The Best Hikes in Apache Creek Wilderness

46 Triplog Reviews in the Apache Creek Wilderness
Most recent of 13 deeper Triplog Reviews
7.2 mi • 540 ft aeg
Upper Graver Apache Creek Loop
Did this hike with a group of people. We made a loop using Upper Graver, Apache Creek, Graver Wash and FR95a for a total of 7.2 miles. Great day for a hike, the weather was perfect. The creek had more water in it than last time I was out there. I'm still itching to complete the rest of the Apache Creek Trail and find some water holes. Hurry up summer!!
6 mi • 612 ft aeg
Hiked a portion of this trail in conjunction with Upper and Lower Graver Wash Trails.

We started off at Lower Graver Wash Trail #9904 in the early afternoon. The trail was well marked with lots of cairns along the way. It was a bit rocky along the way but a nice easy trail that wound mostly downhill. After a mile we crossed Apache Creek and started onto Apache Creek Trail #9905. This trail seems to be a cow trail, and we were hiking behind a herd that kept running just a little ways ahead of us and stopping. It was rather amusing... except for the big bull that kept looking at us!! We stayed on this trail for only a couple miles and camped for the night just past the junction to Upper Graver Wash Trail #9906. In the morning we woke up and hiked out trail #9906 to FR95B, which we took back to our vehicle near the Trail for Lower Graver Wash. This was a pretty trail with water available along the way. Will probably do more hiking in this area, as there was much more to see. This time was a quick overnight, as it was my 9 year olds first time backpacking.

There were still a few trees changing, but many had lost leaves already.
5.03 mi • 375 ft aeg
Walnut Creek Exploration
After dropping off the group at Graver Wash for their Apache Creek hike, I decided to further research access to this wilderness from the north. The forest service doesn't have any indication of access, but it is so close that I just had to try. After all, the drive to the Graver Wash trailhead really is quite a chore, and if you hike the 95A road, it adds unnecessary and boring miles.

I started at a nice turn out on FR95 at the east end of the valley, having previously seen an old roadbed that leads away from the Graver Wash trail just east of where it crosses Apache Creek. I got lost, turned around, chased by hungry horses, and eventually spotted by a farmhand working in the fields on a tractor.

I quickly continued to the west, over a route that was much longer than I had remembered or expected from looking at maps. Finally I reached the wilderness and decided to investigate the more direct route directly north to Walnut Creek Road to exit the wilderness. My map showed that I had just 1/4 of a mile of private property that needed to be crossed. To get there, I had to hike nearly half a mile along the wilderness fence line over a small hill.

From there, I passed through a gate and took the most direct route. I was back at the road in no time, but not before encountering some more horses as I got a bit closer to a corral and ranch home than I would have liked. I spent a little bit of time investigating better options before hiking the road back to my truck.

At no point did I see any No Trespassing or Private Property signs. Some of the gates did have locks on them though. I got home and did some research. Contact information for the ranch owners is easy to come by, and having been there once, I think that's by far the best course of action before the next visit.
15.1 mi • 1,705 ft aeg
Graver's Wash - Apache Creek - 95B&A&B
This hike was suggested by HAZ host Chumley (except for the 95A part; that was a detour I apparently decided to challenge my skills or lack thereof :roll: ). I uploaded the routes to Scout III, good thing too! Lesson One, when you have the option to load the waypoints, select YES! Based on the hike desc it is only a 5.6 mile hike. Apache Creek Trail is 5.6 mile hike but if you come in from the north, you have to hike Graver's Wash first and at the end you have to road walk about 3 miles to get to the other TH. Once we figured this all out before leaving from camp, we were good to go. Oh and on the way since Chumley thot a few of us would be hiking separately, he said be sure to take a left at the road.
Salida Gulch Trail #95 - Bradshaw ...
Salida Gulch Trail #95 - Bradshaw Mountains - Prescott Arizona

It was a little warm and we got a bit of a late start but it was nice to hang around camp and take our time getting ready. Chumley was kind enough to shuttle us up to the northern TH. Once you turned on the road to the TH, it was more like driving a trail :o! He dropped us just slightly before the official start of Graver's Wash. We signed in and continued our way down the wash with great views of Juniper Mesa.

Soon some water and a creek came into view; the dogs promptly headed down and into the creek. We came to the area for us to step stone across. After making our way through some very tall green flora, we came to an open grassy plain reaching the Wilderness sign around 10:50. I decided this would be a great group photo and perhaps can be an addition to the Arizona Wilderness Brewery wall. I took a few of the folks and then decided we needed to have Blanco and Cup. I kept shooting photos while they were trying to get the dogs to cooperate. It turned into a cute sequence I think.

Anyway, this was a pretty area but we kept on at a pretty good clip for me. I felt as long as I could get a good visual of them that I was keeping up enough. Somewhere around the 3 mile mark, I realized the track did not reset so I reset it. I did but at the end of the hike in all the commotion of my emotions, I forgot to save MY track, DRAT! We crossed over a wider channel of the wash and continued on our way. The landscape would change from time to time always keeping me interested which met Tibber Moviemode was in full swing even if my legs were moving much faster than normal :lol: . We did stumble upon two FS crew and their ponies. Always love to visit with a horse; should have borrowed it for the rest of the day.

At 11:40 we arrived at the junction with Apache Creek Trail. And I think it was around noon when we went off trail toward the swimming hole. At this point you are walking in the creek bed and along the creek. This is always a fun challenge but now I would really fall behind because I literally fell forward while going over a tree snag wanting to get a picture :oplz: . OUCH! I didn't hurt too bad but would take a couple ibuprofen just in case. And yep, I would have many bruises and sore places to remind me of this beautiful area.

I kept on keeping on and got to a wider area of the creek bed not sure where to go except to follow the creek. Decided to head to the middle where Lee caught up from their break and led the rest of the way encouraging me, it's just up here. It sure is a nice place with the sandy beach and all. Lee jumped right in, the dogs were having none of this swimming over to the other side despite Lee's beckoning. Kim walked just a little way into the water and James went in, swam to the other side and also tried to test for the bottom which was pretty deep.

Around 1 we left the swimming hole to go back to the main trail. We started hearing voices and thot it was Karl and Bruce so we yelled out but didn't get much but hellos back; mostly since they were forest service workers (Lee went back) doing tamarisk eradication which the FS workers we met earlier had mentioned. Meanwhile, Blanco was not happy that we were leaving Lee behind and a couple times he reminded us not to forget. It was the cutest thing :) .

So off we went soon to be entering the Apache Creek's Wilderness of the Rocks. The group was getting pretty far ahead by this time so once I got within ear shot of John I told him to go ahead and if an area got tricky to follow, they would wait for me. This was fine with me because now I could stop and enjoy this incredible scenery and get some more pictures. There were quite a few areas that I had to study the topography to figure out where I needed to go. Sorry BobP but I could have used just a few more cairns. I was always relieved when I chose the right route. A couple times I would go back a bit just to be sure that this was the best way to go.

And then Mother Nature decided she would give me a real test with lightning, LOUD thunder and then the rain :gun: . Couldn't be just a light rain but a pouring one so I pulled out the umbrella. Fortunately the trail is mostly open so the umbrella didn't get caught up on anything but it does obstruct my vision a bit; especially because I held it close to my head - didn't want the lightning to get any ideas.

The hike was still beautiful despite my anxiety and even though I couldn't really see all the sites; really a shame too because I think this is probably the prettiest section of the hike. But I continued on hiking : rambo : since I was so far behind. I figured if the group could find cover, they would yell out at me. And if they were hiking, they would really pick up the pace. The weather would be difficult from time to time and then it let up for a bit. I still tried to enjoy my hike and once I hit the road, I thot I was home free and so relieved. I came to another slight fork in the road where it looked like I could take the road right or left but I continued left since I presumed Tonto Jr was to the east of where I had been hiking.

I don't know how long part of the road becomes more grassy and meadow-like. I passed some cattle, walked around a downed tree and thru the opening of a wire fence. The weather turned again so I held the umbrella tight and continued. Can't remember if I saw the 5B sign or not. Not knowing I had missed the right turn south, I continued on my merry way hoping the rain would stop as I could see blue sky.

I crossed a couple creek/drainage area and was then presented with a rocky hill. So I figured I had to skirt the side of this hill and it would eventually take me back down. I recalled from reading previous trip reports that they all complained about this road walk. But THEN I was presented with another rocky hill that seemed to go up quite vertically. I'm thinking, surely Chumley would have mentioned this but nonetheless I trudged ahead. I decided I would go for another couple miles with the hopes I would eventually head down hill but THEN another hill. I finally topped out and hiked for awhile until I came to a barbed wire fence with a tight wire gate (like the one on the 95B). :out: .

So I raced down the hill knowing that would be a possibility even as I climbed it. I looked at my clock to see it was 4 so I still had a few good hours of daylight to try and figure this out :-k . I mentally went thru my pack to figure if I had enough food, liquid and an ability to hang out if got dark. My only concern was the cold. I was going to hike back to 95B and wait there if need be. I knew the gang would come looking for me if it got too late and it would be best to go to a place they could easily find me.

It's amazing how quickly I flew down that mountain considering it was a little slick with the rain and all. Oh, on the way up I did take a few pics but on the way down I took one. I do wish I had taken a pic at the gate so then I would at least know how far I had gone. I kept hiking and hiking the same way I had come. Pretty country.

At some point once I got down I decided to see if I could figure out where that darn road was on my GPS but I couldn't find it for nothing. So I decided to pull up the Hyde Mountain route figuring it could at least get me in the direction of camp. Fortunately I had loaded up the waypoints that Chumley had put together and there was one for HAZfest :D ; not the one we were at but the campsite he had originally planned which was almost right next to the TH. Sure glad he pointed that out on our way past it to the TH (a hop, skip and jump). So I said "GO" to Scout III and I would check the mileage to make sure it was getting less and it was.

At 4:26 I came upon the 5B sign; the 95B sign. I looked to the south and by gosh, there was a road road. But I'm looking at the arrows on these signs that run east/west and just shaking my head. THIS road had to be the right road didn't it? HOW did I miss this sign?! ](*,) ](*,) ](*,) . You can even hear me berate myself in the video for it. All of that anguish over a stupid mistake on my part. Once again I pulled out Scout III to see that I was still inline for HAZfest. I checked the mileage; I think it said I had almost 3 miles to go.

I had decided coming down the hill that I would not stop hiking until I got to a recognizable place or back to the road. But I was still anxious so I just took a restroom break and drank some of my Gatorade. The scenery was quite lovely the rest of the way and despite my weariness, it was nice to enjoy. The weather was also cooperating now so between that and my surroundings and the view, it soothed me. I came to a barbed wire fence that the gate was so tight, I could hardly budge it. I thot even if I could get it open, I will never get it closed so I decided to go over the wire; it looks like others had done that too. Surely a gate assist should be available with that and the gate on top.

Now I was playing the GPS game guessing how far I had gone in a certain time frame. The trail had a bit of water still running thru it so I had to pay attention to my footing. Surprising it takes a long time to get down this long hill. And then you skirt the forest before coming to another fork in the road. I continue hanging left and finally I see the vehicles we saw this AM :DANCE: which means Tonto Jr will be right there. I assumed the others would have walked back to camp; I should have given them my keys. I saw that Karl's vehicle was still there. I took a pic of Scout III's screen; thot I had saved the track but :doh: and sipped on some Gatorade thanking my lucky stars that this all turned out so well.

As I'm driving down the road a little after 6PM I see my rescue crew en route to come find me. We were all happy about that meeting on the road. Chumley & Lee say they had stocked up on beer and such if they needed to entice some of the quad folks for assistance. SO glad that wasn't necessary. SO glad I didn't totally panic; did think about giving up hiking forever though :lol: .
The weather contributed to the problem; if it hadn't rained I would have easily met up with the rest of them. As it was, I ended up at the right place less than 2 hours after they did. I'm glad I have a pretty good sense of direction and I'm glad I had a gps and downloaded routes and waypoints. WISH I would have had a land map of some sort showing the roads.

As Lee said, "that kind of experience makes you a stronger hiker". Anyway, I enjoyed my time with the other hikers on this trail. It really was a great day. I wouldn't mind going back and getting another look at those last two miles along the Apache Creek Trail.

I have 4 videos for you, as of 9-16-2014:

a bit of the trail drive, hiking Graver's Wash
Graver's Wash, Apache Creek Trail and swimming hole
Apache Creek Trail, the rain, 95A
95B and some of my discussion with myself about the detour
13.14 mi • 1,417 ft aeg
While attending HAZfest a group of six of us made a hike through the Apache Creek Wilderness. This is such a beautiful area and very enjoyable hiking! Along our trek we stopped by the swim hole and then continued south. About a mile later the skies opened up and the temps dropped. We continued hiking in the rain and made the most of it. The scary part was the thunder and lightning. It was too close for comfort! Luckily the weather lasted about an hour. We continued on and noticed the ground was dry. Soon after we reached the cars and then walked the last mile back to camp which didn’t receive any rain. This was a nice hike and a good group.
19.93 mi • 3,270 ft aeg
Stringtown - Pinetop - Apache Creek Loop
We made the drive out to HAZVille and arrived to a mostly awake camp at 7:45.

After our quick hellos to the gang, a scan to see if we had any takers on our hike, Karl and I headed out with no takers.

I wanted to head up the Stringtown Wash from the east, to see if we could find any sign on the Stringtown Trail #9917. The Prescott Nat. Forest web site description and the PNF GPS track don't come close to agreeing with each other. We did find remnants of the trail starting at about .75 miles from it's Western TH continuing to that spot.

On the Hyde Mountain Trail #6 now, I turn west off the Grapevine Springs Trail #9825 to try something new. The trail name didn't make any sense to me, because the actual spring is to the east and this trail goes to the west off of #6. Checking Sat. views now, it appears there's a faint unofficial trail that goes towards the spring, and what could be a spring box/s .1m off #6, a 1/3rd of the way to the spring location.
Anyway, Karl went up to the top of Hyde to check out the views and we met back up at the lush Brown Spring.

From Brown Spring, we were on a new to me section of the 7up to Hyde Mountain #5 Trail. We went up the saddle and down to the western terminus of this trail by the dry, Camp Wood Tank. We were able to find a blood free route to the top of Pinetop Mountain to check out one of them most elaborate tanks I've seen. This covered tank, uses the roof to funnel the water into the tank. Chumley's math placed it at 22,000 gallons.
FR19 took us off the top of Pinetop Mountain, with it's big views to Juniper Mesa and the Apache Creek Wilderness area we'd be in next.

The 3 mile trek from the Springs to "The Swimmin' Hole", through the water, slots and boulders is the reason we were doing this loop. Wow is this a sweet little off trail jaunt!!
Highly Recommended..... I suppose with a little work you could avoid the water, and like us you'll try for awhile, but don't waste your time. enjoy it!

When we started the day, the skies were blue, with not a single cloud. With only a 30% chance of rain, there was no reason to bring the Chrome Dome, Rain Jacket or waterproof GoPro. Yep we got dumped on and had electric spears thrown at us for almost an hour (back at HAZVille, they did not see a drop).

There was a brief pause where we thought we were in the clear, then a Flash/Boom with zero delay. That was close. 50 yards further up was a Ponderosa that was struck and spewed a 7' section of pine, another 50' away. Based on some of the weather I've hiked in this year, I'm glad I don't have Astraphobia or Ombrophobia... but I should.

With the rain now stopped, we took a dip in "The Swimin' Hole". On the Apache Creek Trail #9905 it was clear sailing back to HAZVille now for some Burgers, Dogs and Barley Pops with the crew.

Video :next:
13 mi • 2,172 ft aeg
HAZFest started off with some quick re-navigation out of town on Friday afternoon. Heading up I-17 and right around the Cactus exit the traffic report said that the freeway is closed up near Bumblebee for an accident. So told my co-pilot what do we want to do? Thought about going up and hoping for the best until we heard it was a motorcycle crash. Had about 5 minutes to make a decision and then Detour Dan said that the only way anyone is going north tonight is to head to Wickenburg and take the back way into Prescott. So what would have been a three hour trip turned into a 4 hour trip. Luckily we were the first car to take the detour and pretty much had no traffic to deal with up the climbs to Yarnell and near Wilhoit.

This was the hike of choice at HAZFest this year and it was a good one. Thanks to Chumley for suggesting the route and dropping us off at the beginning of the hike at the trailhead to Upper Graver Wash. First part of the route had us hiking through some rather gentle terrain and along Apache Creek. As Chumley put it, while you might not always be hiking in the shade, you are never more than a few feet from it.

About halfway through the hike it was time to go off trail and explore the swimming hole. Worked our way up the creek bed and the bushwacking wasn't too bad. Found the beach and swimming hole and stopped for our lunch. Grabbed a bite to eat and jumped into the water, took a few laps around the hole and came back to dry off. Then worked our way back to the main trail.

This is when things started to get interesting. Tibber mentioned the incoming clouds and how it might be nice to have a little cloud cover to hike under. She got her wish and the clouds rolled in along with huge raindrops, thunder & lightning. The next hour of the hike went through some beautiful country, but I was too cold and wet to really pay much attention. Nobody in our group seemed to pack rain gear so all of us were in the same boat. (However as a quick aside, guess I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed. When I unpacked my day pack to throw out on my porch to dry out I noticed that I did indeed have my heavy duty rainjacket stuffed at the bottom of my pack. Put it in my pack last month to do Humphrey's Peak and never took it out.)

One of the highlights of the trip was watching Lee's dogs Cupcake & Blanco providing us with amusement as they chased deer, squirrels, cows and other assorted wildlife. My current dog is pushing 15 years old and her hiking days are long over. So it was fun to have dogs tagging along with our group.

Last highlight of the trip was meeting up with Chumley and an ice chest of beer. Hiked the last half mile or so back into camp along with John with a cool malted beverage in my hand.

Overall a great area to explore and can't wait to go back up there.
19.72 mi • 3,498 ft aeg
Stringtown - Pinetop - Apache Creek Loop
Bruce put this loop together in an area that's been on the list. And it happened that Chumley planned HAZfest there as well so after leaving the valley early Saturday morning we rolled into Camp Chumley to find everyone up and about. Took some time to catch up with friends and see if anyone wanted to join on our loop but no takers.

Finally started a bit late after 8am and heading up Stringtown Canyon which was off trail and very cools narrows section about 1 mile from the TH. From there we headed out of Stringtown and linked up with Hyde Mountain Trail. Headed up Hyde Mountain to check out the lookout with great views on top. Spent a few minutes enjoying the views of Juniper Mesa and Humphreys to the north.

The next objective was Pinetop Mountain which required about 1/2 mile bushwhack up steep terrain but turned out to be easier than expected (less Manzanita). Once on top we hiked over to the coolest tank I've ever has catchment roof system that drains all the water into 6 foot high about 30 foot wide tank. After taking several pics of the area we headed down the road from Pinetop Mountain. The views were better than expected especially looking down into Apache Creek area that we were heading to.

We took roads off Pinetop Mountain but once into Apache Creek it's all off trail. It's not too long before pools of water show up and then some flow to the creek. Soon the best part of the loop develops with nice sections of boulders and narrow slots with small pools. This section continues for about 2 miles but unfortunately for us the thunderstorms rolled in and a downpour ensued. Some of the lightning was very close the last big boom in particular maybe 50 yards away. We smelled burnt pine and sure enough a ponderosa had been struck with pieces of tree lying around. Eventually after more than an hour of hard rain it stopped near the end of the boulder section. There is a nice pool right at the end that we took a swim and a few jumps. Definitely want to do this section again in better weather.

Once out of Apache Creek we hit the trail and then the road for the last 6 miles back to the vehicle. Pretty easy hiking and made it back by 630. Then back to Camp Chumley to socialize and grill some burgers and dogs and share some beverages. Nice to hang out a bit after the hike :)
15.93 mi • 2,719 ft aeg
Granite Pinetop Apache Loop
This area has caught my attention and each successive visit does not disappoint!

I have now hiked the entire length of Apache Creek, from the source at Apache Springs to the confluence with Walnut Creek.

I tried to cut some miles off my hike by driving up FR95B, but despite having hiked it just 6 days earlier, apparently I forgot what a hellish road it really is. I gave up after a mile or so and a tire pressure warning after scraping a sidewall on a really narrow section. Since I didn't want to have to drive out that road on a spare, I decided to park right there and head out.

My first goal was Granite Knob, the most prominent peak in the Wilderness. It ended up being more choked with manzanita than I thought it would, but was still not too bad. The top was fun with a class-4 climb to the summit. No register or any sign of anybody else having been there. Despite not being the highest peak in the area, the views were spectacular.

From the knob, I headed west and up Pinetop Mountain. Along it's flat top, I encountered Pine Trick Tank, by far the most impressive wildlife catchment/cistern/tank setup I have encountered in Arizona. From here a road leads down the mountain, and I followed it for a bit - encountering two bow hunters looking for deer. At the saddle I turned downhill on the old FR9890A road which is nearly non-existant. After a mile, the old road disappeared completely and water appeared in the drainage. I didn't see any actual springs, but groundwater is apparently feeding the surface water here, and has for a while. A bunch of corrals and fences indicate this area was used extensively for grazing in the past.

Downstream from the springs was an adventure of off-trail creek hiking. It's been a wet monsoon, and the creek was flowing nicely. But it is generally shallow, with only some small pools, usually only a couple of feet deep. I did take the time to swim a couple of times when I encountered a pool that was 4-5 feet deep. The creek alternates between some flatter sections and some that drop dramatically, requiring some easy down climbs or short bypasses. There are countless cascades and small waterfalls, and a few 10-foot plus falls. The vegetation is sparse, so it's not at all a fight to get through.

Eventually, I reached the deep pool we had been to last week, and I took the opportunity to jump and swim for a few minutes again before heading the last half mile back to the trail.

I forgot how much uphill this trail is going south. Or maybe I was just tiring after so many off trail miles. I encountered fresh scat on the trail for BOTH bear and kitty. :scared: Hiking alone in this wilderness with the highest concentration of mountain lion in the state, I had my gun holstered at my side all day. If nothing else, it made me feel better.

Ended up hiking the same road back to my truck that I had done exactly a week before, fighting daylight just as we had done last week. This time, my truck was a couple of miles closer, so I was enjoying a beer sooner, and back at camp with a fire going before dark. Not too bad!
25 mi • 3,468 ft aeg
Hyde Mountain - Apache Creek Loop
Big loop in the Apache Creek Wilderness. This was my first time in the area and I was pleasantly surprised. The hike had a bit of everything including a fun swim hole near the halfway point.

We started from a large car camping area that would be worth returning to. We made good time to Hyde Lookout which was very cool! From there we continued north and entered the Apache Creek Wilderness. This was my favorite part. The trail is easy to follow but faint in places. Some route finding was in order and it helped carrying the GPS track. The landscape is rugged and dense. It had a unique beauty in itself. Great area!

Around the halfway point we had lunch and then detoured to the swimming hole. This was the highlight of the trip. The water was cool and refreshing. I need to do this more! Afterward we continued our hike and we headed east at this point. The trail was still faint but it was well cairned. There were large piles of rocks every few hundred yards. It was easy to follow. After a while we turned to the south and continued.

We eventually hit a road and from there had eight miles to go. We basically put our heads down and hiked. A group of jeeps passed us about an hour later. They looked like they were having fun except I didn't see any alcohol. Weird! The last couple of hours blended by as we grinded back to the vehicles. All of us were happy when back to the car to Flat Denny waiting for us.

This was a great area and fun group. It was great to hike with Bruce for the first time. Let's do it again soon! And nice job putting this route together. I really enjoyed it! Thanks Lee and Chumley for driving!

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