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Devils Chasm - Sierra Ancha Wilderness, Tonto National Forest

Summary: Devils Chasm is located in the Cherry Creek area of the Sierra Ancha Wilderness. The hike involves a steep climb up a remote canyon to well preserved (and well known) Salado Indian ruins. Normally I would not publicize the location of Indian ruins, but this hike has been published elsewhere and are frequently visited (in fact the author ran into another group of 8 as he was coming down the canyon, and this was on a non-holiday weekday). Not to sound like a broken record but, ruins are fragile and irreplaceable, please leave the area as you found it.
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 soon crosses the Salt River on a single lane bridge. After 6.7 miles, turn right onto the well graded, dirt Cherry Creek Road (which is also Forest Road 203). After 8.8 miles at the sign for Coon Creek FR #203 bends right and crosses the creek (straight will take you onto private ranch property). At the 13.3 mile point you reach a sign for the left branching Bull Canyon Road (FR #203A), stay straight on FR #203. After passing the Ellison Ranch, the road becomes considerably rougher and rockier and soon you'll reach a Forest Service sign which reads:
"Sierra Ancha Cliff Dwellings: Prehistoric cliff dwellings are located in several of the rugged canyons within and near the Sierra Ancha Wilderness. They were built between 1280 and 1350 AD by indians known presently as the 'Salado'. Why they chose to utilize this challenging environmental zone is not yet fully understood. Cliff dwellings are fragile and irreplaceable. Please do not climb on the walls, or roofs or cause any other form of injury or disturbance. Violators are subject to arrest, fines and or imprisonment."
At the 22 mile point on the Cherry Creek Road park on the left at a small pull out under some oak trees (the gps coordinates are UTM 512959mE, 3742604mN).
Road Conditions: High Clearance Vehicle
Navigation: Moderate
Length: ~4 hours
Date Hiked: November 2003
Weather Conditions: Cool and overcast
Required Skills:
Hike Description: From the car park, follow the wide path as it begins climbing up into the canyon. The trail soon narrows as it winds its way on the left side of the Devils Chasm drainage (flowing when the author was here). As you continue up canyon the path becomes somewhat more faint and braided (stay on the most prominent route). About and hour into the hike, the path will enter a pretty section at a slickrock bowl. Just above this point a large choke stone blocks your path. You can get around this obstacle by climbing up on the right side (not very difficult, but be careful since the rock is smooth). Above are a few more small climbs, but they are not hard. As you continue up canyon, look for paths on one side of the drainage or the other which will enable you to bypass several obstacles in the stream bed itself. Higher in the drainage, look for a prominent trail that climbs out of the stream bed on the right hand side (facing up canyon). The eroded path climbs straight up the steep dirt hillside which does not have much in the way of good foot holds. As you climb you will catch site of the ruins located in a shallow alcove above you. Climb up until you are directly beneath the structure, then work your way left, pushing through some thick undergrowth until you can climb a series of ledges up to the ruins itself. The ruins are some of the better preserved that the author has seen with several rooms and evidence that it once had several stories. When ready, return the way you came.
Rating (1-5 stars):
The author and his wife completed this hike in 3.5 hours.
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.
Climbing into the canyon. Slickrock bowl. Salado ruins.
One of rooms. The south wall. Broken matate.