Thursday, April 8, 2010

Basset Peak - Ash Creek Trail Hike 4-3-10

I decided to try a new area this weekend.  We drove a little over an hour east on I-10 to Willcox.  From there it was about 30 miles to the NW to get to the Ash Creek trailhead in the Galiuro Mountains which took around another hour in driving.  This area is extremely remote which was great as we were hoping to see some interesting wildlife.  There wasn't another person on the trail the entire day!  There were a few people with their families in campgrounds before the trail but no one hiking.

The round trip to Basset peak is a little over 10 miles but if you don't have at least a high clearance vehicle you'll add another 5 miles round trip to the hike.  We made it most of the way to the trailhead in our Sequoia which is only 2WD.  We had to drive through a couple streams and the dirt road was full of rocks, boulders, overgrown bushes and trees, etc.  We also added quite a few new scratches to the side of the truck so make sure if you do make the drive up to the trail head you drive your beater!

If you follow the road straight back it eventually turns into the Ash Creek trail.  You'll criss-cross back and forth over the stream for 3-4 miles depending on where you start.  This area is a very nice change from the desert.  You feel like you are in the Appalachian Mountains as you gradually climb with the stream through the forest.  There also were some very nice areas back here to camp.  The stream was running pretty good but as we returned later in the day it had definitely started running much better; I assume because of the snow melting in the warm air.  

As you get towards the start of the canyon you cross over the stream one last time and begin climbing to the top of the ridge.  This area is the most strenuous of the trial but isn't that terrible.  You'll go through pretty consistent switchbacks for the next mile or so until you come to a trail intersection at the top of the ridgeline.  From here you make a left to continue the last mile over to Basset Peak on the Basset Peak Trail.  Supposedly near this same area is an old WWII plane wreck but we didn't see it as we really didn't know where to look.  There are beautiful views in all directions of the surrounding area and mountain ranges.  Mount Graham was covered in snow which made for a great view out to the east.

We ended up getting within about 1/4 mile of the top but the snow got really thick, really quick.  It was completely covering the trail in spots.  With the very steep angle and the thought of slipping down and/or getting lost out here in the middle of nowhere we decided that it wasn't worth the risk to keep going.  We never did see any wildlife however right before we turned back there was something very large about 100ft from us that was knocking some pretty big boulders loose!  I would assume a bear or a mountain lion given the size of the boulders it sent down the side of the mountain.

This is a beautiful area and a great hike.  A great day getaway from Tucson especially if you want some seclusion.


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