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The Best Hikes in Santa Teresa Wilderness

71 Triplog Reviews in the Santa Teresa Wilderness
Most recent of 21 deeper Triplog Reviews
10.84 mi • 2,469 ft aeg
After backpacking the Holdout-Blackrock loop, I car camped nearby and did a day-hike up the Cottonwood Mountain trail. My vehicle can't make it all the way to the trailhead, so I had a couple miles of forest road walking to start. The first half mile or so of the actual trail is mostly obliterated by the 2021 Pinnacle Fire and following Monsoon floods. After the first half mile, I found a trail-like path and mostly managed to follow it the rest of the way.

I didn't summit Cottonwood Mountain - I went to the saddle and hiked around that area instead. The trail from the lower canyon area up through the main climb is largely burned and overgrown with grass and the occasional catclaw. Once I reached the saddle, I was surprised that the area beyond it looked fairly untouched. This area offers some fantastic views of the area where Black Rock and Holdout canyons meet. After a good snack break, I hiked back down the way I came. Saw no one, even on the forest road walking.
0 mi • 0 ft aeg
Holdout-Blackrock Loop
I decided to see how the Santa Teresas faired after 2021's Pinnacle Fire by backpacking a loop of Holdout and Blackrock canyons. I had planned on driving up FR-6630 (the GET) and parking at a pull-off near some trees about 3/4-mile before the gate. This spot was previously recommended to me by the guy who ranches this area and my Subaru had made up there before just fine. However, after about 1/2-mile from leaving Klondyke Rd, there is a large gash in the road (I'm guessing made by 2021's summer monsoons).

Not wanting to risk trying it in my Subaru by myself, I made a 27-point turn on the narrow road and returned to Klondyke Rd. I drove North a very short distance, turned onto the next gated forest road (can't find its name) and parked my car at the first pull-off. This was spot was also recommended to me by the rancher. As luck would have it, that same rancher pulled up just as I was getting out of my car. He recognized me and offered me a ride up the road, eventually dropping me off near Reef Tank where I began hiking. Thank you! This saved me a ton of hiking and uphill.

Reef Tank had some water in it and the area around it was unburned. Heading up the saddle before going into Holdout Creek, you quickly enter the burned area. Everything around here has been moon-scaped. The trail isn't too hard to follow though. Going down Holdout Creek, it seems most everything near the creek is completely burned, while rockier areas appear to be untouched. It's still a pretty and scenic canyon, but the wonderful forest surrounding the creek is gone. The fire has made travel through Holdout easier for now - the path is much less brushy. I still lost the trail many times and got some scrapes from catclaw though. I expect that within a few years or less, the path will be overgrown with catclaw and manzanita. Holdout Creek had some water flowing down it, although it looked quite brownish.

I made it to the corral area near the Holdout and Blackrock intersection and made camp for the night. The creek intersection seemed much sandier than what I remember - debris being washed down from monsoons in the burn areas? I had a peaceful night aside from some cows wandering near my camp. I woke up early the next morning and began hiking up Blackrock Canyon. Blackrock has also been burned and I followed some combination of cow paths and hiking trails. The water in Blackrock was much clearer than Holdout and the flow seemed pretty good. After a mile or less, I hiked out of the burn zone. The next miles up Blackrock make for some great hiking through a beautiful forested canyon. This was my favorite section of the trip.

Hiking out of Blackrock, I made use of forest roads to make my way back to Reef Tank, where I then took the GET back down to Klondyke Rd. This section of the GET (from Reef Tank down to the road) is unburned. It's hard to follow and brushy, but the trail usually exists somewhere. Once back to the gate on FR-6630, I had the long descent back to Klondyke Rd and my car.
16 mi • 1,800 ft aeg
Pete and I did a NY trip for our first anniversary. On the way to our adventure we stopped at the Klondyke cemetery to pay our respects to the Power family. I’ve been fascinated with the Galiuros and the Power story for a while.


We didn’t know if there would be water in the Santa Teresa’s so we placed 10-11 liters of water a piece plus supplies for three days.

We headed down Holdout first. The beginning part of the trail was well maintained by cows. You just need to pay attention that you don’t take the wrong cow trail. After a while there is a gate and that means less cows so the trail was faint at best to follow until we got to Blackrock.

Holdout is amazing! It’s like the Dragoons but better. Beautiful rocks and no people!!! I really can’t wait to come back and explore the Upper part of Holdout more. I was more focused on doing a loop than on exploring and trying to figure out which tower was which. Definitely will have to return.

We decided to camp before the confluence. I admit that the weight of the water plus all the catclaw was getting annoying so I wanted to stop. By carrying our own water we could camp anywhere so we picked out a nice spot.

In the morning we did an explore without our big packs. We went into the drainage and explored the amazing passages under all the gigantic boulders! I definely want to come back when the water is flowing through there. It would be a site to see. There was some water in the pools but we were able to stay dry.

After our adventure we decided to pack up and see how far we could make it. Blackrock Canyon was much easier to navigate. It was dry and mostly clear of catclaw so we pressed on and we were back to the truck by sunset.

What an amazing place!!! Even the drive in is an adventure - definitely recommend 4x4.
3 mi • 206 ft aeg
We chose this hike from HAZ as we were camped in the area and were going to hike the east end of Aravaipa Canyon the next day. We also thought this hike might be a good choice in that it's much higher in elevation and would provide a good contrast to hiking in Aravaipa Canyon. We used friendofThundergod's gps hiking route as well as the driving route he kindly provided for us. While we used his hiking route, we found that other folks had marked their own route with blue and pink/orange ribbons. It seemed in numerous places that the "ribboned" route was far less overgrown. While this hike offered some good exercise, I can't say that we'd eagerly recommend this hike. The views were just okay and the end-point, Reef Tank, was not picturesque. We did marvel, though, at how the ranchers managed to make such a large watering hole out in the middle of nowhere. We suggest only 4x4 vehicles and offroad tires for the drive due to the sharp rocks along the way. Probably the most fun part of the trip was watching the "wildlife" (cattle) try to figure out what to do when a vehicle is moving along the one-lane road in which they are in the middle.
13.26 mi • 2,540 ft aeg
Excellent hike to a beautiful canyon of rock formations straight out of Disney World. It's a little longer than I normally like, but we had a great group and excellent weather. The trail is in pretty good shape and easy to follow. Just go north of Klondyke and park off the road at a corner where the road turns directly west toward Arivaipa east. The trail is much easier to find than when we were here a few years back, probably because of the increased traffic on the Grand Enchantment Trail Segment #8, of which it is a part. The only tricky part is to make sure you go just past Reef Tank and find the nice path that goes directly east. There is a few feet of water in Reef Tank, but I hope you don't have to drink it. Highly recommend this hike, but it's a bit difficult to get to from ANYWHERE! Long way in from Willcox (~30 miles) or Pima (35 miles), both gravel roads in good shape.
25.91 mi • 3,873 ft aeg
Holdout Black Rock Loop
First of all, I loved so much about this trip- the beautiful and rugged scenery, the company, our exposed and treeless camp and especially the isolation. This was one of those great wilderness experiences where there was not a single other person to be found except those in our group.

DAY 1 ~
We departed Tempe on an overcast morning and rendezvoused with Kathy and Karl in Globe. Our trip will take us back down the familiar Klondyke road from a few weeks ago when we hiked to Powers Garden. We turned onto the 4x4 road, passed some cute cows and admired the landscapes. Once prepared at the trailhead we departed and dropped into Laurel Canyon. After passing the slimy green reef tank we followed Holdout Creek Trail. Views in Holdout creek for this portion of the hike are fantastic ~. I've very partial to watery Arizona hikes along creek beds.

We determined that camp near the confluence of Black Rock Canyon and Holdout creek would be work since we would be exiting via Black Rock Canoyn on day 3. With sunset approaching we started to set up camp. 9L made us a very nice fire while Chumley had engineered some bridges to cross the creek to our tents. The rest of us settled in and gathered firewood. Later that night while we were trying to sleep some neighborhood coyotes serenaded us with some not too distant howling and the next morning fresh coyotes poop was found on our beach camp.

Day 2 Exploring from basecamp
It was nice to wake up and pack a few things in a small day back. From camp we headed north to Fisher canyon. For a mile we boulder hopped off trail through the canyon and followed some more of the GET. After we found some shade and took a break we decided to return to camp and before perusing a hike through Holdout Canyon. I was glad to return to camp to filter some more water from the creek and after relaxing a bit we headed out. Our hike in had bypassed this part of the creek so it was great to go back and check out the scenery. Holdout canyon is so picturesque with interesting rock formations carved out from the water. I followed the creek as much as possible. Once the canyon narrowed and the boulders grew to house sizes and I struggled to find a dry path. Chumley and Karl explored deeper into the canyon, with Karl opting for an adventurous canyoneering route. I wish I had been more patient and waited to follow their route. I did enjoy navigating my own way through this part of the canyon, however I had to bail and climb back up to the top when it seemed like forging a
path through the house sized boulders alone was no longer safe. Another time !!! As we settled in by the fire that evening we were joined by Nonot.
Silence from coyote camp that night.

Day 3
We broke down camp and made our way out sometime around 9:30 AM. Our hike out through Black Rock Canyon was easier than much of the trails we had followed all weekend. For five miles we enjoyed the picturesque creek of Black Rock Canyon until reaching the Jeep trail that will take us back to Reef tank. Steep uphill climb, but the trail was wide and there was no fighting with catclaw here.
On our way back into town we stoped at AZ wilderness because it was fitting and delicious to end the trip drinking a Santa Teresa Enkel. Thanks for indulging me with my AZW cravings :D

Thanks Chumley for putting this together ! I adored this trip and I'm glad everyone came together for it ^^^^
25.91 mi • 3,873 ft aeg
Holdout Black Rock Loop
Great long weekend in the Santa Teresa's exploring Holdout and Black Rock Canyons. We started on the Klondkye side driving up an old two track to forest boundary. From there it was up the Reef Tank Trail over the divide that drops into upper Holdout Canyon. Once in upper Holdout the views of the pinnacles and granite rock slabs as well as range high point Cottonwood Mtn and Pinnacle ridge were awesome! We continued down Holdout in some light rain following the GET blue ribbons occasionally crossing Holdout Creek which had decent water. Eventually we made it down to the Holdout-Black Rock confluence and found a camp spot arriving just before sunset.

Next day we headed out on day hike up Fisher Canyon to explore more of the GET section. We briefly continued up Fisher Canyon leaving the GET but found the cats claw and deteriorating trail conditions more than we wanted to slog through. We turned around and hiked back to the GET exploring more of that section before heading back to camp. We only hiked about 4 miles total that morning but it was slow going particularly in Fisher Canyon although the water was nice to see.

Back at camp we took a short break and then headed our for second day hike this time back up Holdout and dropping into the creek 2 miles upstream from the confluence. The goal was to explore Holdout Creek since the trail goes around this entire section. We were not disappointed as this section had the nicest rock formations and pools in the entire range. Towards the bottom there is a 1/4 mile section where the creek goes under house sized boulders creating caverns, pools, and waterfalls. Chumley volunteered to carry my day pack while I climbed and waded through the pools eventually navigating to the end. Holdout Creek was definitely the highlight of the weekend.

After exploring Holdout we headed back to camp to spend another relaxing night around the fire. We also linked up with Nonot who hiked in that day and joined up that night. Next day we hiked out and up Black Rock Canyon which was very nice walk in the creek bottom. Very easy walking despite no trail and just following the creek for 4.5 miles. Then we hit an old road/trail which also was easy walking and great views on the ridgeline above Black Rock Canyon. Eventually we passed by Reef Tank completing our loop and back out to the vehicles. Thanks for organizing the trip Chums :D
18 mi • 2,500 ft aeg
Holdout Black Rock Loop
It is always great when you can head into the desert without concerns about water or it being too hot/too cold. Also, visiting a Wilderness you have never been to before is always a treat.

The road to Reef Tank TH is definitely 4wd/high clearance, but you could always just hike it as it is part of the GET.

I'm still not quite sure where Holdout Creek Trail starts, nor where it exists in places. Someone has done a good job of flagging a route, but large portions of the trail are overgrown, and it seems in some places that the flagging simply takes a brush free path, rather than following the original trail. Once you get over the second major ridge the impressive inner basin of Holdout Creek greets you with the large granite mountains and boulders with a lightly flowing creek that you skirt along, more or less. The views are great throughout this basin, while the catclaw is annoying it isn't terrible and I made it to the confluence to meet up with the rest of the group who had gone in the day before. Arriving at dusk, they already had a campfire up and going for me, and despite my alias, 9L did a fine work of tending to the fire all night.

The next day we headed up Black Rock Canyon. There are slim signs of a trail, but the hike along the creek is fantastic, and there is a good road that allows for a brush free journey back to reef tank. I would rate this entire section as fantastic, as even the hike up the road was nice, since it was still clear of catclaw.

It was good to meet a new HAZ member and to see other HAZ'ers I haven't seen in years.
25.91 mi • 3,873 ft aeg
Holdout Black Rock Loop
Chumley planned this hike and it turned out to be fantastic! The hiking was rugged but not overwhelming. The views were epic and vast! We spent three days and two nights exploring this area. It was a great trip with a fun group!

Our trip started on Friday morning. The five of us (Karl, Kathy, Chumley, Claire and myself) left Phoenix in two vehicles and met at McDonalds in Globe. From there we caravaned to trailhead. Nonot is hiking in solo on Saturday. All of us will hike out together on Sunday.

The first mile and a half are easy going as you descend to the creek in Laurel Canyon and then make your way to the northeast towards Reef Tank. At that point we started our lasso loop and headed east into Holdout Canyon. The going was rugged and slow going as we were constantly route finding. It really helped having a GPS route and a group of five to sniff out the route. Sections of the route are overgrown but we pushed through and dropped down towards the confluence of Black Rock Canyon and Holdout Creek. We selected a campsite near the bend in the creek located next to the corral. We set up camp in the waning light and started a fire. I brought brats for dinner and there were dynamite!

Our group of five woke on day two and talked about our options. We decided to spend a few hours exploring to the north into Fisher Canyon and the GET. The going was tough as we proceeded up a drainage. After a mile we hit the old road. The GET takes off to the east and Fisher Canyon heads to the north. We originally followed Fisher but the old road has deteriorated and is covered in catclaw. It was no fun so we turned back and followed the GET for a bit. The landscape looked rather plain up ahead so we cut that short and returned to camp.

After a break our group hiked back up our trail from yesterday and dropped into Holdout Creek. From there we worked our way down canyon and admired this beautiful creek! It was very picturesque with lots of water flowing. As we neared the bottom of Holdout Creek we came to a large cluster of boulders. And by large I mean house size boulders with lots of debris from flash floods! Karl and Chumley explored the creek below the boulders while Claire and I checked it out from above. The going seemed like too much of a hassle to me so I climbed out and returned to camp via the trail. Our group reconvened at camp and were met by Nonot right before sunset. We settled in for another night around the fire.

On day three we took our time packing up camp and enjoying breakfast. Our group of six then started the hike up Black Rock Canyon. We were all pleasantly surprised to find the hiking very easy and enjoyable. The creek was wide open with a decent flow of water. Just about all of us got our shoes wet as we worked our way up canyon heading west. We took a break at the scenic waterfall and then continued on to the old road. From there we climbed out of Black Rock Canyon and made our way via the old road back to Reef Tank. We made good time and then completed our lasso loop back to the vehicles where we took one last break before making the drive back to Phoenix with another stop at Arizona Wilderness Brewery for beers and dinner!

This was another great trip and a wonderful area! I never paid much attention to the Santa Teresa Wilderness and didn't quite know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised with the beauty and intimacy of this canyon. It has a feel similar to Wilderness of Rocks. Plus we were the only ones in this wilderness. That was a real treat. Thanks Chumley for driving and organizing! It was a fun trip and a great group!
11.01 mi • 1,893 ft aeg
I have been wanting to get back to the Santa Teresa since my first visit in December. I decided I better take advantage of another weekend of relatively low gas prices and make the quick 200 mile trip back to Holdout Creek before they are back up to $2.45 a gallon again.

My plan was to find a nice scenic spot along Holdout Creek and just spend some time exploring the area, as Dave and I were in through hiker mode when we went through back in December. I also wanted to maximize my time in that area by hitting up the Cobra Mine Trail on Sunday along with Turkey Creek. I found a great spot, but waited to unpack my gear. I was only about five miles from TH and the thought crossed my mind that it might be more efficient to car camp instead and make my way over to the Cobra Mine TH and leave myself more time on Sunday, as I did not want too late of a finish, with the nearly four hour drive ahead of me as well. So I hung my gear and through on my daypack and decided to see how I felt after exploring the area some.

The more I explored the more impressed I became with the area, just a gorgeous area, especially with all the water flowing. I decided on the car camp idea and headed back to the car after a pretty lazy day of minor exploring, eating snacks along the creek and even a nap. I was a little fatigued the whole day for some reason, my legs just seemed dead. I probably doubled my mat time over the last week or so getting our boys ready for sectionals and states and I think it caught up to me a little on Saturday. My body may have been thinking lets take a day off and sleep in, probably not lets get up at 3:30 in the morning to go hiking. My hike out was pretty leisurely and very slow, but I did spend some pretty good time with the clippers conducting some modest trail maintenance on my way out.

My Cobra Mine Trail idea was stopped by what I am pretty sure is an illegal gate job complete with lock on public road leading to TH. Needless to say, I was not getting through and I was a little pissed by that point because I had nixed my over night in Holdout so I would have time to do Cobra Mine and Turkey Creek. Now it was on to Turkey Creek.

I did not realize that one can literally drive right to the Turkey Creek ruins. So I visited them quickly with a head lamp and then hit the road again to find somewhere to hike Sunday on my way back to Phoenix.
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