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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.

Hunter Creek Falls, AZ

no permit
11 4 0
Guide 4 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson E
2.5 of 5 by 4
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,167 feet
Elevation Gain -330 feet
Accumulated Gain 369 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.1
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
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12  2016-05-14
Hunter Creek - Bear Flat - Gordon Canyon Loop
15  2016-05-14
Hunter Creek - Bear Flat - Gordon Canyon Loop
11  2012-06-03 Kel1969
Author WilliamnWendi
author avatar Guides 2
Routes 58
Photos 1,253
Trips 213 map ( 1,257 miles )
Age 46 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, Az
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Sep, May, Jun, Aug
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:12am - 6:21pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Named place Nearby
Peppered in lichen
by WilliamnWendi

Likely In-Season!
In the mood for pine tree forests and a grassy meadow? How about an easy hike that has off trail flair to cut your teeth on. The destination for this hike is a three tiered 30' water fall that is peppered in lichen. It's seasonal but even dry it makes for a fun excursion that is a relatively safe place to practice some route finding skills and there is a very good chance that you might see some Elk. Given the many signs, I would say they frequent this area. I saw one myself, the antlers least.

The TH is a gate in the fence line 40ft. south of the sparse parking area. Once through the gate, scratch your head, turn around once or twice, and then forget about finding any trace of the trail here. Just make your way down hill through the pines, and once in the meadow just keep walking the short distance to a ravine that is maybe thirty feet from the treeline. Take a moment to mark your location so you don't miss it coming back.

The meadow area itself is a nice place to picnic and nice place for a quiet break from those long drives on the 260. About a 1/2 mile or more away is an old creek side rock wall that stands over over its own small falls when it's in season. From my own experience this a great spot to eat lunch.

To get there and to get to the main falls area follow this ravine westward. From the rock wall you can see a marshy area and the best way to get around that is on north, a little bit west of the wall there is a small foot path that appears and disappears almost as quickly. After the trail ends return to the creek and continue following that. Shortly the first of three barbed wire fences blocks the way. The top wire is covered with PVC pipe in sections, I am guessing to make it safer for the Elk to cross but it also makes it easy for us bipeds. The second fence is a tight squeeze next to a tree, the third fence is as easy as stepping over it.

You may notice some jeep trails on your way. Nature has reclaimed some, some are still in use. Some are short cuts, some will take you off on perhaps some other misadventures. Don't loose your bearings on the creek and if you use the jeep trails most of them parallel the creek but one heads due south, avoid that one. Also keep in mind that some of the surrounding area could be private land.

The dark brown rock of the falls stands in contrast to any of the surrounding features and is peppered in lichen. Enjoy the hike and keep your eyes and ears peeled for Elk.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

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

2011-06-27 WilliamnWendi
    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
    Hunter Creek Falls
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Hunter Creek - Bear Flat - Gordon Canyon Loop
    As others that have mentioned, park off the west side of Colcord Road .3 mile off Rt260 in the small dirt area. Pass through the gate and pick a route west to get down to the creek area.

    Hunter Creek Falls
    This is a pleasant stroll, generally following the creek bed. There are areas where a tread may be visible, more than likely due to game. On our hike there were scattered pools of water and some minimal flow in spots. We had to cross 4 or so barb wire fences but there was nothing to indicate private property. The falls area while interesting was lacking... a waterfall.

    Christopher Mountain
    From the Falls area we went off trail and uphill for a short bit to catch FR146. This climbs steadily to Christopher Mountain and has some nice 360 views

    Mail Trail
    The first of two planned off trail segments ended up being a trail. This made the 1000' 1 mile drop much easier.

    Bear Flats Trail
    This trail roller coasters through stands of pine, juniper and oak. Quite nice

    Gordon Creek Falls
    This was the second section of planned off trail. Once again, we found trail the whole way. Some was well worn, some was marked with very old blazes in the trees. This was the gem of the day. The southern portion of this does not see much traffic, but if more knew about it, it would. It'd be a great place to spend the day hiking and swimming through the pools. We had to hike back to Gordon Creek Falls, which is nice, but the south portion of the canyon made the day.

    Video :next: ... tWaU
    Hunter Creek Falls
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Hunter Creek - Bear Flat - Gordon Canyon Loop
    Hunter Creek 8am
    A pleasant area with nice tall pines and marshy meadows. The squishy areas will probably dry up soon. Follow the creek best you can. There is an intermittent use trail. We headed west and took what we got. We hopped several fences along the trickling creek. Didn't see much in terms of falls. Either a small cascade or I missed it. Nice break spot in the cascade/falls area. The highest forecasted high for our loop was 82 degrees. 75 at the start erased hope for a cool spring hike.

    Christopher Mountain 9am
    We ascended off trail straight up Christopher Mountain. It's steep and loose for a couple hundred feet, then gets reasonable quick. Shockingly not a whimper out of the eagle. Views open up to the rim a little ways up. We took forest roads to the west end of the mountain. I had an off trail track to descend a ridge to #178. We lucked out and found a nice unsigned trail! The upper third was wide, raked and dreamy. Then it's more what you'd expect from a less used trail. Still mighty fine.

    Bear Flat Trail #178 Noon
    Essentially a forest road through the pines. I enjoyed it. Just as it was getting toasty unexpected storms rolled in and saved the day. It sprinkled on occasion but never let loose. The east trailhead is unsigned. Unless you reside in the large metropolis of Pleasant Valley ( Young ) this is the middle of nowhere for most.

    Gordon Canyon 3pm
    A good two miles separated us from Gordon Falls. I anticipated this to be slow travel. A couple use trails, narrow canyon pine views and Gordon Falls made this the highlight of the day. Most will access Gordon Falls from the north. Which is a solid 3 out 5 in my book. It is nice, easy and good for those that enjoy a less meaty bone.

    carried 4 quarts, 6oz leaked out of cheap hundred dollar pack, ran out with a half mile to go

    lots of lupine in a couple areas, isolated paintbrush, tiny whites and yellows
    Hunter Creek Falls
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    We didn't get the memo about forest closures north of Control Road. So we drove all the way out to Payson to hike See Canyon up to Bear Canyon Lake and were really disappointed. We only brought descriptions for this hike. The only other option I was really able to consider was East Webber Creek trail which I had memorized, so we drove the 21 miles back to Payson and continued north up the 87... TO CONTROL ROAD! :doh: After passing trail closure after trail closure heading east to from the 87 on CONTROL ROAD(!) we finally got the hint.

    We talked to some folks and they informed us about the goings on. Frustrated at this point Wendi offered up the issue of Phoenix Magazine that we found the above two hikes and we set about trying to find something that would at least get us on the trails. That's how we found this hike and it's only determining qualification is that it was south of Control Road. The catch? It was "25" miles east of Payson off the 260, 4 miles past our original hike. ](*,)

    All in all this was nice hike. Largely creek side though the first mile and several areas along the way were a little dry. Oh, and the falls which were the destination of this hike were dry. But it was running nicely, and the meadow near the outset, and pine forest made this a fine hike. The falls area, though as I said dry, is 30 foot 3 tiered dark brown rock face with some really interesting lichen peppering the surface. Wendi and I decided to climb to the top and see what was behind the curtains. Nothing significant but more interesting rock.

    Phoenix Magazine's published description of this hike says take 260 25 miles out of Payson to Colcord Rd. turn right and go 0.3 miles to a turn out on the right and park. 40ft south of the parking area is a gate. Head down hill to the creek follow it west/right, making sure to mark the spot you started from so you don't miss your exit. It lists the trail as an informal foot path, that is accurate. The falls are roughly 2.5+ miles down the creek. What they left out is that you have cross 3 barbed wire fences. The first was took some figuring (Mostly if I was breaking the law or gonna get shot, still not sure...didn't get shot). We did see 3 other groups on the trail so I'll take that as confirmation. We only noticed one "Property Boundary" (?) but that was on the way out and just before the final(final if you heading back to the TH) barbed wire crossing. We had noticed a bunch of overgrown/still in use jeep roads which paralleled the creek mostly on the south but sometimes north. This brought us close to where we actually jumped the first fence but we missed the sign coming in. Bare in mind you can cross the fence much closer to the creek than we did to avoid any misunderstandings.

    There were a "Lots" of signs of elk and I even spotted one! Just the antler though and a lot of noise as it clamored down the hillside towards the meadow at the end. I was sure we would see more of him because he seemed to be heading right at us but he disappeared. Lots of other wildlife tracks and bones, and feathers. Some scat that I was not familiar with too. The closet we got to the falls area we began seeing crawdads, lots of little ones.

    I would probably never drive all the way from Phoenix for this hike, and Phoenix magazine list this hike as a "Double-header" with another nearby hike they are calling "Gordon Creek Falls". Don't know much about that. All in all, in a pinch this worked out nicely. I think I'll give up on Payson for the season though, this day marks the second time I have not been able to do what we set out to do.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    To find the TH take the 260 to Colcord Rd., around mile marker 277, 21 miles east of Payson. Go south on Colcord Rd 0.3 miles. Parking is on the right. The gate is south of the parking.
    page created by WilliamnWendi on Jun 27 2011 5:44 am
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