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Begins: Sep 19, 2009
Date: Sun, Nov 15th, 2009
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Trip Distance: 777.2
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Arizona Trail Map
SUMMARY WATER / TRAIL INFO.
The purpose of this entry is.....
1) Water: Listing by Passage of water sources I found on my SOUTHBOUND FALL hike. I think this would be extremely helpful for a FALL hiker. Knowing where there might be water is crucial and the water report is very difficult to rely on for a Fall hiker. I think this water information would be fairly irrelevant for a SPRING hiker. There should be way more water in the Spring. Keep in mind that you will need to lower your standards out here and good water may not quite be what you are used to.
2) Trail: Just a brief summary by Passage of my thoughts on the trail and a few navigation tips. Again, lower your standards out here. Good trail means you are not going cross country!
PASSAGE 43: Great trail and well marked.
No water at Stateline Trailhead. Bring a lot! Wildlife tank at 787.2 was full, but it was neon green. Like radioactive green. Wildlife tank at 779.7 was dry. Cache at 779.7 had 7 gallons of water.
PASSAGE 42: Great trail and well marked. If you got lost in Passage 43 or 42 you should probably go home!
Water cache at 762.7 was empty. I easily hitched the 2.5 miles in and out of Jacob Lake for water. Good food too. Keep in mind that traffic probably decreases significantly when the North Rim of GC closes (mid October I think).
PASSAGE 41: Trail was good and easy to follow. There were several miles of jeep road which were well marked.
Ridge Tank (I believe this is data point road FR 205B) had a fair amount of water, but it looked pretty bad.
From FR 205 (the one with a privy) to Crane Lake there is a fire closure from 2006. It's a 9-10 mile road walk down Hwy 67. If it has been hot out then I would suggest doing the walk in the morning. No shade at all, but the road is well paved and not a ton of traffic.
Trail was easy to follow and well marked.
Crane Lake was low, but had water. Didn't look too good. First Little Pleasant Valley tank had a fair amount of water. Came out a light brown with swimmers, but smelled ok. 2nd Little Pleasant Valley Tank was smaller, but water quality looked the same. Dog lake had water. Came out a light brown, but otherwise seemed ok. There was a bunch of stuff around Crystal Spring, but the only water was a small square concrete thing in the ground. I couldn't tell if it was water from the ground or rain water, but it looked ok other than the dead bird in it. Sourdough Well had a pond near it with a small amount of really gross water. At FR 610 (databook point 724.4) there was a large metal tank I'm guessing to be used for fire stuff. It was about 6' high and 8' across and full of good water. The spigot wouldn't budge, but it was pretty easy to get from the top. This may be temporary as I have no idea what the function is.
Trail is primarily a somewhat rocky utility road and is easy to follow.
I didn't see or need any water.
SoBo, I'd recommend hiking up the Bright Angel trail as opposed to the AZT route which is the South Kaibab trail which has no water. NoBo hiking down the South Kaibab trail isn't a problem.
Good luck getting a backcountry permit. It's easier to just hike across in one day, although if you have the patience to get on the daily waitlist then camping in the canyon is probably very cool.
The trail leaving the Park is generally dirt service roads and is well marked. If you walk into Tuscyan you can pick up the bike trail from behind the RV park at the beginning of town (near the pizza place and general store). The bike trail was very well marked. The Ranger station had an info. packet with a good map in it as well.
Watson tank was a tiny, nasty mud puddle. There was no water at Grandview Fire tower as it is not currently staffed, however someone left 2 gallons of water on the trail just south. Also, there were hunter camps in the area.
Trail is easy to follow and insanely well signed with the new National Scenic Trail sticker.
I did not check out the wildlife tanks and opted to rely on Russel Tank which was pretty low, but still deep enough to get some mediocre water. Light brown from the dirt, but otherwise ok. With no sure water for many more miles this was alarmingly low.
The first 5 miles are singletrack and easy to follow. The rest of the section is through the Babbitt Ranch on dirt roads and is well marked.
Lockwood tank was dry and I could not find the metal box that might have water mentioned in the water report. Upper Lockwood tank was dry. The tank near the powerlines was dry.
After rounding Tub Ranch and going through the gate there is a large above ground metal tank on the right with water in it. Turn the nozzle on and clear cold water comes flowing out! (I did have to strain out some small stuff). I'm sure this is Tub Ranch cattle water, but I only took a couple liters
Cedar Ranch trailhead had no water cache and I could not find the tank with great water 0.1 down the road. I looked pretty hard. I think it was removed.
East Cedar tank was bone dry. Around FR 418 (605.4 databook) were a ton of RV's, hunters and horses. I suspect they are always here when Elk season opens up and you could probably get water from someone.
The trail was easy to follow and very well marked. The ATA's website with current trail info. mentions that a decent stretch is cross-country (no trail). I followed well marked AZT trail the entire way to the Snowbowl. A local said the trail was built this summer. Not sure why they wouldn't update their own site if they helped build the trail.
I would highly recommend summitting Humphrey's Peak (highest point in Arizona) and then continuing on over Doyle and Freemont saddles and down to Shultz Pass. This is about 17 miles and 3,300' of elevation versus the AZT which is 8 miles downhill to Shultz Pass. However, the Humphrey's route is up in the alpine, very scenic and probably unique to the entire trail. It was worth it. There is a billboard map of the trail at the Snowbowl trailhead.
Shultz tank was low, but had the clearest water of any dirt tank yet.
I did the Flagstaff urban walk. The system of trails is really good. Lots of mountain bikers and runners. There is good billboard map at Shultz Tank which I took a picture of. There is the occasional AZT marker at key junctions, but that is it. The guidebook description is adaquate as well as that map at Shultz Tank.
You will pass a bunch of private homes. I'm sure you could get water if needed. Buffalo Park entrance has a water fountain.
Navigation tip for getting to Flagstaff. When you exit Buffalo Park though the big gate turn right on the dirt road shortly after exiting. This will lead you to pavement which leads to town. Tip for leaving Flagstaff. Take Babbitt street south (by Sam's Club) to the waste treatment plant where the AZT signage starts up.
PASSAGE 32: N/A due to taking urban route.
PASSAGE 31: The Flagstaff urban route joins this with 6 miles left. Trail was well marked and easy to follow. Small tank at 559.3 was dry. Marshall Lake was dry near the trail. I did not check at the other end where it was more likely to have water.
Prime Lake had a tiny puddle. Didn't check Vail lake. Horse Lake was mostly empty, but there still was a decent size section with water. Also, someone left 5 gallons of water at the gate (about 4 left now). I missed Pine Grove campground, but it was supposed to be open until 10/16 and probably had water. Double Springs campground faucets were on (trail goes right through it) and the spring was actually flowing well. First flowing water all trail! After Mormon Lake, there was a tank around data book point 529.3 with a small amount of water and around 525.2 (this could have been Van Daren Spring....not sure, but no running water but did have a small tank with water). There was also water right before the end of section paved road.
Trail was well marked. The real rocky road near the end of Anderson Mesa kept splitting into 2 roads (due to vehicles avoiding mud and making new tracks). The roads always rejoined. Any actual trail/road junction was well marked.
Mormon Lake Lodge is actually about a mile off the AZT, not 0.5 per the databook or 1.5 per the guidebook.
Maxie tank, Baragaman Park tank, Pine Spring, Wild Horse Tank, Gonzales Tank, unnamed tank all had water. There were also several other tanks with random water. Pine Spring was the best one and unnamed tank was the best dirt tank of the trip. All the others were standard low water cattle tanks. Waldroup tank was dry.
The trail in this section jumps between trail and dirt road and hits a million road junctions. It is well marked with posts and cairns, but it is still easy to miss a turnoff. A few junctions were not signed, but if you looked down the roads you would see a post or cairn down the correct road.
Trail was well marked and easy to follow.
Elk tank was dry. Blue Ridge campground was closed 9/27 and water off. I assume the same for Rock Crossing but did not check. East Clear creek was dry General Springs canyon had big pools of not so great water off and on. Towards the end it seemed a bit better and was possibly flowing, but it was really hard to tell.
East Verde River was flowing. Lots of side creeks flowing into it as you follow the powerlines down. Chase creek was dry, but there were a couple creeks flowing before it. North Sycamore and Bray had water. Bear spring was dry. Weber creek was flowing strong. Pine spring was flowing, but low and hard to get from the muddy area. Red Rock spring was dry.
The trail in this section mostly follows the Highline Trail which is in pretty poor shape. You won't get lost, but might pause occasionally to go the correct way. The trail needs some erosion work, etc., but is hikable. It will at least slow down that 3+ MPH pace you've gotten used to.
Pine creek was dry. Oak spring was flowing. East tank was dry. Saddle Ridge tank had water.
Trail is pretty rocky. Not quite as well signed as it has been, but no real issues.
Whiterock spring was flowing out of a pipe nicely. Polk Spring had water. East Verde River was flowing and Rock Creek was flowing into it.
Trail is obscure, but well marked with cairns. If you don't see a cairn for a bit you are probably not on the trail. Complicating matters are all the cattle paths going every which way near the end and the descent off the mesa. It's a mess around East Verde River / LF Ranch, but follow the cairns and you'll end up where you want to be.
ATA recommends taking the mapped alternate due to a past fire which I did. The road from LF Ranch is up and down and pretty rocky at times. At Baby Doll trailhead it turns good.
There was a small flow in a random gulch on the road. You can access the East Verde river easiest at the Baby Doll Trailhead. Find a path through the brush and it's flowing in the channel after crossing several dry channels. Maybe 100 yards. At the City Creek trailhead the creek was dry and getting to the East Verde seemed like a pain. Better access back at Baby Doll. The Divide trail is just past City Creek trailhead on the other side of the road.
The climb from the ranch is a big one. The trail is moderately brushy/prickly and somewhat rocky, but generally easy to follow, although there are no signs to speak of. After the top (Red Hill trail junction) the trail gets better and then there are a few stretches of burn that are hard to follow. Someone put one or two rocks on blowdowns to help. There is a trail sign at North Peak trail junction and then a few minutes later you are supposed to hit Willow Spring trail which heads south while the AZT initially heads northeast (This is "The Park" area). It was a mess of burn/blowdowns and I never saw a junction and following the little cairns ended up on the wrong trail for a few minutes. Maybe I missed something obvious, but watch out.
This section is brutal. The good news is that after Horse seep the trail is generally east to follow. It was vague and sometimes hard to follow before Horse seep. Know where your junctions are. It would be easy to get on the wrong trail as the signage is ok at best.
The bad news is that the section is insanely overgrown with the most brutal of barbed plants. Lots of blowdowns and eroded trail too. Average speed was usually 2 mph at best with a full effort.
Navigation tip: At the Barnhart trail junction turn right. This is the area the guidebook says is mapped wrong on the topo (i agree). Straight goes to the trailhead, right is the AZT. This was very poorly marked for SoBo. Fine for NoBo.
The trail is a super highway for approx. the last 4 miles!
I did not check Hopi or Chilson spring. Horse camp seep....I found large puddles of nice, clear water in the canyon just off the trail. Due to signage issues I'm not sure where the exact Horse Seep is. Bear Spring had good water in the spring box, but no obvious flow anywhere.
Thicket spring was dry. McFarland canyon had very, very small pools. Creek in section 25 surprisingly had good pools and flowing water on occasion. Stock pond was dry. Didn't check 80 yrd. spring.
Overall trail was ok to follow and not too brushy. There were some exceptions to both. The trail was sometimes confusing in the canyon and when crossing washes and a few spots were rather brushy leading up and into the canyon.
Sycamore creek was flowing well. Boulder Creek was dry. Didn't check Circle M spring (other than seeing it on the gps no idea where this spring would be accessed).
Trail to Sycamore creek is good. Trail for around 4 miles after the creek can be very difficult to follow. It can be very vague and blends in with the terrain and cow/dirt bike paths. Sometimes there are cairns, sometimes there aren't. Sometimes there are cairns but they are hidden in the bushes. Last couple miles of Boulder creek are easier to follow and then the big switchbacking climb out is easy to follow (don't miss the left turn to climb out!). Trail has crazy barbed stuff but is usually open enough to avoid the worst of it.
The Road is awesome! No brush and easy to follow! Generally well marked and not many junctions. Very scenic area too. The road does get hunters, motorbikes and partiers from Phoenix, but it was quite peaceful for me until around the last 2 miles.
Pigeon spring had good water in the springbox. The AZT went to within 10 yards of the spring. Bear, Shake, Granite springs and Buckhorn creek were all dry.
The trail was in decent shape considering this section was impassable up until a year ago when volunteers cleared it. It is still somewhat brushy and sometimes a narrow eroded trail, but compared to the Mazatzal's it's in great shape. Of course every day the brush keeps getting worse. In another season it could be real bad again! Also, I somehow ended up on a trail that was not the AZT around Buckhorn Mountain. It was a bad scene. No idea what I did wrong, but I hope you don't do it too.
There was a concrete spring box and large metal tank filled with good piped water a few miles out of Roosevelt before Cottonwood Canyon. Cottonwood spring had water. Also, leaving Cottonwood canyon, about 0.2 before FR 83 there was a concrete spring box filled with piped water. Stock pond was dry. Walnut spring had clear water in the spring box, but it did smell rather strong. Reavis Creek had good water. Reavis saddle spring was dry.
The good news is that the trail is pretty easy to follow, even when vague. Cottonwood creek was a disaster from flooding. When the canyon is narrow I suggest trying to follow the trail. The creek bed is worse. When the canyon opens up follow the creek bed. Way better. Two Bar ridge was overgrown, narrow and very brushy. Slow going. After crossing Reavis Creek for the first time you will hit a million trails at Reavis Ranch. The AZT is not right next to the creek (there are lots of trails that follow the creek or go to campsites), but maybe a minute or so across the grassy field. Look up at the trees or on the ground for good apples!
For the first time in a while.....the trail is good and easy to follow! Navigation tip: When leaving FR 650 for the major descent make sure you are paying attention for the trail. It is not well marked probably so motor bikes don't go on it. There is a large cairn on the right (no post or sign) just before the road makes a sharp left.
Rogers trailhead, Reavis trail canyon and Whitfored canyon were all dry.
Trail was in good shape and easy to follow.
Small flow in wash, trough springs and seep in Section 8 were all dry.
The artesian well had a good flow. No water in walnut canyon. Gila River flowing wide and strong. Light brown color.
The trail to the artesian well was ok and easy to follow. Here's a few tips on the route from the artesian well to the gila:
The canyon you want is the one going south right behind the well. The turn onto the road from walnet canyon is an obvious left turn. The road has a solid 500' climb and then steep decent down to the "major wash". There was a faded ribbon on a tree at the correct wash. The wash is pretty obvious, but the marking wasn't. The "newly constructed trail" picks up on the left at a cairn. If you walk into a fence you've gone a minute too far. Near the end of the new trail you will come to a gate at a fence corner. Turn left. Do not go through the gate. A few minutes later you will come to another gate Go through this one. This is where the flagging/staking starts with no real trail (kind of a cow path). I found following this to be annoying and dropped down to the train tracks which I walked for about a 1/2 hour to the Gila. I'd recommend this. The tracks were easy to walk.
Trail was good and well marked. Frequently you are walking through flat bushy desert with lots of cattle paths. Trail is well cairned.
Ripsey wash spring had a full trough of water and pipe was dripping in fresh water. Light green from algae. Same for new 100 gallon stock tank. Cache at Freeman road is empty.
I took a nice shortcut from Freeman road where I walked west a few tenths and took the pipeline road. Look at the map and you can see it's a straight shot to where it connects with the AZT (which is the pipeline road for 9 miles south). The only problem is my pipeline road shortcut didn't have a continuous road for some reason. However, it still only took me 2 hours 15 minutes to get to the AZT which was 13 miles later as it took a very long route around Antelope Peak. A few tips for the shortcut: When the road ends for the first time, walk down the small hill, go through the fence and up that grassy 2 track on the hillside left of center. This will quickly merge into a good dirt road. Soon you pass a small private property sign. Take the smaller left branching road. This eventually deadends in a major wash near an old windmill. Go across, climb the little hill and turn left on the road up there. Maybe with 1.5 miles to go the road takes a turn north. This took me the long way to where I needed to be. You want one of the roads you can see off to the right. These lead to the road which takes you to the AZT at the major wash. Enjoy!
The AZT pipeline road is straight as can be. Asshole ATV's have knocked over many posts, but just keep going straight. The rest of the trail to Tiger Mine road is in good shape and easy to follow.
I didn't check any of the water sources in this section due to my shortcut.
I walked into Oracle from the American Ave. trailhead. Just follow the paved road (American Ave, not Hwy 77) into town. I walked out on the Cody/Oracle Ridge Trail in Passage 12. To get to the Cody trail and leave Oracle: Take Mt Lemmon st. across from Oracle Market. Go a few minutes, turn right on Cody loop st. which is by the school. Walk for 10 minutes or so (do not take the trail on the right near the big national forest sign about replanting). On your right, across from a water tower and Durant st., kind of hidden is the Oracle Ridge Trail which is what you want. There is a trail sign with mileages.
Oracle Ridge trail (from Oracle to Summerhaven) is generally well signed and alternates between rough road and trail. One confusing spot was the "gate" about 2 miles before Dan's saddle. The road you are on dead ends at a fence. Turnaround and pick up the trail on the left a minute back that is very hidden. When the Oracle ridge trail ends go straight on the dirt road which turns to paved. Pass the fire department and follow the main road to the right and into the "town" of Summerhaven.
To leave Summerhaven walk a bit past the pizza/cookie place and turn right at the Mint Spring trail sign. Follow this paved road until the end and look to the left for a trail and trail sign. Walk this Mint Spring trail for about 35 minutes and it hits a junction with several trails. Go straight on the Wilderness of Rocks trail for a couple hours. The trail is in good shape and very scenic. At the end turn left on the Mt. Lemmon trail which is the AZT and descend the very rocky, narrow, steep, brushy AZT! The rest of the section is in pretty good shape. There are a lot of trail junctions with the actual trail name and no AZT sign so watch out.
There was water on the wilderness of rocks trail, some better than others in the creek bed. I missed the turnoff for Hutches pool but Sabino canyon had flowing water where the trail crossed before the climb. Sycamore canyon was dry.
Trail is in good shape and easy to follow. Markings are slim but adequate.
Molina Basin campground was just opening up. No water but it appeared the host had a small tank. West spring cistern was full with decent water. Aqua Caliente wash was dry.The Lake was low and the brownest water I have ever drank. I wish I had carried from West spring!
Tanque Verde canyon was dry where trail crosses. Italian spring was not flowing but had a pool of good clear cold water. Manning camp had a running faucet and big jugs of water.
The trail was in good shape and easy to follow.
How to get to Hope Camp from the old Madrona ranger station? Well, I was planning on following Dave Hick's cross country route, but after looking at the map/GPS noticed that there were some dirt roads that would get me there as well. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure I walked a dirt road that was private property. Basically from the Madrona ranger station the dirt road quickly leads to a no trespassing gate. If you hop the fence this is the X9 ranch road and will take you to the crossing of the AZT in the next Passage in about 4 miles. The road goes through a quiet area of multi-milliondollar homes and has a little security booth that may or may not be manned. I don't like going through private property, but the options seemed fairly limited. The NPS has access to this road, but it's probably not ok for hikers.
La Sevilla picnic area and La Posta Quemada Ranch both had running faucets.
Trail was in good shape and easy to follow.
Trail is in good shape and easy to follow. When you get to Route 83, step over the guardrail, cross road and walk perpendicular paved road for 100'. Trail is on the left (there is a flagged reroute I missed so I ended up at the guardrail on 83).
Cienga creek was dry. Twin Tanks had water and was one of the better dirt tanks I have seen.
Standind on Lake Road near Twin tanks, as a SoBo, I was thoroughly confused by the ATA trail update directions, posts and flagging in this unfinished section. Too much to explain why the confusion. Instead I walked a bit east toward 83, turned right on a dirt road, walked this for a couple of miles until it hit 83, walked 83 for 2.5 miles, turned right on dirt road that leads to Rosemont Junction, walked this dirt road for about a mile to where AZT crosses road in a washy area. 4 miles of remaining AZT were good.
Stock pond near FR 165 had water. Kentucky camp had water. Fish canyon was dry.
Trail is well marked but jumps back and forth from road to trail. Keep your eyes open! There were a couple unmarked junctions but they were not too hard to figure out.
Gardner canyon had a small amount of water. Tunnel spring had good water piped into a trough. Casa blanca canyon was dry. Bear spring had good water slowing dripping into a full trough. Anaconda spring was slowly running. Temporal gulch and stock pond were dry.
Trail is good and easy to follow. FR 72 dirt road walk is LONG. Surprisingly not highly travelled though. I was glad to be going downhill. Talked on my cell and e-mailed for several hours!
Didn't check gate spring. Trough full at Red Bank well. Push the float down for fresh water. Cott Tank was empty and the spigot had no water. I did not investigate to see if there was a way to make it work. Down under spigot was working.
Trail is well marked but can be difficult to follow at times, particularly in the washes. You will start to see illegals trails as well which doesn't help. Not too bad overall.
Middle and Pauline canyon had small pools in wash (not great for drinking). I did not see the tank at Pauline canyon. Trap tank had water. Parker canyon creek was one of the nicest little creeks of the trail.
Trail is in good shape and well marked. One strange spot was just before the end of the section you will hit a large old sign facing the other way that says No Motor Vehicles. The sign has 2 AZT stickers pointing left (north) If you go this way you will end up at the lake. Keep walking straight (east) on the old road and ignore the stickers on the sign.
Sunnyside canyon had an occasional small pool. Bath tub spring was slowly dripping and the tub had nice clear water.
Trail is generally well signed and easy to follow. I had a couple of confusing spots. When you hit Oversight canyon junction take the left trail (signs are confusing). Carr peak junction was confusing. SoBo trail is kind of below the ridge (it is signed but you can't see it from where you are standing).=
The Arizona National Scenic Trail is a continuous, 800+ mile diverse and scenic trail across Arizona from Mexico to Utah. It links deserts, mountains, canyons, communities and people. Learn more: www.aztrail.org