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Moody Point Trail - Sierra Ancha Wilderness, Tonto National Forest

Summary: A steep hike on a faint trail to some infrequently visited cliff dwellings then up to the top of Moody Point.
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. The road drops down and begins following Cherry Creek up stream. Shortly after passing a corral and gate (which is sometimes open, sometimes closed), look for the large brown and yellow sign on the left for the Leisure Trailhead. No official parking spot exists for this trailhead, but if you drive a short distance past the trail sign you can pull off the road to the right next to a dry wash.
Road Conditions: High Clearance Vehicle
Navigation: Difficult
Length: 6.5 miles to the ruins and back
14 miles for the entire Moody Point Trail
Date Hiked: April 2005
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm
Required Skills:
Hike Description: From the pull off, walk past the sign for the Leisure Trailhead as it descends a short distance to a sign for the Moody Point Trail #140. The sign indicates the following distances: Deep Creek Trail #128 - 4 miles, Rim Trail #139 - 7 miles, Workman Creek Rd #487 - 9 miles. Continue down the trail to where it crosses Cherry Creek. Look for cairns to the left in this area where the trail disappears. The route crosses the creek and goes through a fence on opposite bank. Turn right after the fence as the trail parallels the stream for a short distance before bending left to climb steeply up into the hills. The route becomes easier to follow at this point and is marked by cairns at irregular intervals. The trail climbs up to a grassy saddle and fades for a short distance. Stay to the left at this point and scan the hillside for where the path continues the steep climb up the hill, becoming more defined as it does so. Soon you'll reach a Sierra Ancha Wilderness Boundary sign (or 1/2 a sign anyway), followed by some more climbing. Eventually the trail bends left and levels out somewhat as it traverses the hillside below a cliff band. Look up to the right to spot some ruins at the base of the cliffs. If you would like to visit the ruins, hike until you reach a grassy saddle below the dwellings to a point just before the trail drops down into a wash. From this spot it is possible to route find up the steep, rocky slope to the base of the cliff band. Use care on this section since the hill is quite steep with loose rocks that make footing precarious. The cliff dwellings consist of about 1/2 dozen rooms, some of which are fairly well preserved. It goes without saying, but please show respect by not disturbing the area, climbing on the walls or removing anything you find. You can use this spot as a turn around point, however, we will continue further along the Moody Point Trail. Once back on the path, the route descends to cross a drainage, then continues a steep climb, eventually leveling out somewhat at the top of the mesa. The trail bends right at this point and becomes rather obscure as it heads straight up the ridge to reach the signed junction with the left branching Deep Creek Trail (4 miles). The sign indicates that to the left are the Coon Spring Trail #128 - 5 miles, Bull Canyon Rd. #203A - 5 miles. Continue straight on the Moody Point Trail (Rim Trail - 3 miles, Workman Creek Rd. - 5 miles) and climb the rest of the way up the hill to a ridge with good views overlooking Cherry Creek far below on the right. Follow the ridge along a mostly non-existent path, keeping an eye out for cairns which mark the way. The 'trail' (using the term very loosely) crosses the ridge, then bends left and begins climbing steeply up the slope following a deep un-named drainage (just south of Devils Chasm) which will be on your right. The path in this section is very difficult to follow, basically you have to route find from cairn to cairn trying to find the next one to indicate you're on the right route. An old fire in the area appears to have damaged many of the trees and obliterated much of the path. It's a steep climb of about 1000 ft to the summit of Moody Point where the path finally levels out. You'll have to route find through several wide sections of scrub to pick up occasional sections of decent trail, which becomes more defined as you enter a more forested section of pines. The upper reaches of Devil's Chasm come into view on the right as you continue through the forest to the 'T' junction with the Rim Trail #139 (7 miles). The sign indicates that to the right are the Murphy Ranch Trail #141 - 1.5 miles, Edwards Spring - 3 miles, the left are Moody Trailhead - 1 mile, Carr Trailhead - 4 miles. You can continue on in either direction, or return the way  you came (14 miles).
Rating (1-5 stars): To the ruins and back.
The entire hike.
The cliff dwellings are probably the best reason to do this hike, though those looking for an aggressive workout in a remote setting might want to complete the entire trail. The author completed the Moody Point Trail at a fast pace in 6.5 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.
No Pictures were taken on this hike.