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The Best Hikes in Sierra Ancha Wilderness

1,004 Triplog Reviews in the Sierra Ancha Wilderness
Most recent of 443 deeper Triplog Reviews
8.25 mi • 4,321 ft aeg
Superstition Wilderness Loop Hike
Superstition Wilderness Loop Hike
Trail Maintenance: We had a report of the Murphy Ranch Trail being overgrown, but we know we left it clear, so we assumed the reporter meant the Moody Point Trail.

After spending the morning clearing Abbey's Way, we went over to Moody Point, and it looks like we were correct.

We cleared Moody Point about a half mile before running into a dense thicket. We ran out of gas, but will be focusing on that on our next trip.

[ youtube video ]
1.8 mi • 861 ft aeg
Now is the time to hike Abbey's Way!

Trail Maintenance: We finished off Abbey's Way yesterday clearing that last raspberry thicket. [ youtube video ]

Abbey's Way is now in pretty good shape. I took a walk down towards Petersons Meadow to do some tweaking and found a new burnt tree that fell over the trail since last week (job security?!). [ youtube video ]

It wasn't too hard to walk under it, but it will need to be removed on a future trip.

I again didn't hear any cattle down there, but I didn't go all the way to the meadow, either.

Keep your fingers crossed and happy trails on Abbey's Way.
15.4 mi • 3,828 ft aeg
Parker Abby Lasso loop
Good to get back to the Ancha

Parker Creek Trail #160
58 degrees to start at the Parker Creek TH. It's not often you need a GPS track to start a hike, but the start of this hike is no longer obvious. This trail is tight and overgrown in many spots. The first mile seem the worst including some catclaw and the highest concentration of poison ivy. Some as tall as head high. Just needed the GPS for one other time on the way up after bypassing an overgrown switchback. The geology and views make up for any negatives on the climb to the saddle.

To make your way over to the top of the trail, you need to drop down, pass the Rim Trail #139 and then back up. This is the tightest part of the trail. With long pants and long sleves it's not a problem, but will be totally overgrown in a year or two.

A road walk up to Bedrock, but Fred, Barney, Wilma, Betty and their kids were busy with the furniture. We opted for a decent lunch spot at the beginning of the drop on Abby's way.

Abbeys Way #151
This trail left a bad taste in my mouth the last time I was on it. The raspberry bush just chewed the hell out of you. Thanks to all the hard work by @AnchaGladtrailz, this is no longer the case. Thanks!

We stopped to check out the appleless orchard at the Peterson Ranch site. Leaving the area, Joe tripped on the remnants of a fence that was hidden. He cut his lip on the fall. I told him that everytime he tried to talk the cut opened up and that he should not talk for a couple of hours. The next two hours was a very pleasant hike.

The trip back down Parker Creek was a lot less annoying than the trip up. Great to spend a day in the Ancha
15.48 mi • 3,782 ft aeg
Parker Abby Lasso loop
Parker Creek Trail #160
Parker starts out a little difficult to find from the trailhead. You’re gonna want a long sleeve shirt and full-length pants right away. There is some catclaw in the first half mile but it isn’t too bad.

There was a gallon per minute flow in Parker creek near the gauge/dam thingy but it was dry for the most part with minimal pools. Poison ivy is abundant in areas and nose high in a couple of places. If you've built up a resistance to urushiol oil, come check it out in a week or two. It ought to be really pretty as it turns colors.

There is a little bit of raspberry and Live Oak in the mix but tall grass is the most annoying part in the canyon. Notably descending because you step on one area and then almost trip on it with the other foot.

Near 6896 on topo, sleuth_eagle noticed an old signpost and tread heading up towards Carr Peak. There is a dashed trail on topo that peters out in the saddle between Carr Mountain and Carr Peak. Just our local backpacking admirer @azlaurie with a track over to Rock Spring.

Parker is worst heading over from the top of the canyon to FR 487. Higher density bushwacking and the trail has an annoying cross slope in areas. In addition to the 2016 Juniper Fire, this area was hit by the 2000 Coon Creek Fire.

FR 487
We had five vehicles pass us on our walk up and saw one parked. Planned on lunch up at the Flintstone pad but there were two large families with a lot of kids. It looked like they were having a lot of fun so we just moved on a little further.

Abbey’s Way
The tread is no joy but the new tunnel through the vegetation is super nice! We got shade for large stretches down.

We checked out the apple orchard but it appears the blossoms must’ve frozen this year because there were no apples. Almost back on the trail, I tripped on some barbed wire hidden in the grass and saved the fall with my face... lol

Minus another but less severe fall, the hike down Parker was better than up. Gravity and a righteous breeze made it easier.

Despite a sprained finger and a busted lip, it was great to get back out to the Sierra Ancha!

76-second [ youtube video ] #160
Short [ youtube video ] #151

Small fields of yellow daisies, bushy Indian paintbrush and a few various isolated varieties
1.8 mi • 861 ft aeg
Trail maintenance: We found the gate on Workman Creek Road open again and drove straight to the Abbey's Way #151 trailhead parking area. It must have rained recently, and it was wetter than usual, but the road was fine to drive.

8:38 a.m. - Began the trek up the trail. Not a cloud in the sky.

8:42 - Rounded Peterson's Ranch to the tune of coyotes partying in the meadow.

10:17 - Cleared New Mexican Locust from the trail up to and around the first switchback.

11:40 - Started clearing that first nasty thicket of raspberry bushes. The sun was blazing with no shade making this an extra special treat. :x

12:55 - Regained hope in the day as promising clouds bloomed, providing a little extra shade.

1:10 p.m. - Cleared the one big log of the day.

1:22 - Cleared more thickets of raspberry bush.

3:45 - Called it a day and started back down.

If it's not too hot, we should be able to finish this off next week!

[ youtube video ]
3.8 mi • 861 ft aeg
Its been over eight years since I hiked to Aztec Peak from the Abbey's Way Trail, as poor trail conditions past the orchard, had relegated this trail to just a quick stop for the dogs over the last several years. However, recent developments in trail maintenance compelled us to give the trail another try and see if we could reach Aztec.

The trail was in great shape for the first mile. After that there were some semi annoying patches of raspberry bushes to contend with and some moderate overgrowth. However, there were also some surprisingly nice stretches of trail still, so for most of us, the sections of overgrowth did not deter that much from the hike. We spent some time watching the dramatic clouds and inversions roll in from the summit and then headed down after an extended break. John chose to return via the road, we returned via the trail, which was considerably easier on the way back due to the downward direction of travel and the already trampled bushes.

The crew that adopted this trail and is currently clearing it deserves a lot of praise and I am grateful for their work. This is going to be a great upper Ancha hiking option again, when its completed.
1.8 mi • 861 ft aeg
Trail Maintenance: On the drive to the Sierra Ancha Thursday, the Sacred Datura flowers on the hillsides seemed to be in full bloom like never before.

We passed straight through the open gate on Workman Creek Road to the Abbey's Way #151 Trailhead parking area, and hit the trail at 8:46 a.m.

We defined and cleared the trail of New Mexican Locust and raspberry bushes up to where it turns right at the beginning of the switchbacks up the mountain, with only one medium-sized log needing to be cleared. Lots of sunflowers along the way.

The sun came out for an hour or two in the afternoon, making it so humid that sweat dripped off my face onto my glasses as I looked down to clip the brush.

We hiked back down with a background of thunderstorms, but it never rained.

At the Peterson's Ranch meadow I counted 22 cows, but there were probably more scattered among the trees. I'm asking the Payson District whether or not they are supposed to be there. They are trashing the trail and probably scaring away the wildlife.

Another trip or two and we should have #151 nicely cleared.

[ youtube video ]
1.8 mi • 861 ft aeg
Trail Maintenance: Nice view of a gray fox crossing SR 288 on the drive in. I wish I had my camera ready. The gate on Workman Creek Road was open, allowing us to drive straight through to the Abbey's Way #151 Trailhead. We did our best to navigate around the cow pie landmines, some very large, that were all over the place.

We got lucky with cloud cover in the morning. We spent most of it clipping New Mexican Locust and Raspberry bushes. In the afternoon, the sun came out and warmed things up. We ran into one fairly large tree fallen across the trail. That tree was tough going as we only had the pruning saws on hand.

From there, we crossed the wash and proceeded snipping through raspberry bush central when loud claps of thunder coincided with their respective lightening flashes. This was a little close for comfort, so we walked back out.

We heard cattle almost the entire time on the trail, and on the way out we spotted at least six grazing in the meadow at Peterson's. Not sure what the deal is with all that cattle.
[ youtube video ]
4.71 mi • 1,237 ft aeg
Sierra Ancha Elephant Rock Arch and Mesa Ruins
Three weeks before, after hiking McFadden Horse Mountain, we got to the edge of the first ravine on this Elephant Rocks Arch hike and decided that this would be a good place to start another day. Even after gazing upon the steep ravine, and feeling completely lost unless I checked my GPS as we returned to the trailhead that day, I, along with @john10s, did indeed return.

We reached that first ravine and it didn’t look nearly as steep as I remembered. Ha! We weren’t in the same spot. But crossing it is crossing it, and we did just that.

I must have been zoomed out when I studied the map, however, for I thought that this ravine was the only major ascent before the one immediately before the arch. But there were several ravines, and ascending one was particularly brushy, with plenty of spiny, thorny flora. (But it wasn't as bad as the later descent in a slightly different spot!) But the area was beautiful, and finding the ruin was exciting, despite its poor condition. There, with the arch first visible in the area of a ruin, I couldn't help but immerse myself as best I could in the world of hundreds-of-years-ago when the “ruin” was a "vital ancestral site.") (Thank you Picture Canyon folks for that distinction.)

The reward for that last push up the steepest ascent to the arch was so much more than I expected. The arch would have been enough, but we were greeted with a wonderland of rocks that equals the many other “wonderland of rocks” out there. The rocks themselves swirl with their own stories of creation, and windows and views abound before reaching the actual arch.

After extending exploration and photography as much as we dared on the exposed rock and under darkening clouds, we moved on to the mesa and unnamed canyon, peaceful and rugged gems. The canyon was varied, with spires and caves, and the views were amazing.

On the return trip, we stumbled upon a second ruins site. Elephant Rock was visible from there, and we were pleased to find that it was rather sprawling, with multiple rooms.

All in all, a great day, and we need to return after carefully studying the trip logs to try and find things we missed, such as more ancestral sites.
8.64 mi • 2,329 ft aeg
McFadden Horse Trail was indeed steep. The first part of the trail was an old jeep road, so I figured steep would have limits. It did: upper limits! And where the eroded gullies left sloped road edges, there were horizontal slopes in addition to the vertical slope! Views were good, however, and I’m not saying that the difficulty rating was in error.

Reaching the top, the ponderosa pine forest was a great reward, and after a quick side trip to the high point, views got really spectacular with cliffs and Elephant Rock.

I don’t remember flies and gnats during this part of the hike. Maybe the views were just that good. Or maybe I’m getting used to flies this time of year, especially on this hike when they seemed more attracted to @john10s for a change. At least on the first half of the hike...

It was great to linger at the point and ponder the many unanswered questions Elephant Rock brings to mind. But we eventually began retracing our steps with our next goal being Elephant Rock Arch.

The farther we ventured back into the ponderosa pine forest, the worse the flies became. These weren’t just any flies. I didn’t spend much time looking at them intentionally, but they were probably at least four times as big as houseflies and had a dull green face. When they started biting (only me), I couldn’t ignore them any longer. They were oddly intent on biting just one of my upper arms. Close to being driven to distraction, and with plenty of forest left, I stopped to dig out and don my long-sleeved shirt and gloves. Relief. Until one painfully bit through a glove. Luckily it happened only once.

My best guess is that we’d encountered some type of horsefly. Sorry, entomologists, but I wasn’t honoring them with photos.

Out of the forest and down the switchbacks, the flies let up. We could enjoy the algal stromatolites when we got to that area, and even linger long enough for my search image to develop. Then I could spot them even embedded in the road with only their top surface exposed, with telltale concentric rings.

We drove to the trailhead for Elephant Rock Arch. With the lack of trail and just enough undergrowth, it soon became apparent that we wouldn’t have enough time to reach Elephant Rock Arch. I cast my vote for stopping at the steep valley. I found some information online about that valley. It has slopes of even 24%. I could have sworn it rivaled Half Dome’s 45%!

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