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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.

West Clear Creek Trail #17 to Maiden Falls, AZ

no permit
105 17 0
Guide 17 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Camp Verde > Camp Verde
4.7 of 5 by 9
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 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 12 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,749 feet
Elevation Gain -1,800 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 10 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 21
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Perennial Waterfall & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
6  2019-06-02
West Clear Creek
7  2018-09-08 friendofThunderg
8  2018-09-08 chumley
18  2018-06-07
West Clear Creek - White Box to BullPen
10  2016-05-15 MountainMatt
4  2014-06-28 JoelHazelton
33  2012-10-06 The_Dude
8  2012-10-06 Eartheist
Page 1,  2
Author tristoned
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 0
Photos 4
Trips 0 map ( 0 miles )
Age 35 Male Gender
Location flagstaff, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Sep, Oct, Apr, May → 9 AM
Seasons   Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:10am - 6:32pm
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Wear good boots with ankle support
by tristoned

Likely In-Season!
Following some sound advice from fellow hikers, a friend and I decided to head to Maiden Falls via West Clear Creek #17. The trip was absolutely amazing. This hike takes you through some amazing red rock canyons in the heart of West Clear. Using Trail #17 to enter the canyon, we hiked approximately 2.3 miles to reach the creek, using a very steep access to actually reach the water. We marked our entrance on the north side of the creek with cairns. As we arrived at this point around 5pm, and darkness was already beginning to envelope the canyon, we only hiked another half mile or so up the creek and decided to break camp at a small waterfall on the south side of the canyon. There is no marked trail heading upstream, although there is noticeable wear in many places. This hike required that you cross at a number of points, and there are many places on the creek where you can boulder hop across-- but eventually, you will have to swim to reach the falls.

In the morning we made breakfast and headed out in search of the falls. This is one of the most beautiful parts of the canyon I have seen, and I've spent a good deal of time over the past few months exploring it. You have to use your own judgment in when to cross the creek, and where. At some points vegetation on one side may be thicker than the other and it is wise to cross... I lost count very quickly. After approximately three or so miles of bushwhacking we arrived at a box canyon. The water was deep and cool, and as my dry bag I had fixed to my hip via carabiner had a small hole due to mesquite, I had to swim to the falls with one hand. The water was extremely cold, and if I had planned a bit better, I would have brought my mattress to float our cameras and other valuables across. Maiden falls is just beyond this canyon, and is a very unique feature. I have to admit that the cold swim made the falls a bit dissapointing, but they are fantastic nonetheless. On the hike back I decided to scout out a wash and see if there was a way around the swim. Though steep, there are washes and connecting goat paths you can use to avoid it, but it is very risky, and I had to take a rather fast 250 foot vertical slide down a dusty wash that would make Bear Grylls very proud. At least my Dog thought it was fun.

After a few hours of fishing for dinner we made it back to camp with a plentiful haul and good photos of the falls. The hike out is difficult with a weighted pack, and as my buddy had realized he had lost his gun at some point the day before, we hiked out later than expected and caught the mid-morning heat of early September. We hiked downstream, found our cairn, and ascended back to the west clear creek trail #17 trailhead in approximately 2.5 hours. Overall it was a great hike, and an opportunity to experience some of the most beautiful and remote areas west clear has to offer. You can choose to hike out by taking trail #17 to the bullpen if you want to park another vehicle there... it would eliminate hiking out via the steep and slippery canyon route you came down.

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2010-09-19 tristoned
    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
    West Clear Creek Trail #17 to Maiden Falls
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I've been wanting this trip for about 3 years now and I finally pulled it off this weekend. Solo overnight backpack, which is just the way I like it.

    A 6:30am departure from south Tempe got me to the trailhead around 9am, with a Filibertos stop for a heavy breakfast and a gas station stop in Camp Verde. The trailhead for me was actually about 3/4mi away from the real trailhead. My new Forester is more capable than my old Tacoma, but that is a pretty rough road. About halfway through the walk to the official trailhead I saw another vehicle with a HAZ sticker. One car, not bad, and I'm down with the HAZ representation. At the official trailhead there were 3 more cars parked :doh: So much for being alone. There aren't many reasons to hike in from that brutal upper trailhead in mid-June. My only hope was that they wouldn't be camped at the falls.

    The hike down was standard (this is my 3rd attempt at this trip so I know the trail in decently well). The campsite where the trail reaches the creek is prime, and could be a destination in itself for a relaxing late-spring or early-fall overnighter. The swimming hole next to it had some nice 9-10 inch trout swimming around. Biggest I saw the entire trip. My goal was about 2.5 miles upstream, so off I went. Working my way up the creek was moderately difficult with the heavy pack. Trekking poles were invaluable through stream crossings and when rock hopping with wet feet. After ~2 miles I hit the 50-yard red sandstone narrows. I inflated my raft, drybagged my camera gear and swam across. The quarter mile after the narrows was brutal. For some reason I thought the falls were right after the first set of narrows. While there was an awesome waterfall there (which I later learned is technically Indian Maiden Falls???), there are at least 2 more mandatory swims and a fair amount of bushwhacking and scrambling adventure before reaching my destination waterfall. This is standard stuff, except for my chosen waterproofing method of a drybagged camera and blow-up pool raft. It was a huge pain having both hands full while trying to pick my way the rest of the way upstream.

    After the last mandatory swim I finally saw my destination waterfall! And then a group of 8 people camped next to it :doh: I must say they were perfectly nice people and even offered to share the dinner they were getting ready to make. If anyone was giving off a vibe it was me, as I selfishly wanted/expected the place to myself. But I had built up the solitude of this destination in my head and I had no choice but to wallow in self-pity for a while. :roll: I found a corner and sulked while eating a peanut butter sandwich and listening to them laugh and splash around in the swimming hole below the falls. Finally I pulled myself together and went to locate a campsite. I decided to set up on one of the ledges above the swimming hole, tucked away behind a tree so it wasn't in clear view of the waterfall. After setting up camp I went to scout out photos of the falls. Telephoto is the key to capturing this spot. There are numerous factors contributing to this, but I stand by it. The reason I mention this is, after I pulled out my camera, my telephoto lens (Tokina 50-135) promptly started giving errors. Err 01 lens contacts need to be cleaned. Pencil eraser didn't do the trick as it had in the past. Fortunately I could still take photos with it, but I could only see clearly enough through the viewfinder to compose the shot, so any sort of focusing was 100% guesswork. Also, my camera errored and shut off after every shot. Not a good situation. I half-assed a few shots, not wanting to put forth too much effort as I had no idea if they were going to turn out in-focus, then went back to camp to consider my situation and sulk some more. :oplz:

    Seeing as how my goal was photography, and I couldn't shoot these falls with the wideangle lens, right around sunset I made the decision to pack up camp and backtrack to the first set of falls. Not only would this give me the opportunity to shoot confidently with my wide lens, but I could have a very quiet night at a campsite more ideal than the sandstone slab I was on. So pack up I did, and I bushwhacked and swam back downstream. After setting up camp at an absolutely idyllic spot above the first set of falls, I went for a quick night swim, then dried off and passed out. I was up at 5am the next morning and spent about 2 hours photographing the falls, until it was too bright.

    Hiking back downstream was relatively uneventful until I hit the big ascent. Climbing out of the canyon was brutally hot and exposed. I'm not one to hike 50 feet and stop, but there were definitely portions of this ascent where that was exactly what I was doing. It was about 1,600 feet over 2 miles in ~100 degree weather, and I felt every foot and every degree of it. When I got to my car, which was parked in the shade, the thermostat read 97. Thankfully, I had a cold Gatorade in the car, and I finished my adventure with mediocre Mexican food in Camp Verde.

    I'll be back, and next time I'll spend 2 nights. Photos to come soon :)
    West Clear Creek Trail #17 to Maiden Falls
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Wanted to visit a side of WCC I had not been to before. The goal was to relax, but this trip is quite strenous. I got to wade, swim, view cool wildlife and spectacular waterfalls, so it was worth it, but very little relaxing was accomplished. It was peaceful at night having the creek mostly to myself.

    On the way out, I continued past my dropin point and on the next quarter mile ended up in an angry swarm of bees and got stung multiple times. I didn't see the bees nor the hive. Luckily I am not allergic. I had seen at least 3 other swarms of green bees in other areas along the creek that were not bothered by my presence.

    Nearly died hiking out at the hottest part of the day. Didn't estimate the right time the shadow of the mountain would shade the trail.

    Surpisingly almost no flowers at all.
    West Clear Creek Trail #17 to Maiden Falls
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Fantastic hike up West Clear Creek through beautiful red wall canyons and cool water. We started at the Bullpen trailhead, hiked the 4+ miles to where trail #17 cuts up the mountain to the north, which is where we got off #17 and shot down to the creek via a rough wash/gulley, slightly challenging, mainly due to trying to avoid the dagger yuccas in the way. There is an old hunter's blind at the bottom. Once back down at the creek, we hiked/bushwacked another 2 miles or so, made camp, and then hiked another couple miles upstream in search of the falls. The "trail" through this section is not much more than various game trails through thick brush and leaf litter washed up from high tide. Much of it you have to wade or boulder hop through the creek. It was very fun for the most part; weather was great, water was cool and refreshing, the only less than perfect part was when you choose a slimy rock to step on and it tumbles you in the water inevitably banging up your ankle bones or knees. But still very worth it. You can't take on a trip like this and not expect some bumps and bruises and scrapes. We all came out with only minimal injuries. Definite chance of twisted ankles though, hiking both in the water and on the pseudo trails beside the creek. We didn't quite make it to Maiden Falls, as we were losing light pretty fast and we weren't too keen on bushwhacking in the dark, though we did bring flashlights, the prospect of doing that by flashlight did not sound fun. Made it back no problem though; much faster going downstream than up, I jumped in the creek and backstroked through any section that was deep enough, but those stretches aren't very long and I had to get up at every small rapids and either tromp through or get out and hike beside the creek whenever it was easier.
    Hardly saw any wildlife, which is of course good and bad; a few garter snakes crossed our paths, didn't see or hear any rattlers, which was good. Lots of scat: I saw what I thought was mountain lion, deer and some old bear scat. We did see some eyes reflecting back at us up on the canyon wall across from our camp site, but couldn't tell what it was, some kind of small cat we guessed. It was trying to climb across the almost vertical canyon wall like a mountain goat. The most unusual animal we saw was a caterpillar-like thing that had long thick brown fur. We at first thought it was some kind of fungus, since it wasn't moving and was entirely covered in fur, until we saw one slowly crawling down a nearby tree. I have since learned this is a puss caterpillar or flannel moth and the fur is actually venomous! I did pet one though (couldn't help it) and I had no reaction.
    The hike back to the Bull Pen the next day was much easier since it is mostly downhill the whole way. Even going back up at the hunter's blind to get back on #17 seemed easier, as we found a slightly easier path up the gulch that wasn't visible when we were at the top looking for a way down.
    All in all, a spectacular trip, and I'm looking forward to doing it again, though next time we'll probably try the 3 day thru hike from the north end down to the Bull Pen.
    West Clear Creek Trail #17 to Maiden Falls
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    My first trip into West Clear Creek, but now definitely not the last. We did the Bull Pen in to the falls and back, found a really nice campsite about 7 miles in. Water was a bit chilly, but oh so nice on banged up feet. I had a nice GPS route but it unfortunately got deleted somehow. I had downloaded the track from sirdubious, and we followed that fairly closely. Much past about 7 miles in you are just trying to find the past of least resistance, and we were running out of daylight on the way back to camp so decided to get a bit more wet. I am already planning a longer hike for a return here next summer.
    West Clear Creek Trail #17 to Maiden Falls
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Over the past two summers, my son (t282828) and I pieced together a full descent of this magnificent wilderness with mostly day hikes, capped off with an overnighter for the final, remote central section. Day trips were accessed using nine different entry/exit points, including (from top to bottom) Willow Valley, Clover Creek, Tom's Creek, Maxwell #37, Tramway #32, FR142E (Point Trail), Calloway #33 (FR142B), Powerline Crossing (FR142A) and Cash Tank/White Box Hanging Garden (also FR142B, note that there are two non-connected segments in this area with the same designation - EDIT: this road now signed as 142J). The final trek from Cash Tank down to Bull Pen Ranch required two full days to cover the roughly 16 mile distance over terrain so rugged we averaged less than one mile per hour. Bittersweet to have no more new stretches to discover, but there's so much variety and beauty in this canyon that a lifetime wouldn't be enough to experience it fully. Flow on, WCC!

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    To canyon trip
    Getting to the trailhead is a bit of an adventure in itself. This hike is only a few miles from my house in Sedona... and I think its best I give directions closest to me. For those of you heading from the south you may want to get off I-17 onto 260 and head toward the bullpen. For all others, get off I-17 onto 179 South and remain on it after it turns to dirt (fr618) after 4-6 miles turn left onto FR 214. After 2.5 miles turn right onto FR214A. Follow to TH. Enjoy!

    Anonymous writes: 214 took us nowhere. We went back and turned on 215 (instead of 214) and that took us straight to a parking/camping area with a gate to the trailhead.
    page created by tristoned on Sep 19 2010 10:55 pm
    1 TB Flash Drive... $40
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