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Pueblo Canyon - Sierra Ancha Wilderness, Tonto National Forest

Summary: Pueblo Canyon 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 Salado Indian ruins. Remember, 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 you'll drive down a steep embankment and cross Devils Chasm Creek. Drive another 1.5 miles to a point where the road makes a sharp left turn, park at the small pull off with fire ring on the right (the gps coordinates are UTM 0512429mE, 3744368mN).
Road Conditions: High Clearance Vehicle.
Navigation: Moderate
Length: ~5-6 hours
Date Hiked: November 2003
Weather Conditions: Cool and sunny
Required Skills:
Hike Description: From the pull off, walk across the road and you'll see a new metal interpretive sign which describes the ruins in the area. Follow the somewhat faint path up the hill through the junipers and shortly you will reach an old, rocky ranch road. Turn right on this road and continue up the moderately steep hillside. A bit of climbing will bring you to a point where the road splits (UTM 511609mE, 3744402mN), left heads towards Cold Spring Canyon, straight takes us to Pueblo. Stay straight at the fork. The path becomes more trail-like as it climbs beside an unnamed side drainage before bending right to climb above a prominent cliff band. Above the cliff band, the trail winds its way north, at first through manzanita, then, as you gain altitude, through scrub oak. There are a few false paths in the area, but all the wrong ones fade within 20 feet or so. If you find that the path you are following seems to disappear, just backtrack a short distance and try again. Eventually the trail tops out at a tall cliff band with views across the canyon of the ruins. Continue along the base of the cliff band into Pueblo Canyon. Soon you will reach a high alcove with an old mine tunnel (which only goes back into the mountain about 100ft) and a ruin. Continue into the canyon to the headwall which features a sprinkling waterfall (at least during the wetter parts of the year) and around the other side to the south facing cliff face. Along this wall you'll find a series of well preserved ruins and walls. When ready, return the way you came.
Rating (1-5 stars):
The author and several friends completed this hike in 5.5 hours with about an hour spent photographing the ruins.
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 up to
Pueblo Canyon
The ruin near the old mine.
Wall and doorway. More Salado ruins.