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Ironwood Ridgeline 3108 Loop - Goldfield Mtns
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mini location map2016-12-10
12 by photographer avatarmt98dew
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Ironwood Ridgeline 3108 Loop - Goldfield MtnsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 10 2016
Hiking6.04 Miles 1,786 AEG
Hiking6.04 Miles   4 Hrs      1.51 mph
1,786 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
This one had been on my radar for quite awhile, but the write ups and the off trail nature of the route had me dragging my feet. With my recent wilderness adventures and my need to finish off another area, I thought the time was right. I had decided to do the loop CCW, primarily because I knew where the western ascent/descent point was, but I wasn't sure where the eastern point of ascent/descent would be and I wanted to try to do the full loop. And based on previous write ups I had already decided that I wasn't going to worry about following the GPS route or cairns once I started my ascent.

I left the Meridian TH around 6:30 am. I used my headlamp for a few minutes to make sure I found the correct trail that would take me east. This first part of the loop is pretty sweet. There's an actual, constructed trail that runs along the base of the mountains. I was surprised that it didn't hug the homes more. The trail gets some decent separation from the homes and gets a little elevation as it heads east. It runs about 1.5 miles and then it just stops. Kind of weird how this seemingly constructed trail just stops without a significant destination or other trail tie-in. Asa it so happens there are now cairns (and a user trail) that starts up the mountain. This is also where the GPS route starts its ascent, so it worked for me. (Curiously, does anyone know the name of the trail that gets you to that point? It certainly seemed to be designed). I followed the cairned route to the top of the low lying hills at the foot of the ridgeline that I planned on navigating. The sun was just rising as I reached the top of the hill so I paused briefly to enjoy the moment. While I was watching the sunrise, I was fortunate enough to see a local hiker descending from above, which gave me an idea of where I would be making my next climb. I was lucky because I probably wouldn't have found that trail on my own and would have begun my off trail adventures earlier than I needed to. As it was, I followed this trail (it was not cairned, but it was easy to follow once I was on it) up to the next saddle that gave me my first glimpse of the northern interior of the Goldfields. This is some seriously folded rock at this saddle that is easy to identify and, in my mind, marks the end of the trail and the beginning of my off trail adventure.

The climb up to the ridge line was fairly straight forward. Vegetation and rock formations were accommodating enough that route finding was not a problem. It was very freeing not worrying about GPS routes or cairns. (In fact, I didn't see any cairns along the entire ridgeline. It wasn't until I hit the two tallest peaks and started my descent that I started to come across cairns). I stayed on the ridgeline for a bit, but saw that I was going to have to descend into a shallow depression on my way to a westernly peak that had become my objective as soon as I saw it. On my I hit another high point (east and north of the ridgeline. It was not as high as the westernly peak, but I thought I would check it out along the way). Jochal was "right on" in one of his picture descriptions. This peak was easy to climb from the south, but a lot more challenging descending from the north. Summiting was pretty cool and satisfying. Nice views of the surrounding terrain. I was able to see a second peak ( not quite as tall), further north and west, that would be my my ultimate destination and be where I would start my descent to Fish Rock Trai(?). However, I wasn't comfortable with what I saw with my northern descent from this peak, so I descended the way I came and then went along the western slope to meet up with the northern part of the ridgeline. (I went .5 miles to cover what otherwise would have been 100 yards). In retrospect, I probably would have "hugged" the peak more than I did. The slope I traversed was fairly steep and very slippery. Taking the ridgeline from one peak to the next was cool and a little challenging, involving some serious (for me) climbing. No exposure, so I was 8) . After negotiating the ridgeline it was rather anticlimactic descending to Fish Rock Trail and taking it back to the TH.

Only saw three hikers the entire hike. All on the Fish Rock Trail. No wildlife....again! It seems as if ALL of God's creatures are hibernating. I not seeing anything on my hikes. (Except for burros in Hell's Canyon, but that's a given :lol: ). Great hike! Nice to get another one off the list.
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