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Pine - Turret Loop, AZ
mini location map2021-10-27
11 by photographer avatarLJW
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Pine - Turret Loop, AZ 
Pine - Turret Loop, AZ
Hiking22.54 Miles 5,119 AEG
Hiking22.54 Miles   10 Hrs      2.50 mph
5,119 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break
1st trip
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
If fall's taught me one thing it's don't be an early bird because all you get is worms. Finally timed a fall trip right and got to see the Pine Mountain Wilderness in a full turn. From the lowest sycamore to the highest oak, along with the trees of Bishop and Sycamore Creeks, it was all at peak. Wanted to give the Pine Mountain - Verde Rim Loop a go for the color, and I couldn't help but stretch it out and add Turret Peak. 8 miles on the incomparable Verde Rim with two of the most scenic summits in central AZ, plus fall color all around the wilderness area, admittedly looks a lot better on paper. Not sure I'd ever do this again.

The drive in was an hour and half from the 17, about an hour of which was spent on the final road's last five miles. One creek crossing in Dugas. I'm more cowardly and strapped for cash than most drivers, but I would personally not chance it with mid-clearance or lower. Only people I saw all day were two pairs of hunters who were driving out as I was driving in.

Nelson through Willow Springs a near perfect turn of sycamore and oak, but the real show is on Pine Flat in Beehouse Canyon where the maples were astonishing. Every drainage on that side of the mountain was filled with yellow and red. Pine Mountain summit is as good as advertised. With the climb up Verde Rim 161, the whole experience is nearly as good as Mazzy Peak, with everything near and dear from the SF Peaks and higher mountains of Coconino/Kaibab to the local summits in the New River Mountains and Superstitions to the south on full display. The Mazzy views are as good as it gets outside the range.

Down the rim on 161 until it veers down the mountain, and I proceeded up the ridge. Lots of cattle out and about, and they have carved good trails down the Verde Rim for many stretches. Getting to Mockingbird Pass was the easiest of the off trail portions, and after that it is a significant bushwhack until bottoming out in Bishop Creek. South of the pass is a rocky ridge that can't be traversed. Bushwhacked along side it. After that it mellows out a little until Turret. Any drainage and nearly all ups/downs involved pushing through the brush/low trees, and in the grassier moments the terrain was littered with rocks of the wrong size. Climbed through the cliffs to get to Turret, and then up the slopes that are rocky, steep, and loose. Made my way around to a summit scramble. I do not know of a summit outside of the Mazzies that has a better view in Central AZ. For me, better than Pine Mountain. Between the two, it's like being at the center of it all.

1000ft bushwhacking down Turret over some frustrating mountainside to Bishop Creek. Bishop Creek was a full turn. Good cattle trails along the banks. Lots and lots of yellow. Got to the drainage that leads up to Buck Basin. Took the ridge instead of the creek. More bushwhacking around a broken ridgeline before the grass took over on the mountainside and the going got easier. Descended into Buck Basin after having worked my way above. First good trail since 161 honed into view. Half mile+ up to Nelson. Nelson until about a half mile or mile to Pine Flat is gone to the wilds, and ~7 miles off trail for the day turned into ~9. At that point, it was killer. Just wanted to put my head down.

At first Pine Flat Trail looks like it's a goner, but continuing through the overgrowth sure enough it's there. It comes and goes at times, but there are some ribbons in the trees and cairns on the ground. In Sycamore Creek the oaks were as good as it gets. It's a lovely stretch of trail, and I was glad I hadn't skipped it for Short Cut. After that it's through Pine Flat which could more accurately be called juniper flat, and then into Beehouse where the maples were nearly all a deep red. Stopped looking around much and focused on finishing before sunset. Made it back as the sun got to disappearing, but it was still light enough to see the road.
 Meteorology [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Autumn - Color Foliage
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Substantial
Even turn just about everywhere, all drainages and sections of sycamore, oak, maple, etc were at peak. Very little green left, leaves starting to fall.

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