
    Under "Recreational Land Use" in the link above.
    2020 - $15.00 individual
    2020 - $20.00 family limited to two adults and children under the age of 18
    Plus $1 processing fee
    The permitting process quick, you will be emailed your permit instantly.

    Land Parcel Map

    Coronado Forest
    MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
    Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To hike
    From Safford drive approximately 13 miles west on Hwy 70 and take the turnoff marked the "Klondyke road". Drive this road approx 20 miles and take a right at a sign for "Sand Tank 4 miles" and "Trail 66 four miles". Follow the most traveled route and signs for forest road 667. A short distance after the first gate the road will start to show ruts and some minor difficulty. After the second wire gate, the road becomes quite bad for any stock vehicle. The third gate is the demarcation for the hiking route, it is apparently open for quad traffic up to the wilderness boundary. A parking area is a short distance on a hill above the wash before the third gate.

    2009-08-29 nobert15 writes: Update to the directions: Once on the road marked "Sand tank 4 miles" You'll actually follow the signs for Forest Road 677, not 667. Also, you'll make the first right about a mile down the road, if you keep following the most used route you'll end up at a radio tower as I did.

    You'll probably want your 4-wheel drive after the first gate now, the road has probably deteriorated some since the directions were written. It's mostly decomposed granite though, so you won't have to worry about rocks gouging your underside. I made it in a stock 08 Jeep Wrangler with the S package. That means 31 inch Goodyear SR-A tires and 4-lo. I didn't have any problems or feel nervous at any time. I wouldn't take a full-size pickup or anything without 4-wheel and decent clearance down there though.
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