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Turkey Creek in Cochise County

Normally, Turkey Creek has water flowing in the creek bed. When our camp buddy and friend, Jim, took us there in mid-December, there wasn’t a drop of water to be seen. He commented that he had never been there when there was no water.

Our almost-6 mile round trip ride wound through a pine forest. We crossed the bone-dry creek bed more than once. It reminded Alan and me of the numerous Rocky Mountain trails we have ridden. However, even during the driest times, there is water in the rivers and creeks in Colorado. Poor Arizona is really, really hurting for rain.

On the way in, we followed a two-track road to our lunch location. We had our usual 3 pups with us. On our return trip, we cut north cross country until we intersected another road that took us back to the trailer.

The scenery is gorgeous, with pines growing in abundance. Although riding in the mountains in Arizona is similar to the Rocky Mountains in our beloved Colorado, there are significant differences. The most notable is the absence of the intoxicating smell of pine trees that we so appreciate when riding the Rockies.

Johnny Ringo and Geronimo

Johnny Ringo’s grave was not far from where we parked the trailer. We didn’t make it there this time, but will on our next trip to that location. Although Johnny didn’t spend a long time on this earth, he left behind quite a legend. He was the classic Wild West Outlaw, tangling with Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers. He was found with a single bullet in his temple, near where his grave is located. His death was ruled a suicide, but there is uncertainty surrounding that claim.

Another famous figure associated with Turkey Creek Canyon and Turkey Creek is Geronimo. I wrote about Geronimo about a year ago. Here is an incredibly interesting article (even though it is very old) about him, but I warn you, it is very long! If you like history or stories of the old West, read it. It is quite illuminating.

The newcomers to this great land were eventually successful in getting most of the Native Americans sequestered on reservations. The army set a few rules for their captives. The Apache chiefs voiced a couple of complaints to their army captors. The rules stated that the Apache men were not allowed to consume unlimited quantities of their homemade corn brew, and they were not allowed to beat their wives!

When we rode to Fort Bowie, we saw the grave of one of Geronimo’s children. The child apparently died of disease.

Geronimo spent quite a bit of time in this canyon during one of the many times he surrendered to the army. The pine trees in this forest provided much of the wood used in Tombstone and at Fort Bowie. The article I mentioned above tells you a lot of information about Geronimo and his small band of warriors, women, and children.

This wasn’t a long or difficult ride, although we do climb a hill at the end of the trail. Because it is a wide road, it is an easy trail. Like many Arizona trails, it is rocky. We had lunch and then headed back to the trailer. I tried to capture the downhill departure after lunch…

To get to the trailhead, you go east on Hwy 181 to Turkey Creek Road. Continue east on Turkey Creek Road until you get to Sunglow Ranch Road. From there, continue east on the forest service road to the trailhead.

Next week I will write about Council Rock, another historic and very interesting ride. After that, it will take me two or more posts to adequately cover Fort Bowie. Council Rock has pictographs on a large rock, thought to be from peoples inhabiting the land over a thousand years ago. Check back next week for much more about Council Rock! And the story of how my knee was SMASHED thanks to my anxious-to-get-back-to-the-trailer equine buddy…

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3 thoughts on “Turkey Creek in Cochise County”

    1. We are currently staying at Lazy Horse Ranch, and they allow overnights or a couple of days, with full hookups and horse facilities. There are really LOTS of places around here that are close to the trails I am writing about. My best suggestion would be to join one of several Facebook groups about Arizona horseback riding, such as this one… You can put out an “APB” for a place to stay close to wherever you want to ride. Lots of options, just depends on availability.

  1. Turkey Creek is in Coronado National Forest. At the end of the FSR, Nancy mentioned you can camp up to 14 days. It is undeveloped and it is dry camping, so you need to bring everything including water for your horses. The cypress trees are large enough to highline or set up electric fence for horses. There is one big hill on this road and I would advise that you pre drive this before you haul your long gooseneck trailer into the area. This area is used by hunters. There is plenty of rocky riding and it all goes up. If you scout the trails you may find the trail that goes over the top to the East side. I have not ridden here in years, but it is a nice isolated place.

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