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West Clear Creek Trail #17, AZ

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1.1k 168 21
Guide 168 Triplogs  21 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Camp Verde > Camp Verde
4 of 5 by 58
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 8.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,579 feet
Elevation Gain 2,199 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,741 feet
Avg Time One Way 4-8 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 17.33
Interest Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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3  2019-05-25 ALMAL
6  2018-10-03 RickVincent
11  2018-09-20 ALMAL
18  2018-06-07
West Clear Creek - White Box to BullPen
17  2018-05-19 aviedelson
5  2018-04-07 ALMAL
6  2017-11-26 MountainMatt
13  2017-11-25 ALMAL
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 11
Author lorilynnfoster
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 1 map ( 0 miles )
Age Female Gender
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, May, Sep, Oct → 8 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:14am - 6:25pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

Likely In-Season!
History: Formerly known as Clear Creek. Now referred to as West Clear Creek to eliminate confusion with the Clear Creek which flows into the Little Colorado River.

I hiked this trail May 11, 2002 with the Friends of Arizona Highways hiking club. You can not miss the trail head once you get down to the end of the road that leads to it which, by the way, is not paved and is rough gravel. Cars will be fine. The road dead ends into a little cul-de-sac and the trail head is located through a gate in a pole fence. The first mile of the trail remains fairly level and you are out in the open sun. This first part of the trail is actually an old jeep trail. After walking a short distance you will see off to the left an old farmhouse with lots of prickly pear cactus growing on top of it. Many of us laughed at seeing this odd site. It was here that several members of our hiking group reported seeing a king snake.

Continuing down the trail led us to our first creek crossing. Beware here and at all creek crossings. This creek is friendly and inviting but the rocks are slippery!! We saw at least 4 people fall into the creek on accident while they were trying to stay dry by rock hopping. No one got hurt and once in the creek they actually liked it and we all laughed. Only one of our members was able to keep her feet dry at 3/4 creek crossings. Everyone else just gave up and either put on their sandals or trudged in with their sneakers on after realizing attempts to keep feet dry were impossible. There were several families camping by the creek side and a few people enjoying the creek. The water felt very nice and refreshing once we were in it.

There were 3 more creek crossings for a total of 4 all together. All of them fit the above description. Nice and shady with patches of sun. In between the creek crossings the trail turns into a rolling up and down one. Nothing too steep here and you follow the creek the whole way. The uphill jaunts are just enough to get your heart going slightly and the down hill ones will let you catch your breath.

The scenery in between the crossings is beautiful as well as the creek itself. The land consists of large patches of red rock in contrast the trees shading the creek. There are many areas where the creek is filled with sun and many areas where they are shaded. We saw several areas of poison ivy. Please be careful of these 3 leaved bright green monsters. Several people saw large fish in the creek and one person reported seeing javelina and a fox.

Now for the highlight of this hike. Once you get out of the 4th crossing of the creek you will go for about a mile or so in the above fashion except you are taken away from the creek. The trail is mostly in the sun and is hot and is pretty level. Then, the trail veers left and you can not miss the steep ascent that will take you to the top of the rim which has an elevation of 5520 feet. It is gradual at first and then you find yourself panting and wondering just how far this hike will take you. You keep looking up and trying to find the end but it is nowhere in sight. The trail continues in this fashion for the rest of the way except for one small patch where the trail dipped downward. Several people in our group turned back here because they did not want to begin another journey back upward from going down and because they were tired!

Keep climbing and keep climbing on this one. You will know you are at the end of the trail when all of the sudden it levels out (and you will love this as it is your reward) and you see another sign marking the back entrance to this trail. It says quite clearly "West Clear Creek." Can't get any more clearer than West Clear Creek. You have made it. One of the lucky people to make it to the top ran out of water here. Thank goodness we had enough to help her back. If you make it this far on this trail you will have now traveled 7.7 miles according to my source. Keep in mind you have to turn around and go back to get to where you started out.

This takes you downhill from your uphill trek. The dirt consists partly of lava rock which you will find you have to stumble over. Then after the lava rock you will encounter loose dirt which will make you slip several times. Be careful here. Not one person in our group did not take a slight tumble onto their behinds. Nothing major. Basically, the trail just goes in reverse from here. Some people feel going down is harder than going up.

We started this trail and went at a pretty fast clip (constant fast walking) at 9:00AM. We did not get back to the trailhead until 4:50PM. One person in the group had GPS. He said at the last creek crossing he logged 5 miles. I know nothing about them and will have to take his word for it.

Truly you could rate the trail as easy or mildly moderate until the strenuous trek up. You will definitely know it when it begins. We had over 20 people in our group and only 6 of them made it the whole way.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2002-05-13 lorilynnfoster
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  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
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    100 Classic Hikes - 2007

Coconino FS Details
This trail provides the only marked and maintained access to the lower reaches of West Clear Creek Canyon Wilderness. From its western terminus at Bull Pen Ranch at the canyon mouth, the trail leads upstream into the deep, narrow gorge which medium-sized West Clear Creek has cut into the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau. The downstream end of the trail attracts large numbers of anglers, picnickers, and other streamside recreators attracted by the clear pools, slickrock water slides, and tree-shaded riparian areas tucked away between red rock canyon walls.

From the trail's upper terminus, at Bald Hill, the route drops 1,800 feet down a steep, talus - strewn slope from a high plateau of pinyon-juniper forests to the canyon floor. It then winds its way downstream along a stretch of secluded pools and rocky riffles. Bring your wading shoes on this one, you'll have to cross the stream at least four times. In times of high runoff, this trail can be impassable. In the middle of a hot desert summer you'll appreciate the opportunity to cool off.

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking 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.

Most recent of 20 deeper Triplog Reviews
West Clear Creek Trail #17
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Backpacked West Clear Creek with a small group 7/1/2017-7/2/2017. Started from the Bullpen trailhead parking lot with the intent of camping at the plateau on the south side of the creek. The drive in was largely uneventful and the section of dirt road could be managed with an ordinary passenger car.

The Bullpen was fairly crowded with lots of people set up to swim and sunbathe for the day. There were 5 water crossings with the majority being in between mile 1 and 2 of the trail, a short enough section to hike in water shoes or sandals and not repeatedly switch out footwear. The crossings were not deep, most were calf to knee high but choosing a less than ideal crossing point could easily result in waist deep water. The rocks were algae covered and very slippery, a few members of the party cooled off the hard way by slipping and falling in (in some cases repeatedly).

Going along a few good camping spots were identified, see linked maps for exact locations. Water available from the creek was clear and quite tasty, water filters were used for purification without issue. The party stopped twice to refill water bottles on the way in and once on the way back. It was quite hot this time of year and the ~50 F water was a refreshing way to cool off. From mile 2 onward the route is effectively a desert hike.

Some notable difficulties were experienced along the way.

The forest service map that was used for navigation no longer appears to be up to date with regard to the trail routing. There is a 1-1/4 mile section which was previously routed on the north side of the creek but now runs on the south side. It is possible that the old trail still exists, we spotted a cairn marking a side trail in this area, but it is no longer the "obvious" route. The "new" trail is well established but if you were planning on navigating or replenishing water bottles by the number of water crossings another method may be required as the new route cuts out 2 creek crossings.

The intended camping destination ended up not being as accessible as hoped. Rather than being a flat area with easy access to the creek it ended up being a completely inaccessible area with ~40' walls on either side of the creek. After exploring the area and seeing the falls in the distance at sunset, probably not maiden falls but rather a smaller set downstream, we headed back to the creek crossing near mile 4 to set up camp.

A ~30' section of the trail about 5-1/2 miles in had been completely obliterated by a landslide and was initially impassable with gravel and sand at a 45 degree angle. An impromptu trail repair was made using a trowel, feet, and an inadequate lifeline of paracord. The timing of the repair was opportune as we encountered another group coming from the other direction just as we were finishing up. The stability of the 6" wide path was much improved by the foot traffic and we did not feel the need to use the lifeline on the way back. There were a few spots where trees had recently come down across the trail, these were not overly difficult to go around but some bushwhacking was required.

There was a fire ban in effect during our trip so a camping stove was used instead. The weather was warm even at night and suitable for hammocks. The large number of rocks and trees at this camping spot gave more opportunities hang a hammock than than there were flat spots to pitch a tent. One member of the party tried their luck at fly fishing but was not successful. There were a lot of crayfish in the creek so an opportunity may have been missed there. The water just downstream of the crossing was deep enough for swimming which was a great way to cool off after the long hot hike. The ants were quite well trained in this area, as soon as we started setting up camp they came out looking for food but were only a minor nuisance. Mosquitoes were not an issue for us at this campsite.

Our hike out was enjoyable though just as hot as the hike in. We saw more hikers on the way back than we encountered on the previous day. Aside from the the one previously mentioned group, we had the trail to ourselves once we got past the Bullpen on the way in. In hindsight going at a cooler time of the year or following the watercourse in wet suits may have been a better way to go.

All in all it was a great hike with some excellent photo opportunities and a great adventure feel to it.

Link to downloadable topographical maps:

Link to hike video:
[ youtube video ]
West Clear Creek Trail #17
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A good friend of mine Chad, an Arizona native now living in Florida, was in town and wanted to do some hiking. Gisela was mentioned, but I had to break the news to him that its been closed for years. So WCC it was! It is incredibly different coming here on a weekday compared to a weekend. There were only 2 cars at the trailhead. I love all the shading there is at the beginning of the trail. After a short desert hike, we came to one of our favorite swimming holes with numerous levels of cliffs to jump off. There was also a new rope swing that was pretty fun. The water was very cold but that adrenaline always masks it out! Spent an hour or so hanging out and then hiked just up to the first crossing. After many spiritual experiences ** sources needed** my friend Chad had somehow developed a thing for stacking rocks so we made several rock piles that were pretty impressive. I called it acceptable graffiti, he called them masterpieces. Ran into a couple guys who were clearly lost on the well defined trail when they saw our rock pile, they thought it was the end of the trail. Im pretty sure after they saw us, they turned around and followed us back to the car. This is one of my favorite places in all of AZ and I was glad to share it with my bro.
West Clear Creek Trail #17
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Nice day hike along the West Clear Creek Trail. Water was flowing nicely and very cool and refreshing. Saw a Western Diamondback along the trail. :scared:

Otherwise and uneventful, wonderful hike! :D
West Clear Creek Trail #17
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A nice rainstorm swept through on Friday night. Forgot how humid the area gets in the summer. Saturday there was more breeze as there was a nice storm on the way.

West Clear Creek is nice and refreshing, but didn't find any good swimming holes along the trail.

The trail actually stays about 100 ft above the creek at most points. Although the trail is in excellent shape, I think I prefer the other parts of the creek more where you just slosh down the middle.

Edited to add: the rain did a number on the road in a few spots, the drive out was much worse than the drive in. I would not recommend anything without 4wd attempt this until the road is regraded. A subaru can probably make it, but anything less probably can get in but may not get out.
West Clear Creek Trail #17
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This was my first trip to lower West Clear Creek. I loved it! Scrumptious scenery and glorious swimming holes. I had this spot all to myself for the evening. I was in heaven.

West Clear Creek Trail #17
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Spring backpacking trip with fellas. This time around it was me, Dustin, Devin, Matt and Gil plus my little dog Trip on his first ever backpack. Devin and Dustin (the double Ds) would only be staying one night, while rest of us would stay for two. I had decided on a mellower trip than our usual Grand Canyon fare, with a meager 4.5 mile hike to camp with only 600' AEG. We got to the trailhead by 9:30am Saturday morning, but getting there was rougher going than expected as Bullpen Road is pretty effed up and rocky in some places. Got through with the two passenger cars, but I was really wishing we had brought Dustin's Sorento. It was a warm hike in but the creek crossings were chilly. I don't think Trip is much of a swimmer so I carried him across at all creek crossings. The Double Ds packed light so they nimbly hopped on the rocks, while those towing heavier packs (and dogs) were a little slower going. We enjoyed the beauty of the PJ covered canyon walls spreading before us, and I attempted to interpret some of the geology. Sego lilies, penstemon, and many other wildflower varieties added a little extra spice to our viewing pleasure. Trip got tired from hiking in the sun and hitched a ride on Dustin's back. We grabbed a great campsite at the 4th creek crossing among the dancing green leaves of sycamore, alder, and ash trees; overlooking a crystal clear pool backed by a classic red Supai terrace. Tents and hammocks were pitched, and Gil napped while the rest of us bantered. Dustin took a short swim, and I attempted to follow suit but only got knee deep before the cold spring flow (and female hikers clambering down the hill) thwarted my boxer-clad self from fully indulging. I took a few photos of the shimmering pool while the others built a formidable fire. We were sure hungry, and dinner exceeded expectations as Gil packed in Carne Asada, uncooked, which we grilled on hot rocks by the fire and consumed with homemade salsa and fire seared tortillas. Many laughs were had, but the days work and excitement got the best of me so Trip and I retired to our hammock for the night's rest.

Trip and I slept in as he seemed to be quite content in our hammock cocoon, as was I. Perhaps around 8 we rose to a lively group going about making breakfast over the fire. The day was already warming up fine, and while the morning would be pleasant, my afternoon would be one of the rougher ones I've had on a backpacking trip. Back to breakfast: yet another wonderful homecooked feast as Matt brought a few pounds of some flavorful shredded beef that we once again ate with tortillas and salsa. Not a typical breakfast, but excellent non the less. I'm not the biggest fan of traditional breakfast anyway. The Double Ds broke down their minimalist camp and set off back to Bullpen about 11am, while the remaining crew set off up the trail for a little noon-time day hike. We got 1.5-2 miles up, nearly to where the trail leaves the canyon bottom to climb up the north wall, and found a narrow outcrop that afforded a nice view for a rest. Gil brought "chile mangos", an apparent Trader Joes invention, which are always phenomenal. The beating sun wasn't too bad for most of us, but Trip seemed to be attracted to sitting in the shade of the junipers, so I carried him for a few stretches on the return. He looked to be smiling with closed eyes as he effortlessly sunbathed in my arms while I did all the work. We relaxed around camped and boiled some water as my gravity filter system seemed to be plugged and not working too well. Talk turned to the ridiculous amount of food we brought, and with that in mind, I proceeded to eat way too much snack food. My next plan was walk up stream in the late afternoon and get in some good photography, but that plan would be thwarted. I was starting to feel a bit under the weather as Trip and I headed out, and we were no longer on the trail so I ended up carrying him over the rocky boulders and downed trees left over from this spring's big snowmelt-fed flood. It was soon apparent that this was way too much work, and we returned to camp. I was hoping to leave Trip with other fellas while I went back, but a nasty combination of a headache and stomachache that was creeping up earlier now was coming on full force. Matt and Gil had wandered off so Trip and I crawled into the hammock for a nap. The other two returned with a piece of prickly pear they were to cook with dinner, and they got the fire going to cook it on the rocks. They summoned me from my rest to have a taste but my fowl stomach left me no choice but to decline. Matt gave me some antacid chews to sooth my stomach. Trip and I returned to our nap when the curse of the homemade hammock came back to bite. Just as had happened last year at Monument Creek, one of the whipped ends of my hammock gave way as I was rolling over, and the dog and I fell to the ground. This normally isn't a big deal if the ground below is clear, but we were perched over a small stump, which, fortunately, I had sawed flat its formerly pointy top. Pointy or not, it caught me in the ribs, which remained sore, and are probably bruised. I later saw that the stump also tore a hole in my hammock, meaning it isn't safe to use for the future. You there reading this are probably laughing or making a snarky remark now, because regardless of the hole, the hammock already failed and isn't necessarily that safe to begin with. I hope this story wouldn't deter others from trying hammock camping, as hammock camping itself is not dangerous if using the proper equipment, but apparently I don't have the finely tuned professional craftsmanship required to safely build my own hammock. I'll be buying a professionally made one for the next trip most assuredly. Getting back to the story: I'm sick to my head and my stomach, my hammock broke, my ribs are bruised, and all I want to do is lay down but now I have to fix the damned hammock in order to do so. Oh, and the dog insists on laying on the hammock which I am trying to fix. At least Trip came away from the fall unharmed. I got the hammock fixed and we lied back down for a while. Matt brought homemade carnitas for dinner on this night, and while I was napping, combined it with the grilled prickly pear and some cherry tomatoes I brought. I was feeling slightly better and arose, realizing that any hopes of good landscape photography that evening were long gone. Matt and Gil delighted in their creation, but I was still not feeling appetizer. When I finally convinced myself to eat, I had one taco and was finished. A pity, it was extraordinary but I couldn't stomach it. As the night went on, I gradually felt my normal self, and we made it til 9pm before calling it. It was then I noticed the puncture in the hammock, but used it anyway as I was in no mood to go to the ground on that night.

We arose when it got light, skipped breakfast, packed up and hit the trail around 7:30. I was feeling alright but still no appetite. Trip had been freezing the entire time I was trying to pack, trying to get me to hold him, but he warmed up nice and quick by hiking under the morning sun. We made good time across the dry section to the next creek crossing, and managed to cross with a little more finesse. Trip was getting tired, but the cool shade of the creek rejuvenated him to point where I only had to carry him to cross, but he made it back to the car under his own locomotion. The hike back seemed easier than the hike in, but the days work wasn't done as I still had to navigate rocky road back out.

This was definitely the most mellow backpacking trip I've done, but due to circumstances it was the roughest. It's funny, it's seems the easy trips give me the most problems, and the hard trips have less problems. That's how my backpacking journey has gone so far, at least. I'm especially disappointed that I didn't get in very much photography at all, but that's just how it goes. I'll definitely be back to WCC with a vengeance in the future. Regardless of the hiccups, I still had a great time, and I know the others did too. My little dog Trip did great though! I wish I could bring his big brother Giant along on one of these, but he's just too old. Not sure that I could bring Trip and anything harder than this though because it's too much to have to carry him and a full load!

Sego lily, various penstemon, many others!
West Clear Creek Trail #17
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Went to WCC with several Verde Valley friends (Steph/Sarah, Jen, Adam, Alexis, Elliot and my daughter Bekah). The original plan was to hike up the creek several miles and float back down...

I started this day off not really knowing what physically lied ahead...Not wanting to miss my routine lift, I awoke at 4:30am and hit the gym for some weights at 5:AM. Around 7:AM my daughter and I left and waited (a long time) at Beaver Creek until our ride Elliot picked us up in his rugged off-road beast!!

We all re-grouped at the end of Bull Pen road (FR215) and all immediately started to wade the creek rather than hit the trail. My daughter, Alexis and I (wanting to move faster) got out of the creek and hit the trail but then ended up waiting about an hour for the group to travel the short distance IN THE CREEK to the first swim hole. :?

For me, this first location turned out to be the highlight of the day. Water was really nice once you got used to the very slight chill and the cliff jumping was really fun.

We then marched onward, 7 y/o - 90lb Sarah being our anchor. I tried to assisted by putting Sarah on my shoulders, this definitely provided got some extra leg work for the day!! We arrived at the second swimming hole but it was rather crowded so again, we marched on...again with Sarah on my shoulders most of the way... :)

We arrived at the third crossing and the group unloaded for lunch. I wanted to see what was what, so I hiked on (stupidly w/o water) up the trail for probably another 2+ miles until I hit the final crossing...slightly before the upward climb. Not having water was pretty lame and restricted me substantially. I was SPENT and hot and very thirsty...I ended up drinking directly out of the creek and taking about a 5 minute swim to cool down...I easily made it back where my group was floating and enjoy lunch.

Traveling back, we stopped at the second swim hole, now much less crowded and enjoyed a final swim and enjoyed our company.

Was a fun day with a fun group!! Someday I will return and complete the entire hike!!
West Clear Creek Trail #17
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Have not had the dogs with us in a few months because of the heat. This hike has looks of opportunities for them and us to get in a cool off. Lots of people but after a mile it thinned out. Turned around as it was getting to warm for the dogs. Hiked with Judy and friend Korina.
West Clear Creek Trail #17
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Hello all, a couple of us tried to hike the West Clear Creak Trail from Bull Pen camping area and trailhead and found that the Bull Run Trailhead was CLOSED to the public as of May 23, 2013 for restoration and fire hazard reasons (according to the US Forest Service Ranger we talked to). Start your trip on Blodgett Basin Trail to hike down towards the creek. It took us 3 hours to get down in the middle of the day and only an hour to ascent the trail at 7am, so time your hike carefully. If you do that you'll pretty much have the creek to yourself and prime spots to camp. Just make sure you don't camp in the Bull Run Camping area to avoid a $250 fine.
If you happen to see my "Sceneca Creek State Park" cap down there, let me know!
Thanks and Happy Trails!
West Clear Creek Trail #17
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Another hike that has been on my list.

Absolutely perfect weather for this one. We did this one the recommended clockwise direction, affording us shade on the climb up and the creek for the later parts of the day.

5.85 miles gets the majority of the climbing out of the way on this one and takes you to the upper West Clear Creek Trail head. To this point all the views have been behind you. You need to remember to turn around and check out where you came from. Even the road walk up top isn't bad if you take in the scenery.

The drop into West Clear Creek gets a bit steep and loose in spots, but the views don't quit.

I had plans to do some 'splorin' up West Creek once we got to the bottom. Joey was feelin' a bit tired and really wasn't up another water hike. I kept telling him "Come on, lets see what's around that Corner", "I think I can hear another Waterfall ahead", "Look at that rock formation up there". We made it less than a quarter mile up creek. :( I'd really like to get farther up there.

We scurried back from the creek up to the trail and continued our way back. From this point you are 6.5 miles from the TH and 4 more creek crossings, none more than thigh deep. We saw our first people at the first Creek Crossing (Some Fishermen) and at every subsequent crossing the number of people increased. The Trail head and camping area was packed when we got back to the car.

I can see why the area is popular with the short hike to some swimming, a bit longer to some fishing, and plenty of places to explore and play in the water.

I'm glad I did the loop, but as others have commented, next time I'd just go farther up West Clear Creek.

A Video Playing with the New Camera:

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

To Bull Pen Trailhead
From Phoenix go North on Highway I-17 to the SR 260 turnoff. Follow State Route 260 East about 6 to 8 miles to the turnoff for for Bull Pen and West Clear Creek.(FR618) Follow FR618 North about 2.25 miles to turnoff for FR215. Follow FR215 East just over 3 miles to the end.

Cars can make it, many rocky sections are better suited for high clearance.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 108 mi, 2 hours 8 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 213 mi, 3 hours 48 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 66.7 mi, 1 hour 25 min
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