Two Spot Trail
After a quick 0.35 miles up hang a left on Gold Digger Trail.
Interesting 300 foot trail exactly 1 mile up Gold Digger. The lookout is scenic and a military grade bench to boot. More thought and $$ invested than remotely expected.
Aspen Grove Ramada
Odd to stumble upon this modern and well built structure. Woody Mountain road is 315 feet away but there isn't a use trail to connect and that road rarely gets used. Bruce pondered some ol' gold digger club being involved.
Woody Lookout - 1.9 mi RT
Worthy little destination once 1.5 miles up Gold Digger. Once again something isn't kosher in Coconino. Nice modern deadbolted outhouse for the lookout is vented for a burrito club. Whereas Kendrick 18 miles NNW has been stinking for a decade. The western two thirds of Kendrick is Kaibab NF, perhaps that explains.
Two Spot Trail
After an easy 2.4 miles down Gold Digger we strolled just over a mile on Two Spot. Roger's Lake was dry. Looks 4-20 feet deep is the limit of this oversized pond. Intense interpretive signs, plaques and displays at the trailhead.
Big pine hikes are fun. A great low key option for someone getting into hiking or interested in a forest hike. The gold diggers certainly left a mark. Someone loves(d) this area and it shows. If you hike for likes this isn't for you.
If not the most popular road walk in Arizona it's definitely in the top twenty. For decades the interest level to do this hike teeter tottered on... I want to / not today. It doesn't make Warren's 100 Hikes in AZ. He leans heavy on Mount Lemmon and the Chiricahua range. Don't get me wrong, the legend did a fine job biting a mean cookie! For this area he choose Lenox Crater. I haven't tiptoed up that cinder slope yet, it certainly looks to have merit.
Tiffany... we're not alone
Bruce made a parking space happen. The parking area isn't large. Probably suffices. Nearby closures due to lack of rain has everyone exploring new horizons. Which corralled us too... lol
Ten minutes up the road three things became crystal clear
- Parking could be ten times larger and this hike wouldn't come close to Piestewa/Camelback busy
- Serious pine trees and nearby views erode any boring road preconceived notions
- This is not a cool, escape the desert heat hike on this toasty day
The grade to the saddle is forgiving. It picks up a notch from there to the lookout. Did I mention the heat?
Runners and mountain bikers had a fair presence. Everyone was spunky friendly. After Bruce visited the fire lookout we headed for the actual peak. Had my doubts if I was up for the terrain. Turned out to be easier than anticipated. Solid ground must be near as you don't sink and slide much.
After nine? months without a raindrop on a hike, thunder started cracking the whip just as we arrived to the summit. Our planned break turned into a prolife skedaddle!
We had drizzle to fierce sprinkles heading down. Apparently Elvis left the mountain as the parking area was a ghost town upon return.
The itch has been scratched. Fairly dormant now on the return horizon. The pines and views are worthy. Cooler temps... I'd do it again.
East Mountain Trail #214
The lower access isn't winning any awards. The upper trailhead and top quarter mile are blah. The core delivers. Fabulous distant views through tall pines. Low expectations transitioned to wows throughout. Per usual @PrestonSands wrote a nice description. Apparently this trail has received well deserved maintenance since 2006. If hiking the Pinals out of Autumn foliage, this will be on my radar.
Pioneer Trail #196
This trail has received serious trail maintenance since 2013. Great trail. Signage still says Squaw Spring 196. FS website still calling it Pioneer Trail 196.
Ferndell Trail #204
Year 'round winner, worthy for any loop.
Icehouse Canyon Trail #198
Bruce noticed the upper end was remarkably groomed and cut well into the slope. He's always correct. We passed a group of 9 ACE workers tackling multiple areas. New large aluminum water trough built to last installed over a half mile north of Telephone junction. No fire damage in the top mile or so. The torching builds down to Telephone junction. All traveled fine. No trees to climb over on any of our loop today, just easily stepped over a couple.
Telephone Trail #192 - Pinal
Icehouse side is torched for the most part. Views over to Kellner and down Icehouse are torched. Sixshooter side pines are mostly intact with some mixed burn. Trail itself is in decent condition.
Six Shooter Trail #197
Always a winner. We thought the 3/4 mile to Ferndale sign was missing a solid mile. Perhap a quarter mile short, the steep grade just feels like an extra mile...lol
Better than anticipated multiple loop. We lucked out on temps averaging 5 degrees cooler than normal. 5k loops this close to the Sonoran Skillet in late June are likely not this nice.
Kendrick Peak Trail #22
Still one of the easiest ascending treads in AZ. Fire damage is notable if you concentrate on it. On route to the trailhead and on this trail most of the burned trees still had green crowns. Expected worse, plenty of untorched forest remains.
Bull Basin Trail #40
Perhaps a hundred plus trees to crawl over. It's tidy mess. Travel is just slow and tedious not horrible as other burn areas I've been through in other areas. Personally I would descend it again. Forget ascending until serious trail maintenance.
Connector Trail #80
Albeit semi moonscape in areas this trail gets a bump up from 2 to 3 for myself. Views are easier to appreciate now that the prickly shrub is all gone. Route finding still demands your attention in areas. Enough pine covered islands/stretches to enjoy a lunch break.
Pumpkin Trail #39
Aside from a little more route finding in the mid-lower section, same tree cover and tread as years past.
Busier than ever with lots of nearby areas closed due to dry conditions. Piestewa Peak is still busier in 100+ temps... Humphreys if open would have five times the visitors so enough with the I don't have the most popular part of the wilderness all to myself in prime season sniffle syndrome.
Semi dreaded this one heading in. Turned out to be a winner. Red rock views galore over a red rock course that holds your interest. Overcast and sprinkles are the ticket in June.
Once again better than anticipated. The views, weather & company synced well.
Long Canyon Trail #122
Like Fay Canyon the forest alone has merit. Just a good hike if you follow the trail. Any scramble you survive will probably net a better experience. Ruins will be the main attraction for most. Looked similar to other rock pueblos but the approach was an impressive short adventure. Scratched a 17 year itch just enough to rekindle a quicker return. Speaking of which, there is some trophy poison ivy in this canyon.
Heading in this intrigued me slightly more than the mountain bike trail around the perimeter. The pitch up albeit different than the scree chute to Brown's Peak rates a similar effort. Serious class 3 but not really class 4. Which means most will tackle it without hemming and hawing. The views up top are good. That said the perimeter trail is just as impressive in my opinion.
Sedona was a big piece of getting me interested in this despicably boring activity. Three previously traveled areas this year alone have netted unexpected new views and interest.
Yeager Canyon Trail #28
6 years since Bruce and I hiked this one. The trail is very well maintained.
Gaddes Canyon #110
Short leg to make the loop work. Never tire of this one.
Gaddes Canyon Two Trail #9037
Long standing fav, prefer up. Dry, no wildflowers.
Black Canyon Trail #114
Almost felt like cheating since we just hiked the nicest upper end. Columbine patch. Box Elders stood out with their bright translucent green leaves.
Offtrail Black & Burnt Canyons
1.5 mi portion we did on a 17 mi loop Aug `14. The most notable pools of water all day. Bring your own, this canyon travels easy from all the cow trails-of-use.
Ash Canyon Trail #539
Only 1.5 mi, perhaps the best part of it too.
Yeager Cabin Trail #111
Whopping 0.5mi of this gem. 9Lee linking at it's best!
Little Yaeger Canyon
Looked forward to this the most as somehow it never made the mix. Heading in I couldn't figure why Preston mentioned...
Reversing your route back down Little Yaeger Canyon is the most difficult option.
Crystal clear now. I barely made it down with lots of help. The sword was double edged as the guys spent the previous hour suggesting changing this final leg to a nearby trail... lol
I'd still go up this canyon since I forgot to keep an eye out for the Aspens. Forget descending until memory fades!
Enjoyed the loop once. Not itchin to do it again. Mingus is my fav so neva say never but I'd reverse it. Good to see Chums jump in on this one. 18% of the hike was breaks =)
Wildflowers ObservationIsolated One Columbine patch and a fair amount of raspberry in two canyons.
Bruce pitched the loop weeks ago. Initially I wasn't keen on the idea. Several HAZ legends tackled a 28 mi trip in the area Jul 3rd 2009 with lackluster to lucky to survive results.
After a lil' hiatus I was game for anything. No trails. Approx 5.5 mi off trail + 13.3 mi forest roads. Now for the unexpected stat... pine trees galore. Picturesque meadows filled the gaps.
Bruce "invited" us up into the Apache Maid Lookout Tower. Good chat with Don. Apparently Bruce's silver tongue netted us a waiver on the 15 min limit. Don estimated 300 in the meadow below on Memorial Day weekend. What a difference a week makes, we met 1 ranger and passed 10-12 quads all day.
10.3 miles in, the slave driver granted a break in the origin of Jack's Canyon. Interestingly a different canyon from the popular climbing canyon 22 miles directly east. A whopping quarter mile in, Jack's basketball sized rocks had us more interested in pondering Ranger Jill over the hill.
A quick two miles had us down in Rocky Gulch. Slab Gulch would be a better name. Aside from two or three choked areas it was easy travel and semi intriguing at points.
The final 3.75 miles back to square one was my least favorite but far from a serious itch to leave.
Dial back to 2009. I had a deep desire to walk on Secret Mountain. Father Dave, Denny, Snowlar System Kokopelli and I failed to access via [ Boynton's Backyard ] . 2 months later, Christmas came 7 days early. Without prayer or chip kokopelli we made it happen in kryptonite snow. You can drive up the mountain. That drive is 7 hrs RT from the skillet. 3 hrs more hiking / less driving is more appealing for myself.
Loy Canyon Trail #5
Several miles of nice forest hunkered in a red rock canyon is mighty enjoyable in nice weather. Semi sandy tread for a mile, lack of a running creek and bumpy road access keeps the wild idiots or whatever the current term is out.
A meaty ascent then dynamite views seal the deal.
Secret Mountain Trail #109
First time on the trail past the cabin. Pines were better than anticipated. My second fav to North Rim GC with canyon views. Here you get red rock canyon views plus the San Francisco Peaks. The trail is great then swallowed by manzanita 0.3 miles before 6607... wild buffer. The most forgiving manzanita I recall but let's keep that on the down low.
Content with turning around the eagle forged on. Grateful. A view I never expected opened up.
This is a 3.2 out of 5 for 4 out of 5. A solid 5 for this mixed up kokopelli that enjoys Piestewa Peak.
Casner Canyon Trail #11
No bridge over Oak Creek, nearby World Class red rock hikes and no selfie destination keep all but the curious adventures out. We didn't pass a single hiker on #11 in either direction. If this hike was in the San Tans, cars would be lined up for miles on nice weekends.
Schnebly Hill Trail #158
Fan for life. The upper end sports pines and killer views.
Munds Mountain Trail #77
Typical experience. Low spirits over the sarin getty stretch are all but forgotten when Bear Wallow blows your mind. Fittingly I've hiked Munds with some of my favorite peeps.
Packs a lot of punch being one of the shorter drives from the valley.
Wildflowers ObservationIsolated one nice area of phlox
Bruce gleaned this 3 county route from Lee stating that he'd hiked it 3 times. He studied up on it too. It was cool to have a tour guide.
Apparently I liked Wildcat a smidge more than the three timer. The old Pinto #213 leg was interesting. The catclaw ending robbed brownie points. Pants sufficed. Nowhere near the top ten list of bad catclaw, Wave Cavers would probably consider it a nightmare.
Campaign to Fireline is in the best shape I recall. We lunched under the pines near the junction. Up to the saddle SW of Pinto Peak is brushy. Down to West Pinto Creek is steep but the views are top notch.
Enjoyed #212 just shy of Oak Flat to square one more than anticipated.
Headed in with the sun at full torch. 2.1 miles to notable forest I started questioning why it's embedded in my mind as a great hike. The red rock slapped me silly for questioning why Boynton delivers. The hike out with a lower sun even made the 2.1 mile access enjoyable. Still swear someone brought in fifty year old shade trees that weren't there on the hike in.
Returned to Fay 2 months shy of 20 years. Then as a stone cold tourist it registered as done, what's next? My perspective changed minutes into the overdue return. The trail albeit a smidgen sandy for the peanut gallery is wide, easy grade and surrounded by more trees than I recall.
Exploring the upper east canyon was the highlight. I didn't care for the west. The forest was scorched and I was more interested in other planned hikes. Totally wrote it off, later found a reason to return someday.
Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23
Well maintained. Glad it exists. My least favorite segment of #23. Nice chat w/~28yo NOBO thru hiker named something like trailpants, transplant or transcript. From San Diego, started Mar 9th, previously completed PCT.
We crawled 4.5 hrs to the pond. Great lunch break spot!
Nice to return to one of the few places I've camped.
North Peak Trail #24
Good luck finding the western 0.5 mi end. Great views heading East. That said I'd rather only hike this trail west due to loose footing on steep grades.
Pole Hollow Canyon
Pleasant surprise. The most continuously interesting hiking segment of the day. Much easier to negotiate the terrain than anticipated. Likely most enjoyable descending. Minor route finding and lack of maintained trail will keep the masses out.
I've suggested this hike for years to deaf ears. Understandable too, the catclaw gang has a tight grip on the neighborhood.
98% of the trail shockingly exists. After Shady Dell, nuisance catclaw is typically near. Newbies will write it off as horrible.
Terrain and views exceed my expectations. We followed a group of motorcycles off the main ridge down to BI Creek. FS Topo shows it going further with branching options now. Good reason to return along with trail 71.
Lost interest in checking off the final 8 furlongs. Returned up BI Creek. The nicest creek hike I recall in recent years.
Butler Spring looks dependable. Great option for backpack explorers. Saw one small unabused campsite. Intrepid kitchen sink haulers will find room.
First triplog posted directly from Route Scout Beta. One tap starts triplog with stats and embeds route.
2018-03-30 Update: Nixed embedded route
We traveled Estes → Bull. My expectations with Bull Pasture in the name were rock bottom. Within fifteen minutes it was like we were magically delivered to the juicy tenderloin of the Superstitions without miles of dull red chuck.
Up out of Estes we followed a fading use trail to the pasture. Then up to 3,437. The view back down to the NW was the highlight of the day.
I've least visited NE AZ. SW is second. Last year riding the city busses I learned an oddity, $8 RT to Ajo! Nothing remotely desirable to hike within walking distance shelved that eye opener.
The drive has its fair share of blah. A short stretch through the [ SE Crater Range :: map ] begged attention. Chris called it a field of mini Weaver Needles. Signature Krylon Pictographs dominate the low hanging fruit.
While I'm no magnet or knick knack collector I am human. It's exciting visiting a new place declared special. Vegas exists because throwing a few hundred bucks in the trash at home is obviously stupid. Naturally we wanted to see better organ pipe cactus than the previous million visitors!
Lots of skinny photogenic Saguaros. Only a few of the monument namesakes along the drive.
Victoria Mine Trail
If you love Warpaint to the base of Corona at South Mountain this might be your ticket. In all fairness it does sport lush stretches of desert flora. I enjoyed, just can't recommend for the drive. Organ pipe cactus are lucky to survive among all the cholla varieties. The most chain fruit cholla I recall outside the Superstitions. Ambika went all out on the description, I should have read it before the hike.
Lost Cabin Trail
Finally a hint of elevation change saved me from hyperventilating. Even if you don't go to the cabin, another easy half mile from Victoria's Secret Relics puts you in a sea of organ pipe cactus! The hike is a road. I'm not a rock hut or mine fanatic so while I enjoyed the first half this wasn't whispering return. Forget hollering. Chris agreed to jump an easy ridge to get to the next hike quicker.
Wildflowers ObservationIsolated Spotty ocotillo and one strawberry hedgehog
Signage, tread and trail maintenance is remarkable. Passed several mtn bike groups, all friendly. Our loop included an out-n-back to Black Canyon City TH on the NE end of our loop. Apparently this 3 mi/340 aeg out-n-back to Agua Fria River is a popular day hike.
Our return followed Agua Fria River for 1.2 miles. It was low enough to cross multiple times without major mishap. A biker said the river was much higher just a week ago. We explored Gillette Arizona. The area is very trashed since it's easily accessible by wild groups and not monitored.
Then we picked up the east side of Little Pan Loop back to Table Mesa TH. Equally scenic to the west side. Appears less used and a hint less maintenance love.
Great hike, recommended!
Wildflowers ObservationIsolated ocotillo, that's it folks
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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