Bishop Creek Loop
Trailhead: Salt Flat
Length: 10 miles roundtrip
Wilderness Area: Pine Mountain Wilderness
Journal: "The Adventure on Pine Mountain"
Directions to Trailhead:
From Phoenix, drive north on I-17 to the Orme-Dugas exit (approximately 5 miles north of Cordes Junction). Turn right (east) and follow FR 68 approximately 22 miles to the Salt Flat camping area at the end of the road.
NOTE: FR 68 is a rough road and a high clearance vehicle is a really good idea. The road may be impassable in wet weather. It's a long way to any help on this road so come prepared.
From the Salt Flat camping area, the Pine Flat Trail #159 begins at a gate. Feel free to laugh at the sign that warns you of downed trees in the "burend" (sic) area. The trail follows Sycamore Creek and is a quite enjoyable walk. Sycamores, maples and willows line the creek. The first .8 miles is in an old homestead called Nelson Place. At .6 miles is Nelson Spring. It is reliable. There was also water in Sycamore Creek when we hiked it in September of 1999.
After .8 miles you will cross Beehouse Canyon drainage and enter the Pine Mountain Wilderness. 200 feet after you enter the wilderness is the junction with the Beehouse Canyon trail #165. When we went the sign was missing, though. Turn right on Beehouse Canyon Trail.
Beehouse Canyon Trail climbs moderately up and along Beehouse Creek. After a half of a mile the trail emerges from the riparian area and becomes rocky. The climb is quite exposed but the views are good. The vegetation is mainly pinyon and pine. After 2.0 miles the trail descends to the South Prong of Sycamore Creek. This area is very pretty. There are numerous campsites around and there were small pools of water in the creek. The trail continues along the creek to the south for another .7 miles before climbing steeply away from the creek to a ridgeline where it meets the Pine Flat Trail #159 again.
The Pine Flat Trail follows along a ridge line. Although the views were good, the trail was very overgrown with scrub oak and chaparral. It really ripped up our legs. 1.5 miles from the junction with the Beehouse Canyon Trail, was Bishop Spring. It had some camping areas, and it did have some water. .5 miles further is Bishop Creek and the junction with the Verde Rim Trail #161. Stay left for this hike.
Bishop Creek did have several pools of water, but not much in the way of campsites. 3/4 mile from the junction with the Rim Trail is the burned area. It has numerous downed trees, and climbing over them really slowed our pace.
1.25 miles from the Rim Trail junction, is an area called the Cloverleaf. At the Cloverleaf is the junction with Trail #14 that heads for the Verde Rim Trail south of Pine Mountain. Stay left on the Pine Flat Trail and continue another 1/2 mile as the trail descends to the junction with Trail #12. This descent is moderately steep.
Trail #12 also goes to Pine Mountain. For this hike turn left at this junction and continue along Sycamore Creek for 3 miles back to the Salt Flat camping area.
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