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Willow Springs Canyon

jeeping from Willow Gate
jeeping from Willow Gate
will sanders

Today we took the JEEP aka—the green monster and the rock crawling SOB--- out in the boonies to see if it’s as tough as it looks. The Goldfield Mountains looked like a good place to start so I got the required Forest Service permit to drive through Bulldog Canyon. You can get these free permits at the Mesa Ranger Dist office at 5140 E. Ingram which is up north of Brown on Higley in Mesa. You need to get the permit in order to get the combination for the locked gates. Don’t go there without the permit or you’ll be in deep sh***. We took the short jeep trail (road # 12) from the Willow gate which is just a few miles out of Apache Jct. on 88. Turn off is on the left just before route 88 starts up the hill to the switchbacks.

The jeep trail roughly follows Willow Springs Canyon and believe me, it is definitely a jeep trail. Smart people ride a horse or hike it. Okay so we found out the green monster actually is tough as it looks. I’ve never driven a vehicle over stuff this steep and rough before and that includes the tracked vehicle I used to try to destroy when I was in the Army. The secret is put her in 4x4 low range and 1st gear and let it idle itself through what you point it at. That way nothing gets beat to crap.

About halfway up road 12 you drop back into the creek bed and this is where we stopped riding and took a hike instead back up the creek bed. Interesting hike that takes you past a few concrete stock water tanks. Some old-timer stock man strung a lot of steel water pipe along the canyon side to fill these water tanks from upstream. It’s all disconnected now though. The canyon narrows and you get to crawl over water polished rock and past carved out whirlpool holes. There are even a few old mine claim marker posts. We hiked up stream until we were under a few big caves up on the right side of the canyon. Pretty interesting place and we had it all to ourselves.

This was only a half day adventure.

Will was here 1/7/14