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Oak Grove Canyon, AZ

no permit
219 10 1
Guide 10 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Globe S
4 of 5 by 5
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,232 feet
Elevation Gain 459 feet
Accumulated Gain 611 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.06
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Perennial Creek
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
7  2017-12-03 RickVincent
33  2017-03-02
Turkey Creek Canyon
50  2014-12-07
Turkey Creek - Eastern Ridge
38  2014-12-06
Rug Road via Oak Grove Canyon
15  2014-11-16 RickVincent
22  2014-03-16 SkyIslander18
24  2012-11-22 RickVincent
4  2012-10-13 ssk44
Page 1,  2
Author RickVincent
author avatar Guides 4
Routes 5
Photos 3,341
Trips 642 map ( 3,009 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Nov, Mar, Apr → 7 AM
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:09am - 6:20pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Where are the oaks?
by RickVincent

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.

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

2012-11-25 RickVincent
    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 Triplog Reviews
    Oak Grove Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Spent a few hours in this canyon. Saw a pack of coatimundi and a whole mess of turkey on the approach to the trailhead. Several Javelina on the way out. Fall color has not yet peaked in the Aravaipa-Turkey Creek area. It has been unusually warm. Maples in Oak Grove still mostly green. Plenty of yellows and oranges among the sycamore and other varieties. Returned to the trail to find yet another flat tire. Getting to be epidemic.
    Oak Grove Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Turkey Creek - Eastern Ridge
    We awoke to a nice crisp 27° morning, which meant I was up and out wandering around in the dark for hours before Tracey was willing to be torn away from the warmth of her new 0° sleeping bag.
    Oh yes, the Klymit(sp?) bag worked out well... no wait, it worked too good! ](*,)
    How can I expect her to going for early-morning coffee, let alone early-morning hikes? :whistle:

    Well, finally the sun hit close enough to our camp for Tracey to stand in the warmth, and 8:30 am(!!) we were in the creek, ok, so it was dry, but at least we were hiking.

    After yesterday's Oak Grove Canyon hike along with the surprise (to Tracey) route change, she wasn't going to let me get away with that again and got me to spill-the-beans on my surprise plan for today.
    Ok, so we'll only go a little way along Turkey Creek before we make a 90° left turn and follow an ancient Jeep trail along a spine up to the top of the long north-south ridge east of Turkey Creek. This ridge and most of the Jeep trail continues all the way north to overlook Aravaipa Creek.
    If only we had more time, :STP: we would have continued to the northern terminus before retracing our route.

    But no matter, we had a long seemingly ongoing climb along the Jeep road to the ridge. As usual, at each flat spot there would be another hill to climb but eventually we reached the top. Ok, which way do we go? South all the way to reach Four Mile Road, or north toward Aravaipa? Knowing we wouldn't go that far either way, we opted for northward to what appeared to be a high-point with some great views. Which is where we had our PB&J lunch and I took the pan photos and video.

    Now, do we continue on or go back and explore more of Turkey Creek? Need I have asked? Let's see if Turkey Creek can hold a candle to Oak Grove Canyon? Let's find out! It didn't take quite as long for the descent but at times it was harder due to steep and loose rocky road, now pretty much an ATV trail down to a point.

    Back in the dry creek bed we headed for the bend where we would meet Turkey Creek. As we were getting close we noticed a broken down corral off to the side so of course we had to explore it first. Not much but a few old cement water tanks so we cut straight across to finally reach Turkey Creek itself.

    See my Turkey Creek Wandering photoset/triplog for the rest of the hike, as well as the rest of the photos and the second video.

    One video filmed in Turkey Creek...
    Panorama from the ridge East of Turkey Creek
    Oak Grove Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Rug Road via Oak Grove Canyon
    After the 4 hour drive from Mesa we were eager to hit the trail... as soon as we could limber up our legs from sitting so long.
    Although I had mapped out a number of possible GPS routes in the area, I really had no idea exactly where we would go so it was a matter of let's explore this small box canyon... not realizing it WAS oak Grove Canyon and it continued around the bend. Ok, we're heading the right direction now, let's continue until we can exit up and out one side or another, or keep going until it's time to turn around.
    (At least that's what I told Tracey) :STP:

    Even though we missed the peak colors by a week or two, there was plenty of beautiful scenery that conspired to keep our pace in scenic-mode... and we enjoyed it immensely!
    After passing through a few tight/wet spots in which we endeavored to keep dry, I noticed some javelina trails running some distance up the western wall of the canyon. They seemed to be well-used so I figured one way or another they probably continued up and out of the canyon.
    So, giving Tracey a little encouragement we began climbing. First through the thick brush with plenty of cat's claw and shin daggers to avoid, then the steep, loose-rock slopes and finally climbing boulders through a series of small pour-offs.

    By this time Tracey was wondering what's the point? along with I don't want to go back down, there better be a way back to camp!
    And once we reached a saddle with another deep canyon ahead of us, she quickly set off around on a ledge seeking an escape route, only to end up at a dead-end. Along with the dead-end she realized her two-way radio battery was also dead and she couldn't get a response when yelling to me... because I was scouting out a route to continue climbing even higher as I believed there was a route which would allow me to spring my original plan on Tracey... since she refused to ride along Rug road, I figured we could hike the worst part and she could see what she was missing.
    Ha! :guilty:

    But now, where is she? I haven't heard anything so I better go see if she dropped over the 100'+ cliff she had been skirting.
    Thankfully she hadn't, and now it was time to tell her my original plan... especially since we were actually able to exit the canyon where I hoped. Following the route I mapped out before leaving home, by now we were closer to the road than taking that awful route back to the canyon floor so Tracey was all for it... if we could continue.

    I was pretty sure we were quite close to Rug Road but with another saddle to cross that may reveal another drop, we had our hopes up. And once we saw three dirt-bikes ripping along Rug Road we knew we had it made.
    As soon as we hit the road we looked for a large boulder to sit on and have our PB&J lunch before the 3-mile hike along Rug Road back to our campsite in Turkey Creek. (Technically our campsite was in the first part of Oak Grove Canyon.)

    Anyway, Tracey got to experience Rug Road, albeit on foot, and all it did was reinforce the idea she doesn't want take a drive on it. (Any time soon maybe, but I have hopes I can wear her down due to some destinations I know she would like to reach without too long a hike)

    On the last many-stepped hill back to Turkey Creek, I noticed a towel laying in the road, and immediately thought someone had thrown-in-the-towel and had given up trying to drive up the hill.
    BTW, the towel and the hill are in the photoset.

    Back to camp it's time to set up then spend a relaxing afternoon-evening, thinking of what to do tomorrow. Another secret plan of mine... but you'll have to wait for the next triplog to find out.
    Again I'm posting the full set of photos on HAZ.

    Only one short video today:
    Water dripping from a wall in Oak Grove Canyon
    Oak Grove Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Rolling into Safford on Sunday morning, I picked up Chad and we were soon off on the long drive to the eastern end of Aravaipa. Driving past the Aravaipa trailhead into Turkey Canyon offered a brief glimpse of the beauty that lay in store for us the next day. We parked near the Turkey Creek cliff dwelling and set off on foot on the road. The road hike ended soon and we were boulder hopping up Oak Grove Canyon below massive cliffs of buff colored conglomerate, well guarded by a continuous stand of cottonwoods and sycamores. Water and then a flowing stream gradually appeared as we moved slowly up the well shaded canyon, which included an unexpected bigtooth maple patch. Chad found some great photo ops, while I sloshed my way through the creek a bit farther to Jackson Spring and the two rock towers near point 3828'. We soon regrouped and made our way out of this sliver of paradise onto the dusty route of the Turkey Creek road once more. "Hey, let's check out the Rug Road", so we did, climbing out of the canyon up god-awful, undercarriage wrecking rock steps onto a pleasant, open ridge which offered a great view of the surrounding area. I managed to slip and fall on my ass, a victim of this savage, treacherous old road. Eventually we made it back to my truck, where we partook of the ice chest then made the short walk up to the cliff dwelling. Hiking back down, we set up camp nearby, next to an old corral in the creek bottom, and waited for darkness to arrive. Once it had, we returned to the cliff dwelling for some night photography experimentation. The evening was concluded with a colorful, roaring campfire, fire grilled quesadillas on fresh tortillas from the tortilleria in Willcox, birthday cake, and a pottery firing experiment. It had been a great day. The next day, Aravaipa awaited...
    Oak Grove Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I had not been out to the Aravaipa area in almost 3 years so I was very excited about this overnight trip! Preston picked me up in Safford and together we traveled out to the canyon with a few scenic & historic stops along the way before arriving at the mouth of Turkey Creek around noon. After a short drive up the creek, we picked a campsite for the night then threw on the packs for our afternoon hike.....

    ..... after walking the remainder of Turkey Creek road and rounding the bend at the corrals, we entered Oak Grove Canyon. The route up this canyon was a little rough & slow going at times, but well worth it! Better than expected March greenery along the creek, some dramatic high canyon walls & bends with a few spring flowers here & there. It was very nice!
    After exiting the canyon, we hiked up the Rug Road a couple of miles for the overlooks.
    Man ..... what a rough road only the first mile of this is, I had to 4x4 hike it!
    We then walked back down Turkey Creek road to our campsite at dusk to begin the night activities.

    After sunset, we made the very short hike up to the Turkey Creek Cliff Dwelling for a super fun full moon photography session with the dwelling & stars. Then it was back down to camp for a "colorful" fire, quesadillas & chips, pottery firing (there is just no end to the Yeti's talent) and good campfire conversation. My day ended with full moonlight shining through my tent and visions of Aravaipa Canyon in my head .....

    Thanks Preston for spending my B-Day with me in this most awesome area, Twas a wonderful day!
    Oak Grove Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Woke just before 3am on Thanksgiving Day. On the road at 3:30am and arrived at Turkey Creek at 6:30am, just before sunrise. Took about 1/2 hour to navigate the narrow winding road down Turkey Creek in my 4x4 Tahoe. I wish I could have made the Tahoe a bit thinner for this trip, as I picked up plenty of new pin-striping.

    Arrived at the trailhead near the mouth of the canyon and started my hike about 7:10am. I planned this trip as a photo-taking adventure and so my progress was slow, as I stopped several times along the way for tri-pod set-ups at various locations.

    Going was mostly easy until reaching the huge boulder jam near the twin spires. I stowed my camera gear and prepared for a little bit of boulder scrambling. The canyon seemed to get less interesting past the boulder jam. The canyon walls opened up and the creekbed was dry.

    I continued on about 1/2 mile hoping for more, but then decided to turn around. On my return I avoided the boulder jam by hiking up a hilly slope between the spires. This gave me a birds eye view over the tree line of the canyon. I hiked down the other side of the slope and found myself back on the canyon floor.

    Unlike last year, the stand of maples had barely started to turn colors. Only a few red and yellow leaves which made it hard to find. I had missed them on my way into the canyon and almost missed them on the way out. I guess I was looking for this bright mass of red and yellow leaves like last November. The sycamores and cottonwood, on the other hand, were a mixed bag of at peak or post-peak.

    I continued out towards the mouth of the canyon and back to my vehicle. I was on the road at 1:30pm and made my way back to Mesa. Arrived at my house at 5:45pm, closing out a busy day of 8 hours driving and 6 hours hiking. Best part may have been the smoked turkey that Anna had been preparing since noon. My folks came over and we enjoyed a spectacular Thanksgiving Day dinner for the four of us.
    Oak Grove Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This is a nice alternative to Aravaipa when you don't have permits. We left Mesa at 5:30am. Once arriving at Aravaipa wilderness area we turned left and enjoyed a beautiful drive down Turkey Creek. Stopped at the Salado ruins then continued on toward Oak Grove Canyon.

    Fall colors were everywhere, on the trees and on the ground. Sycamores and cottonwoods are past their peak. Came across a stand of maples that displayed a full range of greens, yellows and reds.

    We hiked about 1.2 miles back and then headed back out the way we came. Huge canyon walls and dramatic curves at the heart of this canyon. More to explore, I look forward to going back again.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To canyon trip
    Follow directions that leads to east side trailhead of Aravaipa Canyon. Continue beyond the designated trailhead for Aravaipa Canyon for 1.8 miles to Turkey Creek. Turn left at Turkey Creek. Road is unmaintainted and a 4x4 is highly recommended, although an experienced driver in a high clearance 2wd will get you there. Travel 2.5 miles to pull-out on road left. Expect plenty of new Arizona pin-striping by the time you reach the parking area.
    page created by ssk44 on Nov 25 2012 3:51 pm
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