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Oct 30 2019
markthurman53
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 Guides 187
 Routes 741
 Photos 8,338
 Triplogs 567

68 male
 Joined Jun 27 2015
 Tucson, Arizona
Fife Turkey Pen Rock Canyon Loop, AZ 
Fife Turkey Pen Rock Canyon Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Oct 30 2019
markthurman53
Hiking13.63 Miles 2,589 AEG
Hiking13.63 Miles   7 Hrs   38 Mns   2.15 mph
2,589 ft AEG   1 Hour   18 Mns Break15 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Back to the Chiricahua Mountains but this time in Turkey Canyon on the south slopes of Witch Ridge. Until I get new tires for the jeep I'm staying off the Pine Canyon Road which is on the north side of Witch Ridge. I had originally planned on the Rock Creek trail from the west end and then up Fife Canyon Trail to Witch Ridge but the road to the western terminus of the Rock Creek Trail is on private property. I had to change plans on the fly. The Turkey Pen Trail that starts on forest service land would do the trick. I have not been to Turkey Canyon since I was in my teens, don't know if much has changed in the canyon since then but as for me, my hair got thinner, my eyes a little worse and my bones now creak when I walk.

The Turkey Pen Trail #262 much to my surprise is actually a trail. Nice to be on a trail after my last few excursions in this area. This trail passes over a small ridge that separates Turkey Canyon from Turkey Pen Canyon, then follows up Turkey Pen Canyon crosses another ridge that leads down into Rock Creek. The trail is in fair condition, a little overgrown in places by mainly grasses but easy to follow and walk. Turkey Pen Creek had water in a few pools along mid canyon. I took the Turkey Pen Trail in 1.8 miles to the Fife Canyon Trail #273 (Hughes Tank Trail #262B) and took that.

The signed Fife Canyon Trail junction is along the Turkey Pen Trail. This trail exits Turkey Pen creek crosses over a ridge and passes by Hughes Tank then crosses Rock Creek. This trail is also called the Hughes Tank Trail #262B. I have seen it called out as either. The difference is the Hughes Tank trail ends at Rock creek but the Fife Canyon Trail heads up to Fife Saddle then down Fife Canyon to Pine Creek. The Hughes Tank portion of the Fife Canyon Trail is in good condition to Rock Creek. It crosses over a ridge that separates Turkey Pen Canyon from Rock Creek. Hughes Tank (dry) is just a few hundred yards from Rock Creek. Fife Canyon Trail continues from Rock creek at the signed intersection and heads up to Fife Saddle. This trail follows an old jeep trail and is fairly easy to follow. Every so often I would loose the trail but by looking at my GPS and religiously follow the jeep trail I was able to get back on track. The jeep trail is now just a single track trail but every so often you can see that it use to be more. I was feeling really lucky because the two trails I was on so far were actually trails. I knew that would change once on the Witch Ridge Trail. At Fife Saddle is a sign pointing the way for the Fife Canyon Trail and the Witch Ridge Trail.

The Witch Ridge Trail was what I expected, pretty much non existent. I came a little more prepared this time because I learned this too use to be a jeep trail and is shown as such on 1974 topo maps. Also in my favor this area was not overgrown with thick Manzanita and fallen trees. As like the other portions of the Witch Ridge Trail, it is there but it gets covered with brush making it hard to find and once found stay on track. Knowing that it once was a jeep trail I had to think and be like a jeep (no not break down on the side of the road). I found this portion of Witch Ridge a little easier to stay on track, still got off track where the brush got thick but was able to recover faster. I only had time to hike west on the Witch Ridge for about a mile to a nameless Saddle. Will have to finish up the western portion another day from another direction. Really nice views of the Chiricahua Crest from this trail. I returned the way I came back down to Rock Creek.

Once in Rock Creek I took that trail East to the Northern terminus of the Turkey Pen Trail. Rock Creek Trail is easy enough to follow, just stay along the creek and walk along what ever side looks the easiest to walk on and you will be on trail. There are Rock cairns along most creek crossings. Fairly easy walking except when you are in the creek bed where it is rocky and easy to loose balance. Very scenic walk in this canyon. There was water intermittently running along the creek. I also discovered that there is a Fitch Corral Trail near the junction with the Turkey Pen Trail and this junction is signed. I returned via the Turkey Pen Trail.

Overall great hike. Perfect weather maybe a bit chilly when the breeze picked up in the late afternoon with my wet shirt on. I saw lots of White Tail deer, I quit counting after 30 or so. Other than the deer and a very close encounter with a golden eagle I saw no other wild life (I don't count cattle as wildlife, it actually looks like a pretty boring life to me)

dry Hughes Tank Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Turkey Pen Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
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average hiking speed 2.15 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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