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Upper Horrell Trailhead Loop - Tonto National Forest

Summary: A pretty good loop hike in the less visited eastern Superstitions using the Campaign Trail, Reavis Gap Trail, Reavis Ranch Trail, Fire Line Trail & Pinto Peak Trail.
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 for 20.4 miles. Immediately after you see a sign pointing right for School House Recreation Area between mileposts 235 - 236, there will be a brown sign pointing left for the J-P Road. Turn left on the well graded, dirt J-P Road which is also Forest Road (FR) #449. There is a large sign a short distance in for Tule Trailhead (2 miles), Cross P Ranch (2.5 miles), Upper Horrell Place & Reavis Gap Trail (8 miles). After 2 miles you'll come to a fork, right will take you to the Tule Trailhead, however we turn left. The road drops down then reaches the Cross P Ranch, stay to the left to go around the ranch & you'll see a sign for FR 489A and a hand painted sign which reads '4x4 vehicles only'. After passing the ranch you will pass a few branching use roads - stay on the main track. FR #489A is easy driving for the majority of it's length with the exception of one rough hill climb and descent. Given dry weather I think any high clearance vehicle should have no trouble with this drive. After 6 miles you'll reach a brown sign for Trailhead Parking, Campaign Trail #256 1/8 mile to the right, Private land 1/4 mile to the right (Reavis Mountain School Sanctuary). Park here.
Road Conditions: High Clearance Vehicle 
Route Finding Difficulty: Moderate: most of the route is very easy to follow, but there are a couple spots that are confusing
Length: 15 miles
Date Hiked: December 2001 
Weather Conditions: Nice, highs in the 50's but some snow is spots
Required Skills:
Hike Description: From the trailhead parking area walk back to the brown sign and follow the arrow up the road for 5 minutes past a coral and fences (evidence of past ranching activities can be seen throughout this hike) to a brown hiker sign and cemented cairn on the right indicating the start of trail #256 (0 miles). Shortly you'll cross a stream and pass a Superstition Wilderness, Tonto National Forest boundary sign. The trail is flat and distinct as it travels up the right hand side of a wide drainage. You'll see some buildings in drainage bottom belonging to the Reavis Mountain School. The path drops down and crosses the stream bed and passes through an open area shaded by cotton wood trees and faded sign tacked to a tree labeling this area as Ho'o Park. The trail continues up stream crossing it a couple times before arriving at a signed junction (0.6 miles). Campaign Trail #256 continues straight, Reavis Gap Trail #117 heads right. You can hike this loop either way, but we'll do it counterclockwise. Turn right onto the Reavis Gap Trail. The trail climbs a low ridge then bends left and winds its way through the chaparral. It then drops back down, crosses the stream once more then begins climbing in earnest up a grassy hillside towards Reavis Gap. After passing through a fence (close the gate after you), the trail drops down a short distance to a signed junction with the right branching Two Bar Ridge Trail #119 (also the AZ Trail), continue straight on the Reavis Trail (2.8 miles). The rocky trail descends moderately for a while following a large escarpment which is off to your right until it drops down to the floor of a drainage to a nice campsite. It crosses the streambed (some pools of water when the author was here) heads towards the escarpment, then bends left and begins climbing moderately towards a gap. Vegetation in this area consists mostly of grasses, juniper, scrub and emory oak, manzanita, as well as sotol, agave and prickly pear. After passing through the gap, the trail drops down and crosses a stream bed. There are some other use trails in this area, to stay on the correct path hike directly across the stream and walk straight across the pasture on the other side, walking parallel to the fence line on your right. Just on the other side of the pasture you will come to a signed 'T' junction with the Reavis Ranch Trial #109 which heads left and right (6.1 miles). Turn left and follow the path that runs along the right edge of the pasture (ignore any use trails that lead back out into the field). The trail is completely flat as it follows the pasture passing a bunch of old ranch equipment, walls and fences. After heading through the field you will cross a stream bed and shortly thereafter reach a signed junction with the Fire Line Trail #118 which continues straight, while the Reavis Gap Trail heads to the right (6.9 miles). Go straight on the Fire Line Trail which is rather wide and rocky as it climbs a manzanita covered slope. After a while it drops down a short distance, levels out, then begins climbing again up a shady wash. At the top of the climb the trail heads through a wide pass before topping out at a gap with some views of an unnamed mountain in the distance on the right and the valley and drainage of Campaign Creek below you. The trail then descends somewhat more steeply to the creek bed below. After crossing the streambed you'll arrive at a 'T' junction with the Pinto Peak Trail #213 (10.3 miles). There is a sign for the Fire Line Trail pointing back from where you came, but the other trail sign appears to be missing. Turn left onto the Pinto Peak Trail which basically follows the Campaign Creek stream bed, sometimes on one side or the other, sometimes right down the creek bed itself. This gently sloping trail is a little confusing at points, but if you stay near or in the creek bed you can't get lost. It also helps to keep your eyes open for cairns, as there are a number of them along this route. After a while the trail climbs the left hand side of the wash and travels above the stream bed a distance before dropping back down again. Shortly thereafter you'll see a large cairn at the mouth of a wash that enters Campaign Creek from the right, ignore this cairn and stay in the main stream (the Beartooth Map referenced below indicates that the Pinto Peak Trail branches off to the right at some point along this route, while the Campaign Trail leads the rest of the way back to the Horrell Trailhead, I did not see this junction, perhaps this is the purpose of the large cairn). After passing the large cairn you'll also pass a fence line off to your right. Continue the rest of the way down Campaign Creek until you reach the signed intersection with the Reavis Gap Trail you passed earlier (14.4). Turn right and retrace your steps the remaining 0.6 miles back to the trailhead (15.0 miles). 
Rating (1-5 stars):
While the scenery on this hike is not all that remarkable, it's a nice enough stroll and one that you are unlikely to see many people. The author completed this hike solo in 6 hours at a moderately brisk pace. There was quite a bit of snow (4-6" in spots) on the Fire Line and upper sections of the Campaign Trails. Saw some large bear tracks along the way and a javalina near the trailhead at the end of the walk. On the drive out I parked in Campaign Creek at a spot below where it looked like the canyon formed some good narrows. I bushwacked up stream a ways and found one short & pretty section then returned. 
Maps: Beartooth Maps - Superstition Wilderness Topographic Map
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
View of the escarpment along
the Reavis Gap Trail.
Detour up Campaign
Creek on the way to
the trailhead.