The end of FR 574 approximately 15 miles south of Camp Verde leads to a very, very cool area. Multiple access points lead into the Cedar Bench Wilderness and also to one of the key access points down to the Verde River.
I was in Camp Verde for my second COVID shot and decided to make a day of it. We arrived at the River Trail Trailhead at Double T Ranch at around noon. The property owner came down to ask if we had any questions and was incredibly friendly. 3 of his horses came ambling up the trail as we were starting out. I have been around horses most of my life and these horses were of an extremely high pedigree.
River Trail leads down to the river in about 2/3 of a mile. We crossed just up from some very light class 2 rapids. The water reached my midriff and was not unbearably cold. I crossed too far downstream from Towel Creek and we had to bushwack up about a quarter of a mile.
Towel Creek from the river to the ruins has views of the Verde Rim front and center. Cedar Bench, Pine Mountain, and Mazatzal's are all seen in clear view. The line cabin area was another highlight. It looks more like a storage shed, but the cabin and the surrounding areas are all clearly still actively used. The trail also features massive cairns and lots if them.
Ultimately the trail to the ruins is far more worn than Towel Creek Trail continuing on towards FR 708 in the Coconino NF. The ruins are interesting and the Towel Creek riparian zones were quite beautiful with the shaded canopy.
FR 574 is a 4WD and high clearance road. Maybe not the way in but definitely on the way out. It isn't over the top, but there are some steep sections coming out that the 4WD helped with.
There is so much to explore in this area. Chasm Creek, Oxbow, and Cold Water Trails (leading into the Cedar Bench Wilderness) all start off this road. The Verde River is itself a miracle and worth the drive to experience and swim if you are two or four pawed! We saw one group of 4 hikers close to the ruins which was a suprise and a single truck parked at the trailhead.