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Tag: Tonto National Forest (page 6 of 6)

Rough-N-Ready Canyon

On Sunday, Marilyn, Joe, Bob, Nick, and I hiked through Rough-N-Ready Canyon.  We started on the Javelina Mine Trail which connects to a wash that eventually turns into a good sized canyon.  My feet and ankles didn’t much like the numerous loose and rounded stones on the hike, so, on the way back, we bushwhacked over to and returned via the Javelina Mine Trail.  Total distance, according to my GPS, was about 9.3 miles.  Bob’s phone, on the other hand, showed that we had hiked nearly twelve miles.  (Clearly, one of them is wrong.)

Here are the GPS tracks for the day.  The light blue track is the track out to the cave.  The dark blue track is the track back from the cave to the parking area.

View hike-130106-rough-n-ready.kml in a larger map

Early in the hike, on a narrow, but good trail:

One (of many) rock formations:

Marilyn and Nick in the wash, fairly early on in the hike.  It abruptly descended twelve to fifteen feet at this point.

We saw many interesting rock formations along the way.  The desert scenery was somewhat different than that to which we are accustomed.


Marilyn with her camera:

The sky became more interesting later in our hike.  The rock formations got bigger and even more interesting too.

One of my favorite photos from this hike:

The canyon walls became very steep and very tall.

I had fallen far behind, but I eventually caught up with the others.

They were waiting by a cave which has two openings.

The interior of the cave:

Marilyn, hiking ahead of me on the way back:

A view after we exited the canyon:

Taking a break on lichen covered rock:

Views from the Javelina Mine Trail as evening approaches:

Bonus photos from Marilyn!


Goldfield High Country via Gateway Canyon

On Sunday, Marilyn, Joe, Nick, and I hiked out near Saguaro Lake.  We did the Goldfield High Country via Gateway Canyon hike.  This hike is supposed to be only eight miles in length and, if you manage to do it efficiently without any wrong turns or detours, it might actually turn out to be that long.  We, however, ended up hiking 9.72 miles with 1,219 feet of total ascent.

There is a maze of trails in the area.  If you are thinking about doing this hike, I strongly recommend downloading one of the GPS tracks from the page describing this hike at hikearizona.com.  I downloaded johnr1’s Official Route to my GPS.   We probably would not have found our way had we not had these GPS tracks.  There are so many trails in the area that it is easy to make a wrong turn or miss a turn.  There were several instances where we got off route even with the track.  Yours truly even hiked a bit over a quarter mile on what seemed to be a good track certain that it would eventually turn and go the right way.  It was, in fact, going almost exactly the wrong way from where we wanted to go.

We started out in the early afternoon on Sunday, but it got dark on the way back.  We all ended up strapping on our headlamps so that we could see the trail during the last couple of miles.

The hike parallels the river for the first couple of miles.  At times, the river is in sight; at other times it’s far enough way that it can’t be seen.  We felt like we were zigzagging our way along this entire stretch.  One of the most difficult parts for me was the sections of river rock.  I don’t move well through this type of terrain due to old injuries.

We eventually entered a wash with steep walls.  I found the hiking to be much easier here. The sand underfoot was firm and even.  No more ducking under low hanging limbs through the maze of small trees or hiking on ankle-turning river rock.

Marilyn stops to take her own photos in this wash:

A view of the canyon where the majority of the elevation gain occurs.  There is a trail (not visible in the photo below) along the left canyon wall leading up to the top.  On the way up, we made the constant mistake of following right offshoots of the trail.  We’d proceed for a ways on what appeared to be a trail only to have it peter out.  We would then notice a good trail 10 or so feet higher up to our left.

We saw several caves in the canyon walls on the way up.

This fin on the canyon wall reminded us of some of the canyon country in Utah:

Joe pauses so that I can get a photo on the way up:

It was a cloudy day on Sunday.  The sun barely manages to peek through the clouds behind another wall that we saw after we emerged from the canyon.

There appeared to be a trail to the southwest, but the GPS track lead us in the opposite direction.  We didn’t understand the point of the path until we hit the end of the track where we saw this small arch.  Red Mountain is visible through this arch.

The arch isn’t very big.  In this photo, below, Nick pretends to sit on it.  It’s a fairly sheer drop on the other side of the arch; Nick didn’t trust it to hold his weight.  He didn’t want to damage it either.

A view of some mountains in the distance as we were hiking down the canyon:

Looking up one of the canyon walls:

A look back at where we had been:

A 1:1 crop of the above image.  If you look carefully, you can see the small arch near the bottom right of the photo.  (You may need to zoom the photo on your viewing device.)

Clouds in the late afternoon.  It started raining a short time before we reached the car.  It started raining hard just as we were getting in the car.

Another late afternoon shot.

I got this photo of the river shortly after sunset.  It was getting fairly dark when I took this photo.



Bear Flat Trail, 10+ years ago

It turned out that I and my family hiked part of the Bear Flat Trail back in late March of 2002. We made the same mistake then as we did on our more recent hike to the area; we hiked up the steep narrow path leading to the main part of the Bear Flat Trail.  Anyway, here’s what it (and we) looked like back then.  It doesn’t look that much different.  The kids, however, have changed a lot…

Hell’s Gate Wilderness: Bear Flat Trail / Mail Trail

Marilyn, Joe, Nick, and I hiked portions of the Bear Flat Trail and the Mail Trail in the Hell’s Gate Wilderness on Sunday.  My GPS showed that my total ascent was 2392 feet with a total distance of 6.64 miles.  Joe, Marilyn, and Nick went a somewhat shorter distance, doing portions of the Mail Trail twice, but perhaps going only to the halfway point along the Mail Trail.

View Bear Flat Trail / Mail Trail #178 in a larger map

Joe resets his GPS for the hike.  Marilyn and Nick are looking around in the distance.

We had to cross the Tonto Creek at the beginning.  We crossed by stepping on the rocks piled up from halfway up at the left edge of the photo.  Even though I tried to stay on the rocks, I still got some water in one of my shoes.

We turned the wrong way shortly after crossing the creek.  We saw a sign for the Bear Flat Trail and turned right.  We should have gone left, just past and above some private land with a house and a number of outbuildings.  The path to the right took us where needed to go too, but it was a lot harder.  It was a steep narrow trail with lots of switchbacks set into the side of an even steeper hill.  We gained about 400 feet of elevation in this short section of the hike.

Nick and Marilyn emerge from the short, but very steep section at the beginning of the hike:

At this point, we’ve all joined the actual Bear Flat trail.  (Joe is in this picture too, but is in the trees.)  The trail was fairly wide; I’ve read that it was once a jeep trail.

Tall trees on both sides of the trail provided some shade from the sun:

The trail eventually entered the Hell’s Gate Wilderness:

The Bear Flat Trail eventually left the Wilderness and forked off.  We explored the right fork for a while.  It lead to a couple of tanks, one of which was recently fenced off.  We lost the trail at that point.  It might have continued on the other side of the fence, but we would have had to cross the fence to do so.  That fork of the trail looked like an old logging road to me.

Below is a photo of some agave that I saw near one of the tanks:

We retraced our steps and explored the left fork, which headed more northerly.  After studying the GPS tracks, it is now clear to me that we were on the Bear Flat Trail when we encountered the fence and corral at the second tank.  The north fork that I took is signed as the Mail Trail #178 at its terminus.  The Bear Flat Trail also bears the #178 designation though.  I show a picture of the sign at the terminus later on.

Here is a view looking up at a dead tree that I encountered while hiking the Mail Trail #178.

A view looking back on the Mail Trail:

The trail passed a rock slide.  I clambered up on the lower portions of it to get a better view:

The trail was steep with lots of switchbacks.  You had to look carefully for some of the turnings of the switchbacks because it was easy to miss them.  To make matters even more difficult, there were cows in the area which made their own trails; cows don’t necessarily follow the switchbacks.  I startled a small group of cows at one point.  I only saw them briefly as they ran up the hill.  They were very fit cows.

The trail leveled off and went past a tree with a rusted metal disk attached to it.  I do not know its purpose.

The trail headed up again and the views got even better:

The trail topped out on a ridge with a bunch of dead trees:

From there, it was only a short way to the end of the trail where I took a photo of these trail signs.  I had just come from the direction indicated by the Mail Trail sign.  The other two arrows point up and down a road.  Hunter Creek Trail is up and Christopher Creek is down.

I turned around here because I had left the others and I feared that they might have started to worry about me.  (It turns out that they had.)

I took this photo of what I’m guessing is the Mogollon Rim from the clearing on the ridge:

This photo was taken while looking in a more southerly direction:

I got this photo as I was hiking back after rejoining the others.  The rim can be better seen in this photo.  You can also see the road that we drove in on.

Instead of descending the treacherous switchbacks with which we started our hike, we instead descended a relatively wide road lined with very tall pines:



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