The Best Hikes in Arrastra Mountain Wilderness

11 Triplog Reviews in the Arrastra Mountain Wilderness
Most recent of 6 deeper Triplog Reviews
9.56 mi • 1,305 ft aeg
PSA from the granddaughter of Tina & Erik Barnes who own the Santa Maria Ranch and the 40 acre parcel that is Peeple's Canyon. While this is indeed a gorgeous hike, there seems to be some confusion about what is and is not private property. Entering through state grazing leases and the wilderness area from Hwy 93, you don't actually hit "private property" until you near the canyon itself. Tina & Erik have been generous to give permission to enter to most of the people who inquire about hiking to the canyon, because they too believe it is a special place and should be shared with those who will pass through it responsibly. They do ask [after you've received their permission] that you not camp in the canyon itself and not go with a group of more than 7 or 8 people. Thank you for your understanding.
19.53 mi • 2,898 ft aeg
Santa Maria - Lower Peoples Canyon Loop
13 months ago we had a hike for the ages. Peoples Canyon Upper was in all it's fluid glory. With the forecast for gobs of rain, I tried to get all the talking heads together again for a repeat. LP was under the weather, so I took gumdrop to the river.

The forecasted rain never materialized and Joe was all dressed up with nowhere to go. We hiked down to the Santa Maria River on our way to Peoples Canyon. Almost 7 miles in the riverbed yielded some excellent views of the surrounding areas, including another memorable hike to the top of Ives.

We made the turn up Peoples Canyon and sandy riverbed gave way to boulders. Five miles in Peoples to get us to the point we turned out last time. Most of it was your typical boulder hopping. As we got closer to South Peoples Spring, the foliage got thicker and thicker. I gave up trying to keep my feet dry. The last 3/4 mile in peoples took forever but was beautifully lush.

Out of the canyon, a bit of lunch, and up to the water tank on the final climb. I was unsure of the route across and back down to the Santa Maria River, but it worked just fine. Joe has named this Negro Ben Canyon for the peak we looped around. The bottom of this canyon was the most fun, with a couple of slick rock Waterfall / Pour overs. to traverse.

Kingfishers, Sand pipers, 2 Javelina, and 2 wild burros were among the fauna spotted.

We made it to within 200 yards of the truck before the Sky's opened up. 50 mph winds and torrential rains soaked us to the bone and were with me for the entire hour and a half ride home.

Enjoyed the area once again out there.... there's much more to explore.
14.18 mi • 4,687 ft aeg
I've wanted to explore this area for over a year now, and after the JBLP trio were there during a flood last winter my interest was piqued even more. But their visit did little to appease my curiosity since I knew that the conditions during their visit were extremely rare.
Salida Gulch Trail #95 - Bradshaw ...
Salida Gulch Trail #95 - Bradshaw Mountains - Prescott Arizona

So Joel and I headed up early Saturday morning for a planned overnight in the canyon and I thoroughly enjoyed the landscape here. It's remote and rarely visited. The elevation is a bit lower than the Supes, so there is not nearly as much vegetation to fight, especially up away from the canyon bottoms. Sparsely spaced cactus and desert shrub made travel fairly quick and pain free. In the canyon bottom, travel was surprisingly easy going, except for in the spring areas where growth made for some serious bushwhacking. Still, willows, reeds, ferns, and riparian grasses don't cause nearly as much pain as catclaw and manzanita!

The drive to the trailhead is 90% nice dirt road. The other 10% is mandatory 4x4 high clearance. Just a couple of short stretches, but not the kind of road a Rav-4 or CRV is gonna enjoy. A real truck is definitely in order. Once done with the 5-mile dirt road to the trailhead, we made it down canyon in pretty good time. We took a nice break in the narrow canyon area at Sycamore Spring, followed by changing terrain along a couple of dry miles before reaching South Peoples.

At this point, we found the only flat ground possible and managed to squeeze our two tents on what might be considered a gravelly beach adjacent to the creek. Joel set out to find some photographic opportunities, and I headed out to explore some areas around the canyon. Had I had more daylight I would have liked to check out the cliff-lined ridge on the west side of the canyon, but I only managed to get about half way up before deciding that daylight wasn't on my side. The views from above the canyon were still spectacular and I would love to come back and spend more time exploring here. I did find what turned out to be a concrete trough -- something I had seen on a satellite photo and decided to seek out.

I went up one side drainage, crossed over a ridge, and descended a parallel drainage. Both were really neat. Narrow little slots with sandy bottoms. Often not more than 3 feet wide, but only 5-20 feet high. In a few places there were small dry falls that I had to bypass, but nothing was ever a real challenge.

Downstream of South Peoples, the vegetation is very thick and travel is significantly more difficult than any part of the canyon above it. I managed to get about half a mile in about an hour's time which is about where the water heads underground and the canyon dries up and becomes easier to travel in again. I'll have to get back here sometime to finish the last few miles to the Santa Maria.

So after a couple of evening beverages, we enjoyed perfect weather for sleeping and awoke to sun on the cliffs above. The hike out to the road was uneventful, and the 2-miles of road hiking back to the the car seemed neverending but still scenic. I surprised a few head of cattle that had adopted a friend in one of nature's paradoxes that just doesn't seem real. I've had several days of emails and photo exchanges with a biologist at AZGFD about it and they are sending a team out to check it out.

Didn't see another vehicle or person all weekend, though there were some obvious man-made boot prints in the sand from time to time, so it's not like nobody has ever been here. Then again, who knows when the last time it rained there?

I posted a few more photos than I normally would just because there's not much information out there on this one. I also try to keep my videos under 3-minutes, but this is a new area for me and most who visit this site, so I went over a little bit. Hope you don't fall asleep... ;)
15.75 mi • 3,650 ft aeg
Shiprock Violas & Ives Peak - Arrastra
Shiprock was remarkable. Violas was a pimple. Ives was enchanting. The hike to the base of Ives was nice. We wanted to hike through Joshua Trees and we did. However they were on the lower part alongside the jeep road, not in the wilderness portions.

The adventure began at the base of Ives. The scramble up was fun. A saguaro plastered with snow greeted us right when we topped out. It was a little windy and cold so we forged on.

Bruce wanted to return on the jeep road. John eyed a shortcut canyon. I had an idea of where I wanted to go and somehow worded it in a way to convince Bruce and John.

Luck worked over a blind horizon a time or two before we cliffed out. True luck IMO was that we were far enough away from backtracking that we could concentrate on the adventure ahead of us.

We took turns looking for a route off the cliff edge. This is called sending out a "test hiker". I jumped on the 1st and bombed. John checked an option that looked impossible yet came within 20 feet of victory! Then surprise of the day, year or life happened when BRUCE took the lead down a scree slide. It sounded like wind chimes descending!

We brought it home via the Santa Maria and Black Canyon Wash. It's been a while since I was so exhausted.

2 minutes and 46 seconds in the Arrastra Wilderness
[ youtube video ]
Route Fly Over
[ youtube video ]
16.3 mi • 3,928 ft aeg
Viola-Ives-Santa Maria Loop
Another awesome hike in the Arrastra Wilderness. The route we took up to Violas and Ives peaks was a good one, but I don't reccomend our route back down unless you like very steep and loose with some exposure. This hike has interesting geology, mountains, canyons, springs, mines, and a flowing river. Very cool. Thanks Bruce for putting together the route, and Joe for the nonstop entertainment (in between whines). :)
16.3 mi • 3,928 ft aeg
Viola-Ives-Santa Maria Loop
Another run out to the Arrastra wilderness. Attacking Ives Peak had been the last of our three original goals one of our there. I drew up a track that kept us on old jeep roads for the first 4+ miles, then a bushwhack to Violas Peak and finally Ives Peak. I had this planned as an out and back, because to me, none of the routes off to the West, North, or East, looked "DOABLE" (Phrase for the Day Alert)

The hike started just off Rt93, in the Joshua trees. 2 miles in, the focal point is a formation called Shiprock. We contemplated trying to find a way up it, but nothing was obvious, the rock was crumbly, and we were on another mission at the time. The jeep road we were on, starting at Shiprock, is one steep SOB. The road ends 4+ miles out, at the site of 3 tall old water tanks. The steepness does not end, just the road.

We made it up to the area of Violas Peak, but it was another one we were not getting up. It's a small spire with steep walls.

The views to the South at this point were just incredibly vast.

Ives next... The route I'd suggested from TOPO and Satellite views, did not look all that good in person. Joe and John took over and it was time to climb the side. It was not to bad for me, except one spot where I had "A Moment", but before you knew it, we were atop Ives. Luckily the forcasted snow the night before, did not materialize, there was just a dusting on top.

Now it's decision time. In lieu of the planned out and back, Joe talked John and I into making this a loop. Being the Lemurs we are, we followed. "Doable" was heard many times over the next 4 hours. Also the words, "Maybe Not". We headed north off of Ives.

There were were probably 3 "Doable" areas, that I never would have attempted by myself, but Lemur's John and Bruce followed on. After numerous areas of getting cliffed out, we finally made it to a ravine that took us out to the Santa Maria River. In the 3.5 miles, from the high point on Ives, to the Santa Maria River, we'd dropped 2400'.

Time to get wet again. We followed the Santa Maria for 3 miles, in and out of the water. We passed a couple of mining areas on the way. Once out of the Santa Maria, it was all dry land for the next 3.5 miles back to the van.

Video ==>

Another excellent adventure! It was Doable!

Thanks for driving John.

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