Claire and I had Monday off for MLK Day and wanted to get out for a three day trip into the Superstitions. We wanted to see a new area and turned our attention to Tule and Campaign trailheads. We decided to start from Tule and make a loop by incorporating over six road miles between the two trailheads.
We drove to Tule Trailhead on Saturday morning and made good time. The dirt road is in great condition and is suitable to most vehicles. We started our hike and made steady progress up Tule trail. We passed a couple of hunters and continued on as the trail starts gaining elevation. The views north of the Sierra Ancha and Four Peaks were wonderful. We eventually connected onto Two Bar Ridge and followed the AZT south. This is a really nice stretch of trail. We dropped into a valley and made a steep climb up a north facing slope that had a good blanket of snow. Once up top we completed the last mile and selected a campsite in Pine Creek. I camped here last year with FOTG and absolutely love this site! It has a flowing creek and lots of tree cover and fire ring. We settled in for the night with a nice fire and the temps were chilly but pleasant overall.
Our Sunday started slowly. We both slept in and made a fire and enjoyed breakfast. It was approaching 11am when a day hiker walked up and talked to us. He started from Campaign TH and said he talked to our friends we were meeting. Our plan was to meet FOTG at the junction of Campaign & Fireline. We got ourselves moving as we headed for Reavis Ranch. The Reavis Gap trail was very wet and muddy. Our pace was slow. We eventually reached Reavis Ranch and found the area completely deserted. We expected some backpackers but there were none. We spent a few minutes filtering water and eating lunch and then headed for the Fireline trail.
The first mile of Fireline Trail was easy going. The trail was a little muddy but not an issue. We started encountering snow in the higher elevations. There was one set of foot prints coming the opposite direction and they broke a path through the snow that helped. We eventually hit the turnoff for Circlestone. Our original plan was to hike up there but it was late in the day and our feet were soaked from the snow. We decided to continue on to camp. The next half mile was slow going through more snow. It drifted to twelves inches high in some places. We finally hit the east end of Fireline where the trail drops down to Campaign. We were delighted to see no snow! We cruised down to camp and arrived there around 4pm.
We finally hit the camp at Fireline and Campaign and could see dog prints all over the place. We were bummed to see we missed Lee and the dogs. I was hoping he was backpacking with us but knew he might be day hiking. A few minutes later we noticed the “FOTG” spelled out with some sticks. That confirmed he was day hiking. At that point we started prepping camp. We gathered firewood and got the tent set up. We planned on using the existing fire ring but it had an inch of ice on top. It was a no go so we built a temporary fire ring just off to the side. We dismantled this the next morning. We settled in for another night and enjoyed our fire. The temps were much colder tonight making things a bit uncomfortable. The fire helped if you sat close but sleeping was a challenge.
We woke earlier on Monday and had a small fire and tore down camp. We started hiking around 9:30am and headed north on the Campaign Trail. I remember this section being fairly overgrown with a hard to navigate section in the middle. We made good time till that point and then got off trail and were swallowed by manzanita and other heavy shrubs. I knew we were close to the trail but we couldn’t find it. I decided to drop us into the creek and take our chances there. The going was very difficult and both of us were frustrated. After much effort in the creek we climbed out and found the trail. From there the rest of the Campaign trail was in excellent condition. We made fast time and took a short break at the junction with the Reavis Gap trail. From there it was on to the Campaign Trailhead and then we had over six mile of road back to the Tule Trailhead. These road miles flew by as we hiked at over three miles per hour. We were back to the jeep around 2:30pm. From there it was back to Phoenix.
This was a great loop and we covered a lot of ground. There was a ton of water and lots of snow at the higher elevations. Water will not be an issue for several months. We only saw two people within the wilderness. Great hike and I was glad to see some new areas.