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Derrick/Horton Loop plus Promontory, AZ
mini location map2012-10-05
23 by photographer avatarsouthpawaz
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Derrick/Horton Loop plus Promontory, AZ 
Derrick/Horton Loop plus Promontory, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 05 2012
Hiking11.90 Miles 3,252 AEG
Hiking11.90 Miles   6 Hrs   1 Min   2.45 mph
3,252 ft AEG   1 Hour   9 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
I had planned to hike the Promontory Trail earlier in the year, but had to leave it for later when I found that all of Promontory Butte was under a fire closure at the time.

With a three day weekend, I figured it was as good a time as any to hit the loop on Friday and avoid the Horton Spring crowds. I was a little surprised to find 8 cars already at the trailhead when I arrived at 6:45 on a cool morning, but once I got going I didn't see anyone until much later in the day.

I started up the Derrick and made good time until I hit the Highline junction, where I paused briefly before continuing on to the Promontory junction. I started up and almost immediately my pace slowed, in part due to the sketchier trail, but mostly due to the steepness. Even with a tracklog to follow, I was off and on trail as I went up, as cairns were less frequent and the tread was less obvious. I paced myself with a few short breathers and photo stops but finally needed a sit down break before the final ascent, at a point where the GPSr showed 300' up and 450' horizontal to the edge of the Rim.

A few switchbacks later, I was on Promontory and wandered east along the Rim in search of a couple survey monuments. Along the way I passed several campsites, one with an ornate fire pit, as well as a small water hole which had seen plenty of elk passing by.

I found both the monuments I had in mind to look for, and as I returned passed by a five foot cairn with a rebar monument, but couldn't figure out what point it would be marking (further research indicates it may have been Gila County High Point).

After the easy walk along the Rim, my legs had recovered a bit and I descended quickly back down to the Highline. I hadn't hiked this section before, and was a bit surprised by how much climb there was left to get to Horton Spring. I'm sure it wasn't all that much but after crossing the East Fork of Horton Creek, when the trail took a turn to the north (and went uphill, of course) I briefly considered making a dash cross country due west to cut out any more climbing. By the time I reached the Horton trail junction, my legs were saying no mas, so I sat down there for a break instead of going up the last little hill to the spring.

After the break and a snack, I started down toward the trailhead and gravity took over. I passed only a pair and a trio on the way down, and stopped only for a couple photos of the creek and to check out a tree with leaves changing color. There was next to nothing in the way of wildflowers the entire hike, probably best described as a nice walk through the forest on a pleasant fall day.

Once I reached the truck, I headed up onto the Rim, reaching Bear Canyon Lake with enough time left in the day to set up camp and catch a pair of trout for dinner.
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