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Parallel Play Canyon, AZ

no permit
168 8 0
Guide 8 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson S
4.7 of 5 by 3
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
View 6
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Distance Round Trip 6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,655 feet
Elevation Gain 2,400 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 18
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
10  2019-02-16
Park Creek Falls
15  2016-01-17
Park Creek Falls
48  2013-03-03 azmike
42  2012-04-07 Vaporman
37  2011-01-22 Vaporman
41  2010-11-20 Vaporman
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Nov, Feb, Mar
Sun  6:13am - 6:24pm
1 Alternative

Overview: AKA Park Creek Falls but most canyoneers refer to it as Parallel Play. Cool technical canyon in the lower Mazatzals near Punkin Center with a handful of rappels up to 150ft. Work up the Park trail and break to the right around 4800ft and drop into Park Creek. Once out of the narrows, there's loads of rock hopping but once the canyon walls disappear just hop up on the flat desert on the left side and walk along that back to the TH. Props to Preston for posting beta on the falls and Ted Gartner for pioneering the technical route. =)

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2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot
    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
    Parallel Play Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    After lazily sitting on the couch watching football on Saturday I was happy when Joel suggested a 6-7 mile hike on Sunday. He neglected to mention the 3000 feet of gain. ](*,)

    I'm not sure what the term is -- must be related to bucket list -- but different. In any case, I'm glad to get it checked off while hoping to never again have to hike in the snow through catclaw (two things that should never occur together). Add off-trail and after dark and one wonders why more people don't come here! :lol:

    Ultimately, it was a fantastic day. Awesome water flow in the entire canyon. Plenty of amazing cascades, along with the incredible waterfalls downstream. I'm impressed by the canyoneer folks who rappel down this thing. It's impressive.

    Love to see the water flow at this time of year. Hopefully that el nino thing happens because except for a 5-day stretch two weeks ago, it's been a whole lot of sunny.
    Parallel Play Canyon
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    We started at the trailhead around 8 AM and followed a pretty well-defined trail to the drainage where we dropped into the canyon at the first rappel. There was a little bit of snow on the ground at the higher elevations but only patches of snow. Once we dropped in, we could see a huge waterfall up canyon a half mile or so. We would have had to do some serious bush whacking to get to it. We left it for another day and just started hiking down the canyon.

    The water was flowing fast in the canyon. We knew that all raps would be over waterfalls. There were four raps in the canyon. The best of the three was the second rap which was either a two-stage or three-stage rap. The waterfall was raging on this one. We had to rappel down 100 ft or so to a ledge. The ledge required us to pitch hard to our right while on the rope. There was an anchor on a BFR at the ledge. You could easily put several people on this ledge. From there we rapped down between two granite walls about 150 ft to a really cool alcove. There's another anchor about 120 ft down. It's there to make the rope pull easier on the second stage. I would at least have the last person down make this a three-stage rap.

    After the final rap, we geared down and started hiking down Park Creek. There's a lot of scrambling across large boulders which makes for a little more difficult exit especially with the vegetation.

    Once the canyon opens up and about a mile before the trailhead, we started to climb out of the creek bed on LDC. It was much easier and faster to hike above the creek. We just followed the creek to the trailhead. It was a great day to be in the canyon especially with all the water.
    Parallel Play Canyon
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    The AZ Rendezvous was going on this weekend and I looking for a good 2/3 day canyon near Salome Jug so that we'd finish before dinner time and could head over for a night run thru the Jug and this sweet canyon fit the bill perfectly. It wasn't flowing but it's still a great canyon and be brought a 300ft rope for the 2-stage 250ft falls. I guessed it to be close to 225ft and it was SO sweet to do it as one BIG rappel as opposed to breaking it up. There's a few other cool rappels but this canyon is about that BIG waterfall into a narrow hallway and mucho rock hopping and boulder down climbing to exit that super rocky canyon. :sweat: The canyon finally pops out of the mountain where I've always exited up onto the flat desert on the leftside of the canyon and lightly bushwhacked my way back to the TH. So sweet to share this canyon with two new canyon buddies! :D

    I dropped the R this time since it's not quite as difficult of a rappel if done as one BIG drop...
    Parallel Play Canyon
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    AKA Park Creek Falls in the hiking community.

    Well a climbing trip fell thru when a partner got sick, so Michael & I fell back on this canyon as a backup. After doing Parker Canyon, we'd been talking about the flow of snow runoff down this equally amazing canyon across the lake. Susan's plans fell thru also, so she was a last minute addition than morning. Gotta love the fluidness of canyoneering! :D

    With 200ft ropes & full wetsuits, we slogged up the Park trail passing a hunter with a recent kill of a beautiful bobcat. ;) The views of Tonto Basin were amazing, but we were so glad to be done climbing up the mountainside and dropping into the lightly flowing canyon. :y: Geared up, rock hopped a bit downstream, and made the first 40ft drop. A little further downstream is the amazingly HUGE ~250ft waterfall. :o The creek oddly went underground here and came out a crack in the wall about 100ft from the bottom. This is a mulit-stage rappel and the first drop is about 150ft down that slick angled chute and then head to a midway ledge on the right (looking up canyon). Once all down on the ledge, we pulled the ropes while soaking in this super sweet waterfall & rigged the anchors for another ~100ft drop into the hallway below. From this amazing waterfall, we again pulled the ropes, and made another 20ft drop into a chilly swimmer. Wow, that was flipping amazing! :D A little further downstream, we hit a second huge multi-stage drop past a series of falls & cascades. :y: It starts off with a 40ft drop past a huge chockstone to the top of the main falls, but we rappelled 100ft into a dry grotto on the rightside. That put us down to a ledge with a few options, but the quickest way is to down climb the slick flowing chute and wade another chilly pool. That was the end of the rappels, but we left the gear on until we knew we were done with the cold pools. ;) Loads of rock hopping, some more down climbing, and a few pools to try and avoid as we continued down canyon until we felt confident enough to drop the gear and put on some dry clothes. :) The canyon slowly opened up and eventually we popped out of the mountains and into the flat Tonto Basin where we got out of the rocky canyon and bushwhacked back to the TH. :sweat:

    Such a great short & sweet canyon that I'm glad to have come back and caught when it was flowing on this relatively dry winter (so far). :D
    Parallel Play Canyon
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Wow, yet another amAZing canyon tucked away in the Mazatzals. :y: AKA as Park Creek Falls in the hiking world. I wanted to do a dry run down this canyon on a warm fall day to get a feel for the canyon before heading back next spring to catch it flowing from snow runoff. : rambo :

    The road is looks to be recently graded so my car made it in no problem. Like Preston says, the trail receives little maintenance and is overgrown with thorny bushes as you climb 2000ft in 2 miles but nothing that my half shredded canyoneering pants & shin guards can't handle. ;) Once a little past Pyramid Peak, I bushwhacked down to the dry creek and soon reached that first day fall. The upper creekbed had a few clear pools but nothing I couldn't thankfully avoid since I didn't bring the wetsuit in order to make hauling two 200ft ropes up the mountain a tad easier. :sweat: Geared up and dropped down that first 40ft rappel to the rocky creekbed. I left the rope in place to run down and check the anchors for the big rappel #2 & after finding some interesting yet solid anchors I rock hopped back up and pulled the rope. The main falls is actually more like sloping 225-250ft drop. :o About 150ft down, there's a ledge on the left LDC with another anchor to rappel from but you need to angle that way on rappel in order to reach it. Midway down I threw the rope the rest of the way to get a feel for the length and there looked to be another 25-50ft of drop past the ropes end before reaching the hallway at the bottom. So I pulled the rope and setup from the ledge anchors and dropped another ~100ft into that super sweet hallway. There's another 20ft drop out of the hallway and another set of anchors in there also but I decided to snap some quick photos and continue on using the same anchors from above. There's a cold knee-high pool to wade and from across the way after a little bit of struggling I was able to get a good angle and make the rope pull. In hindsight, It might be best to just make the rope pull from the hallway and get an additional rappel, especially if the water is flowing descent. I gave this canyon an extra R due to this huge mulit-stage rappel and it's exhilerating enough when it's dry and can only imagine how sweet it is when it's flowing. :D A pool around the corner I avoided and then you're faced with a 3rd falls with a few different options though they might be more limited when its flowing. I found an anchor on the left side that was shreeded and easily came loose when I test pulled it :o plus it dropped down almost into a tree. So I went back to try another way and choose the middle option. I ended up build an anchor and dropping down 20ft thru a tight chute to get past that huge chockstone and found myself on top of the next set of anchors. Hmm, looks like an interesting one... I rappelled under a chockstone hanging there so that the rope pull would be easier and continued down that angled chute a good 100ft before reaching a ledge flat. Hmm, no anchors down here but it looks down climbable so I pulled the rope, scrambled down, and waded across another knee-high pool. It looked like that was the end of the technical section, as it was, but I kept the gear on in case I ran into something further down canyon. No more rappels, but I did do some light down climbing and loads & loads of rock hopping while enjoying more fall colors. :sweat: Eventually I reached a flat bench on the side of the creek that I could scramble up and made pretty good time weaving thru the brush back to the TH while enjoying the sweet view of the Tonto Basin.

    Now that I know the canyon better I could prob shave an hour from todays time but I suspect that flowing water would add another hour or two on top of that. ;)

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    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To canyon trip
    From Payson, head south about 15 miles to the AZ highway 188 junction, and turn left. Follow highway 188 south for about 13.8 miles, to the south end of the Punkin Center Business District road. The business district road (paved) takes off to the left (east), while forest road 409 (dirt) takes off to the right (west). Follow forest road 409 for approximately 1.7 miles, to where it forks. The left fork drops off the mesa, and goes another 0.1 miles to the Park Creek trailhead, along Park Creek. Props to Preston again on directions. =p
    page created by Vaporman on Feb 09 2012 7:36 am
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