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Rock Creek Trail #42 - Mazatzals
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mini location map2015-03-27
12 by photographer avatarmuskybankr
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Rock Creek Trail #42 - MazatzalsPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 27 2015
muskybankr
Hiking8.00 Miles 2,903 AEG
Hiking8.00 Miles   6 Hrs      1.76 mph
2,903 ft AEG   1 Hour   28 Mns Break11 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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bdurrell
When Ted, Brian, and I finished our hike today, we went back over our decisions and tried to see what we did that was smart. This came out to three things, everything else we did failing to measure up on the smart scale with a 2/3 majority vote. Since the temperature was forecast to be 95 in Phoenix today, we decided that this would be a good day to hike the 19 mile loop in the Mazzies going up Rock Creek trail and ultimately back down Barnhardt and over to the car on Half Moon. You will not find this in the smart decision folder. It was 75 in the Mazzies today, way too warm for what they offered. The smart decisions turned out to be to wear long clothes, always a good idea that includes hiking or bushwhacking in the Mazzies. Stopping for a mocha frappe is always a good decision following a hike. Turning around at Deadman Falls and heading back was an excellent decision. Brian ran out of water at the 9.5 mile mark. Fortunately, we were almost back by then after several misadventures, all of which I shall not bore you with but 1.5 miles of which I have deleted from the GPS log as unnecessary scenic misdaventures.

But to start with, the trails are not marked, nor are the trailheads. So we decided to use Teva Joe’s GPS log that I had downloaded, ignoring his comments that he had trouble finding the trail. So did we. We parked right next to Joe’s “start point” and about 500 feet up the first draw, the trail disappeared. An hour of bushwhacking up and down a large, steep, ridge brought us to the Rock Creek trail, completely exhausted, and in no shape to hike 19 miles, certainly. One hour of bushwhacking today in the warm weather was worth about five hours of trail hiking. In any event it took us 6 hours to hike the 9.5 miles so this was like a ten hour hike-energy wise. If you’re going to hike the 19 mile loop, it’s wise to be hiking at dawn, not 8:15. The trailhead is 2.25 hours from Carefree. Rock Creek Trail, even if we had found it to start, is maybe three times as hard as hiking up Barnhardt, mostly because it’s steeper and the trail, itself, while decent, cannot compare with Barnhardt’s excellent trail. It has some fallen trees, overgrown manzanita, shrub live oak, cat claw and its cousins, despite the efforts some people must have spent on this trail about a year ago, lopping off Manzanita and sawing logs, without which it’d be much worse. I’d now be inclined to hike the loop clockwise. In February.

And now for the good things. Flowers were abundant, including the largest display of Lupine I’ve seen this year. Gambel Oaks were plentiful as were alligator juniper, though many of these are fire-damaged, which is an understatement, since often only a hollowed out trunk is left. Water was flowing in the major creeks so bringing a filter and iodine tablets would have been a good decision had we done it. Although we did not see it, a large elk had walked some of the trail before us and helped lead us through the underbrush. We found a decent sized cave (plenty big enough for a bear) while bushwhacking and wisely decided not to explore it. The falls are excellent(although not that much flowing water today) and the scenery is pretty good but neither are as good as what Barnhardt offers when the water is running, whether or not you agree with the names.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Substantial
morning glory, lupine, mexican poppy, verbena,

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Rock Creek Falls @ 6,100 Ft Medium flow Medium flow
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