Six weeks ago I was looking around for hikes to do in cooler climes, and this was one of them. I hiked nearby Glen Oaks – Hill 6276 on June 21, and had planned to do this the next week, but nature cruelly intervened.
A month after the Yarnell Hill Fire, I figured enough time had passed that most of the chaos was over, and I could drive up from Phoenix without getting in anyone’s way. (I refuse to drive up I-17 and through Prescott: Too much traffic.)
Just past the AZ-89 switchback crossover, as you drive into Yarnell, the damage begins. That is where the fire crossed the road. No damage, other than a few acres of burnt brush, on the east side of the road. The west side of the road is a different story.
There’s trailers, maybe a hundred yards from Hwy 89, which were levelled. The center and north end of the town, on both sides of the road were spared. One southbound lane, in front of the community center, is blocked off in favor of a relief distribution point. As you drive north out of town, despite all the recent rain, you can see still the red band of fire retardant that was dropped on the nearby hills.
Glen Oaks Trail #118: There are several jeep trails leading west from the large black gravel pullout on AZ-89. Take the jeep trail that goes past the cattle chute. About 50 yards up the trail you will see the actual “118” trail sign. The entire trail 2.3 miles to Telegraph Springs is jeep trail. In some spots decent track, in many others requiring high clearance 4×4 and some skill. (There are faint tire tracks, indicating it has been driven, but not often.) As far as hiking goes, it is no problem. Dogs and kids could do it. The hike is a steady climb of 400 feet in about 1.1 miles to the Hill 6003 saddle, followed by a 600 foot descent to Telegraph Springs.
Orofino Trail #107: The official trail is only 1.9 miles long, not even worth driving from Prescott to hike, let alone Phoenix — especially considering that at least half of it is right next to the highway. What I recommend doing instead, is hiking Glen Oaks Trail #118 to Telegraph Springs, then east on FR 9402 / FR 71 to White Spar Windmill, then south on Orofino Trail #107 into the wash, for a 6-7 mile one way hike. Or do the opposite, but start from Orofino Windmill.
Neither trail is individually worth driving from Phoenix for, but combined, with FR 9402 as a connector, it is a different story. One way is a shade under seven miles (assuming no exploring).
The highlights are the adit near the north end of the hike, in Glen Oaks; the windmill / corral complex at Telegraph Springs; and negotiating the wash north of Orofino Windmill. You might want to avoid doing the hike in a thunderstorm, as often times you will be the tallest object on the trail. (Other than maybe the Smiley Tree on FR 9402.) I saw several different kinds of animal tracks, including a set of large bobcat / small lion prints on FR 9402.
One thing I found curious was the concrete square just west of the mine shaft. It had a metal covering, with a metal hatch in the covering. It did not merely sit on the ground, but penetrated some way beneath the surface. It was hard to tell how deep, as it was had a good amount of water in the bottom. (The only tank-like object on the whole route which does.) As it is so close to the mine shaft, I was wondering whether it was an actual tank, or perhaps a vertical access to some point within the mine? Wish I had ground penetrating radar.
Lunch was a delicious meatball sub & salad combo at the T-Bird Cafe in Peeples Valley. I should learn the waitress’s name — I think her and the chef own the place — as she is a really nice lady.
GPS File: Glen_Oaks_118_Orofino_107
Distance: 7.04 mi.
AEG: 1,093 ft.
Time: 2h 37m