Stark remote craggy and challenging
Route with waypoints
This is a route in the traditionally Grand Canyon sense although perhaps not as strenuous. The 5.5 mile route starts at the head of the canyon from FS 80 with a scant footpath dropping into the canyon. Once into it there are craggy rocks and steep cliffs all along the beautiful remote canyon. It gets deeper as the route approaches Canyon Lake. There is a guano cave above the canyon floor to the north at 33 33.67N 111 23.69W. A bit further west is a choke rock requiring technical climbing down and more importantly up! So access to Canyon Lake is problematic, ie without technical gear ascending the choked section back up and out does not appear possible to this non-climber author. Back track to 33 33.602 N, 111 23.565 W for the exit to the south which is a scramble up a 560 ft elevation gain. Pick up an old ridgeline road going south that gentle descends. Once a perennial stream and water impoundment is located, ford across above the water impoundment structure. Your shoe tops won't get wet fording this creek. Pick up another old road once across heading generally southeast. To get to the cars, ford Mesquite Creek where your shoe tops might get wet.
The stark and remote beauty of this canyon makes it a worthwhile hike. Bush whacking and boulder hopping are necessary to both avoid causal water and circumnavigate boulder piles. The climb out is a bit arduous so it's not for the casual hiker. GPS, long pants, sturdy boots and gloves are recommended. Anyone injured will have a difficult time getting out or summoning help as there is limit satellite accessibility and certainly a helicopter rescue is not possible in the canyon itself.
Two cautionary notes 1) Investigating the guano caves means getting it on your shoes, ankles and higher up one body. Perspiration makes the guano stick and stink! It is an unpleasant odor to both yourself and your hiking companions. Stripping and bathing in Mesquite Creek might be mandated by your hiking companions especially the owners of the shuttle cars. 2) The choke rock is a significant vertical drop and a non-technical climber might not be able to retrace their route out. Consider this obstacle carefully before descending this rock.
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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