Feb 15, 2009

Rogers Canyon

I don’t get out and hike much, prolly because I don’t find it all that entertaining. But I’ve come across a few people who’ve mentioned their trip to the Salado Indian Cliff Dwellings in the Superstition Mountains. I knew this would be good time of the year to hit up the trail, and I gotta say it was an exceptional day. Lotsa water was flowing down the creek, and even some patches of snow.

The first thing I heard about this trail is the challenge the drive up is. The 15 or so miles of unpaved FS road almost requires a high clearance 4X4, but I managed in my Honda Element. Stream crossing after stream crossing I learned that I certainly wouldn’t go anywhere near this trail if I knew there were recent big rains, or if was forecasted to rain. It is that serious. I could certainly see being stranded out there if a gully washer came thru. I was so concerned about the road, I actually brought my mountain bike along just incase my car wasn’t up to the final approach to the parking lot. So let’s see her, I split from house in Ahwatukee at 5:30 and three hours later I finally made to the trail head. It wasn’t a pile of miles, just really, really slow miles.

How to get there:

From Phoenix - Heading East on U.S. 60 take a left on Queen Valley Road (About 2.5 miles past Florence Junction). Turn left and drive another two miles to Hewitt Station Road (Forest Road 357). Turn right and follow FR 357 3.5 miles to FR 172. Turn left on FR 172 and go about 15 miles to FR 172A. Follow this route another three miles to Rogers Trough trailhead.
Here’s a google map link: Rogers Trough

The Trail Route:
This trail actually started off at the high point at around 4,300 vf and followed the creek down about 1,000 feet to Rogers Canyon, where the cliff dwelling are located. I suppose a loop could be composed, but I just wanted to do the down and back. The route I did was down Reavis trail, and then about mile and half down, intersected with Rogers Canyon Trail. The trail is pretty intuitive, as it follows the creek down. In fact it has numerous creek crossings, and like I mentioned it was flowing, and as I got lower the tributaries started adding up. Rock cairns mark the crossings, but you still haveta keep your eyes peeled for the route. As for the dwelling, I kept looking for them, and eventually I noticed them while filming a shot of a waterfall. I wasn’t convinced these were the main dwellings, because I didn’t see the official sign when I went by, so I continued on. I actually went way past them. I ended going past the Frog Tank Trail junction about a half mile down and continued on the Rogers Canyon Trail for about another mile. I finally caught up to with some overnight hikers, and they filled me in that what I was looking at earlier were in fact the dwellings. I doubled back, and finally saw the FS site sign, way up on the hill; on the east side of the creek.

Speaking of the other side of creek, I musta crossed the it what seemed like two dozen times. And on my way out, on one of the last crossings, I actually step on a rock and it shifted on me, and I ended up rolling my ankle. No big injury, just kinda smarted.

What a beautiful set of hills and canyons.

Here's a vid of the day:

A high res Quicktime version can be found here: Rogers Canyon / Cliff Dwellings

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