|Name: Ridgeline Loop FR2359||Author's Rating:|
|Author: Matt Marine||Avg. User Rating: (based on one vote)|
|Type: 4WD||Difficulty: (moderate) - possible increase in difficulty - see comments below|
|Time: 3 - 4 hours||Region: Central Arizona|
|Length: 7.5 miles (one way)||Elevation gain/loss/change: +1809 / -1967 ft / -158 ft (one way)|
|Type: Through trail||Avg Elevation: 3200 ft|
|Best time to go: fall, spring, winter||Fees: NA|
|Fitness rating: Low||Educational Merit: Low|
|Danger/fear rating: Low||Scenic Beauty: High|
|Hours of Operation: NA||Last updated: March, 2009|
|Short Description: A moderately demanding 4WD trail which offers some unique points of interest along the way|
|Geocaches:Tons of cool geocaches around. Here's just a few. Steep 4WD Ridgeline Road; Indian Cave; Jail Perhaps; Mini Grand Canyon; To the Batcave, Robin|
|References / Contact Information: Still looking for some!|
|Points of interest: Mini-canyon, the jail and the Indian cave.|
|Special Considerations: Remote area, not well-traveled.|
|How to get there: The trailhead is located along the Montana Mountain trail (see Montana Mountain trail for directions to the Montana Mountain trailhead). From the north, drive along the Montana Mountain trail for approximately 27 miles until you reach Waypoint R1 on your right (FR2359). From the south, it’s approximately 6 miles to Waypoint R1. Click here for directions.|
April 2015 update: Recent rains may have washed out the steep sections of this trail making them much more difficult than when I went through it (see comments below).
This is a moderate 4WD trail that has some steep, rocky sections along the spine of a ridge near Montana Mountain. There's lots to see on this trip, don't miss it!
This trip is a poster-child for Geocaching. All of the points of interest listed above (the jail, Indian cave and Mini Grand Canyon) are from Geocaches. I (and you) would have driven by all three without knowing they were there. This is the true power of Geocaching (at least the aspect I love) - people with local knowledge sharing this with others!
The Ridgeline Loop trail gets its name due to a large portion traversing the spine of a ridge in the shadows of Montana Mountain. The views along the ridge are spectacular. The small town of Superior and the strange beauty of Picketpost Mountain can be seen a few miles off in the distance. The trail is best driven from north to south (as described) to afford the better views.
The best part of the trail are the sights near the south end. First is what has been called, “The Mini Grand Canyon.” And that’s exactly what it is—a mini-canyon (Waypoint R17). The canyon is a few hundred feet long and maybe fifteen feet deep at its deepest. It makes a narrow, winding passage through the breccia. Take some time to stop and walk through the canyon. It’s awesome!
Less than a mile away and also right along the trail at Barnett Camp is what’s been called “The Jail.” Stop at Waypoint R18 and walk thirty feet to the north to the jail. This small stone structure was built into a ninety-degree rock face. Rumor has it that in the 1990’s photographs show the windows with iron bars and thus was thought to be a jail (though I haven’t been able to verify this—and I haven’t located any pictures of the barred windows).
About a half-mile from the jail is the Indian Cave Ruins. Park near Waypoint R19, walk up the small wash for about 100 feet and look to your right for a hollowed-out cave in the side of the cliff (about fifteen feet up). Walk up to the cave. It’s a small room with a bench cut in the back wall and a “window” on the other end. I don’t believe these are actual Indian ruins, but they look like they could be. Interesting just the same.
The trail has some steep sections with loose rock, which can be a little intimidating to inexperienced drivers. Short wheel-based vehicles are recommended. My ’03 Tacoma hit the back bumper twice during the trip. However, we did go with a novice driver who had a ’94 completely stock Jeep Cherokee. Both the driver and the Jeep did very well (he did hit his differentials a few times though). Obviously, you need to take a portion of the Montana Mountain trail to get to this trail. Make sure to visit some of the other attractions on the Montana Mountain trail too!
At Waypoint R1 (FR2359), the trail immediately starts to climb. This section is fairly steep and has many loose rocks. Your tires might spin a few times trying to gain purchase as you climb (like mine did) upward. The trail continues to climb for about a mile. Keep going straight when you reach Waypoint R2. Taking a right here will lead back to the main trail (at Waypoint R3), but I’ve never been on it, so I’m not sure what condition it’s in. At Waypoint R3, again keep going straight.
At Waypoint R4, the road to the left goes to a nice corral and cattle tank. Take a left to stay on FR2359 at Waypoint R5 to go along the ridgeline. Not sure where you would end up if you would go straight.
For about 2.5 miles, the trail follows the spine of the hills and offers awesome views of the valley below. At Waypoint R9 the trails starts a steep downhill section which lasts about a mile. Follow the waypoints until you reach the mini-canyon, jail and Indian cave. These should not be missed. Each is unique in its own way. Also included in the waypoint table is “the bat cave” which we didn’t have time to explore.
On your way out, there are many trails leading off in both directions. I believe most of these will eventually end up on the Montana Mountain road. Follow the waypoints and keep on the main trail and you’ll end up at Waypoint R20.
Be safe and have fun!
Member comments below.
Road more washed out
Ran this trip in early March 2015. Erosion has taken its toll on the up hill sections at beginning of trail. Half a dozen deep cliff side ruts are there. It is passable but combine this with larger loose rocks the locker, mud terrains and a narrow 4Runner track were never more appreciated.
I would rate it at least a 3 as open differentials would have been impossible or difficult. The climb is not one to back down from.
We ran it late in the day and enjoyed the view and sunset so much we had to find our way out of canyons in the dark, thx for good coordinates! We returned with grand kids following weekend to enjoy the geocaching, jail and corral.