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Lower Corral Canyon to the Salt River
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mini location map2013-04-11
19 by photographer avatarOregon_Hiker
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Lower Corral Canyon to the Salt RiverGlobe, AZ
Globe, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 11 2013
Hiking3.20 Miles
Hiking3.20 Miles
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
My last full day of a 3 night camping trip to the Sierra Ancha. After exploring the south rim of Bull Canyon higher up in the Sierra Ancha in the morning I decided to explore a route to the Salt River. The hike begins at the end of a 4WD road that leads from Cherry Creek Road to an overlook of Lower Corral Canyon to the south and Upper Corral Canyon to the north. This 4WD road shows up on HAZ Mapdex using My Topo. I checked the road out on Google Earth before leaving on this trip to get some idea of its condition. The first couple miles go up the bottom of a dry wash so I wasn't real optimistic about the road condition. Bushes could be seen overlapping the road over the last mile so I knew there would be some AZ pin striping. The section of road up the dry wash turned out to be no problem but that could quickly change after the next flash flood. A marker up the road indicated this is FR1690 although I don't recall seeing a marker at the intersection with Cherry Creek. There are a couple of active windmill filled water tanks accessed up this road so I suspect the rancher maintains this road.

The climb out of the wash was fairly steep and might require 4WD. Somewhere along the route after passing an intersection the road changes to FR1790 based on a road marker but don't expect to see these markers at the intersections. The road climbs up to the top of a ridge after 2.6 miles from Cherry Crk Rd where it passes through a gate. This would be a good alternate stopping point for the drive if you want to avoid AZ pin striping along the remainder of the route. It would add about 2.6 miles (roundtrip) to the 3.2 mile hike. Passing through the gate I continued the drive to where the road stops on top of a ridge at the boundary of the Salt River Cny Wilderness overlooking the Lower Corral Canyon drainage. Heavy pin striping was encountered over the last part of the route which could have been easily avoided if I had remembered to borrow my son-in-laws heavy duty loppers. The road actually continues past the wilderness boundary so it must predate the 1984 establishment of this wilderness. The road from this point begins as a very steep 4WD road which gradually fades away in the thick desert vegetation as it proceeds along the ridge top. I decided to camp that night at this location and attempt a late afternoon hike from this point down to the Salt River. One of my interests in reaching the Salt River was to explore some cliff caves I had seen near the mouth of L. Corral Canyon when I was hiking along the White Ledges on the south side of the river two weeks earlier.

I started the hike down the remains of the old 4WD road. There are great views of the SR Canyon and the entire length of the White Ledges on the south side of the river along the drive to the hike starting point as well as along the hike. I followed the ridge line looking for a possible trail or at least a good bushwhacking route down to the river. I soon found a faint path down a dry wash ridgeline requiring me to get intimate with the boundary of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. I managed to reach the river with out violating the reservation boundary and discovered 3 river runners setting up camp at the mouth of Lower Corral Canyon. They were surprised to see me and maybe a little disappointed that this wilderness location wasn't as remote as they had thought - especially after being told I had only hiked about 1.5 miles from my parked car. However they soon warmed up to my presence after they found out I was just on a day hike and did not intend to set up camp with them. They were on a multiday river trip in river running canoes from the put-in at HW 60 to the take out at HW 288. This has to be a very challenging choice of water craft for running this river. The oldest grizzled member of the trio had a southern drawl and I was beginning to wonder if the twanging I had heard coming down the ridge was the sound of dueling banjos. The youngest member of the crew could even be imagined to resemble a young Burt Reynolds, My imaginary mind trip to the land of Deliverance :scared: soon ended when I observed the lack of a banjo or bow and arrows in their gear.

I only had a half hour to my turn around time which quickly got used up by taking photos and talking to the river runners. I saw no sign of the cliffs observed on my earlier trip to the south side of the wilderness and realized I could spend a lot of time and energy looking for them since I couldn't remember where they were relative to my current location - should have left the pictures on my camera SD card. :doh: The return hike was proceeding much faster than I had expected. I had just started through a section of heavy vegetation growth when the odor of decaying carrion with the hint of a very bad case of halitosis came wafting in on the breeze. My first thought was that maybe some unfortunate soul's dead and decaying body was laying in the nearby brush (back to the Deliverance nonsense). That thought was immediately interrupted by an angry loud grunt and the sound of small hoof beats uncomfortably close by and in the general direction of the odor source. I'd heard Javelina smell bad but had never experienced it in my few previous encounters. This guy and his cohort followed me up the ridgeline for the next 100 yards and could occasionally be seen giving me the evil eye through a shroud of heavy brush. The loud angry grunts continued and I was beginning to feel a little more than uncomfortable with their antics.:scared: They disappeared when I reached a more open area and the rest of the hike back to my campsite was uneventful.

The late afternoon and early evening back at camp was very pleasant with awesome views in the late sunlight, comfortably warm temperatures, the usual gorgeous AZ sunset and a delicious meal of stew with chunks of left over steak accompanied by a tasty red wine. A great ending to my day's adventures.
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