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Pine Mountain Verde Rim Loop
38 Photosets

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mini location map2020-10-17
6 by photographer avatarGrangerGuy
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Pine Mountain Verde Rim LoopCamp Verde, AZ
Camp Verde, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 17 2020
Hiking9.80 Miles 1,875 AEG
Hiking9.80 Miles   5 Hrs   56 Mns   2.08 mph
1,875 ft AEG   1 Hour   13 Mns Break15 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The road is easily navigated with my Subaru Cross Trek. I wouldn't try it with a low clearance vehicle.

The trail starts out just before the end of the road, with a sign on the right pointing to Trail 159. It goes down across a dry creek bed. It goes back up the other side to a trail register. After passing the register and signs, there is a gate, and a walk-through around the gate.

Soon after the gate, you cross a drainage, dry, today, and probably only filled during spring run-off. The trail follows along the left side of a dry wash. In the dry wash, there is a puddle, that is drinkable in mid-October, about 0.2 mi from the trailhead.

From here on up to Nelson Place Spring, the amount of water in Sycamore Creek continues to increase. The flow is at least 1 liter per minute and great water. Soon thereafter, the trail crosses the wash above a really nice looking pool. The trail continues, now on the right side of the canyon, to the first signs of fall color. With sumac, green on top and red on the bottom.

By the time you are 1/2 mile up the trail, the water is flowing at gallons per minute. Beautiful water, with the sunlight sparkling on the ripples. I encountered my first steer at this point. He was reluctant to move out of my way. After the steer, I encounter some yellow leaves in the taller trees. Need to pay attention to the trail at Nelson Spring, that you don't lose the trail. Nelson Place Spring crosses the trail with a muddy stream.

The light filters through the trees. You can hear the water trickling and the birds chattering at Nelson Place Spring. Nelson Place Spring was running at least one L / min. However, this is the last good water today.
The trail drops down into Beehouse Canyon, which is dry. Just, beyond the canyon, there is a rock wall on the left, and a signed junction for Pine Flat trail 165 going to the right. Continue straight on Nelson Trail 159.
Just beyond the trail junction there is a muddy spring. I wouldn't drink it. This is a pretty area for camping. However, a sign just beyond marks it private property.

Just beyond, get a nice shot of the fall color, reds and yellows. The USFS map suggests that the area right along the creek, mostly where the water is, is privately held. You enter the wilderness just beyond this sign.

At 1 mile in, the creek bed on the left becomes dry, with lots of Ponderosa needles carpeting the trail. The trail crosses the canyon to the left side at 1.3 miles. It is a little indistinct, but consolidates on the other side.
The trail stays in the canyon, with the empty creek on the right.

At 1.5 miles in, you will encounter the beautiful arched tree, identified as the Arizona Freeway Tree by a previous hiker. Soon after, you encounter a dry side stream. Around 1.7 miles, you encounter a lovely mix of oak, ponderosa pine and juniper trees.

At 1.75 mi is a very confusing spot, where a major tributary comes in from the left. With a lot of cattle footprints in the creek bottom, and with the appearance of a trail switch backing up the hill to the right, the main trail is not at all clear. It turns out, the real trail continues straight, along the right hand side of the canyon.
There is a suggestion of a trail crossing the wash from right to left and up the left tributary. Do not go this way.

After continuing up the right hand side for a short distance, the trail crosses Sycamore creek and continues up the left hand side. Follow a clear blaze on an old Ponderosa to ascend the first real climb on this trip.
Up ahead, I see a steamy spot, as though an animal has just peed there. As I watch, the steam dissipates. Indeed, there are several cattle on the trail ahead of me. After seeing me, they turn up the trail, moving slowly.
The trail continues up the left side above the wash. Eventually the canyon bottom climbs up to you, and you cross over to the right hand side of the canyon, again. At 2.4 miles, we encounter the first evidence of recent fire. The trail becomes indistinct. Stay to the right, maybe 30 yards from the creek, to stay on the trail. At first it looks like it was a small fire, but as I later, the damage is extensive. On getting home, and doing some research, I see this is the result of the lightning-caused Pine Fire, which burned here in July of 2020, just 3 months ago. Keep the wash on your left, and you will spot the constructed trail soon.

Shortly before the trail junction with the Willow Trail, the trail goes up over a small rise, and then drops into a beautiful camp area. This would be a great spot if there were water. The fire has killed the smaller growth, but for the most part left the larger trees unscathed.

As you approach the trail junction, it is a beautiful, open Ponderosa forest. The trail becomes indistinct but stay about 25 yards to the right of the creek and you will be fine. At the trail junction, Nelson Trail 159 bears right, Willow Springs 12 Trail continues straight. There is a spring box down and to the left. The concrete spring box is dry, and full of holes. Probably dry for a very long time. No sign of water here at all. As Willow Trail continues, it is very indistinct. Stay to the right of the stream bed, roughly 30 yards.

About 300 yards from the junction, the trail crosses the wash to the left side.

At 3.4 miles from the car, heading up toward Pine Spring, the trail enters a pretty much completely burned area.
The trail crosses the canyon again to the right, at about the location of Pine Spring. No sign of any water.

At 4.1 miles, the canopy opens up, and you can see what is probably the saddle of the Verde Rim, and the summit of Pine Mountain. The trail continues to climb through the rather un-inspiring valley, through the un-inspiring burn, as you approach the ridge line. At 4.7 miles, intersect the Verde Rim Trail 161, ending the Willow Spring Trail #12. The last little section of Trail 12 is indistinct. Look for water bars to identify the trail.

From the intersection, it is only about a quarter mile as the crow flies to the summit, but it is about 400 more feet of climb. As you climb the switchbacks, the views start to open up right and left, although on the Verde River side, it is pretty hazy due to smoke from the Horse Fire. The trail continues to climb vigorously. Fortunately, there is a little breeze to make it tolerable. Finally, as you come around about due west of the summit, there is a cairn and a side trail that heads up to the summit. Time for lunch!

On the eastern horizon, I see what must be the Mazatzal Mountains, where I was just a couple weeks ago.
The views from the summit are very nice, especially to the east. From Pine mountain, there is another unnamed summit just to the south. Within a few feet, it is just as high as Pine Mt. The trail goes just around this summit. I don’t go up there, because I'm starting to think about the long trip back home.

There is a third summit at 6810', with nice camp sites, if you bring water. This would be a cool place to watch the sunrise. There is a great deal of porous lava stone up here. At the intersection of Pine Mountain Trail #14, the route goes right. The Verde Rim trail going straight doesn't look too clear.

As you drop off the ridge, the trail is at first quite nice, and then moves in and out of the fire zone. Coming down, the views to the west are much less spectacular than the views to the east were from the summit. I occasionally startle cattle, who thunder away. There is some evidence of bear scat on the trail as well.
I rousted several cattle from a nice shady spot. As the trail crosses Contour 6500', it becomes very indistinct due to heavy cattle stomping at this shady spot. Look for the trail to start dropping off the side of the ridge and traversing down here.
I think Trail 14 is preferable to 12, as it follows the top and side of the ridge, instead of the creek bottom, so it is somewhat prettier. It is also much gentler in slope than the route up Trail 12, as the last climb up Pine Mountain is quite steep. Trail 14 spends less time in the burned area as well. Arriving at the so-called "cloverleaf" intersection of Trail 14 and 159, the burn destruction is total, including the trail junction sign. There is a large cairn here. If you were doing the loop the other way, you might miss the fork.

I hustle the rest of the way down, without a lot of notes, as I am anxious to get home now.

Saw several deer, as well as cattle.

Arriving back at the car at 2:07, total time 6 hours, Distance 10 miles, Moving time 4:43, average moving speed 2.1 Mi/hr. Elev Max 6380, Min 4763. Ascent / Descent 1800'.
HAZ Food
Autumn - Color Foliage
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Moderate
The Sumac is quite awesome.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Beehouse Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
A muddy area crosses the trail just beyond the canyon. This is the last water as you hike up today.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Nelson Place Spring Gallon per minute Gallon per minute
Spring flowing well across the trail - canyon below has good water as well.

dry Pine Spring Dry Dry

dry Tank Canyon Dry Dry
Canyon is dry

dry Willow Spring Dry Dry
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