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Woods Canyon - Mogollon Rim, AZ
no permit
route 130 7 0 0
Description 7 Triplogs  0 Topics
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 6.1 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,519 feet
Elevation Gain -440 feet
Avg Time One Way 3.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.83
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
Author chumley
Descriptions 60
Routes 395
Photos 8,468
Trips 1,001 map ( 6,873 miles )
Age 43
Location Tempe, AZ
Viewed All Mine Following
18  2015-06-13
Highline - Woods - Willow Spring Lakes Loop
11  2015-06-13
Highline - Woods - Willow Spring Lakes Loop
20  2015-06-13
Highline - Woods - Willow Spring Lakes Loop
19  2014-06-28 cw50must
6  2014-06-14 JoelHazelton
34  2014-06-08 Bradshaws
33  2012-07-08 Bradshaws
38  2012-06-30 chumley
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Backpack   Possible & Connecting
Preferred   Sep, May, Oct, Jun → Any
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  5:14am - 7:40pm
Route Scout
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Official Route
Alternative Routes
Nearby Hikes Area Water Sources
direct air miles away to trailhead
0.1  Spillway Campground
0.3  Woods Canyon Lake Trail - Mogollon Rim
0.4  Woods Canyon Lake Campground
0.4  Meadow Trail #505
0.7  Aspen Campground
1.4  Rim Lakes Vista Trail #622
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A Different Point of View
by chumley

Where in the World? This hike refers to the Woods Canyon that lies downstream (north) of Woods Canyon Lake on the Mogollon Rim. It is not to be confused with the Woods Canyon in the Sedona area.

Overview: This off-trail hike follows Woods Canyon downstream from the popular lake to the rugged, isolated junction of Chevelon Canyon and Willow Springs Canyon. The first mile or so is an easy stroll in grassy terrain, but quickly turns into a treacherous boulder-hopping trek. The mileage is listed as one-way, so if you go all the way to the junction, you will have to return the way you came (doubling the mileage to 12.2) or choose one of the other options listed at the end of this description.

Caution: There is no established trail, and the going gets to be quite treacherous and occasionally unpleasant. There is a lot of overgrowth, deadfall, large boulders, and other obstacles the farther down canyon you go. If you are not comfortable with this kind of terrain, please don't attempt this hike!

Hike: Begin by heading downstream on the right side of the spillway. Descend into the canyon by using any of the established use trails. This part of the canyon is generally a pleasant grassy meadow and the hiking is fast and easy.

As the canyon meanders downstream, it begins to tighten. Pools of water appear and disappear, depending on the recent weather, though only after monsoon rains or spring snowmelt will the water actually be "flowing." As you continue, the hustle and bustle of an overpopulated Woods Canyon Lake disappears into your memory as you enjoy the solitude of this remote canyon.

The canyon gets progressively more difficult to navigate. The use trails along the sides of the creek basin become overgrown and tough to get through. The rocky creek bottom is the best way to proceed, but the going is slow. Sometimes there are pools of standing water. This varies with the time of year or recent weather. Wildlife is abundant in this canyon. I witnessed both bear and mountain lion scat, plus I encountered a rafter of 4 HUGE turkeys. I mean, if you were thinking Thanksgiving dinner, these were all 20+ pounders!

You will pass 2 or 3 reasonably nice dispersed campsites with established fire rings in the first couple of miles before the canyon gets more rugged. Eventually, the canyon turns into something reminiscent of Boulder Canyon in the Supes. Only there's nowhere to hike on the sides. It's just slow hiking/jumping from boulder to boulder, requiring some route-planning. The pace here slows to less than 1.5mph.

Eventually, the right bank opens up a bit and it is easy to find wildlife trails through the shaded forest. After a couple hundred yards, the forest ends at the junction of the three canyons. Woods on the left, Willow Springs coming in from the right, and Chevelon continuing downstream toward the lake. From here, take a break and head back the way you came, or continue elsewhere based on your gear and previous plan.

Backpacking Options: Backpackers might continue down Chevelon Canyon another ~10-miles to the first established canyon exit point at the Telephone Ridge Trail #203, or the full 13-miles to the head of Chevelon Canyon Lake where another exit trail exists. Or they might head up Willow Springs Canyon for the 4-miles to the Willow Springs Lake dam. Except for at the junction of the three canyons, there are no good camping opportunities in the lower 2.5 miles of Woods Canyon.
© 2012 - 2016


    One-Way Notice: This hike is listed as One-Way. When you hike several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    This hike begins at the Woods Canyon Lake dam. The lake is easily reached by passenger car on paved roads.

    From PHX travel to Payson on AZ-87 (appx. 80 miles from AZ-87/Loop-202 jct). Go right at the McDonalds in Payson, following AZ-260 East and signs for Show Low. Follow AZ-260 for about 29 miles to signed turn for Woods Canyon Lake/Rim Road/FR300. Turn left onto FR300 and proceed 3 miles to signed turn-off to Woods Canyon Lake on FR105. Turn right and follow FR105 about a mile to it's end at the lake.
    page created by chumley on Jul 03 2012 12:02 am
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
    stay out of the scorching sun
    prehydrate & stay hydrated
    © 2016 HAZ