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South Fork of Cave Creek #243 - 12 members in 37 triplogs have rated this an average 4.3 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Aug 12 2021
markthurman53
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 Guides 187
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 Photos 8,338
 Triplogs 567

68 male
 Joined Jun 27 2015
 Tucson, Arizona
South Fork Cave Creek Burro Trail Lower, AZ 
South Fork Cave Creek Burro Trail Lower, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Aug 12 2021
markthurman53
Hiking6.97 Miles 920 AEG
Hiking6.97 Miles   3 Hrs   41 Mns   2.01 mph
920 ft AEG      13 Mns Break
 
1st trip
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mamakatt22
On our second day in the Chiricahuas we hiked the lower South Fork Cave Creek Trail #243 and the lower Burro trail #240. The road along the south Fork was a bit more crowded with Bird watchers, one group had all sorts of cameras set up to photograph a trogan that was in the trees above. I'm not sure what a trogan is, sounds like an alien from the Doctor Who series. Once past the birders we came to the trailhead for the South Fork Trail. Two other cars in the parking area and one of them was leaving. Both the South Fork and the Burro Trails were in good condition. Lots of creek crossings along the South Fork and with the high flow it was difficult to cross without getting wet. After a few crossings we abandon the idea of trying to stay dry. Good hiking weather although a bit muggy but not uncomfortable.

The South Fork Trail is quite scenic through a riparian area with colorful rock cliffs high up on either side. Came upon a skunk early on in the hike and gave it some distance. I can handle bears, mountain lions and snakes but skunks are a different story. Quite a beautiful skunk and kind of cute looking in a skunk sort of way. We also came across two people doing trail Maintenance, stopped and talked to them for a bit. They had just gotten done working on the Saulsbury Trail on the west side of the range. When I passed by the Saulsbury trail yesterday I thought it looked recently worked, much better condition than it was a few years back. I told them that I would mention the rework in the writeup I do on the Saulsbury Trail and they said to make sure I say that the area really sucks and wouldn't waist your time coming. They like the mountains to remain isolated with few visitors. The article that was put in a New York Paper/magazine about how good the birding was brought lots of people to the area. So in keeping my word: this area really sucks and don't come.

We took the Burro Trail up to just past the first saddle to the creek that runs to the south of South Cave Creek and turned around. Took a break at the saddle. Really nice view up and down the South Fork Cave Creek and the creek just to the south of it. By now the clouds above were rumbling with thunder and we decided we better head back before the creek gets any higher. I will have to come back here in the fall or spring and finish the South Fork Trail and the Horseshoe Ridge trails.

A video of some of the many creek crossings. [ youtube video ]
Culture
Culture
Point
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Jun 19 2021
MAP
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 Routes 85
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40 female
 Joined Oct 21 2016
 Tempe, AZ
Sentinel PeakTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 19 2021
MAP
Hiking14.06 Miles 4,167 AEG
Hiking14.06 Miles   10 Hrs   52 Mns   1.36 mph
4,167 ft AEG      33 Mns Break
 
no photosets
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Started hiking around 3:45 am to attempt to beat the heat. Lots of wildlife out in the early morning including an adorable skunk who was not interested in moving from the trail! The trail was great and easy to follow for about four miles. Pools of water here and there with more pools in the lower canyon. The further up the canyon I went it became dry. Also, I saw maybe four bear poos along the lower section of trail. They all looked pretty fresh but felt hard when I poked them with a stick (had to be sure!). The trail begins to have small segments missing around the split from the South Fork of Cave Creek (31.83625,-109.223987) but the trail is pretty much always there the entire hike. It breaks up & is sometimes challenging to find or is obscured by bushes. Anytime the trail seemed to disappear I continued in the same general direction and it would quickly reappear. Flagging and cairns also mark the trail after the point where it becomes more challenging to find.

Leaving the South Fork of Cave Creek #243 trail and heading to Burnt Stump Trail I just went directly up through brush. That small segment (about 1000 ft) was thorny BUT, in comparison with Heliograph Peak (in the Pinalenos) or KP Creek to Blue Peak (in the Blue Range Wilderness), the thorns felt like feathers. There has to be a more direct entrance to Burnt Stump Trail though because, once I found it, it was a pretty nice trail. Burnt Stump has some overgrowth along the trail and a couple challenging sections where the trail washed out & is now a single track. The Burnt Stump spring is right on the trail (31.81542, -109.23684). It is contained my a piece of metal creating a small pool. I'm not usually finicky about water as long as I have a filter but this water looked kind of strange and not something I would drink if it wasn't an emergency. Still, it was there & filled the metal pool in mid-June so that's good!

Then on to the Sentinel Peak Trail. All the peak trails in the Chiricahua Mountains seem to really take it to the next level for that tiny final stretch & Sentinel is no exception. The trail either disappeared or I lost it towards the very top. There's great views getting up there but views are obscured at the very top. There's a concrete pad at the top & I took a quick rest to prepare for the suddenly warming temps (9 am-ish). Headed back down & felt grateful for the breeze and fleeting cloud cover but it honestly wasn't bad. Back in the canyon there is enough tree cover to create shade on one side of the canyon and there was a decent breeze. The flies were pretty insane though. They would not leave me alone. Maybe I was just really stinky at that point. Stopped to cool down at the pools of water a few times which was exactly what I needed. Got back to my car & the temp said 103. It definitely did not feel nearly that hot in the canyon. The hike took much longer then anticipated. I thought I would be back at least a couple hours earlier but I think the trail-finding & navigating obstacles slowed the hike down significantly. Great hike though! The canyon part is so so beautiful, views along the Burnt Stump Trail are gorgeous, & the trails really are in good shape for the most part. I would suggest adding additional time for trail navigation and/or slowly moving through the dry creek bed.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Burnt Stump Spring - SE Chiricahua Dripping Dripping
The metal enclosure holding the water was full. Water was dripping out down the drainage but the pool was completely full. Water did not look great though.
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Nov 14 2020
RedRoxx44
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 Guides 5
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female
 Joined Feb 15 2003
 outside, anywher
South Fork of Cave Creek #243Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 14 2020
RedRoxx44
Hiking6.50 Miles 3,711 AEG
Hiking6.50 Miles
3,711 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Just right!
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3 archives
Oct 31 2020
RedRoxx44
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 Guides 5
 Photos 21,962
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female
 Joined Feb 15 2003
 outside, anywher
South Fork of Cave Creek #243Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 31 2020
RedRoxx44
Hiking6.50 Miles 3,711 AEG
Hiking6.50 Miles
3,711 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Early for color but since I was suffering from fall FOMO I went ahead and made the drive. IMO mid November should be good. Again, some trees are turned, mostly red and small outliers. Plenty of big green maples. Some water in the creek. I was alone on the trail except about 1 min on my return from my vehicle encountered 4 hikers. A couple of people had set up chairs and having lunch at the TH. Looks like a little more work on the rerouted trail. For some reason I felt more depressed seeing the changes in here than I had previous. Think it's just the overall year I've been having in general. Great weather tho and great to be out.
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May 25 2020
DixieFlyer
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 Guides 60
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 Photos 8,093
 Triplogs 518

male
 Joined Jan 07 2017
 Fountain Hills,
Sentinel Peak - Chiricahuas, AZ 
Sentinel Peak - Chiricahuas, AZ
 
Hiking avatar May 25 2020
DixieFlyer
Hiking18.20 Miles 4,157 AEG
Hiking18.20 Miles   10 Hrs   24 Mns   1.99 mph
4,157 ft AEG   1 Hour   15 Mns Break
 
1st trip
This was day #3 of 3 days of hiking in the Huachucas/Chiricahuas, and we saved the worst for last. Actually the destination was fine, but the journey there was a brutal one.

We started and ended the hike at the South Fork Trail #243 TH. Note that the trailhead location is now different from what the guide on this site has for the TH. The reason is that in September of 2014, there was a major flood event in the eastern Chiricahuas caused by the remnants of Hurricane Odile. Large portions of the South Fork Trail were washed out and/or covered in rock rubble. As a result, heavily damaged sections of the trail were rerouted above the canyon bottom, and the trailhead was moved back about 0.4 miles to its current location (31.87345, -109.18478).

The trail was nice and easy to follow for a while. There are quite a few creek crossings -- some are dry and some had some water, but it was easy to keep your feet dry. The trail is generally easy to follow for about 3.5 miles until you come to an apple tree on the left side of the trail (there are several apple trees in the area). Past that point, the trail is sketchy in places, and we wound up having to rock and boulder hop through a dry creekbed in many sections. After about 5 miles you come to Pinnacle Rock, and the trail is pretty much non-existent past that point. We mostly were in the creek bed for a while, and then we were basically bushwhacking.

I had hoped to be able to follow the South Fork Trail to the junction with Burnt Stump Trail #366, but the South Fork Trail had disappeared well before that point. It became obvious that we were not going to be able to follow the South Fork Trail up to the Crest Trail, so we bushwhacked over to the Burnt Stump Trail and took it up to the Horseshoe Ridge Trail. The Burnt Stump Trail was overgrown, but we were able to follow it for the most part. We lost it at one point, and wound up being on a steep, slippery hillside, but we managed to get back on the trail.

We continued on the Burnt Stump Trail until it ended with a junction with Horseshoe Ridge Trail #282. We took the Horseshoe Ridge Trail for about 0.6 miles to the Baker Canyon Saddle, where we took Baker Canyon Trail #225 for about 0.8 miles until it intersects with Crest Trail #270C a very short distance below Sentinel Peak. We then took Crest Trail #270C up to the Sentinel summit.

The sections of the Horseshoe Ridge Trail and the Baker Canyon Trail that we were on were actually fairly decent, at least compared on what we had been through to get to them.

There were more trees at the summit than I thought there would be, so there weren't any 360 degree views. We could see the foundation of what used to be a fire tower, and there was some old rusty stuff scattered around.

To retraced our steps to get back to the TH. On the way back, we were able to stay on the Burnt Stump Trail, although it was largely overgrown with ceonothus, locust, oak, sticker bushes, and other assorted pleasantries. We got to a point where we decided to leave the trail and bushwhack our way down to the creek below. We stayed in the creek bed for a good while until we finally got to where we could occasionally pick up a trail.

I hiked with Tom and Sean, who are a couple of young guys in the Air Force -- both are bad-a$$ hikers who are much stronger hikers than I am. On the way back, about 2.5 miles from the TH Tom was ahead of us and he looked up and saw a bear on the trail ahead of him, about 20 yards away. Tom and the bear stared at each other, and the bear ambled off the trail, crossed the creek, and started going uphill. When Sean and I got there, we could see the bear moving through the vegetation on the hillside. The bear was looking down at us as we were looking up at the bear. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a pic.

This was a tough hike -- I imagine that we were rock/boulder hopping through the creekbed for probably 4 miles of the hike. For me, that was tougher than bushwhacking that we did.

I originally thought this hike would be 14-15 miles, and I would not have hiked Sentinel from here had I known that the hike would be 18+ miles. Starting from Rustler Park would probably have been 19-20 miles, but it would have a much easier and enjoyable hike. I imagine that you could also start from the Mormon Canyon TH and hike an even shorter distance, and perhaps also from the Morse Canyon TH.

I WOULD NOT recommend that anyone do this hike just to bag Sentinel Peak -- there are better ways to get there. We were originally also going to bag Finnicum Peak, but we did not have enough time.

The South Fork Trail seems to be very popular with birders, and I imagine that is the reason that most people go here. There is also a nice swimming hole about a mile from the TH, which might be of interest to some people.

Over our 3 days of hiking in SE Arizona we wound up hiking 45.7 miles with 11,588 feet of elevation gain. This hike was easily the most difficult of the 3 hikes.
Geology
Geology
Rhyolite
Named place
Named place
Sentinel Peak
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation None
there were next to none as far as wildflowers go

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max South Fork Cave Creek Medium flow Medium flow
There was a good bit of water in the creek in a number of places.
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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Edward Abbey
2 archives
Apr 08 2020
toddak
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 Guides 8
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56 male
 Joined Nov 15 2005
 Puhoynix, AZ
Silver Peak Trail #280Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 08 2020
toddak
Hiking16.00 Miles 4,000 AEG
Hiking16.00 Miles   8 Hrs   30 Mns   1.88 mph
4,000 ft AEG
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1st trip
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Morning hike up Silver Peak on an excellent trail. Then over to beautiful South Fork in the afternoon - went upstream about 3.5 miles, turned around as the canyon narrowed and the scrambling increased.
Fauna
Fauna
Coatimundi
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Nov 30 2019
ShatteredArm
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 Guides 5
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38 male
 Joined Nov 30 2015
 Phoenix, AZ
South Fork plus Log Peak, AZ 
South Fork plus Log Peak, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Nov 30 2019
ShatteredArm
Hiking11.49 Miles 1,507 AEG
Hiking11.49 Miles   4 Hrs   35 Mns   2.72 mph
1,507 ft AEG      22 Mns Break
 
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It seemed like a good idea to visit the Cave Creek Canyon area this weekend, as I had a few days to do it. With all the rain and potentially low snow level on Thursday and Friday, I thought it would be a good idea to stay low and check out South Fork.

I failed to consider the fact that South Fork trail has numerous creek crossings (more than the six mentioned in the guide). The creek was flowing quite swiftly, almost flood level (Cave Creek near the Stewart CG where we stayed receded 2+ feet throughout the weekend).

The first four creek crossings can be avoided by staying on the west side of the creek. The fifth can be avoided by walking across a log spanning the creek. A somewhat major tributary flows in before you get to the next crossing, so we were able to walk through at the 6th crossing. Next the trail crosses a part of the creek where it spreads out, and then right back again. This can be avoided.

This got us to Maple Camp. Which isn't much of a camp. I'm really not sure what Maple Camp is supposed to be, honestly.

We kept heading up the trail. The 9th crossing wasn't too bad. By the time we got to the 10th crossing, however, the channel had gotten narrower and deeper. We found that using a large log spanning the creek as a backstop made this crossing fairly easy.

The next two crossings were avoided by staying on the north side of the creek. By the time we go to the next one, however, we decided it just wasn't worth it anymore, and headed back down to Burro Trail, where we figured we'd go check out the view from the first saddle.

Once we got there, we decided that we could get an even better view by bushwacking up the ridge to the north. It was a relatively easy traverse through mostly manzanita, to what turned out to be a spectacular view up canyon, down canyon to the South Fork/Cave Creek confluence, and the canyon to the east. This is labeled 6415 on most maps; on some it says "Log Peak". Either way, we were glad we took this little side excursion, as it turned out to be the highlight of the day.

On the way down, we saw a bunch of acorn woodpeckers attacking a squirrel high up in a tree. That was interesting.

Definitely want to come back and complete the South Fork trail (and maybe loop back on Burro) when the water is at a more reasonable level...
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Nov 16 2019
RedRoxx44
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 Guides 5
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female
 Joined Feb 15 2003
 outside, anywher
South Fork of Cave Creek #243Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 16 2019
RedRoxx44
Hiking6.50 Miles 3,711 AEG
Hiking6.50 Miles
3,711 ft AEG
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Redemption-- the lovely trees of the canyon are making a comeback. Is it like it was before the fire?? No. It it beautiful-- yes. The TH location is near the cabins, in an unlovely area with a berm and a couple of porta-potties. It adds about 5-10 min depending on your pace to the old TH area, of which all signage, picnic tables etc is gone. They have put in an actual trail along the bank, but the old road is still quite walkable and really could be driven easily.
The sycamores were mostly done but still quite beautiful and lots of leaf litter. Cudos to the trail crews, some major rerouting in certain areas. Lots of cairns but not overdone IMO because of the roundabout way through some of the large debris areas. Of course some on the old trail tred that was not severely impacted. Some of my favorite maple trees putting on quite the show. Some of the trees are gone too. Quite heartening were all the little maple shoots starting to come up, some less than a foot to 3-4 feet, quite a few showing red leaves. I know some will not make it but awesome to see the come back. The stream channel has changed and deepened, some bedrock exposed that was not before. I did find some areas of great leaf litter and lots of color to take pictures of. Met Bill who I believe is on HAZ as Skyislandhiker. He was leading a small group. I did the usual of off the trail in the drainage then back down on the trail.
I am glad I chose to come back this year. Once again a quite worth while fall hike, and of course a nice place any time of year.
Named place
Named place
South Fork Cave Creek
Meteorology
Meteorology
Autumn - Color Foliage
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Apr 17 2018
Yoder
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 Guides 2
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56 male
 Joined Oct 07 2017
 Chandler, AZ
South Fork of Cave Creek #243Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 17 2018
Yoder
Hiking5.10 Miles 710 AEG
Hiking5.10 Miles   3 Hrs   5 Mns   1.85 mph
710 ft AEG      20 Mns Break5 LBS Pack
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1st trip
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We were here for the birds, not the hike, so we only went up the trail about 2.5 miles. Nice woods and stream. Great birding area.
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J. Yoder
Nov 16 2017
rwstorm
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73 male
 Joined Feb 28 2003
 Tucson, AZ
South Fork of Cave Creek #243Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 16 2017
rwstorm
Hiking4.55 Miles 621 AEG
Hiking4.55 Miles   3 Hrs   32 Mns   1.49 mph
621 ft AEG      29 Mns Break
 
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Another new trail for me :)
I decided it was time to check out the fall colors down in the Portal area. As well known and popular as this trail is, I had never hiked it. I suppose this is because the Portal area is sort of a pita to get to, so my visits are infrequent. Overall, I found the part of the trail I hiked rather boring, though picturesque. No disappointment in the autumn show department. :D Unlike Ash Creek- Galiuro, the color theme here is yellow, bronze, and rust. If you like a hike with big trees, this one is for you! Following several hours of joyful meandering, it was back out to highway 80 at Rodeo, then south to spend the night at the Gadsden Hotel in Douglas.
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Substantial
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3 archives
Jul 21 2016
cactuscat
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49 female
 Joined Oct 15 2002
 
South Fork of Cave Creek #243Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 21 2016
cactuscat
Hiking2.00 Miles
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Mission accomplished, and then some! Best day of wildlife watching ever - two huge firsts! :)
Second trip to Portal/Cave Creek in two weeks - this time I got an earlier start, getting up at 4am to arrive there by 7.
Once again I lingered near the parking area for a few minutes, and same as last week I heard the Trogon call as I was peeing near the trailhead! Lol
I took off up the creekbed, following the sound ... a few minutes later I popped out onto the trail and paused to listen. I still heard the call, but softer and hard to locate. Finally I caught some movement in a pine tree and spotted him! He was in the shade at first, so his green parts looked black, but I clearly saw the red breast. So thrilling!
I watched him through the binoculars for a few minutes, then noticed another bird moving nearby ... could it be? Yes, it was the female - and she was feeding a baby in a nest hole!! Could not believe I found a nest site.
After a few more minutes, they flew away and I settled into a comfy log seat with a great view of the nest tree to await their return. I turned around to look for the hummingbird I kept hearing, glanced towards the creekbed ... and there 50 yards away was an adult black bear!
I jumped up for a better view, and took a few noisy steps towards the creek - the bear heard me and we stared deep into one another's eyes for a few long moments. Felt like love. ;) He or she then sprinted (quickly and noisily) partway up the hill on the other side, making huffy puffy bear sounds as it went.
I celebrated a bit, then saw Mrs Trogon at her nest again. This was about all the excitement I could take, so I headed out.
Checked out Sunny Flat Campground - really nice - then stopped at the V.C., but it wasn't the same lady I talked to last week there today.
Stopped at the Chiricahua Desert Museum to buy an Elegant Trogon hat.
Also saw my first scaled quail, road runners, Mexican jays, kestrel falcons, and red tailed hawks.
Side note: wouldn't have been a good day to be an illegal border crosser in the area. Border Patrol was lining NM80 from I-10 to Rodeo. Saw at least 10 B.P. trucks - one towing horses -and two more agents on quads. Two of them waved at me.
Incredible, amazing day - and it's barely noon!
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1 archive
Jul 14 2016
cactuscat
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49 female
 Joined Oct 15 2002
 
South Fork of Cave Creek #243Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 14 2016
cactuscat
Hiking4.00 Miles
Hiking4.00 Miles
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Tens of thousands of people come to Portal/Cave Creek every year to try to see an Elegant Trogon ... yesterday I was one of them.
The Trogon has been number one on my wishlist for many years, but it wasn't until I moved much closer to their tiny U.S. range this year that I decided it was my mission to see one this summer. I had hoped to maybe see one a few weeks ago when I went to Ramsey Canyon, but this was the first trip that was really all about the Trogon.
Unfortunately I was called out at 2am the night before to deal with an issue at a cabin, costing me an hour's sleep, and so I got a bit later of a start than I'd hoped. Arrived at Cave Creek Canyon around 9am.
First impression driving the last couple of miles to the canyon: Holy cow, it's jaw-droppingly gorgeous ... like driving into Zion. I had no idea.
As I drove the one mile dirt road to the South Fork trailhead, I rolled down the windows and turned off the radio - the better to enjoy the sun-dappled light filtering through the tunnel of trees ... and the better to listen for the Elegant Trogon's loud, distinctive call. Saw a few people birding along the road.
3 minutes after parking, and while still taking care of pre-hike business, I heard it! ARRRK! ARRRK! Like a weird dog bark echoing through the sycamores ... unmistakably the Trogon. I thought OMG - it's right freakin here ... I'm going to see this thing without even hiking! :y:
I walked two minutes back down the road to the little bridge where some people confirmed yes, they had gotten a good look at it just a few minutes before. Unfortunately within a minute or two, the bird stopped calling and I wasn't able to lay eyes on the rare beauty. I should have pursued it quickly and single-mindedly the second I heard it. ](*,)
Not having been to Cave Creek Canyon before, I didn't really notice the fire/flood damage that other people have mentioned - I only saw how lovely it still is. I saw lots of good birds (painted redstart is a favorite), deer, squirrels, native fish (dace), and my first Arizona Alligator lizard (they are skink-like). I heard a Trogon one more time, not as close as the first.
After my hike, I stopped in the Ranger Station and had a nice chat with the volunteer, then helped her water the rattlesnakes on exhibit.
So my mission was semi-sucessful ... I got a 100% positive I.D. by voice - which counts. I can cross the Trogon off my list now. But as thrilling as it was to hear so close, it was quite frustrating not to see it ... a return trip is in order soon.
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Nov 07 2015
RedRoxx44
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 Guides 5
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female
 Joined Feb 15 2003
 outside, anywher
South Fork of Cave Creek #243Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 07 2015
RedRoxx44
Hiking6.50 Miles 3,711 AEG
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3,711 ft AEG
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Walked in on the closed road, and waved to the road crews working. Their activity led me to take to the creek bottom behind the cabins. I found what looked like a very old road on the other side of the creek. It was short lived then I crossed back to where the road was. It's a big scree area they have scraped into a semblance of a passage. A high clearance or rental car would make it. The area of the picnic tables and outhouse survived. The trail through here is as of old, then you start seeing a lot of scree and openness in the canyon bottom that was not there before. Some of the trail crossings of the stream hang in space, the bottom now downcut. The trail is gone in sections, flagging is helpful. Some of my maple stands are dead or on the way out. The flood damage is depressingly impressive. I found a few bright trees, others still green, at least the healthy ones. The sycamores seemed to have fared much better. Water is flowing in nice abundance, and the stream bed clear in most areas. I passed by the area maple camp once was, unrecognizable now. On up the trail is brushed out but you can still make your way. This area is beautiful, but not the fall destination it once was.
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Nov 02 2013
Pivo
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65 male
 Joined Mar 01 2009
 Tucson, AZ
South Fork of Cave Creek #243Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 02 2013
Pivo
Hiking15.28 Miles 4,580 AEG
Hiking15.28 Miles   8 Hrs   15 Mns   2.12 mph
4,580 ft AEG   1 Hour   2 Mns Break
 
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Hike with the group. Area had lots of burn so the trials are difficult to find. Wear long pants, and gloves, be prepared for a long day and poison ivy in the canyons.
One other group member,Joseph and I bypassed the trail the and took the direct route up to the summit from the saddle. That segment was approximately 3/4-1 mi with 1000' of elevation gain (straight up) ,that workout made for a few adult beverages and baked pasta back in camp.
What a beautiful canyon.
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Light
Perhaps 2 weeks early before peak color.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated


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

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max South Fork Cave Creek Medium flow Medium flow
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Nov 02 2013
MyRudy
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 Photos 3
 Triplogs 106

22 male
 Joined Apr 23 2012
 Tucson, AZ
South Fork of Cave Creek #243Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 02 2013
MyRudy
Hiking15.28 Miles 4,580 AEG
Hiking15.28 Miles   8 Hrs   15 Mns   2.12 mph
4,580 ft AEG   1 Hour   2 Mns Break
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Baja Arizona Hiking
Floridasunshine
Pivo
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Nov 09 2012
Randal_Schulhauser
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 Guides 71
 Routes 98
 Photos 9,967
 Triplogs 1,009

61 male
 Joined May 14 2003
 Ahwatukee, AZ
Bassett PeakTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Backpack avatar Nov 09 2012
Randal_Schulhauser
Backpack17.55 Miles 2,750 AEG
Backpack17.55 Miles3 Days         
2,750 ft AEG
 
Bassett Peak Tales 2012

3 days
607 miles
33 gallons of gasoline
266 digital images
Fall colours
"Robber" stellar jays
Clean, crisp mountain air (with just a hint of snow)
Unexpected solitude
No work distractions
Priceless!

The Plan => Friday 11/9 rendezvous at Einstein's Bagels in Ahwatukee AZ, truck pool, and hit the road to the Bassett Peak trail head at the end of FR660/Ash Creek Road to set up camp in the Galiuro Mountains to enjoy what many consider the best fall colours in Arizona.

I've been able to keep my 2012 quarterly wilderness adventures pretty much as planned; "Anza Borrego California Tales 2012" (check out => http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=18664 ), "Oregon Tales 2012" (check out => http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=20147 ), and Colorado Fall Colours 2012" (check out => http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=21834). Those 3 days crossed out on the November calendar to take in the Bassett Peak fall colours at Ash Spring were about to be tested...

Thursday started out with 6 adventurers ready and raring to go, by sundown there was only 1. Weather forecasts and other calamities took their toll. With Friday already booked off, I decided to roll the dice and use the Willcox Holiday Inn Express as basecamp with some adjusted plans;

A. Ahwatukee AZ - ground zero, home
B. Willcox AZ - basecamp at the Holiday Inn Express (check out => http://www.willcoxlodging.com/)
C. Fort Bowie National Historic Site - stop at the old fort (check out => http://www.nps.gov/fobo/index.htm and http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=934)
D. San Simon AZ - S. Noland Rd. turn-off to head south to Portal AZ and the South Fork of Cave Creek TH in Chiricahua National Monument
E. South Noland Road - note; signage is not "San Simon Road" as noted in HAZ write-ups
F. Foothills Road - turn-off to SE towards Portal AZ
G. Portal AZ - SE access to Chiricahua National Monument (check out => http://www.nps.gov/chir/index.htm and http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=27)
H. South Fork of Cave Creek TH - access at the South Fork picnic area (check out => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=509)
I. Forest Road 42 - up and over the Chiricahua Mountains (check out => http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coronado ... &actid=105)
J. Dos Cabezas AZ - a drive back to Willcox via SR186
K. Willcox AZ - basecamp at the local Holiday Inn Express (check out => http://www.willcoxlodging.com/)
L. Bassett Peak TH - end of the road for FR660/Ash Creek Road in the Galiuro Mountains (check out => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=252)
M. Tucson AZ - Sunday dinner with my youngest daughter, Tobyn
N. Ahwatukee AZ - home again...



DAY 1 - Friday 11/9
Ahwatukee AZ to Willcox AZ
185 miles
3 hrs 1 min 1-way per Google Maps

Hit the road for the Willcox AZ basecamp.



DAY 2 - Saturday 11/10
Willcox AZ to South Fork of Cave Creek Trail #243 via FOBO and FR42 to SR186
96 miles
3 hrs 34 min per Google Maps

I have never been to the Chiricahua Mountains before and thought I could take advantage of being in the vicinity. My home library contains the book "Cochise - the Life and Times of the Great Apache Chief" by ASU professor Peter Aleshire (check out => http://www.amazon.com/Cochise-Times-Gre ... 0471383635 ). Despite the literary criticism, I've always been intrigued by this book and the subject (an easier read about Cochise was authored by Dave Roberts). It's arguable that the existence of Fort Bowie can be attributed to Chief Cochise, so it was fitting to make the side trek. Upon entry to the site, I discover the cool nickname for Fort Bowie - FOBO, uttered by one of the staff (FOBO is now forever burned into my brain). A quick tour of FOBO Loop followed by a pondering about the location of the tent Cochise cut open to make his escape in 1861 (check out => http://www.nps.gov/fobo/historyculture/ ... elix-3.pdf ) during the "Bascom Affair". The low hanging clouds created a fittingly eerie FOBO atmosphere...

The main objective of the day was exploring South Fork of Cave Creek Trail #243 and the fall colours I've heard raves about from some HAZ trekkers and others (check out => http://www.dykinga.com/p947625174/h1be05152#h1be05152 and http://www.flickr.com/photos/mkmphoto50/6330187608/ ). Maple Camp would be the primary objective given some of the photos I've seen. I arrived at the picnic area at the end of South Fork Road noon-ish. A group of 3 hunters decked out in full camouflage were exiting the trail as I began my trek. They said they managed to get a single shot off during their morning hunt - I indicated I hoped to get considerably more (digital) shots off that afternoon... I arrived at the Maple Camp area wondering what all the fuss is about. Undeterred, I trekked another 2 miles or so upstream from the Burro Trail junction seeking fall colours. I have to agree with Letty's recent assessment (check out => http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=22250 ) and look forward to area recovery to its former blazing colours. I returned to the TH with just enough remaining daylight to spark-up the BBQ and grill a couple of burgs. To my complete surprise, I discovered a robbery in process - Stellar Jays landing on my picnic table and helping themselves to my Doritos - with me only an arm's length away!

I returned to my Willcox basecamp via Forest Road 42 up and over the Chiricahua Mountains to join up with SR186 near Dos Cabezas. When I packed up and left the South Fork picnic area my truck thermometer indicated it was 48degF. As I peaked-out along the Chiricahua ridgeline, my truck thermometer indicated it was a chilly 34degF!



DAY 3 - Sunday 11/10
Willcox AZ to Bassett Peak TH (Ash Creek Rd/FR660)
36 miles
1 hr 37 min per Google Maps

Sunday sunrise revealed a brilliant blue cloudless sky with snow visible on the highest mountain peaks. I slowly made my way to the trail head stopping many times to observe the various eye-candy (I still regret passing up the pumpkin field and failing to re-create the image captured by Derek von Briesen => http://www.pbase.com/sedonamemories/image/128206856 ) including snow on Mount Graham. As I turned onto FR660 near the intersection of Ash Creek Road and Sunset Loop, I was surprised to see nobody at the usually busy "hunter's meadow". Saw one group of campers at the large site as you exit the wash and another group at the almost-TH. I parked my truck here and discovered the campers were mostly from Mesa AZ. They indicated it had snowed overnight accompanied by some strong winds. Once on the trail, I was treated to a riot of colour (albeit a week past their prime). At Ash Spring, the aspen still had about half their leaves. Another one of the old growth aspen fell victim to the weekend winds - every time I've visited there's another old growth casualty. Without any new growth aspen, I wonder how many more years we'll have to enjoy this spectacular scene??? After capture my fill of fall colours, I packed up my gear with a dinner stop in Tucson visiting my daughter Tobyn.



And that's my Bassett Peak Tale 2012! Photos to follow...
Fauna
Fauna
Mexican Jay
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Nov 03 2012
RedRoxx44
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 Guides 5
 Photos 21,962
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female
 Joined Feb 15 2003
 outside, anywher
South Fork of Cave Creek #243Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 03 2012
RedRoxx44
Hiking6.80 Miles 3,420 AEG
Hiking6.80 Miles
3,420 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
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The edge is off the burn, lots of growth over the summer. Sycamores turn the canyon russet, and the stream is nice to follow, areas of slickrock now revealed from monsoons rampage. Only one maple had any sort of color. Almost all the maples leaves are eaten or brown and dead. The trees themselves look ok. I predict it'll more than a few years before it returns to it's former glory this time of year. It is still quite a beautiful hike, and I did enjoy it. Hopefully my photos will turn out, having trouble getting them loaded on the computer.
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Nov 10 2011
JuanJaimeiii
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 Routes 571
 Photos 8,283
 Triplogs 1,825

54 male
 Joined Jan 30 2011
 Chandler, AZ
South Fork of Cave Creek #243Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 10 2011
JuanJaimeiii
Hiking3.20 Miles 400 AEG
Hiking3.20 Miles   1 Hour      3.20 mph
400 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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South Fork of Cave Creek was in my book and I realized I could just take NF42 up and over from the Chiricahua National Monument to reach the Trail Head. It was about 20 miles from the Monument and the dirt road is in great shape. There is snow up high but it is still fine for travel.

I only hiked the trail to Maple Camp as that is how it is listed in the book and my day was running short. Since this was my first visit to South Fork I didn't have a good reference point. After looking at the photos from others past trips, I can see what it once looked like. For now the one word that comes to mind is "scorched". :( Don't get me wrong it is still a beautiful place but wow, nothing like before.
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Oct 21 2011
sumnergeo
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 Guides 2
 Routes 1
 Photos 44
 Triplogs 24

77 male
 Joined Mar 26 2004
 Houston, TX
South Fork of Cave Creek #243Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 21 2011
sumnergeo
Hiking6.80 Miles 3,420 AEG
Hiking6.80 Miles
3,420 ft AEG
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Recovery Horseshoe II:

This was a bit of a gonzo day. Our volunteer USFS trail crew of three left the South Fork trailhead with a single goal: restore Burnt Stump Spring to a usable spring. We figured 5 1/2 miles and a 3000 foot climb. We left at 7 and got back at 5 with about 1 1/2 hour to dig out the spring. Sunny and bright with scattered clouds.

The entire South Fork has either been backburned or burned. Either way, the under story was cleaned out (and some of the poison ivy got whacked). Tree trunks were blackened and locally the white oaks and silver leaf oaks on the hillsides were fire killed. But mostly it was the same old South Fork with lots of grasses and flowers and living trees. The maples were just starting to color at 6,000 feet elevation. The trail was in good shape although we did cross a tangle about three miles in. Going up the Chute to the Burnt Stump Basin had a few big trees across the trail but the trail was easy to find.

The worst result of the fire in South Fork is the erosion. Many but not all of the pools were filled with gravel. The creek merrily flowed where there were once deep pools. Sigh.

We reached Burnt Stump Spring by 11:30. Only the corner of the tank was visible beneath rocks and gravel. For an hour and a half we cleaned out the metal tank, built a diversion channel, and generally did what we could before leaving at 1 to get back to the trailhead at 5. The hillside above the spring burned lightly so there are still grasses, bracken, and raspberries along with big Apache Pines. With that cover, there shouldn't be too much additional erosion into the spring drainage.

I don't see Burnt Stump Spring on the Spring List. This is an important spring for the southeastern Chiricahuas: 31.81538333 109.2368667 7980 55 degrees fast seep 6-ft metal tank

I'll try to attach a photo or two if I can figure out how to do it.
Culture
Culture
Trail Maintenance

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Burnt Stump Spring - SE Chiricahua Dripping Dripping
Cleaned out the 6-ft stainless steel tank; flow about a pencil width. Deep enough for siphon.
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it's the only earth we have
Mar 22 2011
sumnergeo
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 Guides 2
 Routes 1
 Photos 44
 Triplogs 24

77 male
 Joined Mar 26 2004
 Houston, TX
South Fork of Cave Creek #243Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Backpack avatar Mar 22 2011
sumnergeo
Backpack6.80 Miles 3,420 AEG
Backpack6.80 Miles5 Days         
3,420 ft AEG
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Trip Report: South Fork (#243), March 23-26

Trail Head, 31.868906, 109.187983, 5280 feet

Four days to finally complete the opening of the South Fork trail

Tuesday, March 22
Seven of us backpacked in about six and a half miles to "High Camp" at 8200 feet and about one mile from the Crest Trail and 700 feet lower in elevation. Along the way we cut out a 20 inch Arizona pine that lay chest high across the trail and a thousand feet below the campsite (around 7200 feet). Cool and sunny weather with water in the creek but low flow. Normally at this time of year, it is a challenge to make the thirteen crossings over the first four miles without getting wet. With little rain or snow this winter, it was not a problem.

Wednesday, March 23
Our campsite was good but not exactly flat so we had to do a bit of grooming to prepare sites for our bags and tents but at least no one slid down hill during the night. We spent the first day working our way out of the woods into the burned area. For the first 3/8 of a mile, we could locate the old trail and it was a matter of cutting out downfall, grubbing out raspberry bushes and improving the tread. For a quarter mile, to a prominent welded tuff outcrop, we laid out a new trail and spent the rest of the day clearing to a newly installed switchback.


Thursday, March 24
From the switchback below the outcrop we worked our way south and across the drainage and picked up traces of the trail coming from the crest. Each of us had a role: Zac and Jody cut out the big logs with the two-man bucking saw while John and Jim shifted smaller logs off the trail and cut ones that couldn't be moved with pruning saws (Coronas) and the 3 1/2 -ft D-handle saw. Walter and Dirk and Brad dealt with the tread and constructed an elegant crossing complete with bulwarks across the drainage. We worked our way northwest to the switchback at the outcrop and then back to the southwest to link up with the trail we had cleared in September 2010

Friday, March 25
With our final push we connected with the trailed cleared last year and, finally, had the South Fork Trail open and findable from the Trailhead to the Crest. We spent some time looking for PK Spring south of the crest but turned back at lunch without success. According to our GPS, we were about 500 ft away but wanted to get back to clear out some logs close to High Camp. As we were clearing a log a couple of hundred feet from south of our camp, down the trail came six backpackers from Philadelphia. They appreciated the newly completed trail!

Saturday, March 26
After packing for the hike out, we still had several logs below the Burnt Stump junction to deal with so we cut those out on our way back to the Trailhead. We left one 8-inch aspen log across the trail otherwise the trail is now cleared from the trailhead to the Crest for the first time in 17 years.

GPS for Upper South Fork Trail attached
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average hiking speed 1.95 mph
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