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Hell's Gate Trail #37
13 Photosets

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mini location map2015-04-25
14 by photographer avatartoddak
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Hell's Gate Trail #37Payson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 25 2015
toddak
Hiking26.00 Miles 5,000 AEG
Hiking26.00 Miles   12 Hrs      2.17 mph
5,000 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
In a recent forum post, chumley asked if anyone had hiked the full length of this trail (most hikers come from the north trailhead and understandably don't venture beyond the confluence of Tonto and Haigler Creeks). As a big fan of Hellsgate Wilderness, of course I had to go check out the southern end of the trail. Since driving to the south trailhead on FR133 from Young was questionable, I started from the north trailhead. This report covers the trail section south of the confluence.

The trail continues a short distance up Haigler Creek from the confluence in the first obvious drainage, which is Smoky Hollow canyon. Shortly after entering the drainage the trail climbs out and up and stays on the eastern slope, paralleling the canyon. The trail is overgrown and faint in spots, but not too hard to follow. After climbing for about 0.75 miles, the trail crosses over to the west side of the drainage and continues climbing on a faint, abandoned road with steadily improving views. There aren't a lot of cairns, but the trail route and GPS track shown on MyTopo are pretty close to accurate.

From the south trailhead at the junction with FR133 I continued road-hiking east and south about 3 miles through beautiful open range country to go check out the "winter camp" shown on the maps. At some point the camp must have been a bustling place, but it appears to be abandoned. FR133 between the trailhead and winter camp is quite steep and rocky in places and would require a pretty serious off-road vehicle, and based on the grass growing on the road and the lack of tire tracks, I doubt it gets much use. I think it's safe to say that taking the southern route into this rugged area isn't going to be easy.
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