|Name: Coon Creek Ruins (FR 1076)||Author's Rating:|
|Author: Matt Marine||Avg. User Rating: Not rated yet|
|Type: 4WD||Difficulty: (Moderate 4WD)|
|Time: 2 - 4 hours (includes time exploring ruins, but not driving along Cherry Creek Rd)||Region: Central Arizona|
|Length: 8 miles (roundtrip)||Elevation gain/loss/change: ~ +1000 ft / -1000 ft / 0 ft (roundtrip)|
|Type: Out and back||Avg Elevation: 3000 ft|
|Best time to go: fall, spring, winter||Fees: NA|
|Fitness rating: Low||Educational Merit: Medium|
|Danger/fear rating: Low||Scenic Beauty: Medium|
|Hours of Operation: NA||Last updated: November, 2014|
|Short Description: An easy 4WD trail to some lesser known Indian ruins along Coon Creek|
|Geocaches: A few geocaches in the area: Look Behind You; Ragen Canyon Cache; Devils Chasm|
|References / Contact Information: Coon Creek Hike Arizona; Coon Creek Ruins Video; Arizona Hiking|
|Points of interest: Coon Creek Indian Ruins; Cherry Creek|
|Special Considerations: Please be respectful of the ruins
|How to get there: Head north out of Globe on Hwy 188. Turn north on Hwy 288 and drive for almost 7 miles until you reach Cherry Creek Road. Drive on Cherry Creek Road for about 7.7 miles until your reach Waypoint 001. Click here for directions.|
This trail begins along Cherry Creek Road and leads to some very nice, but relatively unknown Indian ruins. The ruins are very easy to get to (for cliff dwelling type ruins) if you have have a 4WD vehicle.
The most difficult part of the trail is getting on it from Cherry Creek Road. The graded ditch makes this transition difficult for long-wheel based vehicles or those with low ground clearance.
The trail winds its way to along the foothills west of Coon Creek before dropping down into the creek itself. You can drive to within a few hundred yards of the ruins. The ruins are easy to hike to from the parking spot, without the thousand foot drop-offs typical in most of the other ruins in the Cherry Creek area. These ruins are just as impressive as some of the others around, but without the extreme hike and dangers involved. Not to be missed!
The Coon Creek ruins are located near the Sierra Ancha Wilderness. Sierra Ancha means "Broad Range" in Spanish. The area has a great deal of Indian ruins, many of which are difficult to find and access.
The Coon Creek ruins are an exception to the above rule. They are relatively easy to find and get to. Unlike many of the other ruins along Cherry Creek, they are not thousands of feet above a steep canyon floor. If you have a Jeep and can drive to the parking area near the ruins, your adventure will not be filled with hours of treacherous and difficult hiking.
Some general information on the area from the Ruins of the Ancient Indian Ruins in Arizona website:
"The ruins of the Sierra Anchas present somewhat of a mystery to archeologists. From 500 to 950 AD the region stood at the boundary between three distinct traditions: the Mogollon to the east, the Hohokam to the west, and the Sinagua to the north. Then about 950 AD a new culture—the Salado—appeared, occupying a region almost 100 miles across with the Sierra Anchas near its center. Tree ring dating of timbers used in construction indicates that the Anchan ruins were built and occupied over a relatively short seventy year period, from 1280 to 1350, which would make them Salado in origin. However, certain elements of the architecture, tools and pottery show a strong Mogollon influence as well. Adding to the mystery is the fact that the ruins are constructed in extremely inaccessible locations, raising the possibility that defense against invasion was a strong motivation. It has been suggested that this may have been the remnants of an older or hybrid community that managed to cling to its traditions for some time after the surrounding area was occupied by the Salado. At the present time, archeologists simply refer to the inhabitants as the "Anchan Tradition.""
I don't have a lot of information on the Cook Creek ruins themselves, but from one of the videos in the above references, it appears that these ruins were completed due to the mining of the colorful minerals in the area. The ruins are in the excavated portion under the cliff. There are two "honeybee" (my word) mines nearby with very colorful rock striations. The gentleman in the video said the Indians may have used these colors mixed with egg whites for paint. Very interesting. I would recommend watching the video before going. We didn't. I wished we had.
From Cherry Creek Road (FR203) at Waypoint 001, head north onto FR38. This is a little unusual for a couple of reasons. The first is the road numbering. Usually, the more digits in the road, the more difficult the road is. Typically, two digits roads are well-graded and semi-maintained, while three digit roads are not. The opposite happens here. You leave a well-graded three digit road, for an unmaintained two digit road. Just goes to show, you can't count any consistency when out exploring:-).
The second unusual thing is that the beginning of the trail can be very hard to spot. We missed it twice even though we had GPS coordinates. Cherry Creek Road had been graded recently and the grader had made a deep furrow on the north side of the road. No vehicles had crossed the berm since it was graded. The trail is overgrown here and it looks more like an ATV trail than a Jeep road. Don't worry, it widens out. Actually, there are two entrances to the trail, each about 100 feet or so apart. Either one will take you to the main trail.
Option: You can also take another road which is about 1/2 a mile further up Cherry Creek Road at Waypoint 009 (see BLUE trail on map). This road will get you to FR1076 also. We did not take this road during our trip, but could see most of it as it parallels FR38. It's about the same distance and if you want some variety, you may want to take it on the way out. I don't know what condition the road is in.
Within the first 1/4 mile or so, you will pass under the power line and head up a short rocky hill. Continue along the trail until you reach the gate after about 1.25 miles at Waypoint 002.
After 1.75 miles from the start, you will turn right at the Y-intersection to go onto FR1076 at Waypoint 003. Continue onward. After another 0.25 miles, keep straight past the road on your right at Waypoint 004 which will take you back to Cherry Creek Road (see option above).
Keep heading north on FR1076. After about 3 miles from the start, you will head up a steep hill. The top of the hill looks like it could become difficult after another good rain or two. There are some boulders that you need to squeeze between. It was easy when we went, but that can change rapidly.
After 3.5 miles, you will come to an obvious parking area at Waypoint 005. This is where we parked. You could drive the 100 feet down the road on your right to get closer to the wash, but I don't think it's worth it.
Note: Hiking distances are approximate. It can depend on how much exploring you do in the area, if you take a more direct course, etc.
To get to the ruins, walk down the road on your right and get into the rocky wash. The trail has some bushwhacking involved, but not a great deal. Make note of where you entered the wash from, this can be a little difficult to find on your way out.
Take a right in the wash and head downstream. After about 1/4 of a mile, you will see a faint trail head up to the rocks on your right (at about Waypoint 006). This leads to the "honeybee" holes where the Indians used to mine the minerals for their color.
The first, and most colorful, is just off the trail and up a small hill. The second is a little further to the right and up along the same trail (maybe 50 feet or so). When you're done exploring these ancient mines, head back down to the wash and continue walking downstream.
After less than a 1/4 mile, you will come to the Coon Creek Indian ruins on your right. The actual ruins are difficult (or impossible) to see from the wash, but if you've been to ruins before, the topography makes sense. There are a few ways to get to the ruins. The easiest way is to actually go past them by about 100 yards, then take the trail that hugs the cliff on the right at Waypoint 007. The ruins are at Waypoint 008. They are only about 30-50 feet higher than the wash, so it's not a big climb, though it can be a little steep.
Once you're at the ruins, take your time to enjoy them, but please leave them in as good or better shape than you found them. You'll find a few different homes, some with the roof/floor partially intact. I thought they were very cool. After you're done, head back the way you came in. Don't miss your exit out of the wash to the parking area!