TRIP DATES: Backpack Dec. 5-10, 2017

LENGTH: 51 miles measured with Garmin 64st.

AVERAGE MPH: 1.7 (1.3-1.5 rough days, 1.8-2.1 road/trail)

TOTAL ELEVATION LOSS & GAIN: 24,000 feet total ascent/descent

TRAILHEAD(S): South Fork Parker Canyon Trail #160

DIFFICULTY: Strenuous up and down on generally well-cairned but often rocky, poorly maintained trails. 10 miles on road (easy to moderate)

BEST TIME TO HIKE: October to April, preferably after substantial rainfall (Dec.-March is usually cool-temperature rainy season, although varies year to year).

WATER: Numerous springs but some damaged by 2016 Juniper Fire. Although 2017 was quite dry (100-day fall drought), we found water in Parker Creek, Trail Spring, Hunt Spring, Cherry Creek, Devils Chasm, Cold Spring Canyon, Pueblo Canyon, Hinton Creek, Pueblo Mine Spring (tiny pool), lower Reynolds Creek and Workman Creek. For good water forecast of the area, check online daily water flow at Cherry Creek; (4 cubic feet per second [cfs] during our trip):

SOLITUDE TIPS: Area remote except Workman Creek road to Aztec Peak. Heavily used during fall elk hunts.

LEAVE NO TRACE: offers camping practices to protect the wilderness. We agree with most advice on this website except we have not found any research verifying the advice to pack a trowel and dig “cat hole” to bury feces 6 inches. Since many decomposing agents are in the top organic soil layer, kick a shallow hole or lift a large rock and scuff dark soil or leaf litter on top of feces. Although we have not researched this, it seems much better than leaving toilet paper and feces on top of ground or under rocks not mixed with soil-which is surprisingly common in heavily used backpack areas.

TRAIL INFO: Tonto National Forest has trail descriptions by name& number but trivial or outdated:
Several websites give information on routes up the canyons
or trails

WARNING: online information posted before 2016 needs update since the 2016 Juniper Fire burned at varying severity almost entire wilderness including some reburn of 2000 Coon Fire.

TRAILS: The Tonto National Forest utilized Forest Service and American Conservation Experience (ACE) crews along with volunteers from Arizona Wilderness Coalition, Sierra Club and Friends of the Tonto for post-Juniper fire trail work. The forest got a $280,000 grant for 2018 (from National Forest Foundation and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality) to restore Sierra Ancha trails and spring; so hiking should improve by 2019-2020.