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Rock Creek Trail #42 - Mazatzals
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mini location map2013-02-02
22 by photographer avatarBiFrost
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Rock Creek Trail #42 - MazatzalsPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 02 2013
Hiking20.13 Miles 4,828 AEG
Hiking20.13 Miles   12 Hrs   30 Mns   1.86 mph
4,828 ft AEG   1 Hour   40 Mns Break
1st trip
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This trip is a long loop starting at the Barnhardt TH. From the Barnhardt TH we took the Half Moon trail north towards the Rock Creek TH. The first 3 miles of this trail are in good shape with 3 creek crossings that were running with all the recent rain and snow. After the second crossing the trail gets harder to follow and there is everybody's favorite catclaw to contend with. Eventually the trail makes its way out of the last canyon crossing and up onto a ridge where it continues until connecting with the Rock Creek Trail. There is a sign post with no sign on it marking this junction. My GPS read about 4.5 miles at the sign post.

From here we followed the Rock Creek Trail up Center Creek which had really good water flowing. Its about a mile up Center Creek before the trail leaves the canyon with some quick switchbacks that take you up on the ridge above. From here the trail follows the ridge line with great views of the Mazatzal high country above. This part of the trail had been cleared and maintained nicely so no problems following the trail. However, the nicely maintained trail abruptly ends just before it starts up through a rockier section. We had the GPS route from coanbru to follow and without this we would have wasted more time looking for trail signs. Despite having the route it was very slow going with all the brush and generally poor trail conditions. But by far the highlight of this area was a waterfall at the top of the rocky section which is the upper reaches of Rock Creek drainage. The waterfall was about 25 feet with several nice pools. After taking a short break we continued up the not so great trail towards the Matatzal Divide. There are a few sections in this part that are completely washed out so having a route or knowing where the trail should go helps a lot.

On the divide at 7077 elevation we took another break contemplating how long it took to come up the Rock Creek trail. The elevation alone is a decent feat but when you add in the trail conditions it makes this hike all the more challenging. Thinking the worst was over we started down the trail to link up with the AZT divide trail. This section was probably worse than the previous but fortunately not very long. I'm guessing the Forest Service has no intention of maintaining this trail which is unfortunate because it goes through some beautiful country.

Once we reached the AZT it seemed like a super highway and we made up for lost time. With all the recent snow and rain the water was abundant with even the smallest washes flush with water. About 1.5 miles down the AZT we reached the Horse Camp Seep area which is on the North Fork of Deadman Creek just before if drops off into an impressive canyon. But before it drops off there is a great open rocky terrace that the creek runs through with several impressive waterfalls that have fairly easy access. We took a long break here and enjoyed the waterfalls and great pools in this area. Besides the waterfall in Rock Creek this section was the highlight of the loop.

After resting and taking some pics we headed down the AZT towards the Chilson Camp/Spring area and eventually over to the AZT and Barhardt trail junction. From here a quick break and then down the Barnhardt trail to the car. Unfortunately since we took so long getting up the Rock Creek Trail we ended up hiking the end in the dark.

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