Just a short drive out of Winslow, gouged into the rolling high desert plains of the Little Colorado River drainage is a hidden jewel of exceptional beauty. East Clear Creek Canyon just upstream of McHood Lake is a narrow, winding canyon cutting deeply into the Coconino sandstone of the Colorado Plateau. This canyon runs for 50 miles as the crow flies and its length would be over twice that if it was stretched out straight. There are many places to enter and hike this canyon but I am going to limit this description to the section near Winslow known as the Winslow Wall.
This short hike requires some minor technical rope work to actually enter the canyon and climb back out. I am not a rock climber and I have been in and out of this canyon several times with children as young as 10. It does require rappelling gear and an ascender for protection when you climb back out. Once you are in the canyon you can hike either direction for about a half a mile before you are stopped by large pools of water.
This section of the canyon has a large number of bolted climbing routes in place for those that enjoy climbing. There is always water in the canyon of varying depths depending on the time of year and weather.
The trail starts at the parking area and is well maintained and marked by the climbing groups that use the canyon. The trail leaves the parking area and follows the canyon rim away from the parking area and the road back out to hwy 99. In about a half mile the trail starts winding down into a side canyon that is used to enter the main canyon. Climb down this small side canyon to a ledge area about half way to the canyon bottom. Here you will see several rappel anchors bolted into the wall where you can hook up your rappel gear and rappel the rest of the way down into the canyon. Generally there are always ropes to use here that are already hooked up and left in place by the climbing groups that use the canyon. Use your own judgment as to whether you want to use these ropes or not. It has been my experience that the ropes and the anchors are well maintained and replaced before they reach an unsafe level of wear. They are handy to have in place already so please don't damage them or decide you need them at home.
After exploring the canyon bottom and you are ready to climb back out. We hook up a short lanyard to our rappelling harnesses with an ascender attached to the other end which we attach to the rope for protection as we climb back up the crack of the side canyon and up the ledge where you can unhook from the rope and then hike out the canyon rim and the train back to the parking area.
Check out my photos of the climb before you go so that you can assess whether or not this hike is for you. - Oct 22 2007 TM1ssKDMac