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Cline Creek Ruins Loop, AZ
mini location map2021-02-06
28 by photographer avatarJohn10s
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Cline Creek Ruins Loop, AZ 
Cline Creek Ruins Loop, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 06 2021
Hiking10.71 Miles 2,029 AEG
Hiking10.71 Miles   8 Hrs   5 Mns   2.00 mph
2,029 ft AEG   2 Hrs   43 Mns Break
1st trip
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I'd read about Cline Creek Ruins a few weeks ago and was excited to check it out. My hiking partner visited Elephant Mountain last year and was interested in Cline Creek as well, since the ruins here were part of the same series of defensive Hokoham structures in the area. I mapped out at loop of ~10 miles that would take us to the west and east ruins.

We parked at the small dirt pullout with space for two vehicles near the intersection of Jenny Lin Road and N 12th Street in New River. We decided to hike the loop clockwise and see the western ruins first. We started among a thick forest of cholla, and almost immediately we could see the cone-shaped mountain where the first set of ruins were located. It was easy, flat hiking along the forest roads early on, then a very steep approach as the road circled around to the north/northeast side of the mountain.

I was impressed with the quantity of ruins at the west site. From a distance, the peak was deceptively small, but there were numerous walls on top and a lot of foundations a little lower on the mountainside. The northern ridge below the peak had the remnants of multiple foundations, with doorways visible in the short walls, plus some pottery shards set out on a rock. The tallest walls were located along the east side of the peak, with a few more walls up on top and dozens and dozens of pottery shards set out on a large rock. Off the south side of the peak, far below, were more foundations that were pretty badly deteriorated, but it was clear that this was at one time a large complex with a lot of structures. The 360° views from the top were great--Pepsi Cap Mountain to the northwest, and to the east we had Black Mesa, Elephant Mountain, and the crescent-shaped ridge with the other set of ruins where we headed next. Before we started down, we checked out a panel of petroglyphs on the NE side of the mountain, just below the peak near the remnants of another wall.

We hiked east past Quail Spring and noticed a rock outcropping on a ridge that looked like it might be another ruin wall. I climbed up to check it out, but it didn't turn out to be anything interesting, though I did find a rock that appeared to be a metate as I headed back toward the trail. We circled around the north and east sides of the crescent-shaped ridge where the eastern ruins are located, and on the way up, we stopped at "Petroglyph Knob," a small hill covered with boulders with petroglyphs all over them. The dark rock provided a nice contrast for the rock art, and these were some of the most well-defined petroglyphs I've come across. There were also some less common figures--intricate maze/swirl patterns, lizards or toads, and one drawing that looked like a scorpion. We'd read there were ruins just north of that spot but didn't find anything.

From there, we made the steep climb north up to the ridge with the ruins. There was a faint trail where the brush was a little less dense, but we found ourselves in another cholla forest when we reached the first plateau on the climb up, and we had to stop a few times to pull cholla off our boots/socks. We could see the fortress on the peak at that point and followed the curve of the ridge until we reached it.

The fortress was pretty well intact--a thick rock wall ~3-5 feet tall circled the entire peak, and there was a circular room with shorter walls and a doorway inside the perimeter. In several places, we could see windows built into the walls that provided inhabitants with a protected view of the surroundings. Like the other site, we had great views from the top and enjoyed exploring the peak, and it was a relaxing spot for lunch. [ youtube video ]

Before starting down, we considered attempting to climb down the steeper western side of the ridge--we'd read there was another petroglyph site, but we decided to return the way we came up and circle around toward Cline Well, where we'd read there were more ruins and pottery shards. There was a lot of dirt bike/four-wheeler traffic around Cline Well, so we didn't spend much time there. We saw some rocks that might have been deteriorated foundations of old structures, but we didn't find anything definitive...just a few pottery shards before we circled back to our starting point, completing a loop of ~10.5 miles. Overall, a very enjoyable hike with some interesting history--I'd passed that area many times driving north on I-17 without knowing anything about what was there.
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Cline Well

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