South Fork Deer Creek

Mesa, Arizona

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This hike features easy access into a seldom-visited section of the Mazatzal Wilderness. The trail starts in Sonoran Desert grassland, and takes you through the chaparral brush and pinyon pine-juniper zone into lush pine-fir forest. Although the entire trail makes for a long day hike, you can hike just a portion of the trail and turn back when ready, or do the trip as an overnight backpack. The South Fork is only a couple of miles shorter than the main fork of Deer Creek, and it heads into equally interesting country. From the trailhead, start on the Deer Creek Trail (Forest Trail 45), hike past the Gold Ridge Trail (Forest Trail 47) at 0.1 mile, then turn left on the South Fork Trail (Forest Trail 46) at 0.3 mile. The trail soon drops into the stream bed. At first, the South Fork is fairly open, but within a mile the canyon deepens.

South Fork Deer Creek Professional Review and Guide

"This hike features easy access into a seldom-visited section of the Mazatzal Wilderness.

The trail starts in Sonoran Desert grassland, and takes you through the chaparral brush and pinyon pine-juniper zone into lush pine-fir forest. Although the entire trail makes for a long day hike, you can hike just a portion of the trail and turn back when ready, or do the trip as an overnight backpack. The South Fork is only a couple of miles shorter than the main fork of Deer Creek, and it heads into equally interesting country. From the trailhead, start on the Deer Creek Trail (Forest Trail 45), hike past the Gold Ridge Trail (Forest Trail 47) at 0.1 mile, then turn left on the South Fork Trail (Forest Trail 46) at 0.3 mile. The trail soon drops into the stream bed. At first, the South Fork is fairly open, but within a mile the canyon deepens."

Activity Type: Backpacking, Hiking
Nearby City: Mesa
Distance: 11.2
Elevation Gain: 2,780 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Difficult
Duration: Day hike or backpack
Season: Best October to April
Trailhead Elevation: 3,200 feet
Top Elevation: 6,100 feet
Local Contacts: Tonto Basin Ranger District, Tonto National Forest
Local Maps: USGS Mazatzal Peak; USDAFS Mazatzal Wilderness, Tonto National Forest map
Driving Directions: Directions to South Fork Deer Creek

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May 2018