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Tortilla Creek - Lower Loop
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mini location map2008-12-03
44 by photographer avatarkanode
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Tortilla Creek - Lower LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking5.30 Miles 700 AEG
Hiking5.30 Miles   6 Hrs      0.88 mph
700 ft AEG
Linked   none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
This hike represents the segment of Lower Tortilla Creek from FR 213 down to just east of Mescal Spring and then west to near the point where another large branch of Tortilla Creek comes in from the south. We didn't reach this Y because of a 12 foot drop.

Warning: Don't go in this area if there's a threat of rain. The canyon is narrow during most of the hike and the boulders show signs of extensive water erosion above head height.

This is the most interesting section of Tortilla Creek that I've seen. It's possibly the best creek hike that I've ever been on with a great reward to effort ratio. It helped that it rained a week before the hike so there was water running and it was warm enough that occasionally wading through 12" of water wasn't an issue. (Although there was an ice skin over puddles on FR 213.)

The bushwhack from FR 213 down to the creek is steep, loose, and requires long sleeves and pants. However, it's not significantly longer, steeper, or looser than the hike from the Tortilla Flat area into that segment of Tortilla creek. The section of Tortilla creek near Mescal Pit Spring is interesting the whole time! (Unlike the section near Tortilla Flat, there aren't any long boring sections of medium size rocks that are just hard on the feet and knees.)

It's one boulder-garden after another separated by short sections of rocks and occasionally solid rock. It's probably not possible to hike this section without getting your feet and calves wet. You'll have more fun, make better time, with less effort, if you plan on hiking the easiest route rather than trying to keep your feet dry.

Most of the boulder gardens offered a choice between an easy route and playing in the boulders. There were three spots that didn't have an easy route.

The first is on the SW corner of the butte east of Mescal Pit Spring--it was easy on the trip out but hard to find on the trip back. On the way out, climb up some medium boulders to the left, slide down a boulder with a pointed upper edge, and then duck under a tree. (On the way back it's hard to find the right tree to duck under and the obvious route is blocked by a century plant. The boulder with the pointed top is just to the left above the century plant.)

The second difficult spot involves crawling across a log over a narrow 10' drop and then an easy climb down. (There's a very brushy bypass 10' farther to the right.)

The third difficult spot is about 150' farther on. It's where we turned around. There's a straight down 20 to 30' drop on the left. On the right, you can get partway down but the final drop is down a 12' boulder that we weren't sure we could get back up.

Carlson in his description of the "Lower Tortilla Creek loop" hike suggests one alternate is starting from Tortilla Flat and hiking Tortilla Creek through to Tortilla Ranch. This hike proves that's NOT possible by HIKERS. A through hike, if possible, would require at a minimum bouldering skills or even a rope.
 Fauna [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Praying Mantis
 Geology [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Chalcedony

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