A rugged, non-technical descent of the gorgeous sculpted granite, clear water and deep pools of Haigler Creek in the Hellsgate Wilderness, ending at the confluence with Tonto Creek.
Numerous narrows sections that would be dangerous in high water flow and/or monsoon flash flood conditions.
Haigler Creek runs right through the Alderwood recreation site, from there just head downstream. Don't bother trying to keep your feet dry, you will very soon be hiking, wading and swimming in the creek, and will be for the rest of the day. This creek is non-stop rock scrambling and boulder hopping, but only occasional vegetation that has to be fought through. You'll also be swimming constantly (drybag mandatory
), including several swims of 50 yards or more.
Around the 3 mile point is your only significant obstacle, a 20-foot, two-tier waterfall / chute that could be downclimbed if the water flow is low or else bypassed on the right with some moderate scrambling. Around the 5 mile point the canyon opens up and there are wide benches on either side for easy walking, a nice break from the rock scrambling. The canyon closes up again shortly for more miles of scrambling and swimming before you finally reach the confluence with Tonto Creek.
If you're lucky enough to be on a multi-day trip down the Tonto, spend the night here and continue downstream the next morning. Otherwise, your exit is the Hellsgate #37 trail, 7+ tough miles up and out to the Hellsgate trail head, where you will have spotted a car or arranged for a pickup.
Haigler Creek (always filter / purify creek water due to heavy upstream human use and cattle ranching in the area). Water may be cloudy with silt after periods of heavy rain and runoff.
Good campsites aren't plentiful but they do exist. Good camping at the Haigler/Tonto confluence. - Jun 22 2010 toddak