Reclaimed from the ATV crowd!
I've had a thing for waterfalls lately, so I figured I should go to one of my old haunts and take some good pictures. The destination is Camp Creek where a nice granite waterfall awaits. This is one of the largest (~10 feet high) I have found near phoenix. This area used to be open to motor vehicles so when I was in high school we used to drive up to the base of the falls and camp out. Since the Cave Creek Complex Fire in 2005 this area has been closed to motor vehicles - it was a popular spot for ATV'ers. As much as I loved being able to drive up to the falls, its a good thing the forest service closed it off - too many people, too much trash, and ATVs making their own trails everywhere.
The old access was from Bartlett Road north up the commonly know "12 mile wash" - if you go south its 12 miles to the Verde River. 12 mile wash is actually called Camp Creek.
To do the hike however, it's much easier and shorter to drop in from Blue Wash up by Tonto Hills in Carefree. There is a parking area at 33 52'36.49"N, 111 49'2.38"W, which has plenty of room for a dozen or more cars. This is a popular starting point for horsemen (and women!) so don't be surprised if you see trailers and horse poop on the trail. From the trail head you get a nice panorama of Four Peaks and the Superstitions. Follow the trail down into Blue Wash, its steep, but very manageable. Just as you enter the wash you'll see the trail continue to head south, but follow the wash as it bends east (right here: 33 52'31.97"N, 111 48'48.34"W. This is a pretty interesting little wash/canyon, lots of cool granite rock formations . There is also lots of trash, including what looks to be an old Cadillac that has been used for target practice throughout the years. Sigh.
Make your way just over a mile from where you started down the wash until you reach Camp Creek. You cant miss it, Blue Wash intersects perpendicularly, and the canyon opens up. If you're lucky, there will be water, a good sign that the falls will be great. If you don't see water in Camp Creek don't worry - it goes underground depending on volume and many times the falls are still running. The intersection of Blue Wash and Camp Creek is at 33 52'21.87"N, 111 48'6.15"W. Here you'll turn left (North east) up Camp Creek. About a quarter mile upstream, you'll find the falls. And for perspective, this picture - I'm 6"6'.
Back out the way you came. Upstream of the falls is really nothing special, and if you go to far you'll run into the Sears Kay Ranch. Not sure if they're friendly, but I always try to stay off private property 'round these parts... people have guns... The hike is less than an hour, easy, so depending on how much time you spend you should definitely go check out the Sears Kay Ruins just up the road from where you parked. Also a quick stop on the way home is the World's Largest Kachina right at the entrance to Tonto Hills.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
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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