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mini location map2019-05-10
15 by photographer avatarkingsnake
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Cottonwood Trail #120Globe, AZ
Globe, AZ
Hiking avatar May 10 2019
Hiking13.59 Miles 2,199 AEG
Hiking13.59 Miles   5 Hrs   51 Mns   2.32 mph
2,199 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Just after entering Cottonwood Canyon, there is a trough, that when I passed by was full. There was a rubber hose from upslope, past the trough, down into Cottonwood Creek (which was dry at that point). If the hose is feeding the trough, the connection is buried. The water didn’t look bad, but would need to be filtered to be drinkable.

I did not bother locating the Thompson Spring, but the spring box was as full of decent water as the trough a half mile back. Cottonwood Creek had slight pooling at the FR 341 crossing, which had lots of shade.

From Thompson Spring, Cottonwood Trail #120 climbs rocky FR 341 for a steep 500 ft. in only a half mile to a cattle guard. From there, the gain is mostly a steady 300 ft. per mile.

At the three mile mark, FR 341 turns west, while Cottonwood Trail #120 and the Arizona Trail continue south, as actual foot trail, at the bottom of Cottonwood Canyon. The junction is marked by a dry trough, a large metal tank full of decent water, and a small corral. And foxtail. Lots and lots of foxtail. There was an incredible amount of foxtail all along the trail, but it was worst at the tank.

From the metal tank, Cottonwood Trail #120 basically winds back and forth across the bottom of Cottonwood Canyon, which at some points had slight pooling, with trickle, and others was bone dry. (On the surface: Cottonwood Creek must have subsurface flow.) The vegetation varies from desert flora to well-shaded canopy with leafy green groundcover. It reminded me a lot of Arnett Creek & Telegraph Canyon, near Superior. At one point, the creek was just a bit too wide for me to jump across, so I built a ‘bridge’ with a dozen rocks. 🌉

At the 4.5 mile mark, just past the second slant-bolted metal tube gate, is a ~30 acre burn area, about a ½ mile long, on the lower west slope of Cottonwood Canyon. The trail passes right through it, but I still managed to wander off trail, smearing my pack with soot. The burn area had the greatest quantity & density of flowers on Cottonwood Trail #120, which was already riddled with species.

Cottonwood Spring is supposedly 5.25 miles up canyon from Frazier Trailhead. I could not find it, nor any evidence — water trickling across the Cottonwood Trail #120 or moisture in the canyon bottom. Just past the spring’s ostensible location, the the Arizona Trail Association is rerouting the trail off the rocks at the bottom of the canyon, up slope 20 ft. or so. Fresh tred has been scraped, flourescent flags planted, and shrubbery trimmed. A couple of hundred yards past the trail work, there is a 5 ft. cairn apropos of nothing. 🤔

At the 6.1 mile mark is the sixth trough I spotted, the fourth bone dry one. 300 yds. past that, not far from Pinyon Mountain, is the end of Cottonwood Trail #120 at FR 83. There is nothing at the end of the trail: No sitting rocks, no shade. Enh. Kind of anticlimactic considering how enjoyable the hike was to that point.

So, I backtracked to the nearest dry trough, sat back against it, and took a break while the sun beat down my shoulders. At least the temperature was a very moderate 77℉. After my break, I booked it back to the Frazier Trailhead, where I downed my sodium & potassium restoring V-8, before my wife & drove back to Tonto Basin for cold beers & delicious pizza at Big Daddy’s. 🍕🤗

Hike Video: [ youtube video ]
Trail Maintenance
Fire Burn Area & Recovery
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
I spotted at least 30 species: Flat Top Buckwheat, Mexican Gold Poppy, Desert Globemallow, Machaeranthera, Buckhorn Cholla, Sacred Datura, Desert Marigold, Strawberry Hedgehog, what I believe were Bluestem Pricklepoppy, Owl Clover, Lupine, Desert Chicory, Dudleya, Ocotillo, Blackfoot Daisy, Mexican Vervain, Desert Beardtongue, many more! AND New Mexico Thistle -- some 6 ft. tall -- with MASSIVE blooms.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Cottonwood Creek Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Upper reaches had some small pools and light trickle.

dry Cottonwood Spring Dry Dry
Couldn't find it. Saw no evidence of moisture along the creek bottom or AZT realignment.

dry Thompson Spring Dry Dry
Spring box was full; not sure on status of spring itself.
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