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South Fort - Castle Creek Wilderness - 4 members in 8 triplogs have rated this an average 3.3 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Apr 20 2019
Nightstalker
avatar

 Routes 74
 Photos 5,526
 Triplogs 736

51 male
 Joined Apr 25 2011
 Phoenix, AZ
Horsethief Basin East Fort South Fort Loop, AZ 
Horsethief Basin East Fort South Fort Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Apr 20 2019
Nightstalker
Hiking5.60 Miles 1,230 AEG
Hiking5.60 Miles   3 Hrs   32 Mns   2.10 mph
1,230 ft AEG      52 Mns Break13 LBS Pack
 
Partners partners
Gallydoll
SCA
Beautiful day to be in Crown King! Had the full harem with me today for the long ride up to Horsethief Basin. Road up to Crown King was in excellent shape and from there to HTB was in really good shape as well.

Kept it simple and just did the East and South Forts. Didn't see anyone on the trail today, not I have in the past either. Could see the snow capped peaks of the San Francisco range in Flagstaff to the north and Lake Pleasant to the south. We were picking up trail trash on the leg between East Fort and South Fort. I bagged an empty can of Miller Lite and Gallydoll scored an empty tube of Astroglide. There was no end to the butt jokes :)

Lunch at the Mill in Crown King afterwards with a stop at the General Store to pick up some of their world famous fudge.
Culture
Culture
Gallydoll Pose
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
_____________________
Apr 29 2017
Nightstalker
avatar

 Routes 74
 Photos 5,526
 Triplogs 736

51 male
 Joined Apr 25 2011
 Phoenix, AZ
Horsethief Basin East Fort South Fort Loop, AZ 
Horsethief Basin East Fort South Fort Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Apr 29 2017
Nightstalker
Hiking6.88 Miles 1,653 AEG
Hiking6.88 Miles   4 Hrs   15 Mns   2.17 mph
1,653 ft AEG   1 Hour   5 Mns Break14 LBS Pack
 
Third time back in as many years to Horsethief Basin. The views are spectacular, I get to use my Jeep for what it is intended, lunch at the Mill afterwards, and fudge from the Crown King General Store; it is the quadfecta hike trip!

Gathered up my hiking harem at the McDonalds at I-17 and Carefree highway for the 2 hour drive up to Horsethief basin. I originally planned this as a beat the heat of Spring hike, but a cold front set our trailhead temp between 37 and 40 degrees. Luckily, we were prepped for the cool start.

The road up to Crown King is bladed and graded and high speed in the Jeep. The initial part of the road from Crown King to Horsethief Basin has recently been graded and is nice and smooth. It doesn't last long until you're bouncing your way through rocks and ruts on your way to the Recreation Area and toward the Fire Tower Lookout. If you leave Phoenix early enough, you will have little to no traffic to contend with on your way up the hill.

There's room for 2 cars on FS52 at the trailhead for East Fort Trail #31. We decided to do something different this year. We started our day with a hike up FS52 to the Horsethief Lookout Tower. The attendant passed us in his Suzuki Samurai on the way up, but was in no hurry to climb up the expanded metal steps and open the tower for visitors. That's OK, we were anxious to get on the trail and get out of the chilly early morning winds.

I was looking forward to Coal Camp Spring Trail #203 as it would cut some roadwork out of this already jeep road heavy loop. To quote The Eagle from his 2012 trip log, "Coal Camp #203 to Jim Creek #235 - Nice little Connector to both Willow Springs and Jim Creek TH's from the Lookout. Route not bad, GPS Track helpful" and Hansenaz from 2016, "After the overlook I needed some IT help. (Invisible Trail) But not too dense and easy enough to keep heading the right way. This whole area has burned and though it's much more green than black these days I think the net effect is that some old roads have disappeared. Eventually I hit a Jeep Rd / ATV track and took that to South Fort." From the lookout tower, there's a sign and the trail starts nice enough with some deadfall and wild flowers (weeds), but the footpath is easy enough to follow. The romance with #203 didn't last long though and we found ourselves searching for the path of least resistance through the dense fields of cat claw. Undeterred, we pushed through the pain for a little over a mile before coming out on the road to Jim Creek Trail and ultimately, South Fort Ruins.

It was a nice reprieve to be out of the cat claw and picking up the pace down the road. We were rewarded with beautiful purple snapdragons lining the roadway. For as windy as it has been over the past week, we were afforded great views south over Lake Pleasant, Cardinals Stadium, and South Mountain.

Coming back down from South Fort and heading north on FS696 toward Willow Springs trail saved us the brutal ascent up the fire cut doing the loop in the opposite direction as we had done in the past. There were a couple of slips and falls as we dropped off the hill but no injuries were sustained.

reaching the bottom of the hill we turned right on East Fort Trail #31. Nature has started reclaiming this trail at spots and despite having been on the trail twice before, there was a couple of sections that left scratching our heads for a moment. The snow capped San Francisco peaks were visible to the north and blooming hedgehog cactus were littered throughout the ruins. After enjoying some caffeinated jelly beans and relaxing on the warm rocks, we made our way back up to the jeep.

On the way back out, we stopped and took in the sites around Horsethief lake and then down into Crown King for a delicious lunch at the Mill and a round of fudge at the Crown King General Store.

What a wonderful day only 75 miles from Phoenix.
Flora
Flora
Claret Cup Cactus
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Extreme
Snapdragons abound!

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Coal Camp Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
Running water and pools

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Horsethief Lake 76-100% full 76-100% full
_____________________
Aug 06 2016
Nightstalker
avatar

 Routes 74
 Photos 5,526
 Triplogs 736

51 male
 Joined Apr 25 2011
 Phoenix, AZ
Horsethief Basin East Fort South Fort Loop, AZ 
Horsethief Basin East Fort South Fort Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Aug 06 2016
Nightstalker
Hiking5.53 Miles 1,170 AEG
Hiking5.53 Miles   4 Hrs   15 Mns   2.27 mph
1,170 ft AEG   1 Hour   49 Mns Break16 LBS Pack
 
Partners partners
Gallydoll
After 1 year and 3 months I returned to do this loop again with 3 hiking buddies. Even though Crown King got 5 inches of rain this week (according to the woman at the General Store), they got no rain yesterday and the road up to Horsethief Basin was in good shape (not much mud). Went to both East Fort and South Fort. Both are same condition as my last visit with East Fort being the more interesting site and South Fort affording excellent views south towards Lake Pleasant. We saw 5 horny toads on the trail and a deer on the road to Horsethief Basin.
_____________________
Apr 16 2016
Hansenaz
avatar

 Guides 4
 Routes 162
 Photos 6,330
 Triplogs 374

67 male
 Joined Apr 06 2005
 Phoenix, AZ
Bradshaws Fort Loop, AZ 
Bradshaws Fort Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Apr 16 2016
Hansenaz
Hiking8.54 Miles 1,982 AEG
Hiking8.54 Miles   4 Hrs   36 Mns   2.06 mph
1,982 ft AEG      27 Mns Break
 
1st trip
A while ago Bruce the Eagle gifted me with a custom made GPS loop he thought I'd like - thought I should give it a whirl.

The road to the trail head is pretty rough, definitely high clearance required. The Kentuck trail up to Horsethief Overlook was nice. Looked to me like the attendant was away...maybe a Saturday in town.

After the overlook I needed some IT help. (Invisible Trail) But not too dense and easy enough to keep heading the right way. This whole area has burned and though it's much more green than black these days I think the net effect is that some old roads have disappeared. Eventually I hit a Jeep Rd / ATV track and took that to South Fort. The rocky outcrop has a commanding view and is a natural defensive site but just a single stacked wall.

From there I followed another track to East Fort. This one is much more impressive with some extensive high walls - better than I expected. This fort overlooks Perry Mesa - maybe it's considered part of the line-of-site communication network thought to be operative 700 yrs ago. I saw just a couple small pottery pieces there.

Continuing on from East Fort there were more IT problems and a lot of deadfall in the places the old road could be seen. But again I soon hit another Jeep Rd and looped back to the start.

This hike was quite a change of pace for me. The granite strewn country is nice (though being more ATV than hiking trail-dominated detracts) and the whole walk occurs, more or less, on top of the mountain. I'd sort of been planning a beer and burger in Crown King on the way out, but the timing was wrong and the center looked crowded (this is a relative term), so I just headed back.
Named place
Named place
Horsethief Lookout Tower
_____________________
1 archive
May 27 2015
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

64 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
South Fort - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar May 27 2015
AZWanderingBear
Hiking1.70 Miles 390 AEG
Hiking1.70 Miles
390 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
AZBeaver
After completing Kentuck Trail, we drove to Coal Camp to head up to South Fort. Years ago when I bought my Jeep this was my first big solo foray into the wilds of the Bradshaw Mountains. Have always enjoyed the views and the now humorous memories of hoping I survived that first trip.

The temps were perfect and we took our time hiking up, just soaking in the joy of being away from the hustle and bustle below us to the south. Kind of hazy, so the views weren't the best. Enjoyed clambering around the rocks nonetheless.

Had a bit of lunch back at the Jeep and headed off to East Fort.
Flora
Flora
Indian Paintbrush
Geology
Geology
Granite
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
1 archive
May 17 2015
Nightstalker
avatar

 Routes 74
 Photos 5,526
 Triplogs 736

51 male
 Joined Apr 25 2011
 Phoenix, AZ
Horsethief Basin East Fort South Fort Loop, AZ 
Horsethief Basin East Fort South Fort Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar May 17 2015
Nightstalker
Hiking5.84 Miles 1,332 AEG
Hiking5.84 Miles   3 Hrs   53 Mns   2.31 mph
1,332 ft AEG   1 Hour   21 Mns Break16 LBS Pack
 
Partners none no partners
I was looking to bag East Fort in the Castle Creek Wilderness for quite some time now. My buddy Dodson was in town from Pennsylvania and a trip to Crown King and Horsethief Basin seemed to fit the bill.

The drive up to Crown King was good. The section of road from Crown King to FR52 was really bad. FR52 out to Horsethief Basin was muddy in spots (it rained and snowed on Friday) but was generally in better condition then the short stretch from Crown King. You totally need a high clearance vehicle past Crown King right now.

We parked on FR52 and hiked down the old access road to East Fort Trail #31 as was suggested in the previous trip logs. That was a good thing since the road going in quickly turned impassable, as least for me and my Jeep! Following Trail #31 was easy enough, it is well worn and well cairned in the rocky sections. We saw at least a half dozen horned lizards between the Jeep and FR696. Returning the way we came we followed a fire break straight up the side of a hill that eventually turned into FR696. Once on top, FR696 turns into a nice jeep road and descends gradually to the South Fort Trail. South Fort trail is super short and easy to follow. We then followed FR696 back to FR52 and the Jeep. Great loop! Awesome views! Perfect weather! Headed up to the fire tower and chatted with the Ranger. Then into Crown King General Store to pick up some of the best fudge in the state and off to the Saloon for some burgers and beers. It doesn't get any better than this!
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Substantial
_____________________
Jun 28 2014
The_Eagle
avatar

 Guides 5
 Routes 793
 Photos 9,456
 Triplogs 1,136

64 male
 Joined Jan 20 2009
 Far NE Phoenix,
Lane Mountain - Willow Spring Loop, AZ 
Lane Mountain - Willow Spring Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jun 28 2014
The_Eagle
Hiking21.46 Miles 5,000 AEG
Hiking21.46 Miles   11 Hrs   31 Mns   2.38 mph
5,000 ft AEG   2 Hrs   30 Mns Break16 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Back to attempt this loop after being thwarted last week with Mechanical problems.
There was another Vehicle at the TH at 7:30 with all doors open. I noticed there was a guy on the ground, on a pad, asleep. When we got out we noticed the Truck was running :-k . There were two chairs set up with a cooler and empties... All strange, but we had a hike to do.

Nice temps in the 70's as we hiked FR 100 towards to the top of Watson peak. First time up here and the views were Killer at our high point of 7203' for the day.

Back down to make the turn on Lane Mountain #233 which sets up some great views to the south and west. We found the old sign for the Sullivan Spring and decided to give it a looky see... took awhile, but success, complete w/ filterable water.

I have been talking with Jason Williams, the Trails & Wilderness Manager for the Prescott Natl. Forest, and giving him trail updates and asking questions. I had mentioned that the last time we hiked Lane Mountain in 2013, there was a 2" Black water pipe that ran for 4.3 miles from around Sullivan Spring to Copper Camp spring. He checked and found out that the pipe had been fully removed as of 2 weeks ago. He said a Drilling Rig had been flown in via a Sikorsky Helicopter for a copper mining operation and the rig required water. All is back to normal now.

We made the turn off Lane Mountain, on an old mining road at Lane Spring. The spring is located 30' east of the non-working tank at the base of a cliff and contained some nice looking water.

My thermometer read constantly in the low 90's in these lower sections of the hike, with little shade to escape the sun. I used my Chromedome umbrella more on this hike than any other.

We took a short break at the Milk Ranch ruins where there was no water in Boulder Creek. Back on a mining road on Joe's Ridge past dry Joes Tank and we took lunch at Willow Spring where I'd planned to filter some water.

Willow Spring marks the lower TH for the Willow Spring Trail #236. Willow Spring was not the clear cool 2' pool that was here before, but a scratched out muddy, bee infested, 1' round, 2" deep cesspool. I was running low so I filtered with my MSR Microworks. It came out slightly tinged in color, but smelled like a cows restroom. Without any further treatment options w/ me, I can't drink this...

The Willow Springs trail is best done in long pants. The lower portions has some Cats Claw. The upper portions are in the pines.

We took the short side trip over to the South Fort ruins to enjoy the views.

By the time we got back to the TH we were relieved to see that the Cherokee was gone, there was no crime scene tape up, and my fuel had not been syphoned.

Video From Watson Peak and South Fort Ruins :next: http://youtu.be/6new9vzTono

I went to start the Pfinder and there was nothing...Damn, Crown King will be the death of me yet! Luckily an easy fix, as the battery cable had vibrated off the terminal. Phew...
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

dry Bens Spring Dry Dry


dry Joes Tank Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Lane Spring Dripping Dripping
Small Spring box (18" x 18" cut into cliff was full of nice clear water.

dry Lion Spring Dry Dry
There could be water back there, it's plenty green, but way to thick to get to it.

dry Mormon Tank Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Sullivan Spring Dripping Dripping
Small 2' x 2' spring box full of filterable water.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Willow Spring Dripping Dripping
I had counted on this one that was wet on previous trip.
I filtered from a small, muddy, bee filled pool.
It came out a little discolored. It smelled like cow urine so it ultimately got dumped.
_____________________
There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
Dave Barry
Mar 17 2012
The_Eagle
avatar

 Guides 5
 Routes 793
 Photos 9,456
 Triplogs 1,136

64 male
 Joined Jan 20 2009
 Far NE Phoenix,
Kentuck-217 Coal-203 Jim-235 Willow-236, AZ 
Kentuck-217 Coal-203 Jim-235 Willow-236, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 17 2012
The_Eagle
Hiking16.80 Miles 4,205 AEG
Hiking16.80 Miles   9 Hrs   33 Mns   2.17 mph
4,205 ft AEG   1 Hour   48 Mns Break17 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
My Quest to see if any other trails still existed in the Horsehief Rec Area.

Based on Trail descriptions received from the Crown King General Store a few years back, I'd drawn up the supposed tracks using the HAZ-Route Manager for these and others up there. I first do a simple trace using the TOPO! Map and the track indicated on TOPO!. Then switch to the Satellite view to move/add to the track to where it is now-a-days. The problem with most of the tracks in the Bradshaw's, is that they have not seen much traffic since the fire back in 2008.

Our route was:
- Kentuck #217 to the Horsethief Lookout -
Nice little hike to the Lookout. Route is thin, GPS Track helpful
Views from the Lookout are top notch

- Coal Camp #203 to Jim Creek #235 - Nice little Connector to both Willow Springs and Jim Creek TH's from the Lookout. Route not bad, GPS Track helpful

- Jim Creek #235 to Milk Ranch ruins -
Hard to find the start of this trail. Track gets worse the farther South you go.
If you are lucky enough to be "On Trail", be careful not to trip on overgrown Cairns.
GPS Track "Extremely" helpful

- Willow Springs #236 to FR 696 (W/Side trip to South Fort Ruins)
From Milk Ranch a "Very Rough" 4 x 4 track until you get to Willow Spring. Willow Spring area is real Cool. The climb out of the Spring area gets thin in spots. (GPS Track very Helpful) Views of Lake Pleasant are sweet. The .5 mile RT side trip to the South Fort Ruins area are the highlight of this trail and hike for me. Not that the ruins are that spectacular, but the views are some of the best up there.

- FR696 to FR52 (Senator Highway)
Road walk back to the Start

As always, Dinner back at the Crown King Saloon / Brothel was "Interesting", but there is plenty of history hanging on the walls.

No wildlife seen on this hike, including Cows or Elephants, but that's not too unusual on hikes w/ Joe.

A big thanks to Joe for driving.

I'm glad John got to "Experience" Crown King". Thanks for joining us!
Fauna
Fauna
Teva
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Joes Tank 26-50% full 26-50% full
Muddy Water

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Willow Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
There was a 4' round 24" deep clear cool pool of water. There were two concrete troughs in the area that were dry and no longer operational. Look for the spring 30' North of the old 25' hand formed Trough.
_____________________
There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
Dave Barry
average hiking speed 2.21 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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