February 2001 was going to be a busy month for us. John was
scheduled to train with his 8-way team on February 4; then, on February 10-11,
he would be helping his father re-roof their house. The Valentine's Money Meet
would be taking place the weekend after that, and finally, on February 24, my
friend Charlene would be getting married to Mike Magee. With all that was
going on, it was going to be hard for us to find time to hike, so we decided
that we needed to use every available day to do a day hike together.
February 3 was one of our free days to go hiking. We had already narrowed our
choices down to two trails: Reavis Canyon Trail #580, or Picket Post Mountain.
We had been planning to hike one of these two trails on January 21 but had a
change of plans when John's parents asked if they could join us on our hike.
Since we didn't have the room in the van to take both of them to either
destination, we chose to hike the Lost Dog Wash Trail instead and save these
trails for another day.
John left the choice up to me, so I chose to do the Reavis Canyon Trail #580,
because it sounded like it would be the prettier of the two hikes. John agreed
that it was a good choice, because he wanted for us to do an all-day hike and
not just a short day-hike. The Reavis Canyon Trail was long enough that we
could hike in until noon without running out of trail; then we could turn
around and hike back. Picket Post Mountain was only three miles long; if we
started hiking at 9:00, we would be done too early.
So on Saturday morning, we loaded our hiking equipment into the van and
prepared ourselves for a long trek into Reavis Canyon. Our goal was to leave
the house by 7:00 a.m., and believe it or not, we were ready to go at 6:50
a.m.! After two stops - one to get breakfast, the other to buy sandwiches for
the hike - we began our journey to the Reavis Canyon Trailhead.
The drive there would take us about two hours. To get there, we took the Loop
101 South from Cactus to the US 60 East. En route, we had to stop at a gas
station to check the radiator, because the van was running hot. John
discovered that the radiator was low on water and that we were also a quart
low on oil, so he filled both before getting us back on the road. Once we were
driving again, we took US 60 east towards Superior, until we reached the Boyce
Thompson Arboretum. Just before the arboretum signage, we took a left on
Hermit Station Road, and then an immediate right on FR 8 (Happy Camp Road).
From there, the last five miles of the trip was on dirt road, but as we had
never been on this road before, we were not sure what to expect. FR 8 was
marked as a light duty road, but FR 650 was supposed to be a 4WD-drive road.
In reality, though, neither road was in bad condition, although I wouldn't
have taken the Oldsmobile there. There were a few sections that were rutted
with tire tracks, and there were also creek crossings, but in all, the road
was in much better condition that we had anticipated. We did, however, park
the van a mile from the trailhead, because we didn't know what the last mile
of the road was going to be like. We had read that the last quarter-mile of
the road was in the creek bottom and that we would absolutely have to have a
4WD vehicle to get through it, so we decided not to take the chance.
We parked the van at 9:00 a.m., and at 9:15, once we were ready to go we began
to walk the road. Of course, we discovered that we could have driven the van
closer to the trailhead after all, because the road wasn't as bad as we
thought it would be. Between the area where we parked the van and the corral
that was a quarter of a mile from the trailhead, the road was in good
Once we reached the corral, we encountered a group of horseback riders
preparing for their day's adventure. They stopped us to ask us a question
about the area; we told them that this was the first time that we had been
there, but that we had a topo and a GPS. One of the men then whipped out his
own GPS, and suddenly, both he and John began talking about GPS's and topo
maps! After a few minutes, though, we wished them a nice day then continued on
Between the corral and the trailhead, the road conditions were much worse, and
we would not have been able to continue driving in the van. There were several
creek crossings and steep hills that would have been difficult, but not
impossible, for the van. But then the road entered the creek bed and stayed
there - and Reavis Creek was flowing with run-off from the snow that had
fallen just weeks earlier in the Superstitions. We would have gotten stuck for
We finally reached the trailhead at 10:00 a.m., when we found the signage
proving that we were on the right trail - however, the trail number on the
sign was different than that in our Trail Bible! Was it #509 or #580? I guess
it didn't matter, as long as we were in the right place.
The Reavis Canyon Trail, which is a 7.5-mile long segment of the Arizona
Trail, began at the end of the 4WD road, at the "Road Closed" sign, just feet
from where FR 650 forked off to the right and continued up the mountain. We
almost missed it completely, though, because we had decided to stay in the
creek instead of on the road! After some boulder hopping, and after getting
our boots a little wet, we decided to leave the creek...and that was when we
found the trailhead.
From the trailhead, the trail continued for a while on the old jeep road,
where it was just wide enough for the two of us to hike side by side, holding
hands. That also gave John a chance to play with Mary, who was riding quite
comfortably on my back in her backpack carrier. As we hiked, the three of us
admired the scenery, which was alive with color. Many of the wildflowers had
begun to bloom amidst the lush green grass beneath the mesquite and palo verde
trees. On the hillsides, we could see bright splotches of yellow, where the
flowers were in full bloom, and all along the trail, there were beautiful
orange and yellow blossoms to brighten our trip.
About a quarter of a mile from the trailhead, we came to a very large stone
corral, through which the trail passed. It was set on a flat, grassy area that
we determined would have made a perfect base camp for a backpacking trip -
there was even a fire ring established there! The corral itself was
constructed of hundreds and hundreds of stones stacked about two to three feet
high; except for the two entryways, the stones completely encircled the grassy
area. As we passed through it, John couldn't help but remark that it must have
taken quite a bit of man-power to build that corral.
After the stone corral, we came to the point where Reavis Canyon and Whitford
Canyon converged - and through each canyon, the creeks were gushing with
crisp, clean water. We stayed on the trail and entered Reavis Canyon, which
was our destination. For another half of a mile, the jeep road continued high
above the creek; then, after one very steep climb, we finally descended
towards Reavis Creek.
The next part of the trail took us along the creek - and it was here that we
really began to get our feet wet. There were several creek crossings that were
just deep enough to get our boots wet; some of these crossings were ankle
deep. At each crossing, and at several points along the trail, there were
cairns to guide us - these were especially helpful at the crossings, because
there were times when it was difficult to see which way the trail went.
At times, the trail took us away from the creek and into a grove of mesquite
trees; underneath the trees were thick patches of cool, green grass, which
made for a nice, refreshing spot to take a break. We sat down around 11:00
a.m. to rest our feet and feed Mary, who had begun to fuss because it had been
hours since her last feeding. We rested there for about fifteen minutes; then,
when we were sure that Mary was full, we continued on our way.
A bit further upstream, we came to one of the highlights of the trip: a small
waterfall, which was quite the treat to find, especially in the desert! We
stopped there to take yet another break to feed Mary, who decided that she
wasn't full after all.
Once we got underway again, we hiked for another half an hour before we
decided to stop and have lunch. At 12:15 p.m., John found a nice shaded area
in a grassy drainage where we could eat our sandwiches and rest for a while -
at that point, I wasn't feeling so good, so I needed the rest! We also fed
Mary a jar of strained pears, which she completely enjoyed (at long last, she
was finally full!).
We lingered there for about forty-five minutes, during which time we started
to get a little cold. It had been an incredibly warm day - I know it got above
seventy degrees - so John and I were sweating. After sitting in the shade for
a while, we had to put our jackets back on!
Just before one o'clock that afternoon - after Mary had a clean diaper and a
belly full of pears and formula - we started our return hike. This time, we
were hiking downstream, which always tends to be a little faster than upstream
hiking, so we made incredible time. In fact, we managed to reach the stone
corral at 2:00 p.m., just over an hour after leaving our lunch site. We
stopped there to take another break and enjoy the warm sun. We also pulled
Mary out of the backpack carrier so that she could play in the grass. We set
her down on her tummy, and she was instantly fascinated by the blades of grass
all around her. Then, John put her down next to him so that she could practice
sitting, and Mary found a rock on the ground next to her. She immediately
picked it up, and guess where it went: directly into her mouth! (Did I mention
that she is teething?) With a firm grasp on it, she began gumming it until she
lost interest and let it fall back to the ground.
Once we were ready, we continued on. It only took us another fifteen minutes
or so to reach the trailhead, and after that it would only be a half an hour
back to the van.
During our entire hike, we saw only two pairs of hikers, excluding the
horseback riders we had seen along the road at the beginning of the day. We
had not expected to see a lot of people, and we were not disappointed.
Then...we finished the trail...
We were amazed to see how popular the area was! Although the trail itself was
not that popular, the road that lead there certainly was. As we stepped off of
the trail and onto the road, we saw a caravan of Jeeps driving up FR 650.
Then, after we passed through the creek bed, we came across a middle-aged
couple having a picnic next to their SUV. A big further down the road, we
could hear very loud Mexican music, and as we came to the corral, we
discovered that there was a whole party going on! There were five or six
trucks parked there, and there must have been fifteen or twenty people in the
group. Halfway between the corral and the van, we were passed by
motorcyclists, ATV's, and more trucks. I guess everyone was out trying to
enjoy the beautiful Arizona winter weather.
We reached the van around 3:00 p.m.; after loading up our gear, we started
back towards civilization. En route, we stopped at the Texaco Station at
Florence Junction to buy sodas and ice cream cones to enjoy on the way back.
(And little Mary took a nap.) That evening, we cooked a nice dinner and
relaxed, happy that we had had a nice day hike.