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Hell's Gate Loop, AZ
mini location map2021-03-11
10 by photographer avatarLJW
photographer avatar
 
Hell's Gate Loop, AZ 
Hell's Gate Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 11 2021
LJW
Hiking28.08 Miles 5,539 AEG
Hiking28.08 Miles   9 Hrs   45 Mns   3.12 mph
5,539 ft AEG      45 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
Did the full length of Hell's Gate 37 with a friend in January and have been waiting for the right day to go back and try this loop. Wintery day in mid-March seemed perfect. Started at the Hell's Gate TH at 7:30am and went counterclockwise.

Wanted to save the unfamiliar sections for the end. Easier to slog through country you're seeing for the first time. Many cows on Hell's Gate who have carved lots of alternative trails. Accidentally took one down to Grande Tank. Was down to Hell's Gate in a little over two hours. Hung out for a while and filtered some water before heading up.

It's easy to connect Hell's Gate and Big Ridge. Meadowy ridge with no bushwacking. Made it up to peak 5138 and the next few miles were my favorite of the day. Great weather for it with wintery clouds and a cold breeze blowing through. Fun ridge walk down to Big Ridge trail and along the road. Lots of cows for company. Saw a dozen deer and a coyote. Big Ridge Trail is an OHV track, and I met two hunters who drove to the bottom Salt Canyon in search of coyotes. Gave up the one I saw farther down the trail and carried on. They were the only people I saw on the day. Trail climbs and the views widen until around Horse Mountain where it enters a pine forest.

Down to Bear Flat Trail which I found nicest by the trailhead. OHV road and trail where it crosses through the wilderness area. It's in good shape but I got confused around Upper Bull Canyon Tank and briefly got sidetracked. No water in the canyon, but there's water I would't personally drink in every cattle tank along the way.

Tonto a strong flow by Bear Flat. Road might as well be paved between the trailheads. Beautiful five mile walk through the pines. Little bit of traffic on 405 but not much on 405A apart from the campers.

dry Salt Canyon Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Salt Lick Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Tonto Creek - Mogollon Rim Heavy flow Heavy flow
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