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Little Pan Loop from Table Mesa Road TH - BCT
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11 by photographer avatarmuskybankr
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Black Canyon City TH to Little Pan Loop - BCTPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 16 2015
muskybankr
Hiking14.00 Miles 2,054 AEG
Hiking14.00 Miles
2,054 ft AEG      33 Mns Break11 LBS Pack
 
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1st trip
Partners none no partners
Inspired by the historic climbing feats this week on Denali and the Dawn Wall, and the timely arrival of our orienteering expert from Alaska, we set off on our Black Canyon Trail 14 mile death march from Table Mesa to Black Canyon City, which featured a couple of snack stops and innumerable delays for orienteering observations. These trails were created (and I think used even today) in the process of driving livestock to summer pastures and I think those livestock liked to wander. (See photos for remaining remnants.)

Our overall plan was to favor left turns, take the western side of the Little Pan Loop north and trust the topo screen shot from Base Camp for details. These plans failed to survive the first wash we encountered about 1 mile into the hike where we failed to make a left turn and wandered about (as the gps log shows) over to the eastern side of the Little Pan Loop. Then, at about the 3.8 mile marker we crossed the Agua Fria, which was flowing lightly. If you examine the topo map, you discover that we were not the first to wonder where the trail went once you’ve crossed the river. There are trails both to the left and the right which converge to one trail and immediately split into another loop. Kind of like a big butterfly. We took none of these trails, preferring our own bushwhacking solution which led us past three head of cattle showing a suspicious resemblance to the ones we saw on the Big Jim trail up in Hell’s Canyon Wilderness last year. The mitigating factor on this hike is that there is little penalty for losing contact with the trail. The ground is fairly level and sooner or later the trail reappears. A half mile further, we came to a road and decided to skip that and bushwhack over to the single track, which was a bit more to our liking but probably added a half mile to the trip, which turned out to be 14.27 miles, so we really didn’t need the extra distance. The trail leaving the river climbs a gentle 725 feet to about the 10.5 mile mark, and 2500 feet in elevation, where Black Canyon City sprawls out in the distance below, as does the Agua Fria. After this, we began to see some BCT signage so we stayed on the trail, more or less, for the rest of the way. There are several lazy switchbacks on the trail down to the river that invite shortcuts but we didn’t take any. You cross the Agua Fria, again flowing lightly, at about the 12.6 mile mark. About 90% of this trail I would rate as YDS 1, being pretty much like the sidewalk in front of your house, except for being a bit narrower. The rest of the trail has a few rocks, nothing severe, which does not mean that a wrong step would not have severe consequences. Were I a trail biker this would not be a trail I would try to learn on.

We saw two bikers, no hikers, and three cattle on our trip which took 5.5 hours total time for the 14.27 miles and 2054 feet of AEG. The reason I say “about” so many miles is that my trip computer records at 1 second intervals and my triplog at 15 second intervals, producing records that differ about 5% for this trip. My Garmin Oregon 450 can only record about 9999 electronic points, which means I could have set it at 2 seconds instead of 15, but didn’t think of that in time. It can archive stuff but I don’t know how that works in terms of linking it on Basecamp. Anyway, this is a pleasant journey with wide vistas and we are hopeful of doing the other segments to the north that are ready to hike.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation None
Two brittlebush plants on slopes facing the southern Sun had flowers.
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