Hell's Gate Trail #37
Trailhead: Hell's Gate Ridge
Length: 13 miles roundtrip
Wilderness Area: Hell's Gate Wilderness
Journal: "The Gates of Hell"
Directions to Trailhead:
From Payson drive east on AZ SR 260 for 11 miles to Little Green Valley. Turn south on FR 405A and drive 1/2 mile south to trailhead. Trailhead is marked and easily accessible by car.
This trail follows a series of old jeep roads and trails to the wilderness boundary.
From the trailhead, pass through the gate and follow the old road . The road climbs steeply over a ridge and then follows a fence line. Stay on the road, do not go through any of the gates on the fence. After 1 mile the road forks -- take the left one and follow along the creek.
In April of 1999 the snow melt was really strong and there was water everywhere. The trail crosses the creek about 7 times. After 2 miles the trail comes to a corral. From the corral the trail turns right and climbs a very steep hill to the ridge line. There is a fork on top of the ridge; take the left one and continue on the trail as it descends and climbs several small mountains to the top of Hellsgate Ridge, where it enters the wilderness (4 miles). The trail in this section is sometimes a trail and sometimes and old jeep road. The two criss-cross each other several times. So if you miss the trail the road will get you to the same place but it was usually steeper.
From the wilderness boundary the trail descends for the next 2.5 miles. After 1.5 miles you will come to a large stock tank.
The last 1/2 mile is extremely steep. Be very careful in this area as it is very slippery and you are a long way from help.
Depending on the water flow you may or may not be able to cross Tonto and Haigler creeks.
The return trip is arduous due to the steep grade and long uphill climb. Return the way you came.
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