Fraser Canyon sits in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix Arizona. It starts near J.F. Ranch and heads southwest. A portion of Trail #108 (Coffee Flat Trail) travels the length of Fraser Canyon. Trail #108 is accessible from the west (after hiking 2.75 miles on Trail #104) or from the east via Woodbury Trailhead (after hiking 1.6 miles on Trails #106 & #114). Reaching Woodbury Trailhead requires a 13 mile drive on dirt roads. I had no good information about the roughness on the dirt roads. They actually turned out to be not too bad.
Left our rental home near Superstition Mountains just before 6:00 a.m. and went on Route 60 east. Two miles east of Florence Junction at mile marker 214.2, turned north onto Queen Valley Road and followed it 1.6 miles to turn right onto Hewitt Station Road (FR357). Hewitt Station was a well graded dirt road. After about 3 miles, I reached Forest Road 172 (Hewitt Canyon Rd) and turned left onto it. This was a rougher dirt road. I had an all wheel drive vehicle but still wondered how bad the road might become. It actually turned out to be not a bad road. A regular car with high clearance would have likely done ok on this road. It headed north going into the mountains. The sun was rising on the mountains to the north making them appear very dramatic. In one spot I took a picture of some impressive cliffs that had come to view.
From the road
After more than 9 miles, I reached a split in the road. Right was FR172A to Rogers Canyon. I turned left and continued on FR172B more than one mile until I reached a locked gate on the road. I then had to turn right and go 0.25 miles to the end of the road at a parking area (7:15 a.m.).
In the afternoon, when I was driving back, I took a couple of pictures on the road from inside the car. Near the junction of FR172 and FR357, I stopped and took a picture of the mountains that had looked very impressive in the morning.
|Woodbury Trailhead||3500 ft||zero miles
|High Point||3600 ft||-
|Woodbury Cabin||3480 ft||0.60 miles
|JF Ranch||3140 ft||1.0 miles
|Red Tank Canyon Jct||2620 ft||3.1 miles
|Roundtrip||1350 ft uphill||9.40 miles
Trip ReportFriday April 5, 2013
Started my hike at 7:25 a.m. No vehicles were at the trailhead and did not see a single person all day. I was at 3500 ft elevation and had great views of the mountains around me.
Coffee Flat Mountain
Slopes of La Barge Mountain
A trip report that I had seen on the internet said that the writer went back to the locked gate on the road, jumped over it and followed the road to J.F .Ranch. I wondered if that was a private road. I decided not to go on the road and follow the trails instead. There were no signs there but a trail headed north uphill. This must have been Trail #106 (JF Trail). The trail went up to a 3600 ft high point and then went down quickly to reach the signed junction with Trail #114 (Woodbury Trail) near Woodbury Cabin.
La Barge Mountain from high point
Turned west on Woodbury Trail and followed it downhill. I could see a valley/canyon forming below me. This must have been Fraser Canyon.
Looking down at Fraser Canyon
The trail then reached the lower end of the dirt road I had avoided. 0.2 miles later at 8:04 a.m. I reached J.F. Ranch. This is apparently an operating ranch but I did not see any people or animals. Took a picture of the building but since it might be somebody’s residence, I decided not to post it here. There was a barbed wire there that marked the start of the Superstition Mountains Wilderness Area. A sign showed that Trail #114 ended and Trail #108 started. A couple of signs on the barbed wire said close the gate behind you. I kept looking and looking but did not see a gate. Where on earth was the gate? In one area, the wire was only 4 feet high. With the help of my hiking poles, I went over the wire one leg at a time. I certainly did not want wire in my groin.
The trail then went parallel to the ranch’s barbed wire for a short distance.
Trail near JF Ranch
The wire then ended and the trail reached the creek. There was very little flowing water in the creek. In some places, the creek was dry. The trail went parallel to the creek crossing it many times. Cairns identified the trail but even if I lost the trail, I could have just followed the creek bed.
I then reached a spot where the trail left the valley floor and went a few tens of feet above the bottom on the valley. This was apparently the remains of a 19th century wagon road.
The trail soon came back to the bottom of the valley. As I hiked on the creek bed, I saw something crawling a short distance in front of me. I noted that it was a Gila Monster. I had seen one only 2 days ago and was surprised to see another one so soon. It did not seem to be a very fast animal. I approached it from behind and passed it keeping my distance from it. I had read that they were poisonous. When I had passed it, I turned around and took a zoomed picture of it. It looked like it was wondering if I was going to disturb it but I quickly went away from it.
The trail continued to follow the bottom of the valley. While the slopes were covered with cacti, there was grass, bushes and sometimes big trees right next to the creek. At times, the bottom of the valley became quite overgrown.
In one place, black rock formed the creek bed.
Butterflies that were quite big seemed to be all over the place.
I then reached a number of beautiful big Sycamore Trees.
At 9:39 a.m., I reached the junction with Red Tanks Canyon. Trail #107 came down this canyon to intersect Trail #108. This was as far as I wanted to go. I sat there to eat, drink and enjoy the views. Elevation was 2620 ft. My map showed a “Dripping Spring” at that area. I did not see anything (did not look to find a dripping spring either).
Red Tank Canyon
I left at 10:06 a.m. and began to hike back the way I came.
Reached J.F. Ranch area.
And was then on Trail #114 going uphill in the heat of the mid-day.
Took a look at Woodbury Cabin area. I saw no cabin, just a windmill and a dry watering hole.
I then went up to the high point and made it back to my vehicle by 12:19 p.m. I was still the only person there.
From the high point
From the high point