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Parker Creek Trail - Sierra Ancha Wilderness, Tonto National Forest

Summary: A nice, if somewhat steep (2000 ft elevation gain), out and back hike through the forest on a well maintained trail (thanks BSA Troop 954 - Mesa, AZ!) in the Sierra Ancha Wilderness. The last mile of this 4 mile path is through an area heavily damaged by fire and is not terribly scenic.
Directions: From Phoenix drive east on Highway 60 almost to Globe. Turn left (north) on Highway 188 (also listed as 88 on maps) and drive 14.4 miles to Highway 288. Turn right on 288 which is paved at first and after a short distance crosses the Salt River on a single lane bridge. After 12.2 miles you will come to an intersection with left branching A Cross Road. Continue straight on Highway 288 for approximately 7 more miles just past the DOT road maintenance yard to a brown Forest Service Sign which points to the right for trail #160. Turn right for the trailhead and parking area.
Road Conditions: Passenger Car
Navigation: Easy
Length: 8 miles
Date Hiked: May 2004
Weather Conditions: Warm and sunny
Required Skills: None
Hike Description: From the parking area (0 miles, 5000 feet) walk to the trail sign for Parker Creek Trail #160 & signs for Coon Creek Trail #254 & Rim Trail #139, 3 miles, Workman Creek Road #487, 4 miles. There is also a warning sign indicating that the 10,000 acre Coon Creek fire has created severe flash flood conditions & that hikers should also beware of falling trees and branches. Begin walking on the well maintained trail as it begins climbing through scrub oak forest towards the south fork of Parker Creek. The path enters a shaded oak forest as it reaches the drainage (watch for poison ivy) and continues climbing, soon passing a gauge station. As you continue to climb, you'll enter a pine woodland as the path completes several wide switchbacks which brings it well up onto the hillside above the creek. Still more climbing and the pine trees give way to scrub and not long afterwards the trail reaches the top of the hill at a small memorial for an elderly man who disappeared hiking in the area in 2002. The path soon begins descending along the side of a hill marked as Carr Peak on the map through a burned area towards the prominent drainage of Coon Creek. After rounding the drainage, the path begins climbing again and soon splits at an unmarked junction. Straight ahead  is the continuation of the Parker Creek Trail which you have been following, while right is the Rim Trail. Crews obviously haven't had a chance to maintain the Rim Trail since the fire, and you'll find that the path soon degrades into piles of fallen logs. So we'll stay straight at the junction continuing along the Parker Creek Trail which continues climbing through a heavily burned area, eventually topping out at Workman Creek Road which is also FR 487 (4 miles, 7000 feet). This isn't much of a destination, but so it goes, return the way you came (8 miles).
Rating (1-5 stars):
The author completed this hike at a fast pace in 3.5 hours, carrying out two 8 pound dumbbells someone had abandoned along the trail (ugh!). Grasshoppers lined the trail, particularly in the fire damaged sections, flying up in a cloud with every step. Unfortunately they do not appear to have the ability to change directions very readily after they launch up from the ground, resulting in grasshoppers occasionally hitting and bouncing off of my torso, arms, head and face.
Books: None
Maps: Tonto National Forest, USFS (not a very good map)
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
View from the trail along
Parker Creek
The heavily fire damaged
Coon Creek drainage.