Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
Where are the oaks?
A lush winding canyon surrounded by steep canyon walls with a slow running perennial creek running down the center. Water appears to come from springs, and disappears underground in a few places. Don't be surprised if the creek bed is dry near the mouth of the canyon.
The trailhead is not marked, but is an obvious dirt pull-out that is just a few hundred feet shy of the mouth of the canyon. You can keep going and drive all the way up to the canyon, that is if you haven't had enough of the Arizona pinstriping you've already acquired on your approach to the trailhead. There are signs just inside the canyon that warn against further motor vehicle use beyond the posted area.
The route is completely off trail. Occasional game trails make for the easiest travel, but most of the hike involves boulder hopping, creek crossings and a bit of bushwhacking. The canyon gets better and better as it sheer walls tower above you 200-300 feet. The walls are vertical and in some areas deeply undercut, creating a canopy of stone around the winding curves. I didn't see any "oaks" like the name hints, but there are plenty of sycamore, cottonwood, sumac, and one small stand of maples.
At about 1.5 miles in you will begin to notice a pair of stone spires towering about 200 feet above the canyon. Not long after this, you will come to a seemingly impassable boulder jam (van size boulders). I tried climbing up a cliff to the left but ended up too high. I stowed my camera gear and bouldered my way through the obstacle. As an alternate, you could try one of a couple game trails that meander up a slope between the stone spires. I returned this way, wanting to get an overhead view of the canyon from above the tree line.
Once you pass the twin spires, the canyon opens up, the creek has completely disappeared and overall the hike becomes less intresting. I continued on for about 1/2 mile beyond this point, enjoying the solitude and the fall colors of the sycamore.
There are several forested pull-outs along Turkey Creek to camp. Many spots already have a fire ring. If you find any fire rings near the cliff walls, please move them away from the cliffs. Fires too close to the cliff create ugly black smoke scars on on the cliff walls.
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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