Jhus Horse Saddle Trail #252

Important Note

This guide is treating a portion of road as part of the trail, as the road has badly washed out and is undrivable. While most maps show the trail beginning partway up Jhus Canyon at the end of a road, here it will begin at the right fork of a junction just past a clearing with a large cement swimming pool where a homestead once was.

Length: 2.24 mi

Difficulty: difficult

Condition: moderate

Elevation range: 5940 ft – 7050 ft

Elevation gain/loss: 1,270 ft ↑ / 65 ft ↓

Average slope: 10.2%

Access

The Jhus Horse Saddle Trail is accessible from two locations.

The lower-elevation eastern terminus is located at the end of Jhus Canyon Road (FR 341), accessible from Hilltop Road, leading into Whitetail Canyon. This road passes briefly through private land and Arizona Game & Fish has placed a signin box along the road. All visitors must sign in and put a ranch tag on their vehicle before continuing past this point. 0.4 miles after the sign in box, you will come to a junction. Take the right fork through the gate. The road is very rough and only high clearance vehicles should attempt it. Portions of it are washed out and it may not be possible to drive all the way to the official start of the trail. Because of that, this guide will treat the end of the drivable portion the start of the trail. There is a fork in the road, 1.7 miles after the gate, just past an old homestead site where a large concrete swimming pool remains—the trail is at the right fork. There are no signs either here or at the official trailhead further along the road.

The higher-elevation western terminus connects to the Shaw Peak Trail at Jhus Horse Saddle, as well as the Pinery Horsefall Trail which begins 130 feet to the southwest. The latter junction is signed, but the Jhus Horse Saddle Trail junction is not currently.

History

Jhus Canyon is named after an incorrect spelling of Juh, a Chiricahua Apache leader. His name is pronounced "who".

This was an area of heavy mining activity in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with numerous adits and mineshafts still visible in the area, as well as the ruins of cabins and other structures. One such ruin lies just off the north side of the trail before it begins to climb towards Jhus Horse Saddle, but it has been partially obscured and further damaged recently by a fallen tree. A homestead with an orchard and corral once existed along the trail, a mile below Jhus Horse Saddle.

A 1919 USGS map shows this trail in a significantly different location, on the north slope of the mountain the modern trail climbs the south face of.

Trail Description

Road Junction to End of Road

From the junction just beyond the old swimming pool, take the right fork in the road, which drops down to the northwest while the left fork climbs to the west-southwest. The left fork goes to one of the sites of old mining activity in the area. The right fork gradually angles to the southwest over the next 1000 feet as it descends to a creek crossing (usually dry, but the road is likely washed out here due to summer flooding). 350 feet of very steep ascent back to the ridge above follow. At the top of the ridge lies another junction. Take the right fork again, which swings north before arcing back around to the south and following the curve of the terrain back to a general westward route. 800 feet after the junction, you'll pass into one portion of the Manhattan Claims, former private land inholdings once owned by the Manhattan Development Company, which operated several mines here. The land is now managed by Arizona Game & Fish.

700 feet later, mine tailings can be seen a short distance off the left side of the road. 900 feet beyond that, the ruins of a stone structure lie just off the right side of the road, a large tree having fallen on one side and obscuring it somewhat. This point is where old maps show the original Jhus Canyon Trail departing to the northwest up the canyon that connects in here.

From here it's a quarter mile to the other side of the Manhattan Claims and 950 feet to the end of the road and start of the trail proper. At this point, just before a small mine tunnel on the left side of the trail a short distance ahead, there is a final junction with a trail/overgrown road heading off to the left and winding up a canyon and then ridge to the site of a drill hole for mining exploration. The main trail continues straight ahead.

End of Road to Jhus Horse Saddle

100 feet beyond the final junction, a shallow mine tunnel entrance lies immediately off the left side of the trail. A fire circle is present in front of it, and a tremendous amount of trash fills the tunnel and the area in front. From there, the trail heads roughly west for 450 feet before angling to the southwest alongside the creek 250 feet, then west-southwest 500 feet. At this point it briefly leaves the creek, heading northwest for a very short distance then west to a tiny switchback after 250 feet. The switchback takes you to the top of a small ridge, which you then drop down across back to the creek 450 feet later. Over the next 500 feet the trail again moves away from the creek—this time for good—and passes through a couple more switchbacks. 1000 feet after, climbing gradually along the way, two more switchbacks are encountered and from there it's a steep four tenths of a mile—with no additional switchbacks—to its terminus at Jhus Horse Saddle. The trail through this stretch remains in fairly good condition. The Jhus Horse Saddle Trail connects to the Shaw Peak Trail at the saddle, and a separate junction with the Pinery Horsefall Trail lies 120 feet south of here. Taking the Shaw Peak Trail left will take you there and to Onion Saddle several miles beyond. To the right lie the Hilltop Mine and Kasper Tunnel, also several miles away.

Last updated November 17, 2013.