Moonshine Creek, AZ | HikeArizona
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Moonshine Creek, AZ

Guide 29 Triplogs  0 Topics
  3.7 of 5 
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 2.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,890 feet
Elevation Gain -160 feet
Accumulated Gain 211 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 3.36
 Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Perennial Waterfall & Perennial Creek
 Backpack Yes & Connecting
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15  2019-09-13
Grant Creek Moonshine Creek
4  2017-10-22
Swift Trail (State Hwy 366)
26  2016-04-26
Riggs Flat Campground
20  2015-04-18
Webb Peak from Ash Creek TH
23  2013-10-11
Grant Hill Loop
15  2012-10-29
Webb Peak Big Loop
7  2012-09-01 skatchkins
30  2012-07-15 outdoor_lover
Page 1,  2
author avatar Guides 169
Routes 148
Photos 5,726
Trips 1,862 map ( 9,856 miles )
Age 45 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Associated Areas
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Tucson Region
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred Aug, Jul, Sep, Jun → Early
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  7:13am - 5:54pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 2017 Frye Fire48.4k
🔥 2004 Nuttall30k
🔥 View (All) - over Official Route 🔥

have a taste of moonshine
by PrestonSands

This short hike in the Pinaleno Mountains has plenty to offer: alpine forest, wildflower-filled meadows, a perennial creek, a waterfall, and extensive views. The main attraction of this hike is a spectacular overlook of Grant Creek Canyon, at the bottom of which four significant creeks come together. Visible from this overlook is a 200-foot cascading waterfall, where Moonshine Creek plunges over the edge of the 2000 foot deep canyon. State highway 366, which provides access to this hike, is closed yearly due to snow from November 15 to April 15, about 3.5 miles before the trailhead.

The hike starts at the Grant Creek trailhead in the Cunningham Campground. Begin hiking down the Grant Creek Trail, which descends through a cool forest of fir and white pine. The trail soon enters one of the Pinaleno's most attractive alpine meadows. Waist deep ferns and wildflowers carpet the meadow while quaking aspens guard the edges.

At the north end of the meadow, the Grant Creek Trail starts a series of switchbacks up the slope to the west. Near the top of this slope is a signed trail junction. Turn right at the trail sign and head north toward Moonshine Creek.

The Moonshine Creek trail descends gradually among aspens and more little fern and wildflower-filled meadows until it reaches Moonshine Creek. Cross the creek, then wade through the lush riparian greenery for a few feet, and you'll come to a junction (32.68554 N, 109.89665 W) with a two-track, four-wheel-drive road, marked by a cairn ( missing as of 2016 ). Turn left (west), and follow the primitive road down Moonshine Creek's fern-filled valley.

A little ways down, the road forks. The less traveled left fork dead-ends at the creek in a few hundred yards. Take the right fork, which climbs a little and soon dead-ends at a flat camping spot near Grant Creek canyon. Head southwest towards the edge of the canyon from the end of the road.

A rocky butte should come into view about 500 feet from the road's end, sticking out from the canyon rim. Scramble up the granite butte and check out the view from the top (32.68368 N, 109.90109 W). On three sides of you, the land falls away into Grant Creek's 2000 foot deep gorge. Fort Grant prison can be seen at the mouth of the canyon, while the Pinaleno's highest summits rise behind you. To the southeast is Moonshine Falls, cascading down the bare granite cliffs in a jet of white water. A telephoto lens is helpful if you are looking to photograph the falls.

You can return the way you came or take the Moonshine Creek 4x4 road back to the Swift Trail and follow it back to the Cunningham Campground.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2007-08-17 PrestonSands
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    guide related
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 $$

Coronado Forest
MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
From Safford, head south on U.S. Highway 191. Turn west onto state highway 366 (Swift Trail). Follow Highway 366 for approximately 25.4 miles to the signed Cunningham Campground turnoff. Turn left at the sign, and follow the campground road 0.1 miles to the trailhead parking area on the right. There is a trail sign here for the Grant Creek Trail #305.

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