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Saddle Mountain Trail to Squaw Flat - 9 members in 45 triplogs have rated this an average 3.4 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Jan 04 2018
mazatzal
avatar

 Routes 31
 Photos 2,166
 Triplogs 1,073

62 male
 Joined Jul 28 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Saddle Mountain #91Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 04 2018
mazatzal
Hiking9.00 Miles 1,440 AEG
Hiking9.00 Miles
1,440 ft AEG
 no routes
Partners partners
scatdaddy
Sredfield
TheMazzicMan
A group of us headed out from Mormon Grove on Saddle Mtn trail to install a new Mazatzal Wilderness sign in McFarland Canyon and do some brushing along the trail.

Fantastic weather, great group and no better place to spend a day!
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Upper McFarland @ #88/95 Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
_____________________
1 archive
Nov 18 2017
jacobemerick
avatar

 Guides 31
 Routes 71
 Photos 795
 Triplogs 96

34 male
 Joined Dec 09 2014
 Gilbert, AZ
Sheep Creek CabinPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 18 2017
jacobemerick
Hiking29.76 Miles 7,804 AEG
Hiking29.76 Miles   16 Hrs   53 Mns   2.05 mph
7,804 ft AEG   2 Hrs   23 Mns Break
 
1st trip
This trip could be done as an enjoyable overnight or as a terrible dayhike. I chose the latter.

pre-trail
Driving down FR 25 from 201 was bad enough for my little minivan. Parked at the fork of 25/25A and walked up the rest of the way to Mormon Grove. New moon meant great sky views.

Saddle Mountain #91
Still in fantastic shape. Was a piece of cake to walk in the dark, even when a few overgrown branches cast scary shadows over the last mile or so. Potato Patch saddle was delightfully spooky, with those two big mountains towering above, blocking out the stars. Paused at MacFarland to pull a fresh liter and to gawk at the 'food cache'.

Sheep Creek #88
Getting to Squaw Flat Spring was easy with predawn light, though I still haven't found a track I like from there to the Copper Camp junction. Oh well. The final climb was quick and easy and I made it to the 'drop-off' just before the sunrise for some ridiculously good views. Drop was easier this time around, though the trail was a bit hard to track along the creek with the fall leaves. Which I was totally willing to deal with. Few pools along the way that dried up before the seep proper. Reached the cabin area to find a dry Round Spring and creek - which I needed. Hauled up to Sears Junction and the saddle above but couldn't pick up a path until I started dropping down the other side.

Sheep Creek Trail from Sears to Davenport is a bit easier to track than the eastern part of Sears Trail, with small cairns and faint tread to track, but it was easy to lose near the washes. Oh, and that last drop down the ridge after the Sears Junction is terrible, all rolling rocks that really know how to tweak knees. I did find it interesting how small most of the cairns are, as if someone recently did some revival work, there's just not enough traffic out this way to sustain it. Once I reached Davenport Wash I was struck at how different these two trails were - Davenport Wash is like 90% packed footpath with a few cairns and Sheep Creek is 90% tiny cairn tracking and sorting through game trails.

Davenport Wash #89
Section from Sheep Creek to Club Cabin felt a bit harder to follow today, or else I was just in a rush for water. Reached the old cabin to the smell/sight of fresh horse manure but no one in sight. Drank 2 liters here, pulled another 2, figuring that would be enough to last until Deadman Creek. While I was pulling water a bear tried to sneak up on me, but I heard him crunching the leaves (about twenty feet away) and told him kindly to wait his turn.

Onto the fun part. Getting to Red Rock Spring area was simple, good trail that was being overtaken by various spiky things with well-worn alternative routes. Climbing out of Red Rock was a solid gut-punch of elevation and I accidentally ended up on a game trail about forty feet above the actual path but kept to it, unwilling to lose an inch. We met back up in time to tackle two miles of manzanita / catclaw / holly? mess that left me dripping blood from a dozen cuts. Then it was time to slip-slide descend into Upper Deadman, which was dry, and then climb back out, and I chose a bad route initially and had to do sketchy scrambling before finding the real way, and then haul up the grassy hill that never ends.

When I hit mile 21, with forty minutes of daylight left and unknown trail conditions ahead, I had to stop. Drank the last of my water, ate a disgustingly sweet bar of some sort, and watched ballooning strands sparkle over Deadman Creek in the dying day's light. It was one of those moments that I hope I never lose, feeling the concerns about getting back to a decent trail before sunset melting away in the face of silent, overpowering beauty.

Back to the hike. Hauled up the rest of the way to round the cliff by 5400' and find a lonely cairn marking the turn. Which was nice, because there hadn't been dependable cairns for much of the climb from the creek. The terrain got real rocky real fast, huge red boulders that were anything but stable, though there was a packed path hidden in the manzanita that slowly got better as I traveled east. In fact, even after the sun set, I was able to move pretty quick as obvious maintenance made the last mile painless. To whoever did this, you are awesome. Reached Chilson around six and wasted little time booking up Brody and swinging around on the Mazatzal Divide. Stopped before the saddle to don some extra clothes (temps drop fast up there) and wish for some water.

Barnhardt #43
Was far too easy to trot down, even after all those miles. One thing worth mentioning was that I was about a mile in when a large chopper slowly started flying up the canyon. It took a minute for me to register the spotlight on it and I didn't turn off my headlamp in time. They quickly zeroed in on me, swinging low circles and blinding me with their light. I waved them away but it took a while for them to acknowledge and fly away, turning towards the Sandy Saddle area. I'm unsure if someone else was in trouble and called them in or if it was a police chopper making routine rounds or what.

Yet another quiet day in the Mazzies. Didn't see anyone on the trail, only one other car parked at Barnhardt during pick-up. (Big thanks to @reynchr for assisting with the shuttle)

Mazatzal Miles: 181.5/275 (66%)
Finally got every trail southeast of Mountain Spring completed! (except Fig, but Fig only kinda counts)


water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Club Spring - Table Mountain Quad Quart per minute Quart per minute

dry Hawaiian Mist Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Red Rock Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Flowing right across Davenport Wash Trail crossing, most convenient.

dry Rock Spring Dry Dry

dry Round Spring Dry Dry



water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Upper McFarland @ #88/95 Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Two large pools with clean, clear water.
_____________________
Jun 11 2017
jacobemerick
avatar

 Guides 31
 Routes 71
 Photos 795
 Triplogs 96

34 male
 Joined Dec 09 2014
 Gilbert, AZ
S Mazatzal Roundup, AZ 
S Mazatzal Roundup, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jun 11 2017
jacobemerick
Hiking35.42 Miles 6,039 AEG
Hiking35.42 Miles   16 Hrs   14 Mns   2.62 mph
6,039 ft AEG   2 Hrs   44 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Wanted to knock out a gaggle of trails in the southern Mazatzal area. Most of them are AZT, so I figured a +30 mile day wouldn't be terrible. Today my feet disagree, but details.

Little Saddle Mountain #244
Did most of this trail lit by headlamp + full moon. Seemed pretty. Along the creek things got a little overgrown and it was hard to navigate in low light. Turned off headlamp at 4:30 and enjoyed the predawn views for the last mile.

Saddle Mountain #91
This trail is legit. Big views, well maintained, and minimal elevation gain. I cruised along this section when I wasn't drinking in the sights. I wanted to make the Story Mine loop at the end for completion sake and regretted it - as soon as the path leaves the AZT it is quickly swallowed up by catclaw. And I didn't even find the mine :(

Sheep Creek #88
Beautiful drop into McFarland. Bit steep, could see the south direction being painful. Headed to Squaw Flat Spring to complete this segment of the trail and was surprised at how easy the way was. Few deadfall, some overgrowth, clear tread. Still no water at the spring so I filtered up at a murky pool on the way back.

Thistle Spring #95 (Sheep Creek :next: West Fork)
Pleasant jaunt along McFarland and then a sudden twist and climb up a dry wash. Legs were starting to get angry here so that climb was not appreciated. There was a tripod set up at the West Fork junction that was weird.

West Fork #260
Short climb and long descent. It's a short one, so there's not much to say. Decent views. I tried to track where 25A came down into the canyon below to pass the time.

Cornucopia #86
Hot climb up a trickling creek. A few sections didn't have any burn damage, so I imagine that this is what the non-ponderosa pine forest areas looked like before 2004/2012 (depending on where in the Mazzies you're looking). Sporadic junipers, willows along the creek, and random tall pines. Could be wrong. Anyways, after the junction w/ Thistle Spring the trail got mean fast. Steady uphill over rolling rocks in full exposure to the sun. As soon as I tapped the Mazatzal Divide Trail sign I turned and fled back downhill to the shade.

Thistle Spring #95 (Cornucopia :next: West Fork)
Tough climbs with well-earned views on top. Lost the trail on the second (shorter) climb and meandered around until I could pick it back up. This trail is definitely getting thick, probably because the AZT skips past it now, but being able to see (Little Saddle Mountain?) and Saddle Mountain to the south and Sheep / Peeley ridge to the north from one spot was pretty awesome. Fast drop back to West Fork where I found the tripod waiting - glad it didn't go War-of-the-Worlds or anything.

West Fork #260
Again? Same as last time, only hotter. Filtered some water at the bottom for a late lunch break.

25A to Cross F Trailhead
For a road walk / connector this was pretty nice. There is a well-defined trail connecting the West Fork / Cornucopia junction south to the end of the road, and then the road jumps in and out and back and forth across West Fork Sycamore Creek. A smell of diesel hung in the air but I didn't see or hear any vehicles along the way. Most of it was shaded and a breeze was starting to kick up and rustle the hot air. Connecting to N Beeline was annoying, as the old track is gated off as private, so I just jumped into the creek and hung out with some cattle before climbing back out north of the trailhead.

Sunflower #344
A quick water refill and shirt change and it was back up on Little Saddle Mountain to connect to Sunflower. LSM was pretty in the light, partly shaded and dancing along the edge of the creek. Turning onto Sunflower meant a quick drop and climb, going under some powerlines, and then miles of rocky two-track. Closer to Sunflower the path breaks off on its own and swings towards Diamond Mountain before going under N Beeline. But it's not done yet - another half mile of AZT, a quick crossing of the Sycamore, and then a dusty haul up to Bushnell before this trail is completed.

N Beeline to Cross F Trailhead
The tumble down from Bushnell parking back to Sycamore was graceless but got me back on N Beeline without playing frogger on AZ-87. Whole herd of deer was near the bottom of the bridge, unperturbed by the traffic overhead yet terrified of me. Paved roadwalk was about as fun as paved roadwalks can get. No traffic, as the sun was setting by now, and I returned to the trailhead before eight.

Mazatzal Miles: 129.8/275 (47%)

Asides
Hot. Drank 3 gallons of water (~half mixed w/ electrolytes) and 2 frozen powerades (for good luck). Forecast promised 85ish, thermometer claimed 95+.
Not a single person on the trails today. Well, there were some vehicles at Cross F when I stopped back in the afternoon, but didn't see any people on the trail. Only one driver was spotted from a distance. Quiet day in the Mazzies for such accessible trails.
Distance wasn't that big of a deal, though I need some better insoles to deal with the darn rocks.
Really need to start looking to the west/north. There's a lot of trails up there (Verde/Wet Bottom/Red Hills) that I haven't touched yet :(


dry Thicket Spring Dry Dry
Dry at spring. Water can be found downstream along Cornucopia Trail.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Upper McFarland @ #88/95 Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Pools below junction.
_____________________
1 archive
May 15 2017
mazatzal
avatar

 Routes 31
 Photos 2,166
 Triplogs 1,073

62 male
 Joined Jul 28 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Saddle Mountain - AZT #22Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar May 15 2017
mazatzal
Hiking8.00 Miles 1,010 AEG
Hiking8.00 Miles
1,010 ft AEG
 
Partners partners
Sredfield
Three of went us out to McFarland Canyon to remove a deadfall, some light brushing and a short reroute to bypass a somewhat steep drop to cross a wash. Temps were great all day I don’t think it even made it to 70!

The trail is in great shape and the crew that improved the Story mine to McFarland stretch did excellent work - that descent has had “problems” on and off for the last 25 years :lol:

After we cleared the deadfall we went back to McFarland Canyon for lunch - such a great place :)
Culture
Culture
Old Rusty Stuff
Named place
Named place
Mount Peeley
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
_____________________
2 archives
Mar 18 2017
chumley
avatar

 Guides 75
 Routes 667
 Photos 13,221
 Triplogs 1,421

46 male
 Joined Sep 18 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Saddle Mountain 6535 - MazatzalsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 18 2017
chumley
Hiking5.96 Miles 1,975 AEG
Hiking5.96 Miles   4 Hrs   20 Mns   1.64 mph
1,975 ft AEG      42 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners partners
BobP
Blanco has been sending me PMs making fun of how far ahead of me he is on stats this year so I decided I should grab some AEG with a quick trip up Mt. Ord in the morning before it got too warm out.

Out of the blue I asked Bob if he wanted to go, and I was a bit surprised to find him at the Wendys on the way there. Not 5 minutes into the drive he asked if I had ever done Saddle Mtn. Nope. It was everything I wasn't looking to do today. Not much mileage. Definitely not much aeg. And not the nice wide trail experience I was looking for.

Somehow I agreed anyway.

Let's just say that HAZ and Route Scout failed me. I tried to get a new track, and didn't spend any time actually looking at what I was downloading while driving 80-something on the beeline. A mile or two into the hike I realized that the hike called "Saddle Mountain from Mormon" didn't go anywhere close to summiting Saddle Mountain! ](*,)

Not that we couldn't have figured it out, but I like a little research on my off-trail adventures. I got a signal and managed to spy a view at JJ3 and Fliver's posted routes. That was somewhat helpful.

Takeaway. Wear pants. Much blood was drawn without them. : rambo :

I didn't have my zip bottoms with me since the Mt. Ord hike isn't really overgrown. Oh well.

The Saddle Mtn Trail #91 portion is nice. Too nice. A trail crew was out there with dustbusters making the trail smooth enough to play bocce. Seriously. Volunteer trail crews are awesome, but the folks in charge need to pick some rougher sections of trail to work on. I could have driven my truck in 2wd without pinstriping for at least 2 miles from Mormon Grove, and there were still awesome volunteers making improvements! :o

Picked a different route down and then traversed over to Potato Patch which is a pretty cool area. Definitely a less boring hike than Ord. But not really comparable either. Fun day though. Wasn't ever even on my radar!
Named place
Named place
Potato Patch Saddle Mountain 6,535
_____________________
Profound observer
Mar 18 2017
BobP
avatar

 Guides 2
 Routes 183
 Photos 3,861
 Triplogs 2,279

57 male
 Joined Feb 26 2008
 Scottsdale, AZ
Saddle Mountain 6535 - MazatzalsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 18 2017
BobP
Hiking5.96 Miles 1,975 AEG
Hiking5.96 Miles   4 Hrs   20 Mns   1.64 mph
1,975 ft AEG      42 Mns Break
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Partners partners
chumley
This haz been on my radar for several years. I heard it was nasty before the fire. I would rate it a 1.5 out of 5 on the off trail suck meter although I did have long pants. Bruno P and I attempted it a few years ago but we got snowed out.Chums wanted to hike a road and it didn't really appeal to me but I would have done it had Norge objected. Cool views of supes,3 peaks, squaw flats, and other far away areas. Mazzy 16 will probably never happen, but today, I felt like I could do any one of them separately. After hike, jumped in the pool and then took a well deserved nap.
_____________________
http://www.blindmotivation.com
http://www.seeitourway.org
Always pronounce Egeszsegedre properly......
If you like this triplog you must be a friend of BrunoP
Apr 09 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
avatar

 Routes 186
 Photos 8,027
 Triplogs 213

male
 Joined Jan 28 2010
 Fountain Hills,
Saddle Mountain - Mazatzals, AZ 
Saddle Mountain - Mazatzals, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Apr 09 2016
FLYING_FLIVER
Hiking6.69 Miles 2,034 AEG
Hiking6.69 Miles   7 Hrs   42 Mns   1.77 mph
2,034 ft AEG   3 Hrs   55 Mns Break
 
This hike was more of a test of fortitude than a hike. Half way through the hike, I started laughing out loud.
(Good thing I was alone).

Hike Positives
1 - I easily located a benchmark on the summit of Saddle Mountain.
2 - I also located two reference marks that I didn’t know existed.
3 - The hike is over.

Oh yes - another positive - I discovered that the normal clothes-washer cycle, takes soot out of hiking clothes.

Hike Negatives
1 - The off trail climb and descent was nasty, craggy, hiker-unfriendly, and absolutely full of thick vegetation on all steep sides, AND on the summit.
2 - Mixed in with all the tall, thick brush was charred brush remnants, from the Sunflower Fire of 2012 and earlier burns. (excellent to blacken all parts of your hiking costume).

Most mountains lose their “look”, the closer you get to them and Saddle Mountain is no different. Saddle Mountain is very distinctive from afar - It’s taller than the mountains around it, so it stands out in a very majestic way, what with its unique shape.
Up close - It’s not so majestic.

The trail (#91) portion of the hike was excellent. Trail #91 started life as a road and is now a very nice, wide trail.
The off trail climb, up and down, was very steep, with a bit of scree, and boulder hopping, but I assumed it would be. No surprises there.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the constant brush. I’d say the thick brush was over 95% of the off trail portion, with the actual top of the mountain totally covered with thick, 6 ft high vegetation. When I finally got up there, I actually did laugh out loud.
I felt like the mountain top was saying “Gotcha”, especially since the mountain looks so docile, and friendly from below.

As mentioned, I located the USGS benchmark “SADDLE” (1963). I located both reference marks first, then followed their arrows to the ‘brush hiding’ BM. All three disks are in excellent shape.

I unsuccessfully looked for a summit log on the ‘horn’ of the saddle and on the actual high point. I don’t think this summit gets alot of action, and I believe only a few HAZ members have made the fun journey to the top.

I stayed on top for quite a long time, after I took photos of the benchmark etc. I found a large boulder near the saddle, and had lunch.
I eventually stopped laughing at the mountain, and I finally got rid of my ‘mountain-malice’.

My choice of routes up and down were a ‘coin toss’. Looking back now, I don’t believe there’s a clear way up to the top that would be better. Give it a try and let me know.
Dress accordingly - Try to fully encapsulate your body.

Or get a helicopter and get ‘lowered down’ to the summit. I’ll guarantee you the chopper pilot will not land on the top.

I log this as a very successful hike, but in many ways, the mountain won.
I guess I’ll call it a draw.
Named place
Named place
Potato Patch Saddle Mountain 6,535
_____________________
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
J.R.R.TOLKIEN
3 archives
Apr 12 2015
mazatzal
avatar

 Routes 31
 Photos 2,166
 Triplogs 1,073

62 male
 Joined Jul 28 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Saddle - Thicket - West Fork - Cornucopia, AZ 
Saddle - Thicket - West Fork - Cornucopia, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Apr 12 2015
mazatzal
Hiking11.67 Miles 2,457 AEG
Hiking11.67 Miles   6 Hrs   50 Mns   1.97 mph
2,457 ft AEG      55 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Parked at FR25 / 25A junction and hiked up FR25 to Mormon Grove TH, take Saddle Mtn trail to McFarland Canyon and continue on Thicket Spring trail to West Fork trail to Cornucopia trail and take that back to 25A and return to the 25/25A junction.

The area is recovering a bit from the Sunflower fire. The new posts installed by Shawn and team look good and will be even better when the signs are added :lol: We saw an Arizona black buzzworm along Saddle Mtn trail.

The area seemed eerily quiet today. From the time we left the Beeline to getting back we saw no people and no vehicles anywhere in the area except on the drive back we saw one pickup. There are usually at least a few people/vehicles at all the camping spots along FR 25.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Substantial
_____________________
3 archives
Jan 02 2014
JuanJaimeiii
avatar

 Routes 562
 Photos 7,617
 Triplogs 1,598

52 male
 Joined Jan 30 2011
 Chandler, AZ
Saddle Mountain Loop w/ Summit, AZ 
Saddle Mountain Loop w/ Summit, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 02 2014
JuanJaimeiii
Hiking8.96 Miles 2,559 AEG
Hiking8.96 Miles   4 Hrs   38 Mns   2.34 mph
2,559 ft AEG      48 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Saddle Mountain has been on my "to do" list for quite some time now. Every time I do Mount Ord I look across and think "I need to do that one". Somehow it never pops up on my radar but yesterday we were all sitting on Stewart Mountain and there it was again off in the distance. So today was the day. I took a copy of GPS Joes Saddle Mountain hike in which he goes down to Sheep Creek.

I had plotted a route up and was going to take that ridge on the way back from Joe's hike but instead I just went at it from the north. I don't know if this was the best plan or not but it worked. There was some pretty decent scrambling involved so if that's not your thing I would take a different approach.

Up top it was extremely brushy in most spots. I didn't find a register but I did spot the benchmark. Once up top I decided to go down the saddle and then up the horn side. For a minute I thought I found the register there but no such luck.

From that end I was looking down into Potato Patch and the views from there were incredible. I could see the lakes but couldn't pin point Stewart Mountain.

From there I just descended down towards the trail. It was again very brushy. I heard a noise and when I looked up I saw a couple white tail deer.

I am glad I did this one and the loop ended up being really cool. If your desire is just to summit then there are much easier ways to do so. If you have the time and are up for an adventure this route may be for you.
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Dec 20 2013
BobP
avatar

 Guides 2
 Routes 183
 Photos 3,861
 Triplogs 2,279

57 male
 Joined Feb 26 2008
 Scottsdale, AZ
Saddle Mountain Trail to Squaw FlatPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 20 2013
BobP
Hiking10.60 Miles 2,750 AEG
Hiking10.60 Miles
2,750 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Wierd day...Went to Mills Ridge then Deer Creek and settled parking at 627 and hiking up to Mormon TH and over towards Saddle mountain. Bruno was a rockstar and lead most of the hike. I wanted to go thru Mcfarland but he had other plans to hit Mormon. I guess he knew lunch would be waiting for him there :doh: . Fun day and a swim in 60 degree water and a shower and Bruno is laying on my wife's side of the bed licking his paws and dreaming of the leg he couldn't drag home.
Fauna
Fauna
Dog
Named place
Named place
Sheep Mountain Peak 6996
_____________________
http://www.blindmotivation.com
http://www.seeitourway.org
Always pronounce Egeszsegedre properly......
If you like this triplog you must be a friend of BrunoP
Oct 05 2013
mazatzal
avatar

 Routes 31
 Photos 2,166
 Triplogs 1,073

62 male
 Joined Jul 28 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Saddle Mountain #91Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 05 2013
mazatzal
Hiking11.00 Miles 1,880 AEG
Hiking11.00 Miles   6 Hrs   20 Mns   1.94 mph
1,880 ft AEG      40 Mns Break
 no routes
Hmm where to go :-k Ah I know the Mazatzals :lol:
Mormon Grove TH along Saddle Mountain trail to Potato Patch then off trail. The plan was to go down Tournament Creek to Saddle Mtn Spring, there used to be a route down here but no evidence now. Potato Patch is a nice meadow but no spuds. I got to the upper end of Tournament creek about half way to the spring and gave up - too overgrown and brutal bushwacking. I went back to the trail and continued to McFarland Canyon, up to the Sheep / Copper junction and then back to the TH.
Even though I didn't get to Saddle Mtn Spring I had a great day with perfect weather.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Substantial

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Upper McFarland @ #88/95 Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
_____________________
Mar 24 2013
mazatzal
avatar

 Routes 31
 Photos 2,166
 Triplogs 1,073

62 male
 Joined Jul 28 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Little Saddle Mountain Trail #244Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 24 2013
mazatzal
Hiking9.80 Miles 1,720 AEG
Hiking9.80 Miles   5 Hrs   30 Mns   2.14 mph
1,720 ft AEG      55 Mns Break
 
Small plants are recovering nicely considering how recent the fire was. Took LSMT up to Saddle Mtn and continued on Saddle Mtn trail and then back to Mormon Grove and down the road. FR25 is in good shape now we just need the gates open. Saw 2 deer.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
_____________________
Nov 06 2012
topohiker
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 Guides 13
 Routes 112
 Photos 4,377
 Triplogs 1,751

male
 Joined Oct 29 2005
 Scottsdale, AZ
Cornucopia via E. Fork Sycamore CreekPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 06 2012
topohiker
Hiking26.17 Miles 3,664 AEG
Hiking26.17 Miles   10 Hrs   45 Mns   2.85 mph
3,664 ft AEG   1 Hour   35 Mns Break
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Partners none no partners
I set out to see the damage of the Sunflower fire. I parked at the intersection of FR210 & FR25. There was a troop of Boy Scouts getting ready for a backpack. A couple of adults came over to ask if I've been to the mine at the end of FR201a. I told them that I've never been to that one. They mentioned that they got the idea from HikeAZ and that one of the scout leaders was Preston the Yenti's dad.

I headed down FR25. About 1.30 miles in, I got sidetracked. I came to a decommissioned road behind a locked gate. I've always wondered what was behind here. My GPS showed that the road was about half mile long. I went down and saw the remains of some structures and the road went into the East Fork of the Sycamore creek. The creek was wide and mostly sandy. After a bit it turned into a box canyon with ample shade. I set my turn around point to whenever there was any rock hoping or climbing. To my surprise I didn't find any. There was maybe two spots with some rocks. Then a there was some water flowing down the creek. At one point, I saw the boy scouts up on FR201. I also found a busty water gauge in the creek. I hit a T section that was burned out. The creek flowed from the left, so I followed it. My GPS showed that the creek crossed a FR. So that was my new interim goal, to find the road and see where it takes me.

Right by the road was a mine and a furnace. This is the mine that the boy scouts were going to! I hiked up FR201a and saw the troop. We talked a bit and I headed back down FR201a. I found a semi-fresh graded road right off of 201a. It lead to a pretty flat area and continued on for about 1/4 mile. I wonder if this was used as a staging area for the Sunflower fire. I returned to FR201a and took it to a 4 - way intersection. To the south was FR4721 (that leads to FR25a), to the west was FR201a(that leads to the Davey Gowan TH) and to the east was an unnumbered road (that one leads back to the locked gate).

I took the FR4721 to FR25a. FR4721 had some pretty bad washouts on it. At FR25A,I turned to the East and headed towards FR25. Right before the bridge was a major washout, that would stop all vehicles from passing. The bridge was covered in sand. About a 1/4 mile from FR25, there was a new locked gate. Then past that, FR25a had a major 10 foot wide washout. It was too steep to climb down, so I bushwhacked around it.

Now I finally was going up to the Mormon Groove TH. The fire did a number on FR25. I took me a bit to figure out where the road was or is. This area needs some serious work to allow vehicle to get through. Once I started climbing up FR25, the road was pretty good. There was a couple of rough spots and one rock slide.

At the Mormon Groove TH, there's a new ~10foot radio tower. I'm guessing this was a radio repeater for the fire fighters.

I went down the Little Saddle trail for a couple of miles. There are some burnt sections. The silver lining to the fire is that now you have some better views of the area. I could see some roads that I couldn't before.

I returned down FR25 to the Jeep. I was in the dark for the last hour.
_____________________
"Everywhere is walking distance...If you have the time"
-Stephen Wright
Apr 14 2012
MEWhiteman
avatar

 Guides 40
 Routes 91
 Photos 790
 Triplogs 351

75 male
 Joined Dec 24 2005
 Phoenix, AZ
Saddle Mountain Trail to Squaw FlatPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 14 2012
MEWhiteman
Hiking8.00 Miles 1,000 AEG
Hiking8.00 Miles   35 Hrs      0.23 mph
1,000 ft AEG
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
hiazny10
Did this to help Tom complete passage 22 of the AZT. It was part of a long day also including the Sunflower trail. It was cold and snowy at times but this was still a beautiful section to hike. FR25 was a little slippery in places getting to Mormon Grove. We say several groups camping along the way as we went up to the trailhead but they all cleared out by the time we came back.
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2 archives
Mar 24 2012
CannondaleKid
avatar

 Guides 43
 Routes 137
 Photos 20,568
 Triplogs 1,922

69 male
 Joined May 04 2004
 Mesa, AZ
Saddle Mountain Mine TourPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 24 2012
CannondaleKid
Hiking12.10 Miles 2,681 AEG
Hiking12.10 Miles   7 Hrs   26 Mns   2.03 mph
2,681 ft AEG   1 Hour   28 Mns Break20 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
We planned our trip based on the 'Easy Mines' hike description by GPS Joe and loading what I now know was his Feb '06 GPS track, which was a bit more than the hike description of 7.6 miles and 1400 AEG. But by adding a bit of bushwhacking in an attempt to include the Story Mine to the loop hike we ended up with well over both figures... no wonder why Tracey was complaining more than the usual. [-(

Oh well, it was great weather, we saw a bunch of mines such as they were (not much) and the equipment left at Sunflower/National Mine, met one hiker and a group of ATV'ers who were having a good time with Bud Lights at the mine. Glad we passed them loading them on their trailers as we drove out FR25 so we wouldn't have to worry about passing them driving home.

I found a lucky/unlucky horseshoe on the trail... unlucky for the horse that lost it and hopefully lucky for me. We'll be hanging up to see if it brings me luck... yeah right! I don't wait for luck, I seek opportunities to capitalize on.
Named place
Named place
Sunflower Mine
_____________________
CannondaleKid
Mar 10 2012
mazatzal
avatar

 Routes 31
 Photos 2,166
 Triplogs 1,073

62 male
 Joined Jul 28 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Copper Camp Trail #87Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 10 2012
mazatzal
Hiking20.30 Miles 4,860 AEG
Hiking20.30 Miles   11 Hrs   10 Mns   2.10 mph
4,860 ft AEG   1 Hour   30 Mns Break
 no routes
Partners 8 partners
HAZ - Event
fan3992
johnlp
JuanJaimeiii
juliachaos
KaKoe
topohiker
uphill_junkie
wallyfrack
It was a chilly 28 when we started but not too bad. I really like the variety on this one with great views along Saddle Mtn, some nice trees in McFarland and the great views along Copper.

The cat claw was pretty bad down in Copper Creek but when I came back I found it best to stay low and follow the cairns and not take the high route. I saw something black go crashing through the brush near the cottonwoods but I didn't investigate - perhaps a bear?

I struggled a bit climbing back up to Squaw Flat but made it eventually - I'm really glad I turned round at Copper Camp - definitely the right decision for me.

It was great to see Liz and Amy again and to meet Katrina, John, John, Wally, Ken and Fan.

Thanks to all - I had a really great day!
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
_____________________
Nov 12 2011
sbkelley
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 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
Saddle Mountain Trail to Squaw FlatPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 12 2011
sbkelley
Hiking7.00 Miles 1,500 AEG
Hiking7.00 Miles   4 Hrs   30 Mns   1.56 mph
1,500 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
It has been awhile. After being struck by a car door in late September while cycling down the road, suffering a broken hand that required surgery, hiking had to take a personal back seat. At last, the body was healed enough to head out. So, what better way to enjoy the cool, fall weather than to see the view from the top of Saddle Mountain in the Mazatzals?

Two things about the area: 1) the aesthetics are top-notch, 2) climbing to the top was not the most enjoyable thing in the world :) . Not that there's any regret doing it, but I'd bet against a repeat ascent anytime.

After cruising up to the quiet Mormon Grove TH, we followed the Saddle Mountain Trail through saddles and in and out of drainages, taking in the panoramic views. Mt Ord and the Four Peaks still carried a good amount of snow, and yellow ribbons in the canyon bottoms of autumn foliage reminded me what I'd been missing the last couple months.

At the foot of Saddle Mountain, I spied a brush-free line to within a couple hundred feet of the top. Not bad. Up Tanya and I went, easily getting within 400 feet on the top within short time. After that, progress slowed down big-time. Thick, hideous brush guarded all routes on all sides of Saddle's summit.

Hopping on rocks while we could and pushing through oak, the ridgeline just never seemed to end. The terrain got rougher and the brush got thicker the closer we got. A nice cool breeze helped, as now we were on the narrow, airy ridge, near Saddle's summit. We were nearing the south (false) summit, so I knew the key would be finding a route down into the, well, saddle of the south and the north points. Tanya had enough by this point, and I considered (really, I did) calling it a day, too, but I spied a "gentle" route down off the false summit and the rest of the climb to the true top looked pretty easy. What the heck? Let's see what happens.

The snow got thick (maybe 4-6 inches deep) and the brush got thick too, but I found a way down, then cruised along the saddle to Saddle Mountain's top! What was there? Incredible views in all directions - no summit register, no benchmarks (that I could find, I'm sure there's one around though), and no sign of people. Perfect. Tanya could easily see me from the south summit, and seeing her made me hasten back. Time to get off this brushy thing.

The descent was smooth and we were both happy to be on the gentle Saddle Mountain Trail again and out of the wind. A few brush scratches (of course, it's the Mazatzals!) were some souvenirs, as we enjoyed our afternoon stroll back to the car. Nice to be out again...
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Oct 16 2011
Tough_Boots
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 Routes 67
 Photos 2,708
 Triplogs 755

40 male
 Joined Mar 28 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Little Saddle Mountain Lasso, AZ 
Little Saddle Mountain Lasso, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Oct 16 2011
Tough_Boots
Hiking19.40 Miles 3,617 AEG
Hiking19.40 Miles
3,617 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
This was a really long day and you probably won't find me following this route again. There were a few nice areas to check out-- some good fall color show in a few locations. I encountered a bit more bushwacking than expected. It was good to see a bit of trail in the Mazzies I had not yet been on. Also saw the mine at the Saddle Mtn / Thicket intersection that I had not be aware of. I took a side trip left where Little Saddle Mtn merges onto the old jeep road (instead of staying right) to check out Upper Sheep Creek Spring. Not much to see there. Its pretty ugly getting there and there's a corral. Not really worth going to again. The trail section that connects Thicket Springs and Cornucopia on the south end is a total mess-- not fun.


Starting point: Cross F TH
Little Saddle Mountain (plus side trip down the old jeep road to Upper Sheep Creek Spring)--> Saddle Mountain --> Thicket Springs --> Cornucopia--> 25A --> jeep road above Sunflower Mine --> Saddle Mountain -->Little Saddle Mountain

I think all the trail names are correct. The signs don't seem to correspond 100% with my map.
_____________________
"there is no love where there is no bramble."
--bill callahan
Apr 30 2011
hikerdw
avatar

 Routes 130
 Photos 2,263
 Triplogs 357

60 male
 Joined Aug 16 2009
 Mesa,AZ
Saddle Mountain Trail to Squaw FlatPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 30 2011
hikerdw
Hiking11.80 Miles 500 AEG
Hiking11.80 Miles   5 Hrs   26 Mns   2.53 mph
500 ft AEG      46 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
First hike in the Mazatzals and I really enjoyed this area. The weather was great and other than seeing some large groups of campers along the FR on the drive in, we didn't see anyone else on the trail. The roads were in good shape.
Culture
Culture
Mine Shaft
Named place
Named place
Saddle Mountain 6,535
_____________________
Apr 16 2011
PrestonSands
avatar

 Guides 168
 Routes 149
 Photos 5,534
 Triplogs 1,317

42 male
 Joined Apr 12 2004
 Oro Valley, AZ
Saddle Mountain Trail to Squaw FlatPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Backpack avatar Apr 16 2011
PrestonSands
Backpack31.00 Miles 7,633 AEG
Backpack31.00 Miles4 Days         
7,633 ft AEG44 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Partners partners
Chapman
Gary Williams
jtaylor
Mazatzal Spring Break 2011

Part 1:

After a quick breakfast at the Beeline Cafe in Payson Saturday morning, I went south and met John, Jason, and Gary at the Mormon Grove trailhead. Temps were a bit warmer than expected as we headed north along the rocky Saddle Mountain Trail, our packs loaded down with choice beverages. We took a short break among the changing oaks at Potato Patch, then continued on across brushy hillsides. Lupines, penstemon, and other flowers added contrasting colors to the sea of green that is this part of the Mazatzals.

Reaching McFarland Canyon, we entered a fine forest of pine and fir, then continued west to our campsite along the creek. The rest of the day was spent relaxing in the shade and just enjoying our surroundings. John and I ventured down canyon a ways. I made a late afternoon trip up the Sheep Creek Trail to Squaw Flat to enjoy the views and watch the sunset on the Mazatzal peaks. The only others we saw the entire weekend came passing by on Saturday evening: two guys with four mules. We shared our campsite with them, but kept to ourselves. Jason, John, and Gary cooked steaks on the fire, and I did my usual quesadillas.

I awoke Sunday morning from a miserable night's sleep with an aching back to find the sun turning my tent into an oven. The mule train soon left, and the rest of us spent the day in the shade being lazy among the tall pines.

Late Sunday afternoon, John and I climbed out of the canyon and hiked over to the Story Mine. Wanting to see the old cabin and apple trees that Fritzski had written about, we continued down the old road to the bottom of the canyon, getting torn apart by all manner of unforgiving plants along the way. The bottom of the canyon was a welcoming scene of huge douglas firs, a few maple and apple trees, and an ancient cabin, with water trickling down the creek bed. Being late, we cut our visit short, hiked back out, and returned to our campsite by sunset. Jason was serving up the very flavorful tortellini he had cooked, which was enjoyed by all. The rest of the night was spent around the fire, discussing many subjects, and watching the stars.

Monday morning we packed up our gear and parted ways. John, Jason, and Gary headed back the way we had come in on the Saddle Mountain Trail. I had Tuesday off, and decided to take the long way back...

Part 2:

Wishing I had gotten an earlier start due to the very warm sun, I went east up the Thicket Spring Trail, then turned off onto the West Fork Trail, whose scrub oak gauntlet I endured while dropping down to the Cornucopia Trail. There I hung my food from a tall oak and stashed my backpack. I threw on my daypack, and headed north along the Cornucopia Trail. Cornucopia creek was flowing nicely, and spring was in full gear.

I nearly stepped on a gopher snake shortly before reaching the big ponderosa below Thicket Spring, where I took a break in the shade. I filtered some water, ate lunch, soaked my hat and shirt in the creek, then continued hiking up to the Mazatzal Divide Trail.

A welcome breeze picked up as I climbed the east side of Mount Peeley, where I stashed some water for the return trip. I left the Mazatzal Divide Trail at Peeley's northeast corner, and followed the northeast ridge to the summit of Mount Peeley. Clouds had begun to roll in, and the wind was strong. I sat down among the rocks to enjoy the view and send a photo to some friends. Before leaving I placed a register on the summit (I'm not sure why there has never been one here on my previous visits). I took the standard northwest ridge back down to the Mazatzal Divide Trail, then headed back the way I had come. The cloud cover and breeze made a world of difference hiking south along the Cornucopia Trail.

Back at the West Fork junction, I retrieved my backpack, and continued down along Forest Road 25A, passing the turnoff for the absolutley insane Forest "Road" 3722 (the "Cornucopia via E. Fork Sycamore" hike). I hadn't been on this section of the West Fork Sycamore Creek since 1999, and I was impressed with its beauty. The canyon was lush, full of water and greenery, and even had a couple of douglas firs growing at 4400 feet.

By the time I reached the bottom end of McFarland Canyon, the sun was about to set. Frogs were croaking, the air felt absolutely perfect, and I didn't want to leave. I debated whether to camp here for the night, or continue on to my truck at the end of FR 25A like I had planned, and just explore the mercury mines the next day. The thought of ice cold drinks at my truck sealed my decision. I reached my truck at the bottom of FR 25A at 8 pm, where Jason had kindly moved it that morning. It had been a 15 mile, 10 hour day, and I was tired. I cooked dinner, watched a dvd in my truck, and then crashed in the bed. Ramen noodles never tasted so good.

Tuesday I slept in, shaded by huge oak trees. Eventually I got moving, and hiked back up FR 25A along the West Fork of Sycamore Creek. I hadn't seen this area in years, and the scenery was even better than I had remembered. Sycamores, cliffs, pools of water, and colorful rock everywhere! I have a lifetime of memories of this place, and all of them are good. It was great to come back.

I popped into what John and I refer to as the "Junk Mine", to discover most of the junk was gone. Cresting a little saddle just beyond, I laid eyes on the old mercury mill for the first time in years. I explored the inside of the mill, taking many photos. It's steadily deteriorating, sadly. Just an FYI, there's a bee hive living in the bottom end of the big furnace/crusher tube. I stopped to visit the Sunflower Mine itself on the way out, hoping to pick up a nice sample of cinnabar ore. After a good bit of searching, I found a couple of pieces. Before I left the West Fork, I had a good soaking in one of its pools. The water was cold, but it felt great. I hated to leave.

I was surprised (disappointed?) that I hadn't seen even one rattlesnake the entire trip. That changed only five minutes from my truck, when a large Black-tailed Rattlesnake, in full coil, buzzed me. I finally saw one. Yay! Once back at my truck, I began the long drive home, through my favorite Mazatzal Mountains. It had been a perfect trip with great friends, wonderful scenery, and adventure. I'll remember this trip forever.

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/user/PrestonTheY ... ZfunMrcTHU

Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/user/PrestonTheY ... D7Y_TNjH_Y
Geology
Geology
Cinnabar
Named place
Named place
Saddle Mountain 6,535
_____________________
"I'm going for a coffee, but you never know when a hike might break out." -Jim Gaffigan
average hiking speed 2.08 mph
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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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