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Sheep Bridge / Mountain Spring Loop - 4 members in 14 triplogs have rated this an average 3.8 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Nov 01 2018
Metalrunner
avatar

 Guides 5
 Routes 5
 Photos 81
 Triplogs 1

57 male
 Joined Nov 17 2011
 Phoenix, AZ
Sheep Bridge / Mountain Spring LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Backpack avatar Nov 01 2018
Metalrunner
Backpack22.60 Miles 4,505 AEG
Backpack22.60 Miles3 Days         
4,505 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
We pulled away from Danny’s house in central Phoenix around 3:30 pm in route to Sheep Bridge trail head. Our goal was to backpack the Midnight Mesa loop from Friday to Sunday and our Backup Plan, the Sheep Bridge Mountain Spring loop. I have been a frequent visitor to the Mazatzal Wilderness starting in 1980 however, I had never been to this trail head or into this quadrant of the wilderness. Three adults and two, dogs packed into the cab of a Toyota Tacoma made for a long haul over bumpy, dirt roads. Nothing needs to be noted about this approach, pass through Seven Springs and keep heading north. When you are just about ready to turn back, you reach a T intersection and the promise of “only” 12 more miles to encourage you on. Many of those 12 miles are slow going and for us, in the dark. We arrived, and camped, at the Verde river around 8 pm.

Friday morning found us crossing the bridge around 8:30 am, heading into the wilderness on the Willow Springs trail. During the night I had discovered and repeatedly, in my mind, questioned the reason for pain on the side of my right, index finger. With the morning light we could view the impressive landscape that engulfed us as well as a small, white bump on my finger, the source of pain. Just another injury from working with my hands, for a living, probably a metal sliver, I thought. I wrapped it with medical tape for protection and gave it no more thought.

Our three, day backpack was, for the most part, uneventful. I had read a September report of the Midnight Mesa Loop and with all the rain we received in October, I believed we would have large drainages with small flows of water as well as the occasional bedrock pools. When hiking with dogs in the desert, finding water on the land makes life so much easier, less stressful for the humans. Ozzie (45-pound border collie) carried a pack loaded with enough food to feed him and Leo (20-pound mutt) for the duration of our trek and enough water for one day. As we got further into Day 1, it was obvious we were not going to find any water on the land, other than possibly Willow, Mountain and Lost springs. About four, miles east of the river we found, near the trail, a wet spring that is not noted on our map and I don’t recall reading about it on this site. This source came too soon to be of any help but was good to know about in the event of a retreat.

Our three days were warm, not hot but maybe perfect had it been 10 degrees cooler. The lack of water, the higher temps makes for a little more work, and worry having Ozzie and Leo along. At the junction for Willow Spring we discussed halting for the day but decided to press on to Mountain or Lost spring. Leaving camp that morning, our goal was to camp at Wet Bottom creek on the Midnight trail. By early afternoon it was apparent we would be lucky to make camp at Lost spring. We arrived at Mountain spring around 3:30 pm and made camp next to a tank, constructed to hold a large quantity of spring water. A very comfortable place to spend our first night. The tank water (surface) was not inviting but definitely not repulsive. I found a length of black poly pipe and used it to siphon water from mid-level in the tank in an attempt to strain out floating debris. This worked and with running the water through a bandana, bottle to bottle, the water looked desirable. We treated our filled reservoirs with iodine, ate dinner and were off to bed.

We were packed and, on the move, shortly before 9 am our second morning. Our destination for Day 2 was Dutchman Grave Spring where we hoped to find flowing water and a nice place to camp. If the day was young when arriving at this spring, our Backup Plan was to continue out to the truck and spend the night by the river. Again, a pretty uneventful day other than losing one of my carbon trekking poles and viewing a Gila Monster. Route finding was a bit more challenging than the day before but with maps on phones and plentiful, large cairns, we were never off trail for very long. Many of the trail markers were lost in the tall grass and rough tread slowed us down. We covered the distance to the spring in a few hours and decided to camp for the night. We chose a flat, open camp spot with flowing water nearby. Set up camp, collect water, ate dinner, told some stories and we were all off to bed.

Out of camp by 8:30 am and headed for home. Sunday, Day 3, about 4 – 5 miles to cover, cross the river, get in the Tacoma and drive away from Sheep Bridge. All this accomplished by noon, approximately 50 miles of rough road lay ahead. When we were on HK Mesa, I got the sense I wanted to be done with this backpack. I began to loath this long, flat section. By the time we reached the truck, I didn’t feel right, food, water, beer and chocolate had no appeal. I just wanted to be home, I encourage Steve and Danny to focus on making that happen. With windows up and AC blowing, I was chilled and shivering, Danny and Steve, comfortable. At a crossing of Tangle creek, we stopped to admire the scenery. I wrapped myself in a heavy Jacket and wore it the rest of the drive home.
Monday found me sick all day, headache, fever, extreme lethargy, weakness, joint pain and an index finger that looked badly infected. After returning from work that afternoon, my wife drove me to the ER where I was treated for dehydration, intestinal infection (“food poisoning”) and infection in my index finger (“spider bite”). IV fluid, surgery on my finger, antibiotics and much rest, by Wednesday I felt like living. The intestinal infection came about from the siphon I started. As careful as I was to pull the pipe away before any water entered my mouth, I did get droplets on my lips. I haven’t yet been billed for all this medical attention but I’m convinced this is the most expensive backing trip I have ever been on. For me, the cost is not just measured in dollars and sickness but also the ignorance and arrogance that comes, for me, from being “experienced” to the point that I believed a dirty drop of water would do me no harm.
Fauna
Fauna
Gila Monster
_____________________
2 archives
Jun 09 2018
jacobemerick
avatar

 Guides 31
 Routes 71
 Photos 795
 Triplogs 96

34 male
 Joined Dec 09 2014
 Gilbert, AZ
Sheep Bridge / Mountain Spring LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 09 2018
jacobemerick
Hiking24.13 Miles 4,961 AEG
Hiking24.13 Miles   11 Hrs   13 Mns   2.63 mph
4,961 ft AEG   2 Hrs   3 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Drove up the night before with sister and her dogs. Half hour of daylight left when we got there, enough time to setup camp and check out the location of the hot spring. Used hammock w/ underquilt and was ridiculously comfortable. Quiet night except for some very curious and brave coatis.

Dutchman Grave #22
Hiked the first four miles by headlamp and moon-sliver and it was so easy. I was a little nervous, doing a new trail in the remote western Mazzies in the dark, but it's well-cairned and the tread is easy to follow. Spent a little bit of time hunting around by the HK Ranch turn-off. There's a yuge cairn marking the "junction" and nothing else, no tread or cairns heading down to Sycamore Creek. Further exploration will have to wait for daylight. Lots of morning birds down there. Temps were warm before the sunrise and that first healthy climb worked up an annoying sweat. Trotting into the valley on the other side and felt a significant, and welcome, temperature drop.

Dutchman Grave Spring area is beautiful. Both springs had (some) water, the campsites were tempting, and the trees were large and shade-y. Definitely one of the more appealing locations in the western Mazzies. Then there's the climb on the other side. After a well-marked climb the trail dances along the side of 4165' and dozens of game trails start to confuse the route. There aren't a lot of cairns on this section, either. It clears up near the 3811' saddle.

This section of the trail was fantastic. The views of Cypress Butte, Midnight Mesa, and the deep cut of Granite Basin feeding into Sycamore Creek were ridiculous. There are even a handful of junipers spared from the fire, some of them right along the path! Tread was great and cairns were large. The last climb was tough, mostly because it was after eight by then and the temps were moving further into furnace realm. The switchbacked grade was reasonable. Trotting into Mountain Spring felt like coming home.

Willow Spring #223
Easy going until the trail zips up the side of 5163'. My legs were promised no more uphill. Trail was easy enough to follow, red rock steps and cairns, reminded me a lot of 6351' further up the trail. Heh, even the digits are the same! Anyways, the trail drops sharp on the other side, switchbacks and ridges, big views and occasional trees. Took a quick trip down to Willow Spring along #244. There are at least a dozen trails leading down to the spring, only one w/ a few cairns. Spring itself is beautiful, much cleaner water than Mountain Spring.

The next few miles were very pretty, with some of the descent through a well-vegetated drainage. There was a slight breeze picking up to help deal with the temps. After the drainage things got progressively hotter and more boring. For the last six miles even the breeze turned against me, feeling more like the rush of hot air from an open stove than anything refreshing like it did in the hills. Trail felt slightly harder to track in the flatland, tread fading away and brush hiding the cairns, and all the little hills ahead blended together. Reached a busy Sheep Bridge after two and trotted over the bridge and through the throngs to the waiting cooler.

Mazatzal Miles: 220/275 (80%)

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Dutchman Grave Spring Dripping Dripping
Several medium-sized pools. Water had an ugly slick on it.

dry Horse Creek Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Hot Spring - Sheep Bridge Gallon per minute Gallon per minute
Full, steadily splashing out of the overflow. Lukewarm and clean.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Lower Dutchman Grave Spring Dripping Dripping
There were a few holes that you could squeeze a cup in. Had to hunt to find them.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Mountain Spring - Mazatzal Dripping Dripping
Cement trough was 3/4 full of green, stagnant water. Taste was hard to get past.

dry Sycamore Creek Dry Dry


water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Willow Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Several pools trickling into each other. Water was clear and tasted great. Lots of water bugs, bees, wasps, and hawks to share the space with.
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Apr 06 2017
jameslcox44
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 Photos 2,568
 Triplogs 99

74 male
 Joined Mar 18 2012
 mesa,az
Sheep Bridge / Mountain Spring LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 06 2017
jameslcox44
Hiking1.00 Miles 2,930 AEG
Hiking1.00 Miles
2,930 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Frank the Crank drove us to see the Sheep Bridge. Unfortunately, the trip took so long, we had no time to hike. We did walk across the bridge. Litter was bountiful in the area of the bridge. A big disappointment after the long drive to see the beauty of the area. We crossed the creek feeding the Verde River several times. It was good that Frank had a four wheel vehicle that had a skid plate on the under side. Course rock ran heavy in one area making us worry about the tires. This was a great time of year with all the flowers along the roadside. Thanks to Frank for sacrificing his vehicle.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation None
Mariposa Lillies, Prickley Poppy's, Arizona Poppy's, Desert Marigolds, Globe Mallow and many other flowers covered the roadside.
_____________________
Mar 04 2017
friendofThunde
avatar

 Guides 18
 Routes 280
 Photos 7,723
 Triplogs 716

37 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
Sheep Bridge / Mountain Spring LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Backpack avatar Mar 04 2017
friendofThundergod
Backpack23.92 Miles 4,856 AEG
Backpack23.92 Miles2 Days         
4,856 ft AEG
 
1st trip
I could not make up my mind this weekend on something to do and was all over the place when this backpacking idea popped into my conscience, as a lighter alternative to the Midnight Mesa Loop, which had been on my to do list for a long time. I got some last minute details from Joe, which included a good review of Dutchman Grave Trail, and an assurance that I could not go wrong with the Western Mazzies this time of year.

Joe was definitely right, the western Mazzies are a special place right now. One could get away with charging admission to the Dutchman Grave Trail right now; perhaps the desert at its finest and with the rugged ridgeline of the Mazzies as a backdrop, hard to beat. Similarly, the trail itself was in pretty good shape too. There are some faint areas and a few areas where a second look may be necessary, however, it is generally pretty easy to follow and marked well with some very tall and well constructed cairns. The final stretch into Mountain Spring is a little strenuous, but very scenic, maybe one of the nicer stretches of trail in the entire wilderness in my opinion. The strenuous part was the 670 feet climb from mile 11-12 that just seems to come out of nowhere, just when you think you are almost to Mountain Spring, oh if only we hiked in the manner the crow flied, sigh. Mountain Spring was an excellent spot to camp and there was plenty of water in the cement trough and adjacent creek bed. I enjoyed a nice fire and a perfect night for sleeping.

The hike out on Sunday went pretty quick and I was back to the TH in less than five hours. I made a detour down Willow Springs Trail #244 to Willow Spring on the way out and was very impressed by the area. It may be one of the nicest destinations in the Mazzies right now. The creek is flowing nicely through there right now and there are a few nice cascades and swimming holes in the spring area. The trailhead area was bustling when I got there, but I saw nobody on the trails all weekend. A really awesome area and I left feeling very satisfied with my hastily planned venture into the western Mazzies. In fact, I would not mind returning for a multiple day and night trip to do some more exploring of those trails and areas in the interior I still need to get to, one of my more memorable Mazatzal destinations. Thanks for the last minute beta and good call @joebartels.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
More significant on the drive in, as large swaths of yellow have taken over many of the hills on the way to the TH, but some pretty good action along some sections of Willow Springs Trail too...

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Mountain Spring - Mazatzal Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Sycamore Creek Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Willow Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
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5 archives
Apr 07 2016
phlak
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 Photos 94
 Triplogs 14

38 male
 Joined Feb 05 2016
 Anthem, AZ
Sheep Bridge / Mountain Spring LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 07 2016
phlak
Hiking20.50 Miles 2,930 AEG
Hiking20.50 Miles   8 Hrs   50 Mns   2.32 mph
2,930 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I rode my Can-am Maverick 1000 turbo up from Cavecreek to Sheeps Bridge. The road is in very poor shape so when I read about some kid doing this in his car I can't help but sort of "clap" my hands sarcastically in amazement. I spent the whole day up in this area and also found some indian ruins while I was free hiking! My dog was my co-pilot and she had the best time at the bridge in the water. The trails we took are very hard to stay on and by the looks of the trip logs this hike isn't hiked but by only a handful of people a year. What a great area to take in all of the scenery in this area! I've been up here a couple times now but I am finally making a trip log! I am uploading pictures shortly.
Culture
Culture
HAZ - Selfie
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1 archive
Dec 23 2013
tlgibson
avatar

 Triplogs 1

42 male
 Joined Dec 17 2013
 Salt Lake City,
Sheep Bridge Loop, AZ 
Sheep Bridge Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Dec 23 2013
tlgibson
Hiking20.50 Miles 2,930 AEG
Hiking20.50 Miles
2,930 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
I left Sheep Bridge on Willow Spring trail on 12-21-2013, and returned to the bridge via the Dutchman Grave trail on 12-23-2013. The scenery was awesome, and I saw quite a bit of wildlife. Didn't see another person the whole trip except at the bridge. The country is pretty rough, and the trails can be nearly impossible to see in many places. The Willow Spring trail was not too difficult to follow, especially with the help of numerous large cairns. The Dutchman Grave trail is a different story. In many places I could not see a trail at all, and many of the cairns are small, widely spaced, and often obscured by vegetation. Several times I had to comb the hillside to find the next cairn before proceeding. If you aren't familiar with the trail and just try to head the way that you think the trail should head without finding a cairn, you could end up a long way off course. The trail does not always go the way you might think. There was plenty of water at Willow Spring, and in Sycamore Creek. You could descend off trail to Sycamore Creek to get water above Dutchman Grave Spring, or wait until the trail crosses the creek farther down. Overall a very enjoyable hike. I recommend finding a good detailed trail description and map for anybody new to the area.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Dutchman Grave Spring Dripping Dripping
Standing, stagnant water, no visible flow.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Sycamore Creek @ Dutchman Grave Trail Medium flow Medium flow
Recent heavy rains.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Willow Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
Good clear flow at the Spring; it had rained heavily about 1.5 days before I was at the Spring. A small side drainage as I approached Willow Spring had a trickle with pools large enough to filter water from.
_____________________
Apr 02 2013
topohiker
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 Guides 13
 Routes 112
 Photos 4,377
 Triplogs 1,755

male
 Joined Oct 29 2005
 Scottsdale, AZ
Sheep Bridge / Mountain Spring LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 02 2013
topohiker
Hiking27.15 Miles 5,883 AEG
Hiking27.15 Miles   12 Hrs      2.86 mph
5,883 ft AEG   2 Hrs   30 Mns Break
 
I really like the Sheep Bridge area, but the drive is a pain. The road from the 24/269 intersection was in better shape than the last time I took it. A lot of the minor rock steps were gone. I think the recent rains deposited a lot of dirt on the road and evened out the rock steps. The Tangle creek was flowing a bit higher than usual.

Two unusual/interesting/weird events happened this day. One was at the start and the other was at the end of the hike.

Just as a started hiking on the bridge a helicopter landed on the beach!! At first I was thinking it was a rescue, but the helicopter was not police or SAR. Neither the pilot nor the helicopter had any official markings. The pilot stood in the river with some device taking readings or pictures. I thought about asking for a ride to a remote spot in the Mazzies, so I could do a one-way hike back :sl:. Maybe the other end of the Verde River trail.

Now for the hike:
The original plan was to hike to the Willows Spring / Midnight Mesa intersection as an out and back. The Willows spring is well defined and in good shape, but now it's obscured with the tall grass. It took me much longer than expected to reach the Mountain Spring area. I checked out the Mountain spring and the water looked yucky :yuck: with algae. The spring itself is shaded with tall trees.

The Willows spring trails gets nicer past the Mountain spring. There were 5~6 foot cairns leading the way up a saddle. The Mazzies make you work hard, but they reward with amazing views. I was past my turn around point, but the trail and views were so nice that I couldn't bring myself to turn-around ;) . I'm pretty sure I turned around at the Lost Spring trail. I either missed the sign or the sign was missing.

Since I fell short of hitting the Midnight Mesa trail ](*,) , I returned on the Dutchman's Grave trail aka the Mountain Spring loop. About a 1/2 mile down the Dutchman's grave, I found a 5 point elk antlers by a tree :) .
There's a little bit of route finding on the Dutchman's grave trail. I personally like the Willow Spring trail better.

I returned to the Sheep Bridge in the dark. I did notice that most all of the creek was dry. I was hoping to see waterfalls and gushing water like people have been seeing by Eastern side of the Mazzies.

Now for the 2nd unusual/weird event of the day. As I got closer to the Verde River I could see a pair of tail lights on the road. They were parked for a long time. At first I thought it was someone setting up camp. After a bit the lights moved a bit. Then the road was out of sight and then I stopped seeing the lights. When I hit the sheep bridge, I saw a pair of tail lights right next to my Jeep. Something seemed odd about the tail lights. Then it dawned on me, it was a sedans tail lights! It was a Nissan Altima!

When I got to my Jeep, a young kid came out with a crude hand drawn map of the Verde River. He asked if he could hike on banks of the Verde. I was tired / confused and weird-ed out. I told him to wait till morning and just hike on the Verde trail.
He told me that it took him all day to get to this point. He had tried to drive over the Horseshoe Dam and was turned away. He was going to spend a couple of days at the Sheep Bridge.

Then it gets better. All of a sudden he starts yelling *!?* :tt: , *!&@ :tt: . He locked his keys in the running car. He had to bust out the passenger window to get back in the car.
There's more, but I digress... :out:
Culture
Culture
Aircraft
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"Everywhere is walking distance...If you have the time"
-Stephen Wright
Feb 16 2013
BiFrost
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 Guides 4
 Routes 338
 Photos 6,903
 Triplogs 803

49 male
 Joined Nov 20 2012
 Phoenix, AZ
Sheep Bridge / Mountain Spring LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 16 2013
BiFrost
Hiking22.98 Miles 4,774 AEG
Hiking22.98 Miles   11 Hrs   30 Mns   2.30 mph
4,774 ft AEG   1 Hour   30 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners partners
slowandsteady
The drive feels like the longest part of the trip driving in on Seven Springs Road to Sheep Bridge. One the way out we took Bloody Basin to I-17 back to town and surprisingly it was only 12 minutes longer.

Starting at the Sheep Bridge about 8am we soon hit the junction of Willow Springs trail and Dutchman Grave trail and then headed up the Dutchman Grave trail. The first 5 or 6 miles is relatively flat and easy although the trail has deteriorated so we had to watch for the cairns. There are some really nice big cairns along the trail especially at some of the creek crossings around Dutchman Grave Spring and Sycamore Creek which all had nice seasonal flow. Eventually the trail gains elevation over a series of ridgelines and saddles before arriving at Mountain Spring. Much of the area burned during the Willow Fire but some of Mountain Spring survived to include several large Oaks. There is also an old trough which was full of water at the time.

After leaving Mountain Spring we headed down the Willow Springs trail which has a bit of climb out of Mountain Spring but once over that it's all downhill to the Sheep Bridge. Wanted to check out Willow Spring but the sun was low in the sky and had to make tracks for the car. Considering the drive this is probably better as a backpack or car camp.
Flora
Flora
Saguaro
Culture
Culture
Cairn
_____________________
Feb 16 2013
slowandsteady
avatar

 Routes 67
 Photos 966
 Triplogs 694

45 female
 Joined Jan 05 2012
 Phoenix,AZ
Sheep Bridge / Mountain Spring LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 16 2013
slowandsteady
Hiking22.98 Miles 4,774 AEG
Hiking22.98 Miles   11 Hrs   30 Mns   2.30 mph
4,774 ft AEG   1 Hour   30 Mns Break
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
BiFrost
We arrived at the trailhead around 8AM. I was surprised by the number of people camping. They had fires going and were beginning to wake up.

The bridge is pretty neat to walk across.

The western side of the Mazatal's doesn't compare to beauty of the eastern side, in my opinion.

The trail was faint but we had the GPS tracks from HAZ to keep us on track.

We arrived back to the car about an hour after dark and the number of campers had double since the morning!
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Jun 23 2012
juliachaos
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 Routes 37
 Photos 2,160
 Triplogs 627

37 female
 Joined Mar 01 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Sheep Bridge / Mountain Spring LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Car Camping avatar Jun 23 2012
juliachaos
Car Camping
Car Camping2 Days         
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Out for Kim's & Cat's birthday celebration! Camped, played good music (multiple guitars, bongos, slide whistle, and lots of singers), swam, soaked, and some people cliff-jumped. Made for a crazy weekend, and one super fun way to celebrate our friends!

But.. "What happens at Sheep Bridge, stays at Sheep Bridge." ;)
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Nov 28 2011
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 8
 Routes 337
 Photos 5,898
 Triplogs 440

73 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Sheep Bridge / Mountain Spring LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 28 2011
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking3.00 Miles
Hiking3.00 Miles
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Drove into Sheep Bridge on a 3 day camping trip to explore the area. The last few miles were slow going but OK with moderate ground clearance and 4 wheel drive. I planned to take a day hike up the Verde River Trail (#11) for about 4 miles and return to camp for the night at the bridge site. I parked at the entrance to the bridge but decided to check out the source of gun shots before starting my hike. There was a guy and his girl friend target shooting on the gravel bar at the bend of the river - since they were shooting towards the trail(my destination) on the other side of the river I decided to take a closer look before venturing across the bridge. After watching them for a while I determined that it was safe to cross the river since their target was backed up by a high cliff and they were not taking any wild shots. I ended up hiking only about 2 miles up the trail - just didn't have any energy for some reason. So headed back and set up camp on the river bank with a huge rock out-cropping between me and the shooters - they kept up their target practice all day until dark. It was a beautiful fall day with great views of the fall foliage along the river.
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Oct 22 2011
juliachaos
avatar

 Routes 37
 Photos 2,160
 Triplogs 627

37 female
 Joined Mar 01 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Sheep Bridge / Mountain Spring LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Car Camping avatar Oct 22 2011
juliachaos
Car Camping
Car Camping2 Days         
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
maloner
MunkiDahle
I don't honestly know why there are not more people visiting this beautiful area.. not complaining though. ;) We did see our fair share of 4x4's but everyone was friendly and they didn't linger. Our group just hung around for the weekend to camp on the shore and burn wood on the beach and take pictures. (And maybe share a few adult beverages and make memories that no one shall ever know of.) Tee hee. We all had a great time; just wish I'd have remembered that I changed the camera over to a super high ISO for night shots.. everything the next day came out ridiculously grainy, like it's from the '70s.. bummer guess I'll have to go back and take more pics. ;)
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Mar 12 2011
topohiker
avatar

 Guides 13
 Routes 112
 Photos 4,377
 Triplogs 1,755

male
 Joined Oct 29 2005
 Scottsdale, AZ
Sheep Bridge / Mountain Spring LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 12 2011
topohiker
Hiking27.47 Miles 4,872 AEG
Hiking27.47 Miles   10 Hrs   30 Mns   2.62 mph
4,872 ft AEG
 
I've wanted to check this area out for a couple of years. My timing has always been off. Due to the road, you shouldn't go during the rainy season and with the lower elevations, mid to late spring doesn't work out. I finally found my window. Armed with GPSJoe's track I headed out. I left my house at 5:15am. I made to the FR24/FR269 intersection by ~7:15. Now I started the 12 mile rough road. About 9 miles in, I started to hear a new odd sound coming from my front passenger tire :scared: . I jumped out and looked, but didn't see anything wrong. I went another mile before deciding to stop driving. I read reports that he last two miles of the road were the worst, I parked at mile 10 on FR269. This is where I started my hike. Without knowing what the road conditions were ahead, I didn't want to chance my Jeep breaking down. By this point I had driven 70 miles and it took me 3 hour to it.

I hoofed it down to the bridge. The remaining two miles on the road was OK. But still that new sound worried me. The views were awesome. I'm glad I brought my good camera. There was a bunch of people camping at the TH. There was one person camping on the beach. I headed over the bridge. The Verde River was flowing well. I started up the Willow Spring trail. It was cool looking at the eastern mountain range of the Mazatzal's. Typically I'm in the mountain ranges looking west at the Verde. I came across two backpackers getting water in the Horse Creek. As the morning heated up, I started to climb to the higher elevations and into the cooler temps. As I started my climb down, it started to get warm again. I pumped some water at the Sycamore creek. The Dutchman Grave had a couple of areas where I needed to refer to GPSJoes route. The trail gets obscured by grass and I wasn't paying 100% because I was taking in the views

At 4:30 I saw my first Gila monster for the year! I noticed that every Gila monster I've seen has been in the 4 o'clock hour. I also explored a little up the Verde River trail. I got back to the Jeep just at night fell. I took the drive back slow as to avoid that new dreaded sound. It took me four hours to get back hour.

This area is a new playground for me :y: It has numerous trails with a lot of connectors. There a lot of exploring to do! The only bad thing is the long slow drive out.
Fauna
Fauna
Gila Monster
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"Everywhere is walking distance...If you have the time"
-Stephen Wright
Mar 05 2007
mazatzal
avatar

 Routes 31
 Photos 2,166
 Triplogs 1,074

62 male
 Joined Jul 28 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Sheep Bridge / Mountain Spring LoopPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Backpack avatar Mar 05 2007
mazatzal
Backpack22.80 Miles 2,930 AEG
Backpack22.80 Miles4 Days         
2,930 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Day 1
We took Willow Springs trail to, you guessed it, Willow Spring. I guess the Willow fire started somewhere near here. :(

Day 2
Short day. We continued along WS to Mountain Spring. We thought we had stumbled into a large work crew and so we camped downstream from them. They had a large canvas tent with tables and then about 10 or more dome tents scattered around. :o We assumed they were out working and would be back soon but we never saw or heard anybody so we never found out what the story was.
(Update: Next time back here in Nov 2010 there was no sign of any of the gear.)

We camped at a small clearing perhaps 100 yards down from the spring and there was more bear scat than I have ever seen in one place - although it wasn't recent... :scared:

Day3
We took Dutchman Grave trail to Dutchman Grave Spring. Saw 2 deer on the opposite of a canyon.

Day4
Easy hike out to Sheep Bridge. Saw 2 javelina on the drive out.
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average hiking speed 2.5 mph

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.

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