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Rough Canyon via Woodbury, AZ
mini location map2015-05-23
15 by photographer avatarJohn9L
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Rough Canyon via Woodbury, AZ 
Rough Canyon via Woodbury, AZ
Backpack avatar May 23 2015
Backpack18.21 Miles 3,763 AEG
Backpack18.21 Miles2 Days         
3,763 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
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Claire and I wanted to head out for an overnighter for Memorial Day Weekend. The weather in Phoenix was too good to be true so we started looking relatively close to home and settled on the Superstitions. We were out there two months ago and found a sweet campsite near Frog Tanks and Rough Canyon. Our plan was to start at the Woodbury Trailhead and hike over Tortilla Pass and on to camp. We would explore up Rough Canyon on the second day and then hike out later that day.

We left Tempe around mid-morning on Saturday and drove to the Woodbury Trailhead. We arrived to a vacant parking area and started hiking soon after. It was sunny and warm but comfortable. We made steady progress as we climbed towards Tortilla Pass. I wondered about our water situation along the Frog Tanks Trail and felt better as I saw a few small pools about a mile into our hike. I figured if there is water here there will be water in Frog Tanks. We continued hiking and topped out after Tortilla Pass and then dropped down into Angels Basin. We found the area completely deserted and found several good pools of water in the creek. We’ll have no water issues on this overnighter.

We took a short lunch near Angels Basin and then took our time hiking down the Frog Tanks Trail. This area is really beautiful and has lots of shade from all the trees and foliage. There was lots of water and it flowed in a few places. We continued on and soon reached our campsite near the junction of Frog Tanks and Fish Creek. It’s a fantastic site situated next to the creek and has plenty of shade and a fire ring. The creek was dry right next to us but water was available about two minutes down canyon. We settled in and got camp set up and then gathered some firewood. It was late in the day and we decided to go for a short walk up Fish Creek. The going was very slow and rugged. There was lots of water through here and the scenery is amazing! From there we returned to camp and settled in for the night. We enjoyed a fire and had Pad Thai (Backpackers Pantry) for dinner.

The next morning started slowly. We woke and had coffee and filtered some water. We set out for Rough Canyon around 9:30am and our going was very slow right from the start. The creek bed is loaded with rocks and boulders of all sizes. Just reaching the start of Rough Canyon a quarter mile away felt like a small victory. We entered Rough and proceeded up canyon at a very slow pace. The canyon is extremely rugged and we had to search high and low for the best route possible. We had to climb up and over boulders or had to entirely leave the creek bed and fight our way through heavy foliage to reach the next section. Our goal was the ruins but it became obvious we weren’t going to have enough time or energy for the endeavor. We planned on hiking back to the jeep later in the afternoon so we found a nice spot to break and then turned around and headed back for camp. We learned going down Rough Canyon is much easier. It also helped knowing the best route from our hike up.

Once back at camp we took an extended break and ate lunch and filtered more water. We then packed up and started the hike out around 1:30pm. We took our time on the return and took a break at Angels Basin where we filtered more water and rested. From there we made the hike out and returned to the jeep.

This was a really fun overnighter and I wish we had more time and energy for Rough Canyon. The going in there is extremely rugged and fun. We definitely plan on going back in the fall after the weather cools off. And we didn’t see another person in the Supes on this trip. The solitude was a real treat especially for a holiday weekend.
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