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matt@expaz

Trail Report - Sheep Bridge (Centrail Az)

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I went to the bridge twice in June (I know - I know not the best time of year) and it was sweet!!! There weren't many other people out there except for one old coot living at the bridge in his pop-up camper. !!!!

 

The Tonto had just bladed the last ten miles (FSR 269) from Tangle Creek down to the bridge itself. But since it was only dozed and not graded you had to go very slow and there was that unique experience of riding on the dozer tracks and pitching up and down for 10 miles. A long 10 miles because it took me over an hour to go that distance in. Coming back was easier (uphill instead of down) and shorter.

 

From the FSR 24/269 jct it was about an hour or so to the Tonto/AF boundary and then another 45 mins or so to I-17.

 

IF you go that way there are some really nice side trips. There is "the big hill" which I call the "Tangle Creek switchbacks" which has an awesome view at the top. First up after that is FSR 44, a nice loop road off the North side of FSR 269. It is supposed to be a fun 4x4 road. It's on my list to maintain but I haven't gotten that far yet.

 

Oh yeah, after the disaster of the Gladiator I have transferred my volunteer services to the Tonto and the Bloody Basin area is my new "home."

 

There are 3 old cabins in the area, one of which is on the National Historic Register.

 

Another NEAT (not hard) road is FSR 677 a dual-forest road that starts in the Tonto and ends up on the Verde Hill Road in the PNF. I call it the back way to Dugas. You end up (going North) dropping into a totally pristine riparian area. And Dugas looks like something from the 1880's. Still inhabited to be kind! It's an easy out to I-17 from there.

 

Then there is my current assignment, FSR 481 and the Brooklyn Peak Switchbacks. FSR 481 runs open to vehicles -LESS than 110" WB and 60" TRACK (wheel to wheel) - to the base of the switchbacks. You need to google earth the switchbacks as they are something else! Unfortunately there is a minor GAPING washout at the base which precludes vehicles from further travel. I have a plan to repair that washout but it's way down on my list after I get all the other trails on my assignment done.

 

FSR 481 hosts the old stone cabin and mine ruins as well.

 

Then there is FSR 14 which goes to the Brooklyn Mine. I haven't seen it yet but the pictures on the internets are AWESOME!

 

Note: the AF Monument assigns a "9" or a "9" + "0" to Tonto Roads. Hence Tonto Road 269 is 9269 on the AF, and Tonto Road 14 is 9014 on the AF.

 

Speaking of, FSR 481 floats right by some awesome Native ruins. FSR 14 (AF 9014) also runs up on Perry Mesa (Not Perry Mason!) where there are more remains. There are also some in the area of the Brooklyn Mine.

 

The AF is loaded with exhibits but the BLM is real cagey about not telling anyone exactly where they area. Except Pueblo La Plata, which is the "sacrificial lamb" and easily found on the www. There are about a brazillion petroglyphs on the AF but I haven't had time to situate them yet. (I've only been on this assignment since July!).

 

None of these roads are really hard 4x4s except for maybe FSR 44. However there is a lot to see and the neat thing is hardly anyone goes there. Of course now that I have made this post I am sure to find a Wendys and a Motel 6 out there next week.

 

For obvious reasons I will not give directions to any of these sites on the web..... The native ruins are easy prey to looting. The cabins are remarkably well preserved and seem to be falling off of publication on newer FS maps. In most other locales, they would have been totally trashed by now!

 

See ya later......

 

 

P.S. The are does have more ants and wasps per square mile than I have ever seen in my life.

 

Double P.S. Beware the unbridged Agua Fria crossing. In heavy rains in can become impassable.

 

Triple P.S. All road conditions to the Sheep Bridge were "as is" before our extremely robust monsoon season!

 

That area is in my back yard and I have wanted to explore it for years and never got around to doing it. Now that it is getting cooler I will have to run out there, camp and do some splorin. George:cool::D

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It's really easy to overlook the area. I first went there in '79 (1979; not 1879!) and didn't go back until this summer. At first I was under-impressed but it has a subtle beauty that grows on you. Plus getting off 269 and going down some of the side roads lets the place really shine. There are some roads off of 677 that go to wilderness areas. I have not explored them yet.

 

I should have added a fourth "P.S." that if you are on the plateau passing through the AF Monument between the Tonto and I-17, and it happens to rain a lot, beware of that section of 269/9269. It turns into a sticky, muddy morass. The same is true of FSR 14/AF9014. That road seems to be the boundary line between sticky mud (when it rains) and unsticky roads.

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Personally, I haven't jumped in either. Just a point of interest.

 

AZBillyBoy,

Tell me more about these volunteer services. Can you tell me anything about FR18(Red Creek Road)?

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Personally, I haven't jumped in either. Just a point of interest.

 

AZBillyBoy,

Tell me more about these volunteer services. Can you tell me anything about FR18(Red Creek Road)?

 

 

I know of that road but have not explored it yet - the only thing I have heard is it is a difficult one. It is to the East of my current area.

 

All of the Forests have Volunteer programs. Most are more common to things like picking up litter, cleaning camp sites, etc. They do have extended Volunteer Services plans for things like building fences and then there is trail and road work.

 

In the Prescott I did both trails and roads. I have found that each Forest varies in their attitude towards the project of road and trail maintenance and restoration. The Prescott was NOT receptive to the program and fought with me for 11 years. I think they are happy as clams to see FSR 89, the Bullroad, and all the others now pretty much totaled out by the fire and monsoons.

 

The Tonto was much different. At first the ranger didn't know what I had in mind. Mainly because they haven't had many people sign up for this.... We took a field trip out to FSR 481 and I showed him exactly what I had planned. He changed my agreement from a Volunteer Services Agreement to an Adopt A Road.

 

That covers brush trimming and if so desired, arresting road erosion and restoring washed out sections. Obviously that is a broad umbrella. I am unfamiliar with the history of the roads in my new area. I know that the Cave Creek fire burned through there and the subsequent erosion has had some bad effects on some of the roads. I plan on restoring 481 to two levels. The first section to the Rosalie Mine will be pretty well reworked with cuts filled in, drainage berms erected, etc.

 

The second section from the Rosalie will be left "native" for the most part. Some off camber, ruts, etc. A nice 4x4 road. I just reworked a washed out section that had closed down the road way short of the switchbacks. It was open to quad width only. I now have it to 110" x 60" vehicular width. Most brush was left close to the road but not in the roadbed itself. It was also left completely native at the Rosalie Junction. The Ranger and I agreed that would deter larger vehicles from trying to travel down that section (since they can't go very far because of the choke point at the reroute).

 

This project is different from my one in the Prescott because I have a lot of different roads over a wide area.

 

You can Volunteer for any piece of road you want. It can be a mile or twenty miles. It can be debrushing, restoration, litter removal, whatever. Or you can sign up for any of the other needs they have (each Forest has a list of options).

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AzBillyBoy,

 

Thanks for the info. It looks like I've got a ton of exploring to do! But it doesn't sound like I want to go in the tub :eek:

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FR18 is a blast and I have seen plenty of stock jeeps make it with no problem. Great camping spot whenyou get to the Verde too.

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There is also FR 16 that goes N to the Verde River I don't think it is wise to cross there. There are a lot of side roads off of 16 in the area

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Oh I just read the report on FR 18. When I read and saw the part about the airstrip it clicked. I was told that the Tonto was going to close that. I hope not it sure looks really beautiful.

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