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New River Mesa - Southwest End, AZ
mini location map2018-01-15
24 by photographer avatarOregon_Hiker
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New River Mesa - Southwest End, AZ 
New River Mesa - Southwest End, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 15 2018
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking6.20 Miles 1,277 AEG
Hiking6.20 Miles   7 Hrs      0.89 mph
1,277 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
The goal of this hike was to check out a long rock wall on the south side of New River Mesa. When topohiker posted pictures of this wall in March 2017 there was some discussion as to whether it was an old ranching wall/fence or of ancient Indian origins. [ photo ] I chose the shortest access point to start the hike approximately 6.2 miles on FR41 from I-17 at the Table Mesa Rd exit. Some steep rocky sections of this road require high clearance and 4-wheel drive and took me 40 minutes to drive. (I'm a slow cautious driver under those conditions). I would not attempt this road if it was muddy. This route takes you through state trust land which is posted with signs announcing a recreation permit is required. An annual pass is $15 per person or $20 per family and is available on-line. From the "trailhead" there is an old washed out 4x4 road up the steep side of the mesa which provides a brush free but rocky path to the top. Once at the top of the mesa all signs of a road or trail disappear. The hiking distance from the TH to the location of the wall is only about 3 miles but the scattered volcanic rock of all sizes hidden in the tall grass require a slower cautious pace. I found it easy to get off course on the large wide open spaces of the mesa top without my nose-to-the-gps pathfinder hiking buddy (grasshopper) to keep me on track.

Views from the edges of the mesa are spectacular and well worth the hike even if you aren't going to the old rock wall. I kept my eyes open for signs of ancient Indian habitation as I crossed the mesa but did not see any despite the abundance of large boulders that would have been great for chiseling petroglyphs or embedded metates. Arriving at the rock wall, I found it extending along the side of the shallow end of Big Spring Canyon for about 270 yards. Following the wall from its west end I encountered an opening in the wall that had the remains of an old barbed wire gate - the first clue that this was an old ranching wall/fence. Near the gate there was a short semi-circular section of wall with one end attached to the longer wall. This may have been the partial remains of a corral. Further along the wall there was the remains of a barbed wire fence that had been added to the top of a low section of the wall. There are a number of fairly long rock walls in the Superstitions that were early ranching fences so this one is not a surprise. My curiosity about the wall having been satisfied, I stopped to enjoy lunch from a viewpoint overlooking the Cline Creek area before starting the return trek across the mesa.
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