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Hidden Treasure to Big Bug (BCT), AZ
mini location map2018-02-10
33 by photographer avatarMudhole
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Hidden Treasure to Big Bug (BCT), AZ 
Hidden Treasure to Big Bug (BCT), AZ
 
Hiking avatar Feb 10 2018
Mudhole
Hiking12.97 Miles 1,887 AEG
Hiking12.97 Miles
1,887 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Another Saturday rolled around where we had some time to hike all day, so my brother-in-law Todd joined me yet again for this 5th section of the Black Canyon Trail. This time, we were heading northbound again from Hidden Treasure trailhead off of Crown King Rd and wrapping up at Big Bug trailhead, the last marked trailhead to the north. There's another 7.1 miles left of the BCT after that, but Big Bug is the last road access to the trail northbound without getting back on dirt farm roads.

We set off at first light, this time without having to shuttle a car. We would have a ride waiting for us at Big Bug that would bring us back to my truck, and this saved us a bunch of extra driving this morning. Todd had plans to check out 8 different geocaches along this section of the BCT, and the first one was supposed to be located at Hidden Treasure trailhead by the west side of the cattle pen. We were unable to locate it and assumed it was now missing based on previous reports and our inability to find any trace of it.

Today was slated to be one moderate gradual climb over the first 8 miles, and then we would level out with some small rolling hills until the end. We got started from the cattle pen at Hidden Treasure trailhead and proceeded northeast and then nearly due north up a very scenic canyon with healthy vegetation and quality trail surface. The next 2 geocache searches were only about a mile into the trail, so we searched for the next one and again were skunked. But, the 3rd cache was just ahead and Todd finally had success locating it at the top of the hill. This cache was in a metal cookie tin on a small peak to the east of the trail. After finding this cache, we realized we were behind pace, so we kicked it into high gear and continued the ascent.

The next bit of trail takes us further up the canyon ascent and into changing terrain. Desert gives way to a change of biome at the top of the canyon with an occasional juniper tree and some narrow but shallow ridges. A trail runner with his 2 kids passed us oncoming through this section. Dad needed to teach his bike-riding kids about yielding to hikers, but we helped him out.

The ascent finally plateaus out with vistas of Crown King Road below us to the south, and views of the Turkey Creek area and the old mine remnants on the south side of the road. I've hiked down in that canyon before, but this perspective was pretty cool. We stopped at this windy viewpoint for a moderate break and ate our lunches.

The next bit of trail is a short road walk that ends at Drinking Snake trailhead. This crummy bit of road would be ok for a passenger car in dry weather, but it ends quickly. Todd showed signs of issues with one of the IT bands in his knee, so we stopped for him to stretch it out and take some ibuprofen, hoping we wouldn't have to hit the panic button and arrange a ride out of there. Within a half hour, he was outpacing me and moving along nicely with minimal to no pain. Crisis averted, so we pushed on across the grassy plateau until the final descent started.

Down we go. The terrain is a mix of high desert with a scattering of juniper and small cactus. There's a lot of sign of cattle grazing through here probably due to the abundant grasses along this section. We make quick time along some more short road walks and easy trail with a gradual downhill grade. This section is relatively flat however, so walking is easy.

After a bit, we round a ridge and get a view of Spring Valley to our northeast. Big Bug trailhead sits along Hwy 69 between Spring Valley and Mayer. Both towns are about 2 miles away to the east and west, so walking to either for supplies would be easy. We come around the ridge and head west towards Big Bug, where we see our ride pulling into the parking lot 5 minutes before we get there.

Big Bug is a very large trailhead and well-marked from Hwy 69. Big signs for the Black Canyon Trail are right on the highway so it's easy to find. There are pit toilets and a very large parking lot here that could hold about 30 cars. It's a popular trailhead start for mountain bikers looking to head southbound.

With only 7.1 miles of official trail to go, this was a nice cool day with some great changes in scenery. The big climb in the first half of is section was a very manageable grade and never wore us out at all. This was a nice finish to the "major" sections of the BCT.
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"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
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