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innanetmatt

Phoenix to Payson with minimal asphalt?

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Hey everyone,

 

I'm in Phoenix and my parents live near the Hwy 87/188 intersection. My girlfriend and I want to go see them on Christmas eve, and I recently bought a new (to me) 4x4 so we can get further off the beaten path. I've been scouring Google Maps and topos trying to find a route with maximum trail time.

 

We were initially just gonna do the Four Peaks trail from 87 over to 188, then take 188 north the few miles to their place but I want more trails, dang it! Am I crazy for thinking about heading out to Sheeps Bridge, fording the Verde, and continuing East? I haven't identified much of a route on the east side of the river, but I've heard it's possible.

 

I'm not looking for anything real extreme, as we'll be in a stock Discovery II on 31s. We are willing to split the drive into 2 days and spend the night on the trail, since I'm sure it'll be a pretty long trip.

 

Thanks in advance for any help.

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hmmm...

 

- Cave Creek to the old Childs power plant crossing of the Verde, to the Fossil Creek area and come out at Strawberry (past but near Payson). Mostly all a graded gravel road, maybe not always quite car friendly, but not really much of a "trail". You could do side trails along the way though like Humboldt peak, Red Creek, and/or hike Fossil Creek to make it a longer trip. You could even run Camp Creek wash to get started in the trip with a trail and then be back on pavement just a few miles.

 

- Up and over Four Peaks OR Apache Trail to get you to Lake Roosevelt area, then briefly on highway to get to either Cherry Creek road and take it up to Young or get to Punkin Center and run trails up past Dupont Cabin to come out on Young Highway. Either way takes you to Young and then you can pop out on the 260 a ways past Payson (up on the Mogollon Rim which is a beautiful area anyway). The Four Peaks or Apache Trail parts are gravel roads, but the second half (Cherry Creek or Dupont Cabin) are real trails that need 4x4 occasionally. The upper part of Cherry Creek road can turn to a slippery mucky mess after any recent snow storm starts to melt. Oh and if you do the Four Peaks route, start at Butcher Jones and go through the Rolls OHV area to get to the start of Four Peaks Road to add a tiny bit of real trail to your mix there.

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You can't go east by vehicle from the Sheep Bridge. That's the Mazatzal Wilderness area.

 

http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/tonto/specialplaces/?cid=fsbdev3_018732

I figured there was a reason there's no trails going through there. Thank you for the link! I wasn't sure if the land was protected, or just too rugged. Now I know.

 

hmmm...

 

- Cave Creek to the old Childs power plant crossing of the Verde, to the Fossil Creek area and come out at Strawberry (past but near Payson). Mostly all a graded gravel road, maybe not always quite car friendly, but not really much of a "trail". You could do side trails along the way though like Humboldt peak, Red Creek, and/or hike Fossil Creek to make it a longer trip. You could even run Camp Creek wash to get started in the trip with a trail and then be back on pavement just a few miles.

 

- Up and over Four Peaks OR Apache Trail to get you to Lake Roosevelt area, then briefly on highway to get to either Cherry Creek road and take it up to Young or get to Punkin Center and run trails up past Dupont Cabin to come out on Young Highway. Either way takes you to Young and then you can pop out on the 260 a ways past Payson (up on the Mogollon Rim which is a beautiful area anyway). The Four Peaks or Apache Trail parts are gravel roads, but the second half (Cherry Creek or Dupont Cabin) are real trails that need 4x4 occasionally. The upper part of Cherry Creek road can turn to a slippery mucky mess after any recent snow storm starts to melt. Oh and if you do the Four Peaks route, start at Butcher Jones and go through the Rolls OHV area to get to the start of Four Peaks Road to add a tiny bit of real trail to your mix there.

 

Thank you for the tips. I've done Apache Trail a few times (in a sports car once, sedan twice, and twice on motorcycle) and Young is one of my favorite places in Arizona. I'll take a look at Cherry Creek Rd, as that sounds like the route with the least amount of back-tracking.

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Can anyone comment on whether it's still possible to ford the Verde anywhere near Childs? I knew some folks who did it about a decade ago, but have no current info. From looking at maps, I've identified 2 potential crossings, but read that one of them may be closed. If I can cross the Verde at Childs, we could pick up Fossil Creek Rd and head into Payson from the north.

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From what I understand, you dont want to try to ford in winter or spring because of snow melt and higher water level.

 

You could start at butcher jones to four peaks. Go up and over 4peaks to 188. 188 to old highway 87. Old 87 to Gisela. Cross the 87 at Gisela and go north up through Babydoll Ranch and arrive in Payson from the west down main street.

 

Or, keep going north on Babydoll Ranch trail and it turns east and drops you out at Verde Estates north of Payson. Then from there you can go east across the 87 on Control Rd towards Tonto Village, to 260 back down to Payson.

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From what I understand, you dont want to try to ford in winter or spring because of snow melt and higher water level.

 

You could start at butcher jones to four peaks. Go up and over 4peaks to 188. 188 to old highway 87. Old 87 to Gisela. Cross the 87 at Gisela and go north up through Babydoll Ranch and arrive in Payson from the west down main street.

 

Or, keep going north on Babydoll Ranch trail and it turns east and drops you out at Verde Estates north of Payson. Then from there you can go east across the 87 on Control Rd towards Tonto Village, to 260 back down to Payson.

 

I've been wondering about the water level, and planned on going out this weekend to do some recon. I figured since it's been a little while since we've had much rain and the snow hasn't started melting yet, I might be able to make it. I'm definitely gonna be cautious, as this is my daily driver with no lift or snorkel.

 

I'll take a look at your suggestions, as I'd prefer to avoid crossing any rivers (especially since we'll be alone and in unfamiliar territory). Thanks!

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The old 87 route through Gisela is cool and historic. You'll go over the original bridge and past some native ruins.

 

Youll have to cross the East Verde at Doll Baby Ranch but its nothing compared to the Verde crossing at Childs.

 

Good luck!

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I'm looking at a very messy weather map showing rain/snow mix to the north. That being said, snow is probably melting over the next few days.

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