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Mica - Spud - HVLO Loop, AZ
mini location map2020-12-02
11 by photographer avatarLJW
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Mica - Spud - HVLO Loop, AZ 
Mica - Spud - HVLO Loop, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 02 2020
Hiking24.45 Miles 5,503 AEG
Hiking24.45 Miles   8 Hrs   31 Mns   3.15 mph
5,503 ft AEG      45 Mns Break
1st trip
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
Hoping for a thorough introduction to the Rincon Mountains, I gave this loop a go. Covers a lot of ground on the eastern side of the mountains and reaches the high points of Mica Mountain, Spud Rock, and the Happy Valley Lookout. Sort of fell in love. Saguaro NP East designation means the trails are in tip-top shape, but the lack of access roads, along with the current lack of traffic on the AZT, ensures good solitude for walking under the pines. Started at sunrise and went counterclockwise from Miller Creek TH.

Road to Miller is bumpy, but I made it just fine with low clearance and economy tires. Started with the 2.5 mile road walk to Turkey Creek TH. Temperature was around 20 degrees and felt it in the shade. Warmed up quickly as the road climbed out of the creek bed and up the ridge to Turkey Creek TH. Saw the first people of the day, a few hunters spread out down the trail surveying Turkey Creek just outside the NP boundary.

Trail is pretty tame before the NP boundary and makes it easy to find a rhythm. Starts climbing beyond the gate and gets steeper and steeper. Payoff starts around Mudhole Spring as the trail enters the forest. TC to Deerhead Spring Trail. At this point the trails come in quick succession. There's a nice network on top of Mica.

Switchback Trail is short and leads up to Fire Loop. From this point until after Manning Camp the trails wind through the healthy forest of pines and between the rock outcroppings on the top of Mica Mountain. Trails are superb and cushioned in pine straw. Took Bonita past Mica Meadow to the AZT, which runs right over the top of Mica Mountain. There were three hikers on the summit, so I kept going to Spud Rock and was on top in about 15 minutes.

Down at first toward Helens Dome, but I quickly talked myself out of it and backtracked to Spud Rock Trail and took that to Mica Mtn Trail. Manning camp in no time. Can't say enough about the forest around there and on top of Mica generally. Worth every step.

Manning Camp Trail to Devil's Bathtub. Worst fire damage to be found on the west side of DB. Heartbreak Ridge big views and intermittent pines. Suffered for the fire. Happy Valley LO to soak in the last views of the Northern Rincons and then down to Miller.

Miller is bouldery and drops off the mountain fast. Clear and well cairned. Got down in the shadow of the mountains with two hours of sunlight left having only seen the half dozen or so people.
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