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Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness - GET #7
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mini location map2020-11-14
23 by photographer avatarJohn10s
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Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness - GET #7Globe, AZ
Globe, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 14 2020
Hiking14.96 Miles 300 AEG
Hiking14.96 Miles   6 Hrs   1 Min   2.76 mph
300 ft AEG      36 Mns Break
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Two weeks ago, we hiked in Aravaipa starting from the west trailhead, and we enjoyed it so much that we immediately started looking for permits to the east trailhead, and we were lucky enough to find an opening this past weekend. The drive from Phoenix to the east trailhead is much longer, and we ended up having to drive past the turn off on Highway 70 to fill with gas in Pima to make sure we had a full tank to get into Aravaipa and back out. There isn't much in the way of larger towns past Globe, and the only gas station we passed in Bylas was closed and didn't have a pay at pump option, and we saw no gas stations along the highway in Fort Thomas.

The 40+ miles of dirt road leading to the trailhead is in very good shape, and it was so flat and straight we were able to drive 65+ mph along some stretches, which trimmed a nice chunk off the estimated arrival time the GPS originally projected. There were five shallow creek crossings over the last few miles to the trailhead, but nothing a vehicle with reasonably high clearance couldn't handle. We debated driving the extra 1.5 miles on the "4x4 recommended" road to the Turkey Creek parking lot but decided against it since we weren't sure about the condition of the road or creek crossings, but in hindsight, we could have made it without any issues based on the vehicles parked there, many of which were lower clearance than what we were driving.

That added 1.5 miles to our hike each way, but it was fast, easy hiking along the road. The fall colors were fantastic, and we saw six wild turkeys along the trail in the first mile on our way to the Turkey Creek cliff dwelling. I was surprised to see how "domesticated" the site was--the BLM had signs pointing to the location, rails along the short walk up to the cliff wall, and informational signs about the history of the dwelling and the inhabitants. The structure lived up to its reputation as one of the best-preserved Solado ruins in SE Arizona--it was in great shape aside from some holes in the roof, though one opening was a window that the natives had intentionally built into the roof. Like some of the other Solado ruins I've seen, finger marks were visible in the mortar of the walls--it's always interesting to see those 700 year-old handprints frozen in time and to imagine what life was like back then. This was the first Solado dwelling I'd seen built in this fashion, with a roof sloping into the canyon wall, and I was impressed by how well it blended in. Later, as we hiked out, we could barely see it from the road below even when we knew what we were looking for.

After leaving the dwelling, we hiked back along Turkey Creek and turned into Aravaipa. The geology on the east side of the canyon is different from the west, but no less beautiful. Between the fall colors, the beautiful water, and the canyon walls, it was a fantastic hike. This side seemed to have more informal trails along the banks of the creek, so we didn't spend as much time walking directly in the creek for extended stretches. We passed a quite a few groups heading in both directions as we hiked in, and we turned at Deer Creek/Hell Hole to explore the side canyon and search for Hell's Hole arch.

The geology of the canyon changed again in that area, with darker rock and more hoodoo-like formations up along the rim, and more saguaros up there. We followed the dry wash into Hell Hole, and the scenery was spectacular, with towering canyon walls and interesting rock formations. The walls were littered with stains from areas where water flows when it rains...that area would be incredible with water flowing, with multiple 100+ foot waterfalls. The canyon looked like it was going to dead-end ahead of us, but the walls narrowed and it curved to the north. Farther back, there was a trickle of water, and just as we started talking about turning around to make it back to the trailhead at a decent time, we saw Hell's Hole up on the canyon wall. The arch was a great feature, and we were happy we found it before we had to turn around.

If we had more time, we would have explored farther west in Aravaipa and checked out Booger Canyon, but that'll have to wait for another visit. Between the two visits, I still haven't seen the middle part of Aravaipa and or many of the side canyons. On the hike out, we had a few more wildlife encounters, including several deer and a great blue heron. We still hadn't seen any coatimundis, but we lucked out--at the end of our hike, within a mile of the east trailhead, we came cross five or six coatis near the trail, the first time either of us had seen one. It was the perfect ending to a great day of hiking, and on the drive out, we ended up seeing five or six more coatis along the road...when it rains, it pours :). The day worked out just about perfectly--on top of the great weather and fall colors, we got to check out the cliff dwelling and Hell's Hole and saw a lot of great wildlife in ~15 miles of hiking.
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Substantial

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Deer Creek Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
water report recorded in the field on our app Route Scout Dry on the way into Hell Hole Canyon and just a trickle of water farther back in the canyon
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