You can’t win them all – this was supposed to be a full on loop and much bigger run, but last minute several people dropped out, which left us with a much smaller group than anticipated, and we didn’t get to finish the full on loop because of some mechanical issues, but we still had fun.
The Initial Plan
..was to set out of our camping spot just outside of Tonto Village, go down preacher canyon, check out the Preacher Canyon Cave and continue down below the 260 towards a pretty scenic drive that led to an overlook of the Hellsgate Wilderness, that wasn’t the case though.
The road south out of Tonto Village was in a pretty good shape, it was nice for a change to be driving through tall pine trees on a trail run, there were a few mud holes and patches of rocky road, but other than that it was great.
We then proceeded to the Preacher Canyon Cave. It was difficult to find, Kyle who had been there before had a pretty hard time finding it, but with all the hiking around it was well worth the effort. Not too often do we get to see natural caves with stalagmites all over the place.
After all the hiking around, we wondered back to our cars and proceeded down the trail. Kyle warned that there’s going to be a steep hill, but we didn’t expect a hill this steep. Luckily we were going down it, because I for sure wouldn’t have been able to make it up it, without having to use a winch most of the way.
After we got done going down the steep hill, we proceeded to our lunch spot under the 260 overpass at Preacher Canyon. It was cool to see what’s below a bridge I’ve driven so many times over.
We then continued down the Hellsgate loop, Geno who was in his daily driver Toyota pickup truck, turned off and went home, the ride wasn’t all that comfortable for him, while the rest of us continued on.
The plan was still to get to the Hellsgate overlook, but as luck would have it one of James’ allen bolts that holds his CV shaft managed to come loose. The road was getting pretty rough again at this point, and none of us had the right size allen head tool, so James threw his Grand Vitara back into 2 wheel drive and we turned around and went to Bear Flat instead.
All the pictures from this run can be found here – https://www.turndriver.com/Off-Roading/Hellsgate-Loop/