Overview: Easy canyoneering in the upper-most origin of Oak Creek. It's 2.6 miles from 89A up through the canyon to an old forest road.
Hike: Here is a pleasant hike with maybe a ten day span through Autumn. Best hiked Oct 6th through the 18th. The hike of choice is up the canyon. Down the canyon isn't bad. It's just more of a forest walk in a very undefined canyon that meets up with FR237 in 0.8 miles. Which happens to be the upper end of Pumphouse Wash and a mere quarter mile from the confluence with Kelly Canyon.
Take off from the southeast corner of the bridge by a gate. Follow the defunct road for about 5 minutes then head right into the creek bed. The foliage is so dense you all but forget about the highway within minutes. You are greeted by a forest mixed with oaks. The oak is quickly chocked out by maples galore. There is no trail, simply follow the creek bed up. You will encounter minor bushwhacking, good news being it's lite, few and far between. Fallen trees are the extent of obstacles for this canyon. The creek is mostly one to five foot basalt rock with various low vegetation plants to vines.
The maples are dense alongside the dry creek. Combine that with subtle curves in the canyon and some afternoon light for nice photo ops. A half mile up canyon coconino bust out of the canyon wall on your left. After that you get limestone outcrops on a few occasions. One of which I climbed out of the canyon to get an overview, nothing exciting to note.
I didn't hike the full length of the canyon to the forest road. Turn around is arbitrary unless you're just committed to conquering the canyon. The canyon does appears to get tighter in the upper end. However, knowing I was in the limestone layer I figured anymore coconino was unlikely. The maples are abundant throughout and beautiful in season. Otherwise it's not a very exciting canyon as has been my experience with other small canyons nearby. Pleasant and entertaining once.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
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.
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