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Peak 3660 - White Canyon Wilderness, AZ

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Guide 4 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Superior S
4.3 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Loop 6.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,209 feet
Elevation Gain 1,433 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,790 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 6-7 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 15.85
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall, Seasonal Creek & Peak
Backpack Yes & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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69  2017-01-07
White Canyon Promontory Y Loop
22  2016-12-17
White Canyon Wilderness - Center Loop
25  2016-12-17
White Canyon Loop - White Canyon Wilderness
42  2011-11-29 CannondaleKid
Author CannondaleKid
author avatar Guides 43
Routes 137
Photos 20,503
Trips 1,903 map ( 15,629 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Nov, Jan → 8 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:12am - 6:23pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
by CannondaleKid

Take a good look at a topo map of the White Canyon Wilderness and you may notice a large heart-shaped plateau virtually surrounded by steep cliffs. While many hikers have traversed up & down the canyon to the east (see White Canyon canyoneering description) and/or have traversed the GET#3 (was AZT#16 at the time of this description) in the canyon to the west, very few appear to have ventured up onto the roughly 2 square mile upper plateau. Probably the most common reason not many have done so is the intimidating cliffs. But after some research, poring over topo maps as well as boots... whoops, Teva's-on-the-ground hiking of White Canyon we decided to give it a shot.

The only thing I knew for sure is that there was a relatively easy access to the upper mesa from the far right ventricle of the heart and the highest peak was on the far upper left edge of the left ventricle. So with plenty guess-and-by-gosh thinking I hoped to find a reasonable access near the highest point, Peak 3660. So with just that much data in-hand, we set out to: 1. find another way up, 2. bag Peak 3660, 3. cover as much ground up top and 4. finally try to locate another way down just below the right ventricle.

Having already gone up and down White Canyon, we started out hiking up the GET #3 (previously Arizona Trail #16) from Battle Axe road just below the bottom point of the "heart." We followed it all the way up to the White Canyon Wilderness/Tonto National Forest boundary, all the while scanning for a way up. With one 30 minute false start we continue around toward the northeast until we found the most promising albeit treacherous-looking area and I announced now-or-never and we headed up. Through heavy brush, sometimes low-crawling, climbing bare rock, climbing loose steep sections and we finally reached the upper plateau. Once up top we were greeted with flat mind-blowingly awesome views of not only the plateau but of Battle Axe and all the peaks in the surrounding area. A quick jaunt up to Peak 3660 and we located and signed the summit log. With the one-and-only previous log back in April of 2001(!) we felt honored to be the first ones in the ten years since to visit this peak, or at least sign the easily-visible cairn and capsule.

Now it was a matter of, where do we explore first, how far do we go, along with do we shoot for the known-way-down or do we seek one other possibility down? We settled for continuing across the center of the heart following a descending-in-steps ridgeline, seeking (and failing) the shortest route down and ultimately heading back up north-east to the known exit. Then it was simply following... ok, so it was more like not-quite-so-simply boulder-hopping our way back to Battle Axe Road and walking west back to the car. One last photo of the base of the heart from the car and we headed home. With just hint of a taste of what still lies up there waiting for us to explore, we are already planning the next trip.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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2011-11-30 CannondaleKid
    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
    Peak 3660 - White Canyon Wilderness
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    White Canyon Promontory Y Loop
    Just over 4 years ago we ate lunch at the end of the promontory across from Battle Axe Butte so it was about time for a return trip... with a little more distance thrown in.

    Our 'loop' would actually be shaped like the outline around a small letter 'y'. We began from Battle Axe Road heading NNW on the GET #3 until reaching the saddle NW of Peak 3660. From there we rounded-the-corner to the east where we ascended a gorge before turning back west to pass the summit of Peak 3660.

    The summit log for Peak 3660 was nowhere to be found. In fact, the spot where the log was on my last visit was now a large divot. And next to the divot was a large piece of the rock that had been on the summit.
    How did it get that way? I thought it possible there may have been moisture underneath and it was struck by lightning, blowing the rock out and throwing it over. The only other explanation I could think of was someone pried it out, but there was no evidence of any tool to pry the rock out. Oh well, the mystery unsolved, time to move on.

    From Peak 3660 we headed southwest over hill-and-dale on the way to the southern end of the promontory. I was quite surprised the route I planned on Route Manager worked out so well. In one area where we would have to ascend through a ridge of large boulders, I marked waypoints at two 'possible' locations based on satellite and Topo views and we were fortunate the first one was the perfect spot.
    And that's pretty much how our hike went... 'on-the-top' anyway. We made it to the southern end in time for our Battle Axe-view lunch spot.
    Once we descended into White Canyon at the northeast end of our small 'y' we knew we had our work cut out for us. With plenty of water flow the pools that on previous occasions had been either dry or barely wet were now too deep to even wade through.
    Being already committed to following the canyon back to Battle Axe Road we just got-on-with-it. And by taking on some pretty serious bushwhacking we only had to step in ankle-deep water one time. I didn't take many photos in the canyon... we were too focused on simply getting through.

    But no matter the trials and tribulations in White Canyon, the rest of the hike more than made up for it with the awesome views and terrain we traversed. Not many folks pass through this area.
    Peak 3660 - White Canyon Wilderness
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    White Canyon Wilderness - Center Loop
    Bruce put this loop together by routes from Hank & Mark. When I saw it I knew it would be a great hike. While Brown's Peak got me hiking, White Canyon taught me how to sing.

    Bruce drove in 0.4 miles off SR177 on FR319 to the safe 2WD parking. The road was recently graded. Arnett Creek was already starting a narrow yet deep crevice across the road so some may prefer to walk it.

    43 degrees and windy, with a predicted high of 54. I started off wearing three long sleeve shirts and pants due to the temps. Pants are a good idea if you don't like any scratches. 10 degrees warmer and I'd be in shorts. It rained a bit last night and there was a very light flow in a couple area. All avoidable if careful. Some of the terrain was easy scrambling.

    4-5 miles is road or use trail. Over half of the road walk is within the wilderness and very scenic. The majority of the hike is off trail through the canyon. The high canyon walls of White Canyon are impressive. Especially the eastern wall which is white. The water sculptured rock and narrows in multiple areas are spectacular. Any one of them would be worthy of a hike alone. 2 miles is out of the canyon to ride a ridge back to make the loop. It is a hearty 600 ft climb to the highpoint 3635 atop the ridge. Excellent views down the entire ridge. This loop is just a smorgasbord of bells and whistles. The less exciting final 2.8 miles went by quick.

    Geology rocks a very short, semi boring, video starring Off_trail_Eagle.

    In isolated areas it was moderate and fading.
    Peak 3660 - White Canyon Wilderness
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    White Canyon Loop - White Canyon Wilderness
    Six years ago while hiking the old route of AZT 16 in this area, Joe made a comment that stuck with me. "I don't know why they didn't route the AZT through White Canyon. That area is incredible." That always stuck with me, but it took me this long to draw something up that visited this area.

    An easy mile road walk gets you into the northern arm of White Canyon, close to White Water Spring. This canyon gets more impressive the farther you get in.

    At 3 miles in, you will have a decision point. Staying in the canyon (without equipment) is not an option, as we'd find out later. We went up to the left and enjoyed the views into the canyon from above. We ultimately dropped back in at mile 4.75. There is plenty to explore up top..


    We continued down the canyon until we hit the FR and then continued to the old routing of AZT 16. After some lunch, we made the decision to climb straight up to unnamed Peak 3635. It was steep and loose, but not too bad. Then it was a matter of following the ridge line back down to White Canyon. ... csms

    The plan was to follow the canyon back to where we'd originally gotten out of it. Plenty of water and small falls, pools, and a few areas we had to traverse around. Plenty of geology lessons and even a bat cave.

    Getting close, we came to a point we could not get through. We contemplated swimming it, but luckily decided against it. We went high right to get out, with no luck. Back down in the canyon, we went high left, and this worked. Looking at the bypass area from above, there were a few swimmers and no friendly exits.

    The rest was just pushing daylight getting back to the Truck. It was a chilly 41 when we finished.

    This is a sweet area to explore.....
    Peak 3660 - White Canyon Wilderness
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Three days earlier we hiked up White Canyon with hopes of crossing west up a long ravine to connect with the Arizona Trail #16 and make a loop hike out of it. We didn't quite make it, but came away with a new plan to climb up to the highest peak on the plateau between the two canyons I'll hereafter refer to as the heart of the White Canyon Wilderness.

    Already having scouted out an easy escape route near the upper right side of the heart on the previous hike, all I hoped to find was another route up from the Arizona Trail side. In the few days in between trips I pored over numerous topo and satellite maps then spent time drawing out possible routes, and we were ready for another adventure in the WC Wilderness.

    This time we started from a parking spot along Battle Axe Road where the Arizona Trail #16 heads northwest just below the bottom tip of the heart. The hike north along the AZT provided a number of different types of terrain each with their own dangers. The loose baby-head threatened us with sprained ankles, the brushier area provided plenty of chances for thorny encounters, and of course both the prickly-pear and chain-fruit cholla forests kept us awake, lest we step too close and pay for the encounter.

    All along the route up the west side of the heart we were taking photos, not only to document our trip but to seek out another safe route up. Only one area held some promise near the end of the AZT #16 segment but we continued to the end in hopes of finding something easier just around the top-left ventricle of the heart. Steep cliffs greeted us there as well, so we climbed up the easiest slope up to the base of the cliffs with hopes to follow the base southward to the spot that help promise. Unfortunately we only went about a hundred yards along the cliff before the footing became too loose, threatening to give way and we'd be tumbling down. Nope, this was enough for Tracey, and for once I agreed it was more than I cared to deal with too. So we turned around and headed back up and around the upper left corner.

    Not yet willing to admit defeat (at least I wasn't) we decided to continue along the slope as long as we could hoping for another sot at the top. After checking out a few narrow gaps that provided no access, we were just about to head down to the ravine and loop eastward to link up to our path from the other side three days ago, when I noticed some light game trails heading up through some thick brush. I figured if they were that defined, there likely was a route up through there somewhere, so I said, it's now-or-never and pushed through the heavy brush. Thankfully it was just jojoba and holly so no lasting holes in the skin. After breaking through the thickest layer we were treated to some rock climbing, traversing across some loose ground again and finally up one rock that Tracey absolutely would not want to go back down, which meant we better find the rest of the way up. Thankfully moments later I reached the top and the efforts were all worth it. Awesome views all around as well as a new look at Battle Axe completely different than any I'd had before! Wow!

    Greeted by this vast upper plateau area complete with hills, cliffs and valleys for a moment all I could think of is where should we explore first? But being within 500 feet from Peak 3660, the one absolute goal I set for the day, the choice was easy. The peak is right at the edge of the steep cliffs so we stopped to take some photos over the Arizona Trail. I was there for only a few moments when I noticed a small Rx capsule in a small cairn of rocks. We opened it and pulled out a summit log. The one-and-only entry was well over 10 years old! Wow! Such an honor to be among the few! So of course we added our names to the log.

    With the major goal achieved we set off to traverse across the center of the heart. Surprisingly the track I drew the night before as the most likely route to take turned out to be almost an exact duplicate of the actual path of least resistance down the various levels as we progressed eastward. Every so often we'd approach what appeared to be a steep drop, only to look over and find it wasn't that bad after all. It got to the point we no longer worried if we'd be cliffed out and continued merrily along our way. As we approached the bowl area that I had explored three days earlier it was time to decide if we had enough time to try what could be the quickest way down, or head north through the bowl and use the escape route I had used before. If we could get down this way it would save about 90 minutes and 1.5 miles of hiking, so we took the gamble.

    Unfortunately, we took a clockwise path around a peak toward the hoped-for exit only to be cliff'ed out. We continued the loop a bit more hoping to be able to see the bottom but were unable to. So not knowing if we'd be treated to a quick and easy escape route by going all the way back around the peak counter-clock-wise, we went for the known-good escape route through the bowl. As we approached the bowl we passed through an area that was reminiscent of sandy beaches. Although it looked like sand it was simply crushed white rock... probably why this area is named White Canyon.

    Once down the escape route we were back in the White Canyon with the familiar route of boulder-hopping just waiting for us. Being our third trip through in three days some of the areas went quite smoothly, others we tried different routes over, around, between and in one case under the large boulders. It wasn't long and we were back at the car. What a great feeling of accomplishing the main goals we had set for the day and then some. And for me, wonder of wonders, almost the only hike in years that I did not spot an empty Bud Light can... ANYWHERE! Hopefully this area continues to be inaccessible enough to those who care nothing for the environment that it stays that way.

    Tons of photos but posting them all on HAZ would probably dilute the value of each so I'll put the rest on my own site when I get around to it.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    Take US 60 to the east end Superior, turn right (south) on AZ 177 and follow it to a point .9 mile PAST mile marker 159. Turn right (west) onto the dirt Battle Axe Road. Follow Battle Axe Road about 4.6 miles (a little way PAST the White Canyon TH turn) to a corner where you should see two "Wilderness Area" signs. Park in the open area next to the road.
    page created by CannondaleKid on Nov 30 2011 5:08 pm
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