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Monday, January 18, 2010

ST. CLAIR MOUNTAIN

ST. CLAIR MOUNTAIN Tonto National Forest This short but steep exploratory hike near Horseshoe Dam leads to a series of ancient Verde Hohokam dwellings and a mesa peppered with petroglyph-encrusted boulders. Discovered by Anglos in the 1960s, archeologists have since determined that the site originally had 92 rooms and was occupied from between 1100 and 1300 C.E. The site also served as a burial ground and human remains found during excavations yielded a wealth of sea-shell jewelry—mostly bracelets. In fact the site was dubbed “Brazaletes Pueblo”, Spanish for village of jewelry/bracelets. For those who enjoy poking around and making discoveries, this hike holds a lot of promise. As with all hikes to historical sites: COLLECTION OF ARTIFACTS INCLUDING POTTERY SHARDS, ARROWHEADS AND GLYPHS IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Also visitors need to be especially careful to avoid damaging the fragile ruins—no climbing, sitting or touching. Picture taking, however, is highly encouraged. LENGTH: 1-2 miles roundtrip RATING: moderate-exploratory ELEVATION: 2,964 – 3,252 feet GETTING THERE: From Scottsdale, go north on Pima Road to Cave Creek Road. Turn right (north-east) and follow Cave Creek Road to Bartlett Dam Road. Turn right (east) and follow Bartlett Dam Road for 7 miles to Horseshoe Dam Road, turn left (north), set your odometer and continue 4.1 miles to an unmarked, steep & primitive dirt road on the left. There are no signs here—park in the pull-outs along Horseshoe Dam Road and then follow the primitive road on foot up to the site. NOTE: Horseshoe Dam Road is nasty. We got through with high-clearance vehicles in dry conditions. We would not attempt this if the roads are wet—not even in a 4x4 due to the potential for flooding and mud slides. INFORMATION: Tonto National Forest map.

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