Passage #15 - Tortilla Mountains

Blooming Yuccas along the trail Location:  Freeman Road Trailhead to the Gila River

Length:  28.4 miles

Southern Trailhead:  Freeman Road Trailhead
- GPS Coordinates:  32.87109° N, 110.88256° W
- Access: The trailhead is quite remote and many miles from common landmarks. From Florence, drive 21 miles south on AZ 79 and turn left (east) on Freeman Road at MP 111.8. From the south, drive north from Oracle Junction on AZ 79 and turn right (east) on Freeman Road. At about 14 miles, continue past Barkerville Road which joins from the left (north). At approximately 15.5 miles, notice the sign for Willow Springs Road entering from the right (south), but bear left and continue on Freeman/Barkerville Road. Note Haydon Ranch road on the left (north) at approximately mile 16.8 and then a power line at 18.7 followed quickly by an underground pipeline crossing at 18.9. Slow down and watch for an obscure doubletrack joining the road on the left (north) at mile 19.5. Turn left and follow this road, and you’ll immediately encounter the AZT trailhead.

Northern Trailhead:  Kelvin-Riverside Bridge
- GPS Coordinates:  33.10228° N, 110.97494° W
- Access: From the town of Superior, take AZ 177 south 15.5 miles and then turn right (south) toward the town of Kelvin. Continue 1.2 miles to the bridge. Passage 15 approaches the bridge from the south. From Florence, drive 1.5 miles south on AZ 79 and turn left (east) on the dirt Florence-Kelvin Highway. Continue 31 miles to the town of Kelvin and an historic bridge over the Gila River.
From the town of Hayden/Winkleman, drive northwest on AZ 177 about 16 miles then south (left) toward Kelvin. Continue 1.2 miles to the bridge.

Trail Route Description:  From the Freeman Road Trailhead the route heads to a pipeline road, turns to the north and follows a two-track, and then turns west. It crosses one road and then crosses Haydon Ranch Road. It goes under some high-tension powerlines, crosses two two-track roads and then crosses a gasline road. It then turns to the west, crosses a large wash and begins following a fenceline. After going through a gate the trail turns to the northwest and passes by a large boulder pile. From here the trail continues through the desert, crossing several washes, another road and another gate, just above Tecolote Ranch Road. After crossing this road the trail keeps to the north, crosses under the same high-tension powerlines and joins a road. It follows this road for almost 2 miles and then heads cross-country before joining another road. From here the trail turns north, passes several road junctions and climbs to a gate on a hill. The trail descends down the northeast side of this hill and then follows a drainage to a road. After leaving the road the trail descends down to Ripsey Wash, follows it for a ways and then turns into a side canyon and begins climbing up onto the 'Big Hill'. After switchbacking around the hill the trail heads north-northwest along a ridgeline. It turns to the east and then back due north, and then starts a long descent. After crossing several washes the trail reaches newly constructed trail leading to the Florence-Kelvin Highway at the yet to be constructed trailhead. It crosses the highway and heads in a north-northeast direction. After crossing a large wash it curves around and down to the Kelvin Bridge and the Gila River.

Switchbacks in the Ripsey section Difficulty:  Moderate

Season(s):  Fall, Winter and Spring (current weather forecast)

Water:  Water sources are very limited along this passage. Plan to bring your own water. All man made waters tanks and sources can only be used with the consent of the owner.


  • All water along this passage should be purified prior to use.
  • Although this passage crosses State Trust Land, a permit is not required as long as you are on or near the Arizona Trail.
  • Please respect all livestock operations in this area. Close all gates along the trail.


  • USGS Topographic Maps: Black Mountain, Crozier Peak, Kearny and Grayback.
  • BLM Information Center maps.

For more information, contact:

Current Trail Information:

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