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Gold Canyon Trail System, AZ
mini location map2016-05-08
16 by photographer avatarDarthStiller
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Gold Canyon Trail System, AZ 
Gold Canyon Trail System, AZ
Hiking avatar May 08 2016
Hiking10.50 Miles 960 AEG
Hiking10.50 Miles   4 Hrs   15 Mns   2.47 mph
960 ft AEG
Partners none no partners
Last month when I took the family out to hike the Lost Goldmine Trail, we discovered this trail system as we hiked the Cougar Trail. I went online and found a map of the trails from a mountain biking website, which it turns out isn’t even a complete map of all the trails, as I found even more during my hike. I think this area is definitely underrated. Not that it’s spectacular, but for something that’s only a half hour drive from my house and has a bunch of trails that I’ve never hiked before, it’s pretty nice. I didn’t see any other hikers, only a few mountain bikers, and not really that many at that. Mother’s Day may have had an effect on that.

I started off of King’s Ranch Road a little south of the Hieroglyphic Trailhead, before you get way back in there. There’s basically just a pull off on the side of the road, but there’s also a little road past that with a secluded spot with enough room for about 3 vehicles. From that point, you have the follow the dirt road to the east for about a mile before you get to the actual trails. The first one I encountered that’s labeled is the Old Horse Trail. Along the dirt road there were 3 huge bulls that were grazing. There were fortunately mellow and docile, but still intimidating. :scared:

I took the Old Horse Trail to the east. It takes you out to another dirt road that it follows until it picks up again further east (according to the map I have). Along this second section of dirt road I encountered a guy in a Jeep Patriot who asked me the way out. He said he drove there from the Peralta TH following the dirt roads. I showed him my map and where we were and told him his best bet was to try to go back the way he came, heading east on the dirt roads. First time I’ve even encountered a lost 4WDer while hiking. :-k

Along the dirt road, the eastern end of the Quartz Ridge Trail picks up, so I took that trail and headed up to the ridge. It started to rain for a few minutes at this point, which I didn’t mind at all. In fact, the weather was cooler than normal, with a lot of clouds in the sky throughout the whole morning. As I ascended to the ridge, I spotted a few more bulls below. On the ridge, the views are really nice. Good views of the basin below and Superstition Mt. to the north, and also nice views to the south all the way down to Tucson. :DANCE:

On the north side of the ridge I spotted a nest in a saguaro. I stopped to look and inside I saw two little fuzzy white heads. I zoomed in with my camera and good some decent pictures. During this time, I could hear the mama screeching at me from the top of another saguaro a hundred feet or so over.

The map that I have shows the Quartz Ridge Trail ending at a dirt road and then following that road back to the north and connecting again with the Old Horse Trail. But along the trail there are markers that label the Quartz Ridge Trail going away from that road and heading directly north to the Old Horse Trail. Once it connects, there’s another marker that says “exit QR”, so it seems like that’s the real trail. I found three other junctions along the Quartz Ridge, the first one heading further east along the ridge, another one going further south as the ridge descends, and the last one heading to the west towards the dirt road. Reason to return and explore more, I suppose.

From the Old Horse Trail, I did loops of portions of the Vortex, Gila Monster, GM connector trail, and the Holy Hill Trail until I had about 10 miles done, at which point I called it a day and headed to meet up with the wife and kids for a Mother’s Day lunch. The Gila Monster Trail has some interesting decorations along it, one is a stick figure that almost looks like a grave marker. The Holy Hill Trail has a cross at the top of the hill, as well as a cow bell complete with a sign to mark it. Very nice area to hike once you get away from the dirt roads.
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