Overview: A trip from East Clear Creek (the terminus of Leonard Canyon) south to Victorine Crossing Trail #101. This canyon forms the boundary between Coconino National Forest and Apache-Sitgreaves.
Warning: This canyon is remote, you need to be self-sufficient. Be aware of the weather, do not attempt this hike if rain is predicted due to the possibility of a flash flood. Water is scarse in the canyon in the fall.
Hike: From East Clear Creek, begin hiking upcanyon, a good elk trail appears on the east side for awhile. At first the canyon is fairly brush free. Unfortunately there aren't very many good elk trails. When I hiked this in fall, the canyon was completely dry for at least the first two miles. The rock walls consist of interesting Coconino sandstone, stained black from water and organisms in places.
The boulder hopping will continue and if you travel in fall, you may find a few isolated water pools where the canyon was deeply scoured out and is holding water from the last flood. As you continue upcanyon you will begin to be faced with some bushwhacking, though nothing too serious. Occasional elk-trails will be found starting about halfway, allowing you to double your speed.
At the halfway point, the canyon makes a large U-bend to the east. It appears that there are elk trails which lead out of the canyon at this point. Also, at the bottom in this area are the first possible campsites, should you choose to attempt this trip as a backpack.
Continuing up canyon the bottom of the canyon gets brushier but other than a few places there are quite good elk trails. Between mile 5.5 and mile 7 I would characterize as a very pleasant stroll beneath the trees on the elk paths on the canyon benches. Unfortunately the last half mile or so gets overgrown and nearing the end, you will probably run into some flowing water. The brush is the densest as you approach Victorine Crossing. At the crossing you will run into another nice camping site and finish on a high note as it is likely the best part of the canyon you will have encountered.
On my hike I saw rattlesnakes (which I nearly stepped on) as well as elk and water fowl. The area is likely a haven for wildlife escaping the more heavily visited areas of nearby East Clear Creek. Travel lightly and leave no trace!
Water Sources: East Clear Creek and Victorine Crossing have flowing water. Elsewhere there are just a few pools but they are few and far between. Bring a filter.
Camping: Halfway through the canyon and as you approach Victorine Crossing are camping options. Nothing pleasant in the lowest 4 miles of the canyon. At the junction with East Clear Creek there is a great site on the north side.
Check out the Official Route.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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.