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Sugar Loaf to Verde / Needle Rock, AZ
mini location map2014-01-26
10 by photographer avatartopohiker
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Sugar Loaf to Verde / Needle Rock, AZ 
Sugar Loaf to Verde / Needle Rock, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 26 2014
topohiker
Hiking38.13 Miles 5,435 AEG
Hiking38.13 Miles   14 Hrs   36 Mns   2.99 mph
5,435 ft AEG   1 Hour   50 Mns Break
 
1st trip
I've always wondered about the Sugarloaf exit across from the 4-peaks exit. This was one area that I've never explored.

This was my first time using the HAZ route manager to create a route. I plotted a path from the bee-line to the Verde river. It used ATV trails 420, 1855, 1856 1096 and finally 160. I noticed that the route made a U around a canyon and a wash. I zoomed in and made a 'shortcut' route through the canyon and wash.

Now the hike. There's an extra big trail head for ATV staging. Within 1 mile from the TH, there was three camps of people target shooting. The route curved around Sugarloaf mountain and dropped into the Sycamore creek. There was a couple of people camping down here. I checked out the gauging station and noticed a couple of motorcycles going down the 'shortcut" route. I continued on the main route and went around the Sheep Mesa to Lonely mountain. Then the trail got rough and nasty in some spots. Soon I was on ridge line looking West to the Verde. One the more distinct landmarks was Dynamite Road going into the Verde. That was the end of the road. I got to the Verde and found another road that lead to the Needle Rock area. There's a lot of cattle paths in the area. I went between the cattle paths and road over to the Needle rock area and had lunch there.

I headed back and found another path to the a rock beach area by the Verde. Now it was a long slow climb out the Verde to Sugarloaf area. I contemplated taking the 'shortcut' route back. It was pitch black when I hit the intersection. The shortcut was a well-defined motorcycle path. I broke two of my nigh hiking rules:
-don't night hike on a trail you don't know
-don't night hike with water or water crossings

I gambled that if the motorcycles can do this shortcut, I can do it in the dark.

The motocross section started out with narrow trail/trench that went up and down / up and down very steep grades. Eventually it gave away to a hard pack wash that lead to the canyon with the Sycamore creek. The creek was dry at the first, but the water appear shortly and got deeper. I hit a choke point where I had to scrambles over a couple of boulders. The canyon's not that long and I made it to the Sheep camp without getting wet. The rest of the hike was just climbing out to the trail head.

It was a long, but fun hike. There's a lot more to explore in the area. I'll be back.

Pictures and routes will follow.
_____________________
"Everywhere is walking distance...If you have the time"
-Stephen Wright
HAZ Member
topohiker's
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