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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Grant Creek Canyon, AZ

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90 7 0
Guide 7 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
Rated
4.2
4.2 of 5 by 5
 
3
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
Canyoneering
Consensus
View 2
Grade3
WaterC
Risk
TimeIV
Statistics
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Loop 8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,871 feet
Elevation Gain 1 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,600 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 8-14 hrs
Kokopelli Seeds 21
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Perennial Waterfall & Perennial Creek
Backpack No
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
15  2019-09-13
Grant Creek Moonshine Creek
markthurman53
15  2017-03-11
Grant Creek Trail #305
SkyIslander18
20  2017-02-26
Grant Creek Trail #305
SkyIslander18
36  2013-06-15 RedRoxx44
47  2011-09-10 Vaporman
7  2010-09-06 nonot
Author nonot
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 236
Photos 1,969
Trips 476 map ( 4,511 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Aug, Sep → 6 AM
Seasons   Late Summer to Early Autumn
Sun  6:07am - 6:18pm
Official Route
 
1 Alternative
 
Water
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Culture Nearby
Waterfall splendour at a price
by nonot

Likely In-Season!
Overview: A technical canyoneering loop utilizing Grant Creek Trail and Cunningham Spur Trail.


Warning: Canyoneering involves descending narrows canyons and adventurers need to pay attention to the weather, do not go if there is any chance of rain.

For this trip, you will need to come equipped with appropriate technical gear. This means: harness, helmet, rappelling device, locking caribiners, 30 ft webbing, 3 quick links, and an iron will. GPS is recommended. Either bring 2x200 ft ropes, or a 200 ft rope and 200 ft pull-cord. A wetsuit is not required in summer, but bring a drybag and expect to get completely soaked.

This trip involves serious amounts of bushwhacking and down-climbing, so be prepared for very slow progress. You are forewarned

Be warned that Grant Creek Trail #305 is not conducive to hiking in the dark.

History: Even though it was published in Todd's book, it is doubtful this canyon has seen many descents.

Hike: From the trail-head near Cunningham camp-ground walk the swift trail back east along the road approximately a half mile to a road which branches right (south). Follow the road a short bit and find a trail on the left that descends a gully into Grant Creek. (Alternate: hike the road approximately 1 mile and find the trail which follows Grant Creek, this adds a bit of distance.)

Once next to Grant creek, a good trail (at first) is found. Follow this down the creek. As the canyon gets more rugged, the trail gets worse. Eventually you are hanging onto trees and traversing above several beautiful waterfalls. Continue down canyon, bushwhacking and manoeuvring in and by the creek. Making progress of maybe 0.5 mph, you will reach a spectacular set of cascades after about 90 minutes. The creek descends over 300 ft, and a bypass route can be found along the north side.

At 2 hours you reach a waterfall that blocks progress. Ascend to a rock escarpment on the northern (right LDC) side of the canyon and rig a sloping rappel of about 100 ft next to the cascade from a nice pine tree.

From here, your will is tested as to go approximately another mile will take you 2-6 hours. Downclimbing, bushwhacking, crawling, splashing, and will all be used. Expect to get physically abused by the New Mexican locust and a variety of vines that tend to hang at neck level to decapitate you. Towards the end it was found that benches on the north side allow some relief at times from the brutality.

Reaching the 2nd major obstacle of the canyon, the adventurer will peer over the edge of a two-stage waterfall, approximately 200 ft in total. I recommend using a tree on the north (right LDC) to rig a rappel for approximately 50 ft + 15 ft back from the edge. Rappel past the first bowl of 15 ft into the second bowl. In the second bowl, pull your rope and wrap a conveniently located rock for a final rappel of approximately 150 feet. Staying on the south side of the direct line of the falls will allow you to land on a small platform rather than in the plunge pool. Be careful as the rope pull once at the bottom is quite difficult.

From here you can take off your gear. A good trail exists from this point. Follow it down canyon to where you encounter an old water delivery system with a half mile of pipe used by an old settler. You will reach a good camp-site at the intersection with Grant Creek Trail #305. Turn right and follow the Grant Creek Trail up to the rim. Once at the top, you will encounter a junction with the Cunningham Trail. Turn right at this 3-way junction and follow the trail to the Cunningham camp-ground. At the camp-ground road, turn left and follow the road back to your vehicle.

Water Sources: Water runs along the canyon, there will be none along Grant Creek Trail.

Camping: There is a well-used camp site at the junction of the canyon and the Grant Creek Trail. Although I consider it unlikely, it is possible you could set up a camp here and complete the loop the next day.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2010-09-06 nonot
    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
    Grant Creek Canyon
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Met Chad on Saturday morning after another all-nighter at the Mount Graham telescope, and we soon left Safford, bound for Fort Grant. Chad promised an incredible waterfall, and I had no doubt that it would be. The first creek crossing past Fort Grant was washed out, so we parked, and set off on foot under a strong springtime sun. I eagerly hobbled along on a sprained ankle and hiking pole crutches, enjoying the icy snow melt against my ankle during the frequent creek crossings. Arriving at the Post Creek/Grant Creek fork, waded across and began following a lesser-traveled trail up Grant Creek canyon. Eventually, a cliff began to peer out above the pines in front of us. As we reached the base of the escarpment, we beheld the roaring whitewater, sliding out of a cleft in the bedrock, and cascading into a pool far below. It was an amazing sight. Mist from the falls floated through the air, creating rainbows and chilling the flesh. A family that had arrived before us began hiking down canyon, and we soon had the area to ourselves. Following numerous photos, ooh-ing and awe-ing, and a rest break, we began the return trek. Back in the main fork of Grant Creek Canyon, we turned to follow Post Creek upstream for a bit, checking out the pools. The afternoon had grown late, and my ankle had long been begging for rest by the time we reached the truck. The falls were definitely worth the trek! Back in Safford, we went our separate ways, and I made my usual visit to El Charro for Mexican food. Spent the night in the desert among the Pinaleno foothills at my usual spot, and then headed for Superior for the third adventure of the weekend: Silver King ghost town tour. Another great adventure with a great friend. Thanks Chad! :)
    Grant Creek Canyon
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    My 2nd trip up to Grant Falls after seeing them for the 1st time 2 weeks ago.
    I HAD to go back, Preston was in town and it was mandatory that he saw this gem before the great snow melt flow over disappears soon. Preston arrived meeting me at Roper Lake and on a swollen gimpy ankle :o :(
    We took off to and through Fort Grant then onto FR 157 arriving at the first creek crossing that was flowing heavy. Decided against the crossing, parked and started our hike from there.

    First mile was warm open country :next: we then entered the shaded scenic Grant Creek forest :next: 3 icy cold creek crossings :next: hung a right up Grant Creek Canyon :next: .75 miles up and 1 more creek cross and we were at the base of the falls ..... I remember Preston saying Wow, I did too!
    We spent an hour at the falls getting pics, snacking, resting and just taking it all in before returning back the way we came.

    The falls again were Awesome, but I was just as impressed with Preston on this day completing that hike on his bad ankle!
    Preston is a tough :pk: and a hell of a lot of fun to adventure with -
    Thank You my friend!
    Great Trip!
    :D
    Grant Creek Canyon
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    My first visit up to Grant Falls!
    Grant Creek Trail :next: Grant Creek Canyon :next: Grant Falls.
    We nailed this one, Grant/Post creek was flowing as strong as I have ever seen it making for both a good thing and bad. The good was big water flow, big sounds & great waterfalls along the entire trail up. The bad was the 3 mandatory creek crossings to get to the falls. The flow of the first crossing convinced me it would just be better to not mess around with shoe & sock removals and just plow through. My partners chose to skip this idea and backtrack to another area to hike, I understood ..... cold wet feet hiking sucks!
    So solo I pressed on with soaked shoes, 2 more crossings and up Grant Creek Canyon. I then made the mile climb up to the big falls cold, wet and now in light falling snow ..... and it was worth it, the falls were Awesome!
    Back down at Grant Creek, I spent a much needed 1/2 hour refueling and thawing out my piggies over a quick fire.
    Reunited with my partners down below and together we hiked back out to the FJ.
    Grant Creek never disappoints and I now have a new favorite Graham waterfall!
    Thank You Dave & Kathy :yr:

    Note - FR 157 in has become a challenge to drive. Not quite 4x4 yet, but it requires very high clearance with patience.

    Grant Falls -
    [ youtube video ]
    Grant Creek Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Started a weekend canyoneering trip to Mt Graham by hitting his longer 'less interesting' technical canyon on the first day and was pleasantly surprised to find yet another sweet canyon tucked away on this lush sky island. :y: Dropped down upper Grant Canyon from the road and passed many great mini falls and cascades while bushwhacking thru the wet forrest before hitting the first rappel. It looked possibly bypassable but the rock is so slick that we figured it best to just rappel it at around 100ft. The canyon then drops thru a cool & slick chute section. I thought it'd be sweet to do a 8ft slide but was quite shocked when the slick rock prevented me from stopping and I took a bend and continued uncontrollably another 20 feet down the chute. :o Thankfully some small pools and my grippy shoes were enough to stop me from continuing on another 20ft onto the hard unforgiving rocks below... :whistle: After much more rock hopping & bushwhacking we reached the 200ft falls and broke it up by rappelling 70ish feet to a ledge with an anchor option. When everyone was good with my anchor choice we pulled ropes and continued another 130ish feet down the rest of these sweet falls. This rappel sequence made the whole canyon worthwhile IMHO. :D It was late afternoon by the time we reached the bottom, a storm was slowing working its way towards us, so after dropping gear we hastily hiked down canyon to join up with the Grant Creek trail for the steep hike out. :sweat: It was steep yet tolerable since it was at a decent grade. The rain & hail pounded upon us for the last couple miles so the concrete restrooms at the TH were a much welcome relief to rest in & change into dry clothes. :lol:

    I'm a little split on whether to call the canyon a 3A or 3C since it's not a wild flowing canyon by any means... That final falls put you thru the flow but it just gets you a lil wet and of course the slippery rock to deal with throughout the canyon. No wetsuit is needed in the summer but I guess I'll call it a 3C to warn people of the wet slippery rock. ;)
    Grant Creek Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Hampered by losing the Grant Creek trail in the dark several times. This is probably not a beginner canyon even though the technical difficulty is not too high as the nontechnical/physical difficulty is higher than average.

    Sat down for a break and heard a cicada. After a minute I figure out the cicada is a black and white rattler coiled a foot away. Yikes!

    Permit $$
    None

    Coronado Forest
    MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
    Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To canyon trip
    From Safford, take highway 191 south to Swift Trail (366). Turn right (west) and climb 20-something miles onto Mt Graham. A mile past the Grant Creek TH is the turnoff on the south (left) for Cunningham camp. Turn left onto the road and a few parking spots are located within 50 ft.
    page created by nonot on Sep 06 2010 9:38 pm
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