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Four Springs / Santa Rita Crest Loop, AZ
mini location map2021-05-22
22 by photographer avatarandrewp
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Four Springs / Santa Rita Crest Loop, AZ 
Four Springs / Santa Rita Crest Loop, AZ
Hiking avatar May 22 2021
Hiking12.16 Miles 4,152 AEG
Hiking12.16 Miles   6 Hrs   18 Mns   2.53 mph
4,152 ft AEG   1 Hour   30 Mns Break
1st trip
I've wanted to do the Santa Rita crest for ages and was also looking for a good AEG hike that wasn't an out-and-back. Combining the crest with the Four Springs trail seemed like the perfect solution.

Was at the trailhead before 7am after an 1:15 drive from home. Set off on the Super Trail and took the turnoff to the Pipeline trail. Followed the Pipeline to its connection with the Kent Spring trail and followed that up to its terminus.

The area around the Kent Springs trail is beautiful and although there's usually a lot of traffic through here I was pleased to encounter no one. Passed Sylvester Spring (full and flowing) then slogged up the trail to Kent Spring. The spring basin was dry, but there was a little bit of flow in the adjacent creek.

Took a quick break at Kent Spring then took the very obvious pathway leading up the ridge that starts behind the trail junction sign.

This was my first trip on the Four Springs trail and it did leave me scratching my head a bit. This is an obvious, well-thought out, and well-constructed trail that seems to have been erased from every map. It's still marked on the 2016 USFS map as #940, but there's no reference to it anywhere else. I have a few Santa Rita trail guides that date back into the early '80s and it's not mentioned in any of them. Regardless, it's a good path which appears to be well-maintained (at least up to Shovel Saddle).

I really enjoyed the first half of Four Springs (up to Shovel Saddle) and found it to be similarly peaceful and beautiful to Augua Caliente. Stopped at Shovel Saddle for a snack and to take in all of the views then continued on.

Sadly the second half of the trail isn't nearly as pleasant as the first. It's a former burn area that's a bit overgrown and the tread is falling apart in some places. Not horrible or dangerous but a section to be endured rather than enjoyed.

Amour Spring was nothing more than a faint trickle. You could use a stick to redirect some water into a container, but the flow rate would be on the order of many minutes per quart. The trail here is overgrown at ankle level but completely exposed above (so it's hot and scratchy).

The Crest trail was better in terms of tread, but still overgrown in spots and continued through the charred remains of the forest after the Florida fire. There is one section of old growth remaining just beyond Pine Saddle, but otherwise it's all grass and scrub. Going toward Wrightson the Crest trail gains about 1000' in 2 miles. It's not steep but does get to be a slog in the mid-day sun.

Glad to have done the crest trail, but glad to be done with it as well. Next time I'm going to try it in the other direction to see if my opinion improves or scramble up to the actual ridge and walk that instead.

First sight of people at Baldy Saddle. Quick break, then down Old Baldy toward Josephine Saddle. Encountered a number of people coming up the hill and was happy to be into the downhill section of this hike. Passed Bellows Spring (dry), blew through Josephine Saddle, then hauled ass down to the car.

Really nice hike and a good alternative to just heading up Wrightson and back down. The first section up to Shovel Saddle was shaded and (almost) chilly, but after that I was dealing with almost constant sun exposure all the way down to the parking lot. Next time I might reverse the route to get the exposed sections and AEG over earlier in the morning.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Armour Spring Dripping Dripping
Barely a trickle. Could be diverted into a container with a stick, but would take a long time to draw any amount of water.

dry Bellows Spring Dry Dry
No flow from the pipe and just a damp spot in the basin.

dry Kent Spring Dry Dry
Light flow in the adjacent creek.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Sylvester Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Basin was full of clear water with significant flow out of the pipe.
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