Hackberry Creek is a tough 4×4 trail just outside of Superior, Arizona. JeepTheUSA.com rates the trails a 3.0 up to 4.0 and they’re spot on. The southern loop has it’s boulders and tough spots, but the north east section is where the trail goes into a full on rock crawling trail. Prepare for body damage! On this trip, we all did the southern section of the trail, while only less than half of the group proceeded and finished the north east 4.0 rated portion of the trail.
It was a cold one! Not Antarctica cold, but too cold for I’m used to. Thanks to James for letting me ride with him, it was nice not to worry about breaking my own rig for a change.
We had a bunch of people show up including James, Curtis, RJ and Bob in the Suzuki Samurai nicknamed the “Sasquatch”, Jim Kawa, Brian, a new old guy Mike along with his son Maddox (Thanks Brian for the reminder) and James’ brother in law Justin in a 4Runner and his friend Brett in an orange Tacoma.
Starting off of State Route 177
This time around we started the trail from the south, just 5 miles or so south of Superior, right off of State Route 177 that leads to Kearny. Never starting the trail from that side I didn’t know what to expect. Forest Road 315 from State Route 177 itself was in a descend shape, it wasn’t the roughest, but we kept on climbing for what felt like majority of the way up, until we hit the power-lines which Hackberry Creek follows.
I tried running the trail and taking pictures, but I’m not Brenda (who ran all of woodpecker a month ago) I was constantly out of breath and hitching a ride with Curtis or James. The views on Forest Road 315, heading towards Hackberry Creek were incredible, I would totally go back that way just to enjoy them again. Once we got to the trailhead of Hackberry Creek, it was the same old boulder story.
Let the Rock Crawling begin
As usual Hackberry Creek Trail was in its rough boulderesque shape coming down into Oak Creek, but it made for great pictures, everyone traversed the boulder field dropping into the valley without a problem, except for Brett in the orange Toyota Tacoma, who needed a little tug to get pulled off a steep ledge. Luckily Justin had a tow rope, and a sketchy screw driver handy to make the tug an exciting one.
The power-line hill climb
The power-line hill climb on the other hand was a little different of a story. James in the “Chevy Tracker” had no problems, he cruised right on up like the boulders weren’t even there. Curtis in the red Suzuki Samurai also made it up without a single problem, he picked some of the tougher lines and I heard him laughing as he was crawling over them without a hiccup. Then came turn for Brian in the green Suzuki Samurai with ARB lockers front and back, again no problem, he got to the top without missing a beat. Then came turn for RJ & Bob in the Sasquatch, which considering their Jeep Wagoneer axles and a V8 Cadillac motor the sleeper Samurai made it right on up the hill. Jim Kawa in his Jeep skipped from boulder to boulder making it look easy. Justin in the Toyota 4Runner took a little longer picking the right line, considering he only has a rear locker, and a much longer wheel base it took a little finessing but he got to the top. Brett in the orange Toyota Tacoma also made it up after a bit of trying to find the right line, and a few handy rocks placed in the right places, but came through without any damage. Last but not least there was Mike in the four linked red Suzuki Samurai, Mike was a little throttle happy but he made it up most of the big power-line hill with no damage.
All in all everyone made it what we thought was the toughest part of the trail up to that point.
As we we were getting done with the power-line climb on forest road 315, we saw a group of side by sides in the distance, being lunch time, we looked for a wide open spot to pull of to the side and eat lunch, hoping they would pass us, but we never saw them again. The side by sides must have turned around and headed back the way they came in. It would be a tough climb for a RZR.
The Z Turns
Once we got to Hackberry Creek, the actual creek. There was an option to take the easy road back to Oak Flat Campground, or continue up the switch backs on the unmaintained power-line road, James led the way. We found ourselves in a tight switchback, as we were making a sharp right ready to climb a ledge we heard the ever so familiar noise of a CV axle snapping. With Curtis’ help we backed up to a safe spot to let Curtis, Brian, RJ & Bob pass. As we were coming down hill, Mike in the red four linked Suzuki Samurai decided to follow those guys.
As we continued up the easier switch backs, and were getting ready to set off and catch up to the group from the other side, we heard Mike on the radio that he rolled.
Once we got to Mike, we saw his Samurai on the side, luckily it was a pretty gentle roll and no one got hurt. Mike’s only damage was to the door and the metal panel above the door. Mike got his winch out pretty quickly and got to looking for a suitable boulder to attach to. Somehow they found a big enough boulder which was just ever so slightly at the right angle, and along with Mike in the car, James on the winch controller and Brett watching the boulder to make sure it wasn’t about to come down, they started winching.
Mike again, got pretty lucky that his front tire caught a ledge of a boulder and flopped the samurai back on four wheels, again rather gently. With no time to spare and eager to get back to moving, Mike started the Samurai back up, and had James drive who has a little more experience riding the clutch out of hairy situations. We got back to the main road, Mike checked all the fluids, while we wound the winch back in. Only a little of the transmission oil spilled out, along with a little bit of coolant, so we proceeded on the way back to Oak Flat Campground.
Rest of the trail for us was pretty uneventful, which was a-okay. At Oak Flat Campground, we met up with the other group that took the tougher route, they made it through just fine.