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Alder Creek Trail #82 - 3 members in 7 triplogs have rated this an average 3.3 ( 1 to 5 best )
7 triplogs
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Dec 11 2021
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66 male
 Joined Jan 20 2009
 Far NE Phoenix,
Hells Hip Pocket Ridge from Cottonwood Camp, AZ 
Hells Hip Pocket Ridge from Cottonwood Camp, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Dec 11 2021
The_Eagle
Hiking20.52 Miles 4,797 AEG
Hiking20.52 Miles   10 Hrs   39 Mns   2.13 mph
4,797 ft AEG   1 Hour   1 Min Break15 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Partners partners
joebartels
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
This hike is a ball buster. It's not the 20 miles or the 4800 feet of gain it's the never ending rocks, hidden rocks and hidden cacti. The payoff is well worth all the BS. Wow.

We started just before the sun was coming up and finished as it was going down. A good use of all available light.

The last time I was on lower Soldier #84, there was no real path to begin. It follows the drainage and was chocked with trees and brush. Since the fire and subsequent rains, it is now the smoothest and easiest part of the entire hike. Unfortunately, it only lasts for a mile, before the climb out of the drainage begins.

The climb up Lower Soldier is a steep one. For the remainder of this hike, a GPS track is highly encouraged. There are cairns along the way, but the grass covers them up in many places. We hit the climb during the golden hour, so the views were extra special. The rain from the previous days had cleared the skies all around us.

We hit FR401 for the road walk portion. This road seems to be much worse that the last time I was on it, and it was not good then. When it's tough to walk on, it's tough to drive on.

The area at the Cane Spring TH seemed to be the worst burnt area we saw. All in all there was much more unburned than burned area. The areas we hiked, seemed to be 95% untouched.

The Circle Bar Ranch building is either new or refreshed. It was very clean and smelled almost new on the inside.
There was an old cement foundation in front of it. Maybe the old building? The drainage that's Cane Spring Canyon has flashed and is completely uncross-able by a vehicle. It actually had a decent flow still going from the recent rain

Alder Creek Trail #82 is an old FR. It disappears in many places but is not hard to find. We were only on this trail for about a mile, before we started our off trail journey. It was mainly grassy landscape with the before mentioned hidden surprises.

The payoff was starting to come into view after gaining Peak 3509. Apache Lake, the geographically splendiferous Superstitions and Four Peaks Wilderness are just jaw dropping. You don't take in these type of view anywhere else.

We fought the forecasted 5-10mph winds that were closer 20-25mph. At our turnaround and lunch destination we were lucky enough to find a place with tremendous views as well as shelter from the wind. We sat on a cliff on the north side of the Salt River, overlooking the Salt River Project Housing and Horse Mesa.
Lunch Spot: [ youtube video ]

If this area was easier to access, I'd love to do more exploring around here.

The hike back was uneventful and all we could think about was getting back to the last one mile stretch of smooth sailing in the wash.

Temps were a tad cool in the morning with the winds but were manageable all day. The wind finally started to lie down around 3pm.

Cane Spring trailhead area has burned pretty good

Lunch and turn around spot
[ youtube video ]
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wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

dry Boulder Creek Dry Dry
It had flashed recently and was damp.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Cane Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Full trough of clear cool water surrounded much cow splop .
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There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
Dave Barry 🦅
2 archives
Dec 11 2021
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 Guides 260
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52 male
 Joined Nov 20 1996
 Phoenix, AZ
Hell's Hip Pocket Ridge from Cottonwood Camp, AZ 
Hell's Hip Pocket Ridge from Cottonwood Camp, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Dec 11 2021
joebartels
Hiking20.09 Miles 4,797 AEG
Hiking20.09 Miles   10 Hrs   38 Mns   2.09 mph
4,797 ft AEG   1 Hour   2 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners partners
The_Eagle
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
It was time to walk the talk and take Bruce to hell and back.

Drive to Cottonwood Camp
FR401 is still smoother than FR143 to FR401. While most can get to Cottonwood Camp if dry, beware of the final drop to the creek, it is steep. It is currently in good condition with only minor ruts to cross near the bottom. There is a makeshift pullout spot above the drop. However, it's not flat and a potential hazard in itself. Bruce had no trouble down to Cottonwood Camp in his AWD Subaru. It would be unwise in 2WD if not dry. I've seen deep washouts near the bottom, but not for twenty years. You are committed midway down without 4WD.

Lower Soldier Camp Trail #84
Cairns start just after 1 mile, getting out of the easy travel creekbed. There's a nasty bush right in the middle of the trail right as you start to ascend. The area is toast and washed out but well cairned almost to the top. Knee-high grass in areas.

Top of #84 - FR401 to Cane Spring TH
Per usual, this is one gnarly road. It has been obliterated near the Cane Spring Trail junction before Cane Spring TH.

Alder Creek Trail #82
It's far from enjoyable to follow but it's really not terrible. Catclaw to our turnoff was not problematic with awareness. The upper stretch we utilized is not its glory but it was the only level trail we followed with mini hints of relaxation.

Hell's Hip Pocket Ridge
My fourth visit, the last was ten years ago. The furthest point on this hike is eleven miles east of Bush Hwy. Even if it was advertised on a billboard it wouldn't be crowded. Bruce found a horseshoe that I suspect is in my 2004 photoset. While I wouldn't attempt without GPS, it was cool to have a feel for the route in areas with zero preplanning or review. This area will probably burn a few more times in my life. No biggie, the only thing that sucks here is that you will never be able to explore all of the views.

Synopsis
We passed three inspirational adventures and two explorers that primarily post to corporate media. Actually, I've never crossed paths with anyone east of Cottonwood Creek & South of Cottonwood Camp. The wicked geology of this rarely visited southern wilderness is nice, the power of four looming overhead is unmatched. The approach is cursable for long stretches, pants are a must. Gaiters would reduce the painful foxtails. Gusting wind half the day was my toughest obstacle. Unfortunately, all that pain is over.
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation None
just red and orange weeds, not what folks seek
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
Parish's goldeneye, Brittlebush, New Mexico Thistle, buckwheat, and Bruce shocked me identifying Four O'Clock

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Cane Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
water report recorded in the field on our app Route Scout The area smells terrible with cow activity but the water is crystal clear and running
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- joe
Apr 25 2015
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male
 Joined Oct 29 2005
 Scottsdale, AZ
Brown's CavePhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 25 2015
topohiker
Hiking25.32 Miles 4,829 AEG
Hiking25.32 Miles   14 Hrs   40 Mns   2.43 mph
4,829 ft AEG   4 Hrs   15 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners partners
fan3992
Fan and I went from the Cottonwood TH to Browns Cave.

Lower Soldier Trail
It took a minute to figure the start of the trail, but once we did there was cairns to lead you all the way to FR401.
Along the way to the Cane's spring TH, we stopped at the shack.

Alder Creek Trail
The trail started out as an old road and was very easy to follow. When the trail hit the Long canyon, we stayed in the canyon
until the trail pulled away. Then we bushwhacked over the trail. There been some recent trail maintenance until you hit the
Crabtree cabin. It took us a couple of minutes to figure out how to get to the cabin. There was a sign-in board at the cabin.
Fan & I were the first people to represent HAZ. There was quite a bit of Crabtree relatives visiting the cabin.
The route finding was a little more challenging past the cabin.

The Jungle aka "Brown Cave"
We lost the trail as we approached the descent into Alder Creek. We found two stone walls leading down to the creek.
Then we had to fight the jungle to get to the Creek. When got the creek Fan was done. The plan was to
go to the Cave then have lunch at the river /lake. Fan didn't want the fight anymore jungle, so I went on alone.

Beyond the jungle
I pushed through the jungle and walked right past Brown's Cave and continued on down the creek. For a stretch the water went underground.
I made to the 10 foot waterfall then stopped. The sky clouded up and the wind started to blow.
It looked like the 20% chance of rain was going to hit. I didn't have any Jedi masters to talk me into
climb down and up the waterfalls, so I turned around.

The trip back
The temps dropped fast as we headed back. This time we took the trail instead of going in Long creek.
The trail was easy to follow and mostly free of vegetation. As we started to climb out, the rain started.
It poured pretty hard for about 10 minutes, then it backed off. It rained for the last 4 hours of the hike.
We made it to the shed at Cane's Spring in time to put on the headlamps. We took FR401 all the way back to the Jeep.
Along the we saw an abandoned quad-runner. As we approached the Jeep the rain started to dump on us.

The road out
I was concerned about driving out with 4+ hours of rain. The road was slick but I didn't have any major issues getting out.
The Jeep did fishtailed in a couple of spots.


](*,) Items that are MIA in the Jungle ](*,)
- HAZ-tracks android phone (good thing it was only $29.99)
- gators
- GPS Lithium ION rechargeable battery

This is a cool area to explorer. The terrain is slow moving and you should have a GPS route to get to alder creek.
I had long pants with gators and the a couple of Foxtails still managed to get in my socks!

I want to go back to take Long canyon to the river.
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-Stephen Wright
2 archives
Mar 22 2014
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52 male
 Joined Nov 20 1996
 Phoenix, AZ
Four Peaks Circumference, AZ 
Four Peaks Circumference, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 22 2014
joebartels
Hiking27.60 Miles 7,400 AEG
Hiking27.60 Miles   16 Hrs   28 Mns   1.78 mph
7,400 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break14 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
This loop and especially Alder Creek has intrigued me since the '90s. Karl & I started at Mud Spring TH, hiked the road to Lone Pine then took #130 out to #82 ( not to be confused with Alder "Saddle" Trail #81 ).

Alder Creek Trail #82
Nature has reclaimed the trail. Perhaps 7% exists for the 6.25 miles heading down to Brown's Cave. Of that the creek is a less painful avenue. The area is everything I envisioned as a wided eyed kid thumbing through hiking books. Water is abundant and trees offer shade on occasion. The challenges of life are defenseless against you and Alder Creek Canyon is all yours.

Once out of Alder Creek the trail over to the trailhead is just route finding. Someone has kindly re-cairned 0.5mi to 1.6mi ( west to east ). It follows quicker than in previous years and catclaw only snagged once.

Cane Spring Trail #77
Easy to follow... in the dark! Someone must do periodic maintenance. Shocking out in the middle of nowhere and it only leads to the tragic mess on #83.

Soldier Camp Trail #83
Difficult to assess as it was dark. Seemed like a nuisance cairn hunt. I'm guessing it's not so bad in daylight. Killer night view back to Phoenix heading up to Big Saddle.

Never say never, it "seems" unlikely I'll redo this loop. One thing for sure... feels GREAT to join the got 'er done club! Thanks to Karl for helping bring this dream home!

Carried 5 quarts, consumed 6.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
Strawberry Hedgehog was busting out for 10-15 miles of our hike. 1 - Desert Anemone near Paint Puddles, 1 - Desert Chicory mid Alder Creek. Medium patches of Desert Phlox on south expanse. A few iron yellow varieties.

dry Adams Camp Spring Dry Dry
Immediate area was damp. Perhaps something to filter if you poke around.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Alder Creek - Four Peaks Medium flow Medium flow
Flowing about 80% through upper 5-6 miles ( majority ) of creek. Shockingly* great flow, maybe 10 gpm. Lots of three foot waterfalls along the way. No sign of cattle grazing.

* Last rain was 1-2 inches three weeks ago. Previous rain was two months prior, very dry spring around Arizona in 2014.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Alder Creek - South Swim Hole 76-100% full 76-100% full
Full, clear and creek flowing at least a gpm. Soon after the creek dried for the next mile.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Paint Spring Dripping Dripping
Enough to filter. From previous experiences you can find a slight flow to pools further down.
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- joe
Mar 22 2014
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 Guides 4
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52 male
 Joined Nov 20 2012
 Phoenix, AZ
Four Peaks Circumference, AZ 
Four Peaks Circumference, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 22 2014
BiFrost
Hiking27.63 Miles 7,433 AEG
Hiking27.63 Miles   16 Hrs   28 Mns   1.97 mph
7,433 ft AEG   2 Hrs   25 Mns Break
 
1st trip
This hike has been on the list and Joe offered it up and worked out the route. Of course had to say yes to this oppturnity. Early start about 615am from Mud Spring TH walking up the road to Lone Pine TH. Good warm up for the real hike to come.

Once at Lone Pine TH we started down Four Peaks trail enjoying the traverse over to Black Bear Saddle. Great views along this section of Four Peaks and the lake. Black Bear Saddle is where the fun begins or pain depending on your perspective. There is a trail Alder Creek #82 but it's pretty much not there. We made several attempts to follow the trail but brush was too thick and path of least resistance was the creek. Very nice in the creek with water and pools most of the way down. So we did about 6 miles of boulder hopping down canyon to where the trail leaves it and heads over to Cane Spring TH. Alder is a great canyon...really enjoyed the numerous pools, mini-falls and scenery.

Finally made it to where Alder trail leaves the canyon and started heading over to Long Canyon. This section is also really nice...Joe pointing out some of the dramatic views, cliffs, and interesting rock. Also saw wild burro and pack of javalina's between Alder Creek and Cane Spring. Wish we had more time to explore this great area but time was not on our side.

We got to Cane Spring TH and it was getting very late in the day. Had to do much of the last 7 miles in the dark and trail conditions or non-trail in many spots made this time consuming. It was a tough stretch but finally made it over Big Saddle on the Soldier Camp Trail #83. Tough trail to follow but maybe it was due to darkness.

Thanks for putting this one together Joe :D
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Dec 08 2012
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 Guides 260
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52 male
 Joined Nov 20 1996
 Phoenix, AZ
Painted Cliffs, AZ 
Painted Cliffs, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Dec 08 2012
joebartels
Hiking20.40 Miles 5,160 AEG
Hiking20.40 Miles   13 Hrs      1.70 mph
5,160 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break8 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
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The_Eagle
20 the hard way. Dark yet blinding roller coaster route finding challenge with cholla joy. Not for the timid. Elements beg my return...
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foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Moderate

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Adams Camp Spring Dripping Dripping
plenty to filter

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Cane Spring Dripping Dripping
easier to find than expected, plenty to filter in trough, nice and clear
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Dec 08 2012
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66 male
 Joined Jan 20 2009
 Far NE Phoenix,
Painted Cliffs, AZ 
Painted Cliffs, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Dec 08 2012
The_Eagle
Hiking20.77 Miles 5,279 AEG
Hiking20.77 Miles   12 Hrs   58 Mns   1.74 mph
5,279 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break10 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Partners partners
joebartels
Plans were to start at the Cottonwood TH, hike Lower Soldier Camp Trail, to Alder Creek Trail, down Long Canyon, to Apache Lake. Then find a route across to Alder Creek Trail, up and back to the TH.

We never saw the beginning of this trail, because we started hiking with 45 minutes in the dark and the last 2 hours of this hike were in the dark.

Lower Soldier Camp Trail was faint at best (Except the part on the road) as we became Cholla magnets in the dark. We made the saddle where the trail meets the FR at first light for spectacular views. From here is was a road walk to Cane Spring. We checked out the Spring and and started following Alder Creek Trail.

Adler Creek Trail with a GPS and good eyes for buried cairnes was find-able in spots, non existent in others. On the way in, we opted for dropping into Long Canyon to get out of the blood sucking cat claw. We made our way down to a choked out spring area and decided we had reached our turn around time.

We climbed up and out on the loose crumbly rock, for the views making the blood letting all worth it! The Painted Cliffs area. We played on the loose stuff looking for a different route that got us out of Long Canyon and on our way back. We dropped into a sweet unnamed canyon and climbed out to the Alder Creek trail.

We took lunch at Adams Camp and then did our best to follow Alder Creek trail back. The wild Burro tracks followed it for awhile, then it was lost again.

From here back to the TH was a blur.

The destination was incredible, the journey was a tough one.

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foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Moderate

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Adams Camp Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Filterable water available among the Cattails!

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Cane Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Plenty of clear clean filterable water in the Concrete trough.
Tasted good also!

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Long Canyon Creek-Four Peaks Quart per minute Quart per minute
Water available in pools in numerous locations.
Cottonwoods and cattails suggest perinnial source.
_____________________
There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
Dave Barry 🦅
1 archive
average hiking speed 1.98 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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