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  1. An Extreme, Perilous and Extraordinary Mountain Top Adventure of Legendary and Epic Accomplishment: The Superstition Ridgeline Hiking Adventure, Superstition Wilderness, AZ.
    Sunday, January 26, 2014
  2. A Rough & Wild Off Road Adventure & Extraordinary Canyoneering Journey to Arizona’s “Garden of Paradise”: The Hanging Gardens Hike, West Clear Creek Wilderness, Strawberry, Arizona.
    Monday, November 04, 2013
  3. The TLC Hiking Club’s, White Water Rafting Adventure on the Rockin and Rollin Upper Salt River, Salt River Canyon Wilderness, Globe, AZ.
    Sunday, May 05, 2013
  4. An Extraordinary Boulder Hopping, Creek Crossing, Captivating Journey to a Magnificent, Hidden Canyon & Oasis: The La Barge Canyon Adventure Hike, Superstition Wilderness, Arizona.
    Tuesday, April 09, 2013
  5. Journey Back to the ‘Old West’ for a Thrilling, Mountain Climbing, Scramble and a Scenic Adventure to the Top of Vulture Peak: The Vulture Peak Hike, The Vulture Mountains, Wickenburg, Arizona.
    Sunday, February 24, 2013
  6. A Breathtaking Red Rock Wilderness Journey and Spectacular Adventure to the Top of a Colossal Natural Arch: The Sterling Pass to Vultee Arch Hike, Sedona, Arizona.
    Friday, December 28, 2012
  7. A Spectacular, Boulder Hopping, Cliff Jumping Canyoneering Adventure to a Colossal Waterfall Oasis: The Cibeque Canyon Hike, Salt River Canyon Wilderness, Globe, AZ
    Thursday, August 16, 2012
  8. An Extraordinary Pool Hopping, Rock Sliding, Waterfall Adventure Canyoneering Through The Jug, Lower Salome Creek, Salome Wilderness, Arizona
    Wednesday, June 27, 2012
  9. A Wild, Roaring, Rafting Adventure, and a Majestic Wilderness Exploration Through The Upper Salt River Canyon: White Water Rafting The Upper Salt River, Globe, Arizona
    Sunday, May 27, 2012
  10. An Incredible, Boulder Hopping, Bushwhacking, “Balls to the Wall” Challenge & Scenic Journey to a Giant Hidden Waterfall Oasis: The Reavis Falls Adventure Hike, Eastern Superstition Wilderness, Arizona.
    Sunday, April 29, 2012

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An Extreme, Perilous and Extraordinary Mountain Top Adventure of Legendary and Epic Accomplishment: The Superstition Ridgeline Hiking Adventure, Superstition Wilderness, AZ.





Where else can you find a backcountry mountain wilderness of legend, mystery and exquisite natural beauty which is simply unsurpassed? Only in the amazing state of Arizona! Located just outside the Phoenix metro area, the Superstition Wilderness, consisting of approximately 160,000 acres, is home to some of the most stunning scenery and infamous landmarks found in the entire state of Arizona!  And after a long, hot summer season with its extreme temperatures, the fall months are an excellent time to get out and explore the exquisitely beautiful and breathtaking scenery found only in the “Supes”, and through its multiple main trailheads you’ll discover a vast network of the some of the state’s best hiking trails, including the legendary Superstition Ridgeline!  


Described as Phoenix’s most challenging and toughest hike, suitable only for the most physically fit and advanced hikers, the Superstition Ridgeline affords some of the most incredible and magnificent scenery with expansive views of the entire Phoenix valley on one side and the stunningly beautiful and pristine Superstition Wilderness on the other. A truly incredible mountain top journey of epic proportions, the Superstition Ridgeline Hike, will without a doubt test your strength, stamina, endurance and courage, but in the end provide you the rewards and satisfaction of being among the few esteemed and elite who have faced their fears and pushed themselves beyond their limits in order to conquer this most incredible and perilous adventure!

 
So if you’re an experienced, physically fit and advanced hiker and you’re up for a highly challenging, perilous, extreme hike and extraordinary mountain top adventure of legendary and epic accomplishment, then I encourage you to check out the Superstition Ridgeline Hike, in the Superstition Wilderness, Arizona.


On a clear, early November morning at about 5am, I met with the hikers and friends from the TLC Hiking Club at a meet up location off US 60 in Gold Canyon, on Phoenix’s far east side, and by 5:30am after collecting all of our group members, due to the fact that the Superstition Ridgeline Hike is a “one-way” hiking journey, we quickly set out with arranging the required logistics for this  adventure by dropping off shuttle vehicles at the Lost Goldmine Trailhead, where our day’s hike would be finishing out in order to have transportation available and waiting for us upon our afternoon’s return. Once dropping off several vehicles, we then quickly proceeded to drive over to the Mining Camp Restaurant, located just off the Lost Dutchman State Park and where at the Siphon Draw trailhead, our day’s Superstition Ridgeline Hike and extreme adventure would finally begin!  


It was by 7 am, with the sun beginning to rise and the massively rugged looking Superstition Mountains now in view, the first leg of our day’s journey began as we started out on the Siphon Draw Trail and began the steep and rigorous ascent up to Flat Iron, climbing, scrambling, straight up in elevation, gaining roughly +2000 feet in just 3 miles until finally topping out onto the ridgeline, and an estimated elevation 4600 feet, by 8:45 am. Although the Superstition Ridgeline can be hiked in either direction, west to east, east to west, our plan and strategy was to start up Flat Iron in order to get the most elevation gain finished first when our energy was at its highest and also have the sun setting in the west and to our backs in the afternoon when we made the steep and strenuous descent back down to Carney Springs trailhead.


After a short break for rest, photos and to regroup our members at the top, and with the wide open, absolutely breathtaking scenery of the Superstition Wilderness now in front of us, by 9:15 am, we veered off to the left to pick up the trail and from there began the long, strenuous and treacherous journey across the Superstition Ridgeline, also commonly referred to as the “Superstition Death March”, and we’d soon discover why!  


From Siphon Draw saddle and now on the ridgeline, the real adventure began as we started out on the small ridgeline trail which begins relatively level and easy but not so for long. With gorgeous and expansive views of both the Superstition Wilderness to one side and the Phoenix valley on the other, we soon passed by Monument Canyon off to our right and from there the difficulty of the journey began to suddenly increase immensely as we now found ourselves ascending and descending, up and down again, combined with some climbing, scrambling, all the while with beautiful and incredible scenery from one side to the other that was absolutely amazing and spectacular!


Now reaching about mid-morning and still making good time, the incredible adventure continued as we followed the narrow  but well cairned ridgeline trail, and after venturing across the less intense “classic ridge walk”, still enjoying the stunning views of Weaver’s Needle and the Superstition Wilderness off to our left, we quickly passed by Hog Canyon, followed by the beautiful Hieroglyphic Canyon off to our right then immediately began to encounter some very steep and very perilous climbing and scrambling continuing straight on up through a perilous rock chute, and with knees scraped, legs worn and completely out of breath after having experienced some of the most intense, difficult and strenuous class 3-4 climbing we had ever done before,  by 12 noon we finally made it to Superstition Peak, at elevation 5057 feet and the highest point in all of the Superstitions Mountains. Wow, what an incredible journey it had been so far!


Once arriving at the saddle located at the base of the peak, we enjoyed a rest stop for snacks and lunch and catching our breath again. However, remaining cognizant of our time, we kept our break short and brief and while other members ventured to the top of the summit, we decided to press on and now with most of the intense climbing behind us, we made our way around the base of the peak and started to head steeply back downhill.


Now with absolutely breathtaking views of both Weaver’s Needle and Four Peaks off to the far distance, the afternoon was well upon us as the long and rigorous journey stretched on as we continued to route find and locate the small rock cairns to guide and lead us along the way until roughly by about 2:15pm, and just over 7 hours of extremely intense and continuous hiking, we finally reached West Boulder Saddle and the sign for our critical turn off for Carney Springs.


Once having arrived at West Boulder Saddle, we felt our body’s fatigue really start to set in by this time. However, after taking one last rest break, we drew in a deep sigh, popped a few more pain killers and with all of our legs feeling like noodles, we posed for one last group shot then made the turn off for Carney.  Thankfully now on the last portion of our day’s adventure, and on all loose rocks and terrain, we slowly and carefully followed the small rock cairns and made our way down the extremely steep and dangerous but absolutely gorgeous Carney Springs Trail until finally, and with our water levels now starting to run out, and feeling completely exhausted and fatigued, we had finally arrived back down at the canyon’s bottom again and finished out this incredible day and unbelievably extreme adventure at the Carney Springs trailhead where our vehicles had been  parked by between 3-4 pm.


In all, what an amazing and incredible adventure! Stunningly gorgeous with spectacular scenery literally from start to finish and a real test of personal strength, fitness, endurance and courage! With a total hiking distance of approximately 11.7 miles, an accumulated elevation gain of roughly 5000 feet, and some extremely difficult, highly strenuous and perilous class 3-4 climbing and scrambling, together we all agreed that the Superstition Ridgeline Hike was THE toughest, most intense hike we had ever done before as a club and for the most of the members of our group this day, we successfully completed this legendary and epic adventure within 7-8 hours total hiking time.


Without question, the Superstition Ridgeline Hike is an absolutely unforgettable and an epic adventure that lives up to its name and reputation and will long be remembered. And for the amazing and great group of hikers and friends of the TLC Hiking Club who came out on this day and pushed themselves past their limits and toughed out this extreme adventure and challenge, what an esteemed accomplishment which will live on for years to come!


So if you’re an experienced, fit and advanced hiker and you’re ready to come out and face your fears and push yourself beyond your limits for this highly challenging, perilous, extreme hike and extraordinary mountain top adventure, of legendary and epic accomplishment, then I highly recommend you to be sure to check out the Superstition Ridgeline Hike, in the Superstition Wilderness, Arizona.

Here are a few links which I think are good for additional information if you are interested in the Superstition Ridgeline Hike, in the Superstition Wilderness, Arizona:

http://www.toddshikingguide.com/Hikes/Arizona/Tonto/Superstition12.htm

http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=126


http://www.summitpost.org/arizonahikers-com-epic-hike-2-superstition-ridgeline/169148


http://www.azcentral.com/travel/hiking/articles/2006/06/18/20060618superstition02.html?nclick_check=1


If you have any questions or would like to share about your experience hiking the Superstition Ridgeline Hike, please feel free to post a comment! 

A Rough & Wild Off Road Adventure & Extraordinary Canyoneering Journey to Arizona’s “Garden of Paradise”: The Hanging Gardens Hike, West Clear Creek Wilderness, Strawberry, Arizona.




 

When it comes to wild and rugged wilderness beauty, from its desert bottom floor to its mountain top summits, the state of Arizona exceeds them all! Famous for its extremely hot temperatures, only in Arizona can you escape the heat on a summer day and explore one of its many remote wilderness canyons only accessible by 4 wheel drive and enjoy “non-technical” canyoneering; boulder hopping, wading and swimming through cool and refreshing natural pools making for an adventurous and extraordinary day’s retreat that is simply unsurpassed!  

 
West Clear Creek is described by the U.S Forest Service as “one of the most rugged and remote canyons in northern Arizona”. A stunningly beautiful wilderness canyon, West Clear Creek offers many deep natural pools surrounded by colorful, narrow rock walls which are sure to cool you off on a hot summer’s day. However, most exciting of all, known only to locals for many years, and the reward for your day’s canyoneering adventure through the pools of West Clear Creek, you will be amazed to discover Arizona’s garden of paradise, the Hanging Gardens!  

 
So if you’re looking for a retreat and a great way to escape the heat, and you’re up for a rough and wild off road wilderness adventure and a challenging, yet truly extraordinary canyoneering journey to Arizona’s hidden garden of paradise, then I highly recommend checking out the Hanging Gardens Hike, in the beautiful West Clear Creek Wilderness, Strawberry, Arizona!

 

Starting out early on a weekend morning in early August, I drove out to a meetup location on Phoenix’s far northeast side where I joined the fellow members and friends of the TLC Hiking Club, a local hiking & outdoors adventure club led by Eric Kinneman. After everyone had arrived and in preparation for the long day and strenuous journey that was ahead of us, we received a briefing including last minute safety and advisories then excitedly hopped into our vehicles and were ready to set out for the adventure we’d all been long anticipating, the Hanging Gardens of West Clear Creek!

 
Heading north on Highway 87, we made our way into the town of Payson by about 7 am, then continued heading north on 87 out of Payson until arriving 2.5 miles past the intersection of Highway 260. After quickly stopping to regroup all of our members, we got back into our vehicles again and with Eric Kinneman in the lead, we turned right on Forest Road 144, and got prepared for what had been forewarned to be a very rough and wild 4 wheel drive adventure! And that it was indeed too!

 
After turning right on all dirt road, FR 144, and stopping one more time to regroup, we slowly began heading our way east. Upon arriving at the end of FR 144, we continued by making a left onto FR 149, a left again on FR142 then a right on FR 142A. One by one, we very slowly and carefully made our way along this extremely rough road and wild terrain, winding around forest trees and brush, and up and over large rocks and boulders. Please be advised, these all dirt forest roads are extremely rough and rugged and require having a good 4 wheel drive vehicle, not just an HCV because a result of the recent rain storms that had come through the area, along the way we encountered some very deep and completely gutted out, muddy pools!  Thankfully though, everyone made it through okay without getting their vehicles stuck, but wow, what an incredible off road adventure it had been so far!

 
Once making the last turn onto FR 142J, it was roughly 9.9 miles and 1 hour and 20 minutes later, that we had all made it safely to the end of the road, and were relieved to have arrived at the trailhead. Having finally reached West Clear Creek, and our destination by 9 am, we parked, pulled out our packs and gear, and then gathered round together along the cliff’s edge to wait for rest of the members of the group. There at the top and at the edge of West Clear Creek Canyon, I paused for a few short moments to look around and take a few photos of the amazing and beautiful wilderness scenery all around. How incredibly remote, rugged and pristine this area appeared to be and how very fortunate we all felt to be able to experience this. This was going to be an incredible day and an amazing adventure and we were all very eager and excited to get it started!


After gathering everyone together for a few group shots, it was now time for our canyoneering adventure to begin!  Starting from the trailhead at the top of the cliff and with Eric Kinneman leading the way, one by one, we each began to make our way down into the beautiful canyon below. The journey down to the bottom of West Clear Creek Canyon immediately started with a steep decent, straight down about 867 feet, along a narrow but well marked use trail. With a lot of loose rocks and gravel, it was a strenuous trek all the way down which many chose to do by getting down on the ground and sliding it, rather than risk a slippery and dangerous fall.

 
Having successfully reached the bottom of West Clear Creek, I looked down into the canyon where were headed and noticed just how beautiful this place really was as the sun’s rays lit up the tall, amber colored rock walls. It was just amazing! I took a few quick photos then quickly rejoined the others. From here at the canyon’s deep, cool bottom floor, our canyoneering quickly began with boulder hopping over many large rocks and boulders for a short ways until came to our first pools. Only knee deep at the most, we quickly got into the water and boulder hopped, waded and splashed our way through our first few sets of pools. 

 
By this time, most everyone had at least made it to the first pools and were now reaching further down into this gorgeous canyon with deeper and longer pools closely surrounded by tall, beautifully contoured and narrow rock walls, an area which is commonly referred to as the “White Box” of West Clear Creek.  With all of our gear securely packed in dry bags and along with our flotation devices, we slowly swam from one cool refreshing pool to the next, down through the gorgeous canyon narrows and as I continued taking as many photos as I could, the scenery was absolutely amazing and breathtaking!  

 
After briefly stopping for some fun and exciting “rope jumping”, the incredible canyoneering adventure through the beautiful White Box and narrows of West Clear Creek continued as we carefully trekked over the wet, and slippery rocks and boulders, all the while taking in the gorgeous scenery as we swam from one refreshing pool to the next which to our amazement within these pools were many good sized crawfish too! Reaching mid-morning by about this time and with the heat of the summer day coming upon us, our canyoneering journey continued as we slowly moved through one deep pool to the next.  

 
It was reaching noon by now and roughly after 12 pools and close to 3 hours of intense canyoneering, I was beginning to feel exhausted and a little weary.  Thinking that I could not possibly make it through yet another pool, we rounded the final bend and while noticing how green the riparian vegetation had become, we got out of the water and looked up; we had finally arrived at the remote and hidden, Hanging Gardens!  Wow, it was indescribable!  We entered this very lush, green, garden like area, first passing by a beautiful waterfall gushing from over the high cliff above, then moving on and directly to its left, there it was, the Hanging Gardens, a beautiful, cascading waterfall elegantly dripping over thick maiden hair ferns and vines, and wow, what an incredible and amazing sight!  I could not believe my eyes. What a unique, remote and truly special place, a real “garden of paradise”, and a remote wilderness “oasis” literally of epic proportions!  This place, the Hanging Gardens, was simply extraordinary and so much more than I had even imagined!

 
Now with most of our group and friends rejoined again, we took a break, ate lunch, did some more rope jumping and thoroughly enjoyed spending some time together taking many pictures and videos, trying to capture every moment that we could of this incredible place. However, it was by about 12:30 and with the afternoon heat of the day now well upon us, one by one we started to make the long and strenuous trek back through the many deep pools and White Box narrows of West Clear Creek, where the towering rock walls now glimmering with the afternoon sun’s rays, made the adventurous canyoneering journey back, even more gorgeous and spectacular every moment of the way!

 
It was now reaching late afternoon and after having made it through the very last pool, then hiking back up 867 feet to the top and the cliffs edge, we were thoroughly hot and completely exhausted. But wow, what an amazing adventure it had been! It was by about 3pm that we most everyone had finally reached the top and the trailhead again where we were parked completing the day’s canyoneering adventure according to our GPS, was 4.70 miles round trip which we completed in approximately 6.0 hours.

 
From here, we once again got back into our 4 wheel drives and got ready for the rough and wild return journey back. Miraculously, with only one tire blow out for the entire group, and by about 4:30 pm, we finally arrived safely at the main highway again, having completed the off road adventure according to our stats, was 19.9 miles round trip on what was absolutely some of the roughest, toughest and wildest dirt roads that we as a group had ever been on before!  Wow, what an incredible adventure!

 
In all, really an unforgettable day and an epic, amazing wilderness adventure, that was well researched, planned and coordinated by Eric Kinneman of the TLC Hiking Club. So if you’re up for a rough and wild off road wilderness adventure and a strenuous, challenging, yet truly extraordinary canyoneering journey to a wilderness oasis that is truly a garden of paradise, then be sure you check out the Hanging Gardens Hike, in the beautiful West Clear Creek Wilderness, Strawberry, Arizona!


Here are a few links which I think are good for additional information if you are interested in the Hanging Gardens Hike, in the West Clear Creek Wilderness,  Arizona:

http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=2113

http://www.toddshikingguide.com/Hikes/Arizona/Coconino/Coconino3.htm

 

http://www.wilderness.net/NWPS/wildView?WID=640

 

http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/coconino/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5298713

 

http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_MEDIA/stelprdb5298697.jpg

If you have any questions or would like to share about your experience hiking the Hanging Gardens Hike, please feel free to post a comment! 

The TLC Hiking Club’s, White Water Rafting Adventure on the Rockin and Rollin Upper Salt River, Salt River Canyon Wilderness, Globe, AZ.





“Discover an ancient canyon wilderness, rich in riparian nature and pristine, natural beauty, and enjoy a great day of fun and adventure, white water rafting down the rocking and rolling Upper Salt River where you’ll experience Class III and Class IV rapids at their peak early spring flows, on an amazing 11 mile journey, where you’ll also enjoy all the beautiful and amazing scenery that is Arizona’s Salt River Canyon Wilderness!”


Located just 135 miles from Phoenix, near the town of Globe, the roughly 52 mile stretch of the Upper Salt River, after receiving run off from the nearby White Mountains during early spring, is home to Arizona and the U.S. western region’s best Class II, III and Class IV river rapids. Even if you are a beginner, white water rafting doesn’t require having prior experience or training, is relatively inexpensive and best of all, it’s exciting, thrilling and a great way to experience nature and the outdoors with your friends or family.

                           

It was on a crisp spring morning, on March 24th, and working with Canyon Rio Rafting, an excellent and highly experienced river rafting company with over 30 years experience in the industry and who’ve been on the Salt River since 1992, that we arrived at the Upper Salt River bridge, 45 minutes north of the town of Globe, and began the TLC Hiking Club’s 1st Annual White Water Rafting Adventure!

We arrived together at the river’s edge and parking area by 8:30am where we were warmly greeted by the staff of Canyon Rio and after signing in, we were quickly provided the equipment we would be needing for our day’s river rafting adventure including full wet suits, nylon splash jackets, helmets, paddles and PFD’s (personal flotation devices).


An excerpt from Canyon Rio’s website, http://www.canyonriocom, states:


“You’ll begin the day by meeting us at the river, where you’ll check in, sign the Apache register, and get your safety and cold weather gear. After all participants have arrived, your trip leader will explain safety precautions and guidelines. You’ll then be ready for a day of excitement and beauty in the Salt River Canyon!”


After getting fully suited up, and with paddles in our hands, we marched together down to the river’s shore where Canyon Rio’s lead river guide, “Scratchy”, a veteran river guide with over 9 years experience river running throughout the western region, met us and provided an excellent introduction to river rafting including learning how to use a paddle, as well as what to do in case of an emergency, such as falling out of the raft, or what to do should your raft get flipped over. After receiving a thorough instruction of all the safety precautions and guidelines, we were finally ready to begin our day’s adventure, and an 11 mile incredible river rafting journey down the scenic Upper Salt River! 


After gathering altogether for a few quick group photos, we broke into smaller groups and got into our 6 man rafts and by 10am we eagerly launched onto the river and it was literally only minutes later that we came to our first rapid, the “Bump & Grind” rapid, classified as a “Class II” rapid. After this “warm up rapid”, we were now excited as we headed straight on to an entire series of excellent “Class III” rapids!  With the rest of our group of river rafters behind us, we crashed through our next rapid, and our first Class III rapid of the day, the “Maytag” rapid!  Wow, what fun and this was just the beginning of our adventure too!


From there it was all Class III’s, as we continued to move on to the next rapid and the next, taking on the “Grumman” rapid, then the “Mother Rock” and then it was on to the  “Overboard” rapid, rocking, rolling, and crashing through the twisting and churning white water waves of the Upper Salt River! What an amazing day and an exciting adventure it had been so far!  


After a wild, rocking and rolling first half of the day, we had a break and had a chance to enjoy some of the gorgeous Salt River Canyon scenery and wildlife surrounding the river. Absolutely beautiful and majestic, it really is amazing that the Upper Salt River Canyon is a backcountry wilderness area, consisting of about 32,000 acres, that has managed to remain completely remote, and untouched within the state of Arizona. 


It was now reaching about 12 noon when we came to Canyon Rio’s camp site on the river and where we pulled our rafts over to the shore for a picnic lunch and mid-day rest break. And what an excellent lunch it was too! Canyon Rio prepared for us a delicious and fantastic cookout lunch that absolutely had everything!  Afterwards, our lead river guide “Scratchy”, announced that it was time to get back to our rafts again and by 1pm we had launched back onto the water again and began the second, and most scenic ½ of our day’s river rafting adventure down the amazing Upper Salt River.


Once back on the river again, the scenery on the Upper Salt was even more beautiful and spectacular as we now were approaching the gorgeous Cibecue Canyon and after taking on the “Exhibition” rapid, then the “Cibecue” rapid, we veered the corner to the left and as we journeyed down this majestic stretch of the Upper Salt were in literally in awe at the impeccable scenery until we came to what would be our best and final set of rapids of the day, the “Three Way” rapid, followed by the “Salt River Draw”, then last but certainly not the least, the final rapid of the day, saving the best for last, and the “grand finale”, one by one we all plunged, splashed, bumped and grinded through the rocking and rolling “Mezcal Falls”, the largest and a Class III-IV rapid, which was without a doubt, absolutely the most thrilling and exciting river rapid and river running experience of our day!


After pulling to the side to watch the rest of our group successfully make it through “Mezcal Falls”, it was just a few minutes later that we finally reached the end of our 11 mile river rafting adventure by about 2:30pm, and the access point where the Canyon Rio team were waiting and we each pulled over, hauled our rafts back up the shore and boarded our shuttle transportation for the last part of our day’s journey, the 11 mile return adventure back on an old, one lane, narrow mountain highway road with two way traffic!  Yikes!  And after getting stuck in the middle of crossing Cibeque Creek, with all of us needing to get out to start pushing our van out of the deep rushing water, we finally arrived back at the parking area where our vehicles were parked by about 3pm, where we breathed a with a sigh of relief! 


In all, as the TLC Hiking Club’s 1st Annual White Water Rafting Adventure on the Upper Salt River, what an incredible and amazing day and an excellent river rafting event, very well organized and led by the experienced and professional river guides and team at Canyon Rio Rafting. An absolutely perfect day and a great river rafting adventure was had by all, and which together we unanimously agreed we look forward to returning to do again next year too, making it an annual TLC Hiking Club special event! 


For more information about Canyon Rio Rafting and their single day, or multi-day river rafting adventures, you can check out their website at http://www.canyonrio.com.


For an area map of the Upper Salt River including river rafting drop in and take out points as well as a list of all Class II, III and IV rapids, for this 11 mile, single day river rafting adventure, you can check out this resource at

http://www.inaraft.com/map-salt-river-upper-canyon.php.


So  if you’re looking for something fun,  exciting, and adventurous to do, in nature and the outdoors, then be sure to check out a white water river rafting adventure, down the scenic Upper Salt River, in the Salt River Canyon Wilderness, Globe, Arizona!

An Extraordinary Boulder Hopping, Creek Crossing, Captivating Journey to a Magnificent, Hidden Canyon & Oasis: The La Barge Canyon Adventure Hike, Superstition Wilderness, Arizona.




 

Only in Arizona can you step out into a backcountry mountain wilderness purely surreal in natural beauty and also deeply rich in mystery, legend and lore with tales of lost gold, Indian massacres and even murder! Located just 40 miles outside the Phoenix metro area, lies the Superstition Wilderness, an area of approximately 160,000 acres, where in its more popular western section, you’ll find some of the most incredible scenery and landmarks in the entire state and region that are simply captivating and mesmerizing! While temperatures in the Sonoran Desert are relatively low, the pleasant sunny days of the winter and early spring months are an ideal time to get out and explore the “Supes”, as they are commonly called, and through its four main trailheads you’ll connect to a vast network of the some of the state’s best hiking trails. So if you’re up for taking an extraordinary boulder hopping, creek crossing, and captivating journey to a magnificent, hidden rock wall canyon and oasis, then I highly recommend you check out the La Barge Canyon Adventure Hike, in the Superstition Wilderness, Arizona.


On a beautiful, sunny morning, in early February, from Apache Junction, east of Phoenix, we followed Route 88, also known as the “Apache Trail” for about 14 miles until we arrived at the beautiful and popular Canyon Lake where we pulled up to the Canyon Lake Marina, parked in the large parking area, some of which was set aside just for hikers, and after getting all of our packs and gear together, we were ready for what we all knew was going to be an amazing and incredible adventure!


It was by 9 am, that we crossed the road and began our hike on the Boulder Canyon Trail, #103. From the trailhead, at a starting elevation of 1702 feet, our journey began with gorgeous views of Canyon Lake behind us as we moderately began ascending in elevation out into the rugged Superstition Wilderness.


Starting out on the Boulder Canyon Trail, it’s not hard to see why this well known trail in the Superstitions is so popular because as the scenic views of Canyon Lake began disappearing in the background, it was only a little over a mile that we had reached the top of the hill and what we saw was really astounding!  There from the top of the hill we had arrived at a spectacular panoramic view of the entire area including the enormous Battleship Mountain to the right, Geronimo’s Head to the left and the infamous Weaver’s Needle in the far off distance!  Absolutely breathtaking!

  

After a brief stop for pictures, the amazing journey continued as we continued following the Boulder Canyon Trail for several more miles as it now ventured over to the left then began a moderate descent back down in elevation with amazing, panoramic scenery all around that was gorgeous until after roughly 3.5 miles later, we had reached the bottom of the hill and arrived at La Barge Creek.


From the edge of La Barge Creek, the real adventure began as we departed from Boulder Canyon Trail and dropped down into the creek to begin a long and very rigorous boulder hopping, creek crossing journey further out into the remote Superstition Wilderness. Please be advised that you DO NOT want to attempt this hike after a major rain storm as La Barge Creek can be potentially dangerous due to high water levels and possible flash flooding. However, on this temperate early February day, the creek was flowing lightly and gently as we made our way along, crossing from side to side, and with a little light route finding, and some bushwhacking, we pushed past the massive Battleship Mountain, and Geronimo’s Head, until multiple miles later, off in the near distance in front of us, we identified the sharp pyramid shaped rock cliff, almost hoo doo like in formation which signified the entrance to our day’s ultimate destination, La Barge Canyon!


It was by 1:30pm with a total hiking distance of 7.89 miles from Boulder Canyon Trailhead that we finally arrived at the entrance to the “La Barge Box”, and after scrambling and climbing over some large rocks and boulders, we ventured to the left a short ways, and finding ourselves completely surrounded and framed by beautiful, and incredibly tall sheer rock walls, we rounded the bend, looked up and there it was, La Barge Canyon and it was magnificent!  As we made our way into the canyon, I was completely taken back in awe and amazement. What a truly majestic place, a real hidden jewel with a mesmerizing beauty that’s just simply surreal. Absolutely extraordinary!


We thoroughly enjoyed spending some time together in this unbelievably pristine and remarkable oasis and although the canyon’s pools of water were too low for a swim, its stream was gently flowing with a beautiful running waterfall. However, after a short, relaxing lunch break and some more pictures together, it was time to start heading back out of the canyon again and through retracing our steps, back the same way we had come in we regrettably left this awe-inspiring place.


Now having returned again to the entrance of La Barge Canyon, our amazing adventure continued as instead of retracing our steps and returning back the same way we came, using a little route finding, we identified a use trail marked with occasional cairns which ventured to the left and straight up to top of the hill then flattened out into a saddle area affording beautiful and expansive views of the Superstition Ridgeline and Weaver’s Needle in the distance. From this saddle area, located to the south of Battleship Mountain, we made a short trek over to the rock wall base of the Battleship to see if we could attempt a climb to the top. However, with the mid-afternoon sun well upon us now and it starting to get late, we decided to retrace our steps back to the saddle again, where from there we picked back up with the use trail to make a steep decent back down in elevation again.


Once arriving down at the creek’s bottom, it was now roughly around 3pm that our loop journey and return began with another boulder hopping, creek crossing journey, criss-crossing it from side to side until we picked up the Second Water Trail over to the left, then just a short ways further, we returned back to the Boulder Canyon Trail. Once back on Boulder Canyon Trail, and now feeling fatigue starting to set in as a result of the day’s long and strenuous journey, we ventured on, traversed it past an old abandoned mining shaft, then climbed back up in elevation again, at the same time being sure to look back as much as we possible could at the absolutely gorgeous and breath-taking scenery along the way. It was now with the sun now beginning to set and dusk quickly coming down upon us that we noticed we had come back into view of the beautiful canyon lake again and while still enjoying the amazing scenery now with a great view of Four Peaks in the fart distance, we made our way down this final stretch of rocky trail and made it back to the Boulder Canyon Trailhead again where we joined the rest of our group at Canyon Lake Marina, finishing out this day’s incredible journey with a total roundtrip hiking distance of 13.4 miles, and an accumulated elevation gain of 2000 feet, which we completed 9.0 hours. 


In all, what an unforgettable day and a spectacular adventure!  As most write-ups accurately describe, this exceptional hiking journey out into the remote and rugged Superstition Wilderness, really does have it all complete with mesmerizing scenery literally from start to finish of some of the Supes most famous landmarks, but also for those who are willing to take on the challenge of taking it off trail, this amazing journey will lead you out to a remote and hidden canyon that’s beauty is just simply captivating!  So if you’re up for taking an extraordinary boulder hopping, creek crossing, and incredible journey to a majestic, hidden rock wall canyon and oasis, then be sure to check out the La Barge Canyon Adventure Hike, in the Superstition Wilderness, Arizona.

Here are a few links which I think are good for addtional information if you are interested in hiking the La Barge Canyon Loop Hike, in the Superstition Wilderness, Arizona.

http://www.toddshikingguide.com/Hikes/Arizona/Tonto/Superstition6.htm

http://www.americansouthwest.net/arizona/superstition-mountains/boulder-canyon-trail.html

http://www.trails.com/tcatalog_trail.aspx?trailid=XMR014-024

http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=229


If you have any questions or would like to share about your experience hiking the La Barge Canyon Loop Hike, please feel free to post a comment! 

Journey Back to the ‘Old West’ for a Thrilling, Mountain Climbing, Scramble and a Scenic Adventure to the Top of Vulture Peak: The Vulture Peak Hike, The Vulture Mountains, Wickenburg, Arizona.





It is without a doubt, that with plenty of sunshine and mild temperatures, the late fall and winter months in Arizona are ideal for getting outdoors and taking a desert journey, where not only can you explore its pristine and remote desert mountain wilderness regions, but also experience the legend and lore that still remains today of the ‘Old West’!  Just a short drive from the Phoenix metro area, lies the rustic western town of Wickenburg, where once a booming gold mining town in the mid-late 1800’s, you’ll find yourself stepping back into the history of the “Old West”, and where you’ll also find yourself amazed and in awe of the rugged beauty of the town’s surrounding desert mountain landscape.  So if you’re up for taking a journey for an experience of the ‘Old West’, an excellent hiking adventure that’s remote and off the beaten path with a thrilling, mountain climbing scramble, and plenty of gorgeous panoramic mountain top scenery, then I highly recommend you experience the Vulture Peak Hike, in the Vulture Mountains, just outside Wickenburg, Arizona.


It was on  a beautiful late November weekend morning that I met up with the TLC Hiking Club at a meet up location in northwest Phoenix and by 8am, after all members had arrived, we set out our day’s journey together heading for the old town of Wickenburg on US Route 60. This relatively short desert drive out west to Wickenburg on US 60 was really part of the adventure on this day and after quickly arriving at the outskirts of town by 8:30am, we continued following the signs for US Route 60 through the central commercial corridor of town aptly named, Wickenburg Way.


Wickenburg, according to all historical accounts, was founded in 1863 when successful mine owner, Henry Wickenburg established the Vulture Mine after having discovering rich nuggets of gold that afterwards set off Arizona’s 1st gold rush. Shortly there later, more gold deposits were also found, and consequently more mines were established in the surrounding area and the town rapidly grew to become Arizona’s 3rd largest city and according to history, almost became the state’s 1st territorial capital! Today, as you pass through the central part of town on Wickenburg Way, you immediately notice all the old western buildings that still remain with antique shops, stores and galleries that line both sides of the street as the town still holds tightly onto its historical ‘old western’ lore and character even attracting many visitors world wide each year to its famous cowboy dude ranches located near by. In fact, for anyone who’s an “Old West” history enthusiast, you can even take a self guided tour of the original and some would claim very “haunted” Vulture Mine, which is located 12 miles southwest of town  on the Vulture Mine Road, and just 5 miles further down the road from Vulture Peak where our day’s journey and adventure was going to lead us.


After passing through town on US 60, aka Wickenburg Way, for roughly 2 1/2 miles, we came to the turn off for the Vulture Mine Road. We made a left and continued a scenic drive and  journey out into the beautiful and very rugged looking Vulture Mountains. We thoroughly enjoyed the strolling drive through the  rolling hills for roughly about 7.0 miles until we came to a sign on the left for the Vulture Peak Trail head. We made a left onto a well graded dirt road and drove for another ½ mile until we finally reached the large parking area and the trail head for the Vulture Peak Trail.


We had arrived at the Vulture Peak trail head by 9 am and after getting packed up and geared up, we quickly set off for Vulture Peak, which now stood before us looking very beautiful, yet also very massive and extremely rugged!  From its main trailhead the Vulture Peak Trail begins as a gentle stroll along the desert floor for about 1 ¼ miles, first descending into then crossing through Syndicate Wash until at about 1.7 miles later you arrive at a signpost with a metal fence and gate behind it which is located at the trail’s Upper Trailhead, and which you can also access with a good 4WD vehicle should you want to do so.   


From the Upper Trail Head, the rocky Vulture Peak Trail immediately begins ascending steadily up in elevation from the desert floor with absolutely gorgeous and amazing views behind you while still in front of you stands the even taller and even more massive looking, Vulture Peak!  The well maintained and also well marked trail continued to rise steeper and still higher yet in elevation with tighter and tighter switch backs the further along the way you journeyed until finally topping out at the saddle, and an approximate elevation of 3,420 feet.

Once leveled out at the saddle, looking up you are just in awe of the amazing and gorgeous scenery not only to the west behind you of the Vulture Mountains, but now what opens up before you is a gorgeous, wide open and completely expansive view to the east of the Hieroglyphic Mountains and on this crystal clear, very beautiful day, out into the far distance, we could even saw Four Peaks!  Absolutely incredible and breathtaking!


From the saddle, as most write ups have accurately stated, the Vulture Peak hike changes from being a relatively “moderate” level hike to an advanced level hike with steep and very adventurous climb that’s a thrilling, straight up, rock climbing, scramble and a vertical ascent up through a narrow rock gully and chute and it is only through carefully using hand holds and foot holds that you are able to slowly thrust yourself up higher and higher and up to the summit. It is only after about 240-250 feet of intense scrambling with absolutely spine chilling views looking below and all around that you finally arrive and top out at the top and the summit of Vulture Peak!  Wow, what an incredibly exhilarating experience!


It was there from the summit, at the top of Vulture Peak, having climbed to a total  elevation of about 3662 feet, that the 360 degree, panoramic views of the Vulture Mountains to the west, now combined with the gorgeous and expansive views to the far north and east, were even more absolutely incredible, and completely breathtaking!  While gathered back together again with our group at the peak, we happily took a break to eat lunch, roam around a little and after taking a lot of pictures, thoroughly enjoying our time together, by 11 am, we were ready again to head back for what was sure to be even more thrilling adventure, the return and the steep climb and scramble back down the gully and chute again!


The adventure did in fact continue too, as we each one by one slowly and very carefully made our way back down through the narrow gully and chute. Through a lot of loose rocks and gravel, we tightly clung and gripped the sturdy rock wall, and in places where it was just too steep or the terrain just too loose and dangerous to descend by foot, we got down on our rear ends and continued the steep descent until we finally all made it back down again safely to the level saddle area. Then once having arrived back at the saddle our journey continued on tightly switch backing down in elevation again, back down to the desert floor, passing by the Upper Trailhead, until we finally reached the parking area and trail head again.  We finished out our day’s hiking adventure by 12 pm and 3.0 hours later with a total hiking distance of about 4.2 miles, and a total elevation gain of 1136 feet on this picture perfect clear November day! Once having gathering our group back together again after the hike, we then eagerly journeyed back into town again for lunch to check out some of  Wickenburg’s old western hospitality and rustic atmosphere at the Golden Nugget Cafe, which we really enjoyed too, then returned once again back to Phoenix by mid afternoon.


In all, a really great day and an incredible hike with the wonderful people and great friends of the TLC Hiking Club.  This hike really had it all in my opinion, its relatively short, only 4 miles or so round trip, it’s a moderate hike but also offered a great workout too with a total elevation gain of over 1100 feet, then add to that a thrilling and adventurous 250 foot climb and scramble to the peak and summit, which in addition also offered plenty of gorgeous, jaw dropping, panoramic scenery and views along the way and wow, what an incredible day!  So if you’re up for taking a journey out to the ‘Old West’ for excellent hiking adventure, that’s close to Phoenix,  yet remote and off the beaten path with a thrilling, mountain climbing scramble, and plenty of gorgeous panoramic mountain scenery to experience and enjoy, then I recommend you be sure to check out the Vulture Peak Hike, in the Vulture Mountains, Wickenburg, Arizona!


Here are a few links which I think are good for additional information if you are interested in the Vulture Peak Hike, in the Vulture Mountains, Wickenburg, Arizona:

http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=374


http://www.summitpost.org/vulture-peak/153094


http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/recreation/hiking/vulture.html


http://www.hikemasters.com/2010/01/vulture-peak-trail-bureau-of-land.html


http://www.vultureminetours.com/                     

If you have any questions or would like to share about your experience hiking the Vulture Peak Hike, please feel free to post a comment!  

A Breathtaking Red Rock Wilderness Journey and Spectacular Adventure to the Top of a Colossal Natural Arch: The Sterling Pass to Vultee Arch Hike, Sedona, Arizona.




Autumn in Arizona with its bright sunny days and near perfect day time temperatures is unquestionably the best time of the year to get out, enjoy nature and the outdoors and also experience the state’s own beautiful fall foliage season.  Located up in the higher elevations of the state of Arizona just a few hours from Phoenix, you will find that Arizona too has much to offer when it comes to fall color and there is no place more world renown for all its mystical beauty and breathtaking red rock mountain scenery than Sedona.  So if you’re looking to get out into nature and the outdoors, and would like a beautiful fall foliage hike, that’s moderately strenuous, off the beaten path and you’re up to experiencing a spectacular adventure climbing to the top of a colossal natural arch, then I highly recommend checking out the Sterling Pass to the Vultee Arch Hike, in the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness, Sedona, Arizona.


It was early on a clear, crisp, mid-October Saturday morning that I met up with the Arizona Desert Hikers, a local Phoenix hiking group led by Jim Bernardi, and after all members had arrived, we left the north Phoenix meet up location, heading north on Highway I-17, then exited the freeway on State Route 179A and arrived in Sedona by 8 am. Then as we continued to head north into Sedona on State Route 179A, we arrived at the intersection for State Route 89A and made a right and heading north towards Oak Creek Canyon.


It was about 6.9 miles later on the left had side and just 500 feet south of the Red Rock Lodge that we finally arrived at the Sterling Pass Trailhead adjacent to the Manzanita Campground and parked in the parking area located down along the side of the road. We were aware that the Sterling Pass Trailhead was not easy to locate from the road and we found that to be quite accurate. It’s very easy to miss, and we did too, as the actual sign itself is small and not easily visible while driving, so you need to take it slow.  We also discovered that the parking area located several hundred yards down and off to the right side of the road was very limited. (Note that a $5 Red Rock Day Use Pass is required) However, on this morning there was just enough space to accommodate all of our vehicles and by 8:30 am we had all arrived, got packed up and were ready to begin our day’s hiking adventure on the Sterling Pass Trail.


Starting out from the trailhead across the road, at an approximate elevation of 4863 feet, the well maintained, and easy to follow, out and back, Sterling Pass Trail, immediately begins steadily switch backing and steeply ascending in elevation. Professional travel writer, Robert Stieve, from Arizona Highways Magazine, describes the hike quite accurately in his quote, “you’re either going up or you’re going down on the Sterling Pass Trail. There is no in-between. No middle ground, plateaus, no real respites.” However, as the journey continued heading steeply up in elevation, through thick, dense forest and trees, filled with bright and very colorful foliage, the expansive scenery and mountain views along the way of the vermillion and buff colored rock formations of the remote Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness were absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking!


After reaching the Sterling Pass saddle about an hour later, and taking a much needed short break, the beautiful journey continued on the Sterling Pass Trail which now opened up to even more gorgeous and breathtaking scenery as we immediately began to switchback and steeply descend back down in elevation through more thick, dense, brightly colored forest and trees, down into Sterling Canyon. Wow, what an incredible hike it had been so far and an excellent fitness workout to on this surprisingly quiet, remote, much less traveled, yet very scenic Sedona hiking adventure!


Approximately about two hours later, after a very exhilarating and zig zagging journey back down again in elevation that we finally came to the Vultee Arch Trail where we swung a right. It was here at the junction of the Sterling Pass Trail and the Vultee Arch Trail that we caught our first glimpse of the infamous Vultee Arch! How amazing it was, even from this way far out distance too. The Vultee Arch, was historically named for very early aviation pioneer whose aircraft crashed nearby. You can view the commemorative bronze plaque that was laid in honor of Gerard Vultee and his wife, Sylvia Vultee who both courageously lost their lives in January 29th, 1938.


After trekking just a short ways further on the Vultee Arch Trail, approximately 3.5 miles from where we started, it was by 10:30am  that we had finally arrived at the Vultee Arch and came upon an open plateau area with expansive views not only of the arch but also of the entire surrounding canyon area that were beautiful! It was here from this wide open plateau located much closer up, that the view of this gigantic, very colossal, natural arch, was simply incredible and magnificent!  We stopped there for just a few short minutes to get some really great shots. However, this amazing adventure wasn’t over just yet. From here, we located a small use trail and bush wacked and climbed our way straight up to the top of the Vultee Arch and what an exciting thrill it was too! Absolutely incredible and amazing! Once at the top, one by one, we each took our turn walking out to the middle of the arch where our friends waiting back down at the plateau area captured our pictures. My knees were literally shaking and I was terrified as I was out there shooting video of the gorgeous, breathtaking views from the top of the arch. What a great hike and a thrilling, spectacular adventure!


It was by 11:30am and about an hour later that we regrettably decided it was time to start heading back. So we gathered up our gear and our packs and returning the same we had originally came, we made it back to the Sterling Pass Trailhead again by 1:30pm which according to our GPS was a total round trip hiking distance of 7.68 miles with an elevation gain of 1041 feet, and a total hiking time of 5.0 hours. 


In all, it was a great hike and thrilling, spectacular adventure and a really enjoyable day with the wonderful people and friends of the Arizona Desert Hikers. So if you’re up for an excellent, breathtaking fall foliage hike, and an exciting, unforgettable adventure to the top of a colossal natural arch, then be sure you check out the Sterling Pass to the Vultee Arch Hike, in the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness, Sedona, Arizona.


Here are a few links which I think are good for additional information if you are interested in the Sterling Pass to Vultee Arch Hike, Red Rock Wilderness, Sedona, Arizona:

http://www.toddshikingguide.com/Hikes/Arizona/Prescott/Sedona4.htm

http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=138


http://www.arizonahighways.com/extras/archive/hiking/0310_hiking.asp


http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=55420&actid=50


http://www.americansouthwest.net/arizona/sedona/vultee_arch_trail.html


If you have any questions or would like to share about your experience hiking the Sterling Pass to Vultee Arch Hike, please feel free to post a comment! 

A Spectacular, Boulder Hopping, Cliff Jumping Canyoneering Adventure to a Colossal Waterfall Oasis: The Cibeque Canyon Hike, Salt River Canyon Wilderness, Globe, AZ




 

Having lived in Phoenix now for quite a few years, I find I am frequently asked the same question, just how do you deal with the excessive heat living in Arizona during the summer months? And generally respond by saying that if it weren’t for swimming pools and air conditioning, I wouldn’t be here! Its true, but as with anything, the summer heat is just something that you get used to after awhile because Arizona is so much more than heat and hot temperatures. Being such a vast and diverse state and region, and if you’re like myself, and you love nature, the outdoors, travel and adventure, we are very fortunate because Arizona is still able to offer many pristine wilderness areas and gorgeous rock canyons that are literally just a short distance from the Phoenix metro area where you can enjoy beautiful scenery, escape the heat and cool off. So if you’re up for a new,  intermediate level canyoneering adventure to a very majestic, remote wilderness area with gorgeous canyon scenery leading to up to a spectacular, colossal waterfall oasis, then I highly recommend you check out the Cibeque Canyon Hike, in the Salt River Canyon Wilderness, Globe, Arizona!


It was early on a Saturday morning in mid-June that I met up with the TLC Hiking Club, led and organized by Eric Kinneman, in east Mesa, and after everyone arrived, we received a quick briefing from Eric of the day’s adventure ahead, then by 6:30 am, we got into our vehicles and were ready to set off on US Hwy 60 east. After about 1 hour’s drive, we arrived in the town of Globe, then made a left onto US 60-Hwy 77, North, for roughly another 25 miles until we reached the top of the Upper Salt River Canyon.  There at the top and looking off to the distance and down below, I was again completely astounded at just how gorgeous, and breathtaking the view of the Upper Salt River Canyon was! Wow!


From the highway with the Upper Salt River down below, we continued to make our way down the steep hill and after crossing over the bridge, we immediately made a left onto an all dirt road, which was the same location where I had been earlier in the year to do a one day white water rafting trip on the Upper Salt River. So I had already heard of Cibeque Canyon and was very excited to be returning again as I knew this was going to be a very scenic and gorgeous canyoneering hike!


We turned and drove down this very narrow, all dirt mountain road where 4wd’s and HCV’s were recommended but not required, and stayed right, following along the river’s edge for only about 4 miles until after crossing Cibeque Creek itself, which luckily had been dry that day, we made a right turn into a large, open  parking area and the trailhead for Cibeque Canyon. Note that prior to attending this hike, we were advised by Eric Kinneman that due to the fact that Cibeque Canyon is located on ancient Native American tribal grounds, in the Upper Salt River Canyon Wilderness, which is strictly protected, it was required by the White Mountain Apache Tribe Indian Reservation to purchase a day use, Black/Salt River permit, for $15, in advance, which you can do either online, the easiest, or also at any Sportsman’s Warehouse Store in Phoenix. So before we began the day’s hike, we all confirmed we had our permits and that they were readily available and accessible should we be stopped and asked to show proof by tribal authorities.


After everyone had arrived at the trailhead, we got packed up and and after a quick group photo, it was by 9:30am (a later arrival than planned due to an extended stop in Globe and a also tire blow out along the way) that we were ready to start our day’s hiking adventure into Cibeque Canyon!  Eric began the hike by leading us from the parking area down into the bottom of Cibeque Canyon and into Cibeque Creek.  At roughly about 3000 feet in elevation, Cibeque Creek winds through the bottom of Cibeque Canyon, and with only a little bushwacking, we made our way down on the left side of the creek, first following a small path for maybe about ¼ mile until the path faded out, then it was up and over the rocks and boulders and into the water, which on this mid-June day was pretty low level, overall not being more than knee high level in its deepest places. Note that it is highly advisable to wear water sandals or river shoes for this hike as you will be in and out of water for the rest of your journey.  As we continued our boulder hopping, canyoneering adventure, criss crossing back and forth through the refreshing water of Cibeque Creek, I briefly took a moment to look up at the surrounding scenery, in this very quiet wilderness canyon, and was amazed.  It was just simply breath taking, as I knew it was going to be!


Our journey continued  into the now narrowing Cibeque Canyon, still boulder hopping, and wading from one crystal clear pool to another,  following the gently winding, twisting stream from one side to the other, taking one careful step before the other, up and over many slippery, large rocks and boulders in the creek’s bottom until roughly only about 1 ½ miles later, we veered to the left for one last time and I caught sight of Eric Kinneman and the rest of our group members who were ahead of me and I looked up and was in complete shock and awe. I couldn’t believe my eyes, because there right before me, was a giant, gushing, 80 foot, pounding waterfall! Wow! It was incredible and absolutely spectacular, a truly amazing sight to see. I found it really unbelievable that something as incredibly amazing as this was nestled and hidden away in this  remote wilderness canyon and still unknown to most people. Wow, absolutely astounding! And, an incredible experience that I will not soon forget!

We had such a great time together there at the falls with the entire group together day, taking lot’s of photos, as well as a lot of great video of some of the members doing some cliff jumping , including Eric Kinneman himself doing his famous and very daring back flip off the cliff’s rock ledge! Wow!  So much fun and such great comaradery between friends that everyone of us I’m sure will remember this hike always. However, after better than an hour, it was soon time to start making our way back again, so we quickly packed back up and retraced our journey back through the winding, twisting, Cibeque Creek, and arrived back at the trailhead again, completing our day’s 3.2 mile RT canyoneering adventure in Cibeque Canyon by about 12 pm, and an estimated 2.5 hours total RT hiking time.


In sum, what an amazing experience and an awesome adventure! A really great hike that once again was expertly researched, planned and organized by Eric Kinneman himself, and unbelievable was only 2 hours away from Phoenix too! So if you’re up for a gorgeous, highly scenic, off the beaten path, remote wilderness hike, and a moderate, relatively short distance, canyoneering experience to an incredible, colossal, and awe-inspiring, 80 foot waterfall oasis, be sure to check out the Cibeque Canyon Hike, in the pristine Salt River Canyon Wilderness, Globe, AZ!

Here are a couple of links which I think are useful if you are interested in hiking Cibeque Canyon:
http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=30


http://www.insideoutsidemag.com/issues/2009/February/Cibecue_Creek/

If you have any questions or would like to share about your experience hiking and canyoneering through Cibeque Canyon, please feel free to post a comment! 

An Extraordinary Pool Hopping, Rock Sliding, Waterfall Adventure Canyoneering Through The Jug, Lower Salome Creek, Salome Wilderness, Arizona



With scorching temperatures and blazing heat, yes, summers in Arizona are in deed extremely hot! However, did you also know that in Arizona you can find something to do in the great outdoors, virtually any time of the year, even during the summer? More than any other geologic feature, Arizona is an amazing land filled with many beautiful and remote back country wildernesses and gorgeous slot canyons and gorges scattered throughout the state.  So while temperatures may be heating up during the day in excess of 100 degrees in the desert, the month of June, before summer rain storms arrive, is actually an excellent time to go canyoneering and exploring some of these remote wilderness canyons and gorges, with many of them containing deep pools of cool, refreshing water!


Located in the Sierra Ancha Mountain range, northeast of Phoenix, is the Salome Wilderness consisting of roughly about 18,500 acres. Within the Salome wilderness following along the lower reaches of Salome Creek, you’ll find the “Jug”, a beautiful slot canyon, with narrow towering walls of pinkish-tinted granite stone, and along its approximately one mile stretch, many pools of deep, cool water! So if you would consider yourself to be at least a moderate-advanced level hiker and in relatively good physical shape & condition, and you’re up for more of a challenge, an extraordinary pool hopping, rock sliding, waterfall adventure, and an excellent intermediate level canyoneering hike I recommend, is the Salome Jug, at Lower Salome Creek, in the Salome Wilderness, Arizona.


On a beautiful Saturday morning, in early June, I met up with the TLC Hiking Club, led and organized by Eric Kinneman, at the Fort McDowell Casino, northeast of Phoenix, at 6 am. After all attending members had arrived, and after receiving a quick overview of our day’s canyoneering adventure, we got into our vehicles and left the casino by about 6:45 am, and headed north on Arizona Highway Route 87, also known as the Beeline Highway.


We drove up the scenic Beeline Highway, one of my favorite highways, until we arrived at state route 188, and made a right, heading south, in the direction for Roosevelt Lake. Continuing past the town of Punkin Center approximately 8 miles, we came to our next turn off, A-Cross Road, made a left and drove on this very rugged, mountainous, and at times very narrow, dirt road where a high clearance vehicle or a 4 wheel drive was highly advised. I really enjoyed this off roading adventure because the scenery looking up and out into the distance, and down below, of Roosevelt Lake, Arizona’s most largest lake, was truly gorgeous! We continued on A-Cross Road, (aka “60” but this is still A-Cross Road), for a total of about 10 miles and it was approximately by 8 am, that we finally reached the Jug Trailhead and parking area. The Jug Trailhead sits up at the top of a hill at roughly 3,301 feet in elevation, with panoramic views overlooking Roosevelt Lake and the mountainous Salome Wilderness that were absolutely gorgeous!  We parked our vehicles in the small parking area, got packed up and after a couple of quick group photo shots, we hit the trail.


Eric Kinneman began our day’s canyoneering adventure by leading us from the trailhead, down hill on the Jug Trail #61, a very scenic old jeep trail, that descends and switchbacks rather moderately as it takes you further and further out into the  remote and very rugged, Salome Wilderness. We trekked down hill, roughly about 800 feet in elevation for 2 miles until we arrived at Salome Creek where glimpses of the beginning of the Jug Canyon first came into view. As I neared the bottom of the hill, I looked down into the rock canyon below and there it was, absolutely gorgeous and rugged looking!  What an amazing adventure this was going to be I thought to myself.   


The Jug is a semi-technical canyon, and rated by the American Canyoneering Association, as a 3B-CIII canyon requiring one technical rappel. When you translate this rating, it means it’s an intermediate canyoneering, moderate-strenuous hike, with water that has no current or light current or with still pools to strong current depending on the time of the year and water levels and flow rates. We did this hike in early summer when the day time air temperatures are high and the current and water level is low, which is much safer particularly for anyone who is new to canyoneering or may only have a beginning to moderate level of canyoneering experience behind them. And, on this early June day, we actually found the water level to be about 9-12 inches lower than normal due to having had a very dry winter season this past year. However, please note, this is NOT a hike you want to try to take on yourself unless you have someone with the experience and expertise to guide you, or you have the prior technical canyoneering experience yourself because the Jug contains one technical rappel at a 27 foot water fall cliff. So whether you rappel it, descend it by rope or decide to jump it, please be aware, this IS very risky and dangerous, even if you have years of experience and know what you are doing. So assess your abilities wisely and use good judgment in deciding whether to do this hike or not, for your own safety.

 

After reaching Salome Creek at the bottom of the hill, and the beginning of the Jug canyon, we immediately veered off to the left, following along the creek’s bottom, jumping up and over large rocks and boulders for just a short ways until we came to our first set of pools which went from being first knee high to waist high deep rather quickly!  However, the water felt great on this very hot summer day and we happily waded from pool to refreshing pool as we very carefully and also cautiously crossed over the large rocks and boulders in the water, many of which were covered with green algae and very slippery, as a result of the low water level with still pools.


The adventure continued with more wading, swimming, hopping from one deep pool, then on to the next, through the beautiful winding canyon, and I paused for just a brief moment to look up at the pinkish tinted, granite walls now towering high and narrowly above me noticing how the sun’s bright rays glimmered down onto the rocks and crevices, eventually reaching the water below, and wow beyond what any picture could ever capture, it just absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking!

By this time too, the further into the canyon we reached, the deeper and deeper the pools became requiring much more swimming. However, as we moved through the canyon from one pool to the next, wading, swimming, with boulder hopping in a couple of places, we also came upon some small water falls located in the canyon’s bottom where the only way to continue was to sit down and slide your way down the wet slippery rocks and falls, until you dropped into the deep pools of water below. We thoroughly enjoyed the water slide, and coming down the rock water falls and after getting some really great shots of each other, our canyoneering journey through the Jug continued.


It was only a short ways later, after still more wading, swimming, and rock sliding down the small water falls and rocks that we eventually arrived a the giant 27 foot water fall and cliff and finally caught up with Eric Kinneman and the rest of our hiking group members again.  By this time Eric, as well as several members from the front end of our pack who had already successfully jumped off the 27 foot water fall and cliff and were waiting down below, while the rest of us stayed up at the top. Your options at this point are, you can either rappel it, or descend it by rope, as there are several fixed anchors set up with which to drop a rope from, or it’s also possible to jump it. So on this day, guided by Eric Kinneman, a highly experienced and leading expert hiker, also with extensive experience canyoneering, and who he himself had successfully completed this canyon multiple times by jumping it, that’s in fact what we all decided to do, jump it!


In order for all of us to safely and successfully make this jump, Eric had brought along with him a climbing rope which he set up and anchored from a fixed anchor located at the top of an upper rock ledge on the right side. From this upper ledge, he then ran the rope about 50 feet to a second fixed anchor located further out along the rock ledge, tied it securely there, then dropped the remaining length of  rope down to an outer,  lower level ledge. From the waiting area at the top of the falls, we each climbed up to this upper level ledge, while holding onto the securely anchored rope, as this ledge which was very narrow and slippery, then   once across the main upper ledge, roughly about 20 feet or so and while still holding onto the rope, we slowly and carefully descended roughly about 4 feet onto a lower level rock wall ledge.  It was here, from this lower level ledge about 10 feet in length that we were able to successfully take the 27 foot jump off the cliff and safely come straight down into the very deep pool of water below.  


I had arrived at the top of the falls along with my good friend and fellow hiker, Bob with no intention of jumping that day. Prior to starting this hike, we had decided together that we felt more comfortable descending by rope instead. However, when I saw how the rope had been securely set up and anchored for us and how it was possible to make this jump safely as Eric and the others had already done, also confirming too that there were no hidden debris or obstacles located in the water pool below that could cause possible harm or injury, it was only at the last minute that I decided to just do it and climbed up to the main, upper ledge, and while still holding onto rope, traversed across the 20 feet or so, then quickly dropped down the rope to the lower level ledge. As I’d had some prior experience rappelling and technical canyoneering, I felt comfortable on the rope but had never cliff jumped before. However, once you got out on this lower level rock ledge, it was really just a straight, obstacle free, vertical jump down into the deep pool of water below. So with Eric there as well as rest of the gang to guide and coach me from below, I took a giant deep breath and off the cliff I went, quickly plunging and crashing down into the deep pool of water below!  Oh my God!  What an exciting, thrilling, extreme adrenaline rush that is absolutely unlike any other! Truly an incredible experience and wow, what an amazing adventure!


Afterwards, I retrieved my pack which I had dropped prior to making the jump and swam 1-2 pools over to an open area where I could get out of the water and warm back up again in the sun as my body temperature had really dropped by now, with hypothermia being one of the risks and hazards of canyoneering. Meanwhile, Bob had also come down and Eric continued to coach and guide every other remaining member, each one by one, until finally everyone had  safely and successfully taken the plunge and made the 27 foot jump!


Once the last members had made it down, we gathered back together again along the side “beach” area in the sun, to eat, rest, and warm back up again, and when we were ready to move on again, we swam across the final two deep pools and reached the end of the 1.0 mile canyon. From the water’s edge, we traversed a small path up to the top of the hill and returned back the same way we had come earlier, on the Jug Trail # 61, making it back to the trailhead again by 1 pm for a total hiking distance of 5.0 miles RT, and a total hiking time of 5.0 hours.


In all, really a gorgeous and beautiful slot canyon and an incredible canyoneering hike, perfectly planned, organized and led by Eric Kinneman of the TLC Hiking Club. We owe our thanks and gratitude to Eric because it was only because of his expert coaching, guidance and support, that we were all able to safely jump off a 27 foot water fall cliff, many of us for the very first time, and successfully complete this amazing canyoneering adventure together. Truly a great day and a thrilling experience we won’t soon forget either!  So if you’re up for an extraordinary pool hopping, rock sliding, waterfall adventure, and an excellent intermediate canyoneering hike through a gorgeous slot canyon, then be sure you check out the Jug, at Lower Salome Creek, in the Salome Wilderness, Arizona.

Here are a few links which I think are good for additional information if you are interested in canyoneering through the Jug, at Lower Salome Creek, Salome Wilderness, Arizona:

http://www.toddshikingguide.com/Hikes/Arizona/Tonto/Salome3.htm

http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=111
 
http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/tonto/specialplaces/?cid=fsbdev3_018737

http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5163260.pdf


http://www.gorp.com/parks-guide/salome-wilderness-outdoor-pp2-guide-cid401708.html

If you have any questions or would like to share about your experience canyoneering through the Jug, at Lower Salome Creek, please feel free to post a comment!  

A Wild, Roaring, Rafting Adventure, and a Majestic Wilderness Exploration Through The Upper Salt River Canyon: White Water Rafting The Upper Salt River, Globe, Arizona



 

Discover an ancient canyon wilderness, rich in riparian nature and pristine, natural beauty, and enjoy a fun and exciting outdoors adventure, white water rafting the Upper Salt River.  Located just 135 miles from Phoenix, near the town of Globe, the roughly 52 mile stretch of the Upper Salt River, after receiving run off from the nearby White Mountains during early spring, is home to some of Arizona’s best Class III and Class IV river rapids. Even if you are a beginner, white water rafting doesn’t require having prior experience or training is relatively inexpensive and best of all, it’s a thrilling and exciting adrenaline rush and a great way to experience nature and the outdoors with your friends or family. So if you consider yourself an outdoors adventurer, and would like to experience something new and exciting to do, that’s not expensive and close to Phoenix, then I highly recommend you go white water rafting down the Upper Salt River, Globe, Arizona!


I really enjoy the adventure of white water rafting and have previously been down the Snake River in the Teton’s National Park, Wyoming, as well as the Merced River in Yosemite National Park, California. I had heard about white water rafting trips down the Upper Salt River here in Arizona, however, I had never done it before because the season for running the Upper Salt is very unpredictable as well as very short.  To time it just right when the perennial run off and water flow is at its optimum and peak, ideally you’re looking at about early-mid March. However, this is dependent on how much snow is received up in the mountains each winter. The season for running the Upper Salt they say actually extends from as early as February until mid May. So when I saw that there was a local group called the Desert Mountain Paddlers, led and organized by Ron Russell, who was planning a white water rafting trip down on the Upper Salt River, I quickly invited my friends and got signed up at a discounted group rate through Canyon Rio Rafting, based out of Flagstaff, Arizona, and the professional outfitter company who runs the Upper Salt River.


It was a beautiful spring morning during the first week in April that my friends and I met Ron Russell, aka “The Canoe Guy” and the rest of the Desert Mountain Paddlers team and began our day’s journey, heading out US 60 east, aka “The Old West Highway” and arrived in Globe by 7:30am. After a short break for food and restrooms at McDonalds, we made a left onto US 60-Hwy 77 North and enjoyed the beautiful mountain drive for another 30 minutes until we finally arrived at the top of the hill overlooking the Salt River Valley below and were all completely stunned and amazed at how absolutely breathtaking and gorgeous it was. Wow!


We drove down the steep hill, and after crossing over the bridge, made a quick left onto the short dirt road where by 8:30am we had finally arrived at Canyon Rio’s meeting and parking area. We got out and were warmly greeted by the staff of Canyon Rio who quickly provided us the equipment we would be needing for our day’s river rafting adventure including full wet suits, nylon splash jackets, helmets, paddles and PFD’s (personal flotation devices).  We were advised by Canyon Rio in advance, to not only bring with us bottled water but also, when river rafting early in the spring season when water temps are very cold and outside air temps a bit more chilly than in summer months, to wear clothes that are made of either synthetic or quick drying fabrics, and shoes that are old sneakers or river sandals with socks that are neoprene or wool material to keep your feet and body from getting too cold.


Once fully suited up, and with our paddles in our hands, we began to walk down to the river’s edge together where our river guide, “Scratchy”, a veteran river guide with 9 years experience behind him, met us and provided an excellent introduction to river rafting including learning how to use a paddle, as well as what to do in case of an emergency, such as falling out of the raft, what to do  should the raft get flipped over. After this thorough overview,  we were finally ready for what was sure to be a very adventurous and also very scenic 9 mile river rafting journey down the Upper Salt River!  After getting together for a few quick group photos, we eagerly got into all of our 6 man rafts and one by one launched out onto the river by about 10 am.  


The Upper Salt River Canyon, about 4000 feet elevation, was windy and chilly that morning, I’d estimate somewhere in the 50’s in temperature as we began our journey and I was happy to have been provided a full wet suit as well as a wind breaker for added warmth. As we were slowly drifting down from our river launch site, I looked up and was just completely amazed at the very beautiful, pristine scenery of this wilderness area, which stretched 52 miles from Globe all the way down to Roosevelt Lake. Located on ancestral Native American Indian grounds, the Upper Salt River Canyon is highly restricted by the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, and is only accessible by river raft or kayak with a permit.


It only took a few minutes on the river before we came to our first rapid, the “Bump & Grind” rapid, classified as a “Class II” rapid. And wow, what fun that was too! But that was just a warm up. There were a whole lot more to come, we were headed for an entire series of excellent “Class III” rapids, and although we had missed the peak flow a few weeks earlier, the river’s cfs, or flow rate, was still very good that day, “Scratchy”, our river guide advised, so we were in for a real adventure! How rapids are classified is really pretty subjective, I learned. Basically it’s determined by water levels, flow rates, obstructions or obstacles in the river’s bottom such as rocks and boulders or anything that would cause the water, always flowing down hill, to spin, swirl or cause to spill over such as a water fall. Rapids are rated anywhere from 1, which is your scenic float, all the way up to 10, and extremely dangerous. However, if you’re a beginning to intermediate river rafter, like myself, the Class II & Class III river rafting trips are perfect and the Upper Salt River offers some of the best rapids in the entire western U.S.  


After warming up at the “Bump and Grind”, Class II rapid, and with the rest of our team of Desert Mountain Paddlers now closely behind us, we looked up and were excited to take on the next rapid,  our first Class III rapid of the day, the “Maytag” rapid!  Wow, now that was fun! But that was just the beginning of the adventure! From there it was all Class III”s, an entire series!  With our team behind us and mostly out of sight by now, we continued on to move on to the next rapid and the next, the “Grumman”, the “Mother Rock” and the “Overboard” rapids, rocking, splashing and spinning, crashing against the waves and twirling through the torrent of current of the Upper Salt, I almost got tossed out of the boat twice!. Wow, what a wild, thrilling and exciting adventure ride!  


After successfully running the “Overboard” Class III rapid, we veered our raft over to the river’s edge to wait for the rest of our team to arrive. This was turning out to be one heck of a wild river run, and I noticed I wasn’t the only one to get tossed out either! There were a few solo kayakers also attempting to run the river that day and one of them got flipped over and tossed out of his kayak! Thankfully, after swimming through the rapid while still hanging onto his kayak, he eventually he made it and was okay. We waited along the river’s edge until everyone had made it successfully through the last rapid and once we had all of our rafting team back together again, we continued on.


From here we had a break from the rapids and had a chance to enjoy some of the gorgeous canyon scenery and wildlife that is along the Upper Salt River. So absolutely beautiful and majestic, I found it so amazing that the Upper Salt River Canyon is a backcountry wilderness area, consisting of about 32,000 acres, that has managed to remain completely remote, and untouched here within the state of Arizona.  What a great day and adventure this had been so far, I thought to myself.


It was a little after 12 noon when we arrived at Canyon Rio’s camp site on the river and where we’d pull our rafts over to the shore and have a picnic lunch and mid-day rest break. And what a lunch it was too! Canyon Rio really provided us a delicious and fantastic lunch, that had it all, right down to the last details too. Wow!  We were really enjoying everything but by 1:30 pm, and after a quick group photo with our river guide extraordinaire,  “Scratchy”, it was time to get back in our rafts again and begin the second part of our journey and adventure down the Upper Salt River.


After pulling our rafts out and continuing on from camp, and next taking on the “Exhibition” Class III rapid, the scenery was even more beautiful and spectacular as we quickly approached the gorgeous Cibecue Canyon, the crossed Cibeque Creek. After running the Cibecue Rapid, a Class II rapid, we turned a corner to the left and continued to enjoy the journey heading down this very serene and tranquil stretch of the Upper Salt River until we came to what would be the best but final set of rapids of the day.


Once again we were advised by our excellent river guide “Scratchy” what we were to do as we approached first the “Three Way” rapid, a Class III rapid, followed by the “Salt River Draw”, a Class II rapid, then on to our final rapid of the day, the “grand finale” and saving the best for last it seemed,  as we crashed, splashed, bumped,  grinded and glided our way down through the rocking and rolling “Mezcal Falls”, a Class III-IV rapid that was absolutely the best one of them all! Wow, what a total adrenaline rush!


After pulling to the side to wait for the rest of our team to successfully make it through “Mezcal Falls”, we then floated for a few more final minutes on the river until we finally reached the end of our 9 mile river rafting adventure by about 2:30pm, and the access point where Canyon Rio was waiting for us to transport us back to the parking area where our cars were and by 3:30pm we had arrived back at the parking lot, ready to head back home to Phoenix again.


In all, what an incredibly fun, exciting and scenic outdoors adventure on the Upper Salt River! Really a great day spent with friends and everyone from the Desert Mountain Paddlers group. And also, an excellent river rafting expedition put together by the professional and experienced team of river guides from Canyon Rio Rafting. So if you’re looking for something new, exciting, fun and adventurous to do, then I highly recommend you be sure to check out white water rafting down the Upper Salt River, Globe, Arizona!


Here are a few links which I think are good for additional information if you are interested in learning more about white water rafting or would like to plan your own trip white water rafting on the Upper Salt River, Arizona:
 

http://www.canyonrio.com

http://raftingamerica.com/

http://www.azcentral.com/travel/parks/articles/2010/04/08/20100408rafting-upper-salt-river0410.html

http://www.raftarizona.com/


http://www.canyoneers.com/

http://www.discoverahobby.com/learnriverrafting.htm

http://www.riversearch.com/

If you have any questions or would like to share about your experience white water rafting, please feel free to post a comment! 

An Incredible, Boulder Hopping, Bushwhacking, “Balls to the Wall” Challenge & Scenic Journey to a Giant Hidden Waterfall Oasis: The Reavis Falls Adventure Hike, Eastern Superstition Wilderness, Arizona.



If I were to tell you that there was a giant, 140 foot waterfall hidden in the middle of the Arizona desert, would you believe it? Well, it’s absolutely true!  Arizona, is a land blessed with a unique beauty and a richness in diversity that is unlike any other place you will find. And it is only in Arizona, with its wide array of geography, scenery, and wilderness adventure, can you also find, as unbelievable as it sounds, a giant 140 foot waterfall oasis hidden deeply in the central Arizonan desert! So if you’re up for a really incredible boulder hopping, bushwhacking adventure, and are ready for a challenging, and very scenic wilderness journey out to a remote and giant hidden waterfall oasis, then be sure and check out the Reavis Falls Adventure Hike, in the Eastern Superstition Wilderness, Arizona!

Early on a beautiful spring weekend morning in late March, I met up with the TLC Hiking Club, led and organized by Eric Kinneman, of the TLC Lending Company, at a meet up location east of Phoenix, at US 60 and Sossaman Road in Mesa.  By 6am, after all 35 members had arrived and after receiving a brief overview by Eric about the day’s upcoming hike and what to possibly expect at the trailhead’s limited parking area, we all got into our vehicles and were on our way for the Reavis Trailhead, located in the remote, Eastern Superstition Wilderness.


Our day’s journey and roughly 29 mile mostly off road adventure to the Reavis Trailhead began by heading north on Idaho Road for about 2 miles until we came to SR 88, which is more popularly known as the historic “Apache Trail and Scenic ByWay”. After passing by the gorgeous and scenic, Canyon Lake, we continued our journey on the Apache Trail and by 6:45am we came to the small town of Tortilla Flat, where just up the road a couple of miles, the pavement stops and the Apache Trail becomes an all dirt road. It was highly advisable, but not a requirement for us to have at least an HCV vehicle to do this drive and journey.  However, you can make it in a regular vehicle, as I’ve done before, but you must be prepared to add more time to your trip and journey as you’ll need to take it much more slowly than you would in an HCV or 4WD.


Up from Tortilla Flat, the all dirt road, Apache Trail ventures further into the Superstition Wilderness and on up to my favorite, the incredibly scenic,  Fish Creek Hill, where from there the road narrows down to a single lane with oncoming two way traffic, venturing straight down for a total of a 1500 foot drop by the time you reach the bottom. Wow! Once we had successfully made it down to the bottom of the beautiful Fish Creek Canyon, we stopped and parked along the side of the road and took a short break, gather up our members, then got back in our cars and continued on.


Continuing from Fish Creek, most write ups estimate that it’s about a 7.2 mile drive from to reach the Reavis Trailhead. I did not gauge it that day, but I did take note that it was only a few short minutes later, by 7:15am, just past mile marker 227, that we saw the sign for the Reavis Trailhead on the right hand side. We made a right onto FR 212 then drove the mountainous, winding 2.9 miles until we finally arrived at the Reavis Trailhead and parking area by 7:30am. Much to our surprise and relief, we found the limited parking area to be completely empty and thankfully, had no trouble having enough space to park all of our group’s vehicles.


We parked, packed up and it was by 7:50am, after a quick group photo shot, that we had hit the trail, the Reavis Ranch Trail, #109. The Reavis Trail, actually an old dirt road, is a long trail that leads out to the historic Reavis Ranch, home to the first Anglo settler in the Superstition Mountains, Elisha Reavis, who back in the 1800’s grew and sold produce in the local mining communities until one day he was found dead and was buried him right where he was found, on the trail!


Starting out from the Reavis Trailhead, and beginning our trek and journey on the Reavis Trail # 109,  the views of Apache Lake down below and the Superstition Wilderness are absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking! The trail immediately begins by ascending moderately in elevation with the beautiful views of Apache Lake and 4 Peaks off to the left and northeast. At the same time, straight ahead in front of you and off to the distance to the right, you also have really beautiful views of the mountains and rolling hills of the  backcountry wilderness that is the Eastern Superstition Wilderness, which is much higher in elevation than the Western Superstition Wilderness.  


We quickly made our way along the switch backing trail, steadily climbing up in elevation, while thoroughly enjoying the absolutely gorgeous Superstition Wilderness views all around us. After roughly about 3.5 miles we arrived at our turn off for Reavis Falls, a cairn marked, narrow path and spur trail where we journeyed left and headed east straight up a grassy hill and continued to venture further out into the secluded Eastern Superstition Wilderness.  The names for this “unmaintained” trail are multiple, ranging from “unknown spur trail” to the “Reavis Gap Trail  #117”. Whichever the case, I found the turn off to be well marked and the narrow trail to be well developed and easy to follow.


From the turn off from the Reavis Trail 109 and now beginning our trek and journey along the spur trail, we continued to still steadily climb further and further up in elevation.  With the absolutely breathtaking views of Apache Lake and Four Peaks now behind us, in front of us and off to the right we now had amazing views of Castle Dome as well as the surrounding beautiful Eastern Superstitions as we continued to press on making our ascent in elevation until we reached a wide saddle that topped out our intense journey so far at 4675 feet in elevation! Wow, what an amazing journey so far! However, after taking a very short break to catch our breaths, we were ready to continue onto the next part of the adventurous journey, making the very steep and intense descent back down again, down to Reavis Creek!


From the top and saddle at elevation 4675 feet, slowly and carefully, step by step, we dropped our way straight down, down, and still further down in elevation, and as the steep and narrow switch backing trail veered over to the left, we went around Lime Mountain, then passed by Lime Spring, switch backed down yet more until we arrived at the straight and level, Cedar Basin.  After passing by Cedar Basin, we came to the first creek crossing, Maple Spring, which we were advised to cross. After only a short ways of a little bit of bushwhacking, we finally arrived at the second creek, Reavis Creek, and a total estimated distance traveled so far, 6 miles!


Once down at the bottom of Reavis Creek, the spur trail we had been following for so long, disappeared and we began to notice that there were other people around now, a few backpackers who were camping along the left side of Reavis Creek. A little fatigued by now, we stopped to ask if we were still on track to reach Reavis Falls and were rest assured that we were in fact dead on and if we continued following up the creek, we need only look for the hand built cairns along the way that would lead and guide us right up to the falls and where the rest of our group already were. 


Though we felt we were “almost there”, the adventure continued on! We now had the incredible ¾ mile journey along the bottom of Reavis Creek, climbing up and over the humungous rocks and boulders, bushwhacking through thick brush, vegetation and trees which filled the creek’s floor. Finally, after roughly about an hour’s trek, we started to run into other TLC Hiking Club members including Eric Kinneman, who had already been at the falls for about an hour and along with a few others from the front of the group, were starting to make their way back by this time. We were advised by Eric that we were in fact only a short 200 feet away from the falls now. A few minutes later, by approximately 11am, we had finally made it to Reavis Falls, and wow, what an incredible and challenging journey it had been and what an unbelievable, spectacular sight to see! Although the water flow had only been at about ½ that day, having missed the peak flow despite it still being early spring when mountain run off is said to be at its height, it was still a really amazing experience to see. Who would’ve ever thought that such an enormous waterfall as this even existed way out in the middle of the Superstitions? It was truly magnificent and amazing, absolutely worth the long, challenging and intense journey it had taken to get there too.


After taking only a short 40 minute break at the bottom of the falls to eat quick lunch and take some pictures, we knew that the day was heating up fast and the journey and trek back up again was going to be very long and challenging, so we quickly packed back up again and by 11:40am we left Reavis Falls and started our boulder hopping and bushwhacking journey back  ¾ mile through Reavis Creek, until one hour later, we made a left onto the spur trail and started our steep ascent back up again.


By now it was well past noon and the forecast for this day in late March was predicted to reach the low 90’s. So the temps were heating up quickly as we began the toughest and most challenging part of our adventure that of the steep ascent and climb back up again in elevation and believe me,  it was brutal for awhile too! Though many of us at the back end of the pack had to slow it down to take additional breaks to keep from getting too overheated, slowly but surely, we continued to march on until we finally reached the top again and the saddle at an elevation of 4675 feet, then from there, trekked further on to make our way back to the Reavis Trail #109 junction. After hanging a right at the junction and following the Reavis Trail for another 3.5 miles,  we finally arrived back at the Reavis Trailhead again by 3:45pm, where we waited for another 45 minutes or so until the remaining TLC members had made it safely back by about 4:30pm.


In all, what an incredible journey and adventure! According to our GPS, our total hiking distance RT was 15.1 miles, with a total elevation gain of 3600 feet which we did in approximately 8.0 hours, on a very warm and toasty 90 degree day too! It was a very remote wilderness hike, and a real “balls to the wall” challenge that due to its length of distance and intense elevation gain, then add to that the ¾ mile of class 3 & class 4 level boulder hopping and bushwhacking, this hike will definitely test your abilities! And that it did too! Described by Eric Kinneman as a serious and challenging hike, one of the top 5 most difficult hikes in all of Arizona,  combined with its gorgeous backcountry wilderness scenery out to a giant hidden waterfall oasis, according to Eric, this hike really does have it all!   So if you’re ready for an incredible adventure and are up for a real intense “balls to the wall” challenge, then I highly recommend you check out the Reavis Falls Adventure Hike, in the Eastern Superstition Wilderness, Arizona!

Here are a couple of links which I think are good for additional information on hiking out to Reavis Falls, in the Eastern Superstition Wilderness, Arizona:

http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=99

http://arizonahiking.org/component/content/article/84-superstition-and-mazatzal-wilderness/304-reavis-falls

 

http://www.hawsedc.com/tom/reavis.jpg

http://www.toddshikingguide.com/Hikes/Arizona/Tonto/Superstition8.htm

If you have any questions or would like to share about your experience hiking out to Reavis Falls, please feel free to post a comment!  

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