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White Canyon Upper - SW Approach FR319, AZ

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Guide 16 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Superior S
4 of 5 by 9
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 7.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,360 feet
Elevation Gain -730 feet
Accumulated Gain 835 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5-6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 11.48
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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22  2018-12-09 Oregon_Hiker
28  2018-12-09 Grasshopper
25  2018-11-10
White and Wood Canyon Wander
23  2018-11-10
White and Wood Canyon Wander
21  2018-11-10
White and Wood Canyon Wander
15  2017-02-04
Wood-White Canyon Loop
23  2017-01-02 chumley
22  2016-12-17
White Canyon Wilderness - Center Loop
Page 1,  2
Author Grasshopper
author avatar Guides 42
Routes 458
Photos 8,104
Trips 508 map ( 5,318 miles )
Age 74 Male Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Feb, Apr → 8 AM
Seasons   Early Winter to Early Spring
Sun  6:09am - 6:28pm
Official Route
11 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
.. Remote-Rugged-Scenic Canyon Adventure ..
by Grasshopper

This "SW Approach FR319" hiking route into the upper White Canyon Wilderness and the remote upper White Canyon scenic rim area is an excellent alternate hike choice to the posted HAZ "White Canyon" canyoneering hike description for those qualified who enjoy this remote type of off-trail adventure. The first 2.7 hiking miles in (with .8 of 2.7mls on 4WD FR2260) is mostly along a primitive hiker/hunter/animal use route within the most upper White Canyon drainage. This route is rock cairned as of this writing with minor overgrowth and minimal bushwhacking required. The balance of the required 1.5 mile hike-in off trail section to reach the various eleven (11) scenic waypoint listed upper White Canyon "overlooks" requires steady attention to your hiking route. It is highly recommended that you download and follow the "official" 2/15/12 GPS Route posted to this hike description which also includes all key waypoints for this hike.

In 1990 5,800 acres were set aside seven to ten miles south of Superior. The White Canyon Wilderness was formed.

This area is more safely hiked during the early winter to early spring Arizona months due to a general lack of tree and shade cover once in past the 2.7 mile mark. Also, highpoint for this hike at the various upper White Canyon rim overlooks is a maximum of ~3500 feet elevation.

From the recommended Park/TH Start location near the end of FR319, the first 2.7 hiking miles in (with .8 of 2.7mls on 4WD FR2260) is mostly along a primitive hiker/hunter/animal use route within the most upper White Canyon drainage. This route is rock cairned as of this writing with minor overgrowth and minimal bushwhacking required. The balance of the required 1.5 mile hike-in off trail section to reach the various eleven (11) scenic waypoint listed upper White Canyon "overlooks" requires steady attention to your hiking route. It is highly recommended that you download and follow the "official" 2/15/12 GPS Route posted to this hike description which also includes all key reference waypoints for this hike.

The best visual and descriptive explanation for this hike description's 4.2 mile hike in is via reviewing the author's 2/15/12 geocoded photoset with detailed captions and tag notes. At this 4.2 mile hike in location (GPS Route ending point), it is recommended rather than backtrack your route in, that at this 4.2 mile ending waypoint location (N33.185883 W111.094491), you hike NE then north first downloading then following the "red" colored GPS Route in this map (following this "red" 2/12/11 actual GPS Route will take you .4 miles north to connect with your original hiking route in at the 2.7 mile mark N33.190808 W111.091281). From here you continue hiking east then NE following your previous hiking route in via the upper White Canyon drainage.

Water Sources
At the end of FR2260 resides perennial "White Water Spring" plus at least one additional perennial unnamed spring along the hiking route within upper White Canyon. (click on pic geocode location for waypoint details).

Primitive backpacking campsites are most likely available for setup along this hiking route in but as of this writing, the author does not recall passing any previously established backpack campsites. There is an excellent open area tent camp/car camp (via 4WD vehicle) very close to the end of FR2260 near perennial White Water Spring. (click on pic geocode location for waypoint details).

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2012-02-22 Grasshopper
    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
    White Canyon Upper - SW Approach FR319
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Wood-White Canyon Loop
    A really nice loop hike connecting Wood Canyon with Upper White Canyon. I threw this loop together about a year ago and then last week while visiting another hiking site read a trip report on basically the same route. I'm in, let's go.

    Saw lots of new areas which is always fun to do. Did some exploring and noted areas that require a return trip to check out closer. We both really enjoyed Wood Canyon. Saw no others the entire day, weather was great, flowing water. Great hike.
    White Canyon Upper - SW Approach FR319
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I was a bit tired from my New Year's weekend hikes but didn't want to let a day off go to waste, especially not with all the water that has been flowing around the desert mountains lately.

    White Canyon has been on my radar since Arizona Wilderness introduced it's Crystal-Pepsi-like uneducated tarzan swinger White Canyon Stout ... which is blonde colored but tastes like a stout. :o (Yes, I realized I wanted to visit somewhere because of the name of a beer!) :sweat:

    After visiting the spine and seeing 1-800-the-joey put together a big loop out here a few weeks back, it was fresh in my mind. I was hoping to see good water flowing through the falls in the canyon. I decided that the drive and miles of creek hiking from the south were a bit more than I wanted to tackle on Monday, so I chose the north route from FR319 (the hike description title should probably be renamed sometime so as to not confuse future hikers).

    I almost drove all the way to the spring on FR2260, but stopped where a jeep had parked at the top of the hill. 4wd would be required to descend the hill, but primarily because of the one main switchback which has some big boulders as you make the sharp turn. The rest of it is a standard rough 4wd road. Of course, it's not a long walk, so if you don't enjoy roads like this, just park and walk the extra mile or two when you don't feel comfortable driving anymore.

    The upper canyon had a light flow of water both above and below the spring, but much less than I was hoping for or expecting. I passed the jeep people as they were on their way out. They were hunting fox but came up empty on the day. To say they were shocked to see me would be an understatement. They had no idea people actually just go out here to hike and explore! : rambo :

    The upper canyon is easy to travel in and a couple of well-worn bypasses leave the creek bottom and are marked with cairns. When I reached the top of the box, I stayed on the north side and looked for a way down to the bottom. Along the way I found a very nice 40 foot waterfall from a side drainage. It was interesting that this drainage was flowing more than the much larger main drainage!

    Once I had worked my way to the bottom, I attempted to head back upstream toward the fifteen foot falls in the box. There was a short swimmer that I couldn't bypass, and I waded in hoping to find a reasonable way across. Nope. I stripped down and jumped in! With air temps in the low 50s, calling the water refreshing would be an understatement! :o

    Unfortunately, at the end of the pool is a small 2 foot cascade, but unable to touch bottom and the water flow hitting me from above, I couldn't manage to climb up. Defeated, I retreated to the beach and put on some warm, dry clothes.

    Next I climbed back upstream a bit looking for a descent down the western wall. About halfway down, I felt uncomfortable with the unsure footing on a short pitch I would have to downclimb, and I retreated back up. Next I tried to crab butt-scoot down the angled slope of sheer rock adjacent to a vertical wall. This worked remarkably well and I reached the bottom of the box just below the fifteen foot waterfall. Sadly, it wasn't that exciting. ](*,)

    I explored downstream in the box to the cascade and pool that had turned me away earlier. I enjoyed this section. On the way out, I learned quickly that getting up the sloped rock I had descended was not a good plan. But the pitch I didn't want to climb down earlier proved to be much more reassuring on the ascent and I was out of the box in no time.

    Not wanting to return the way I had already been, I headed downstream looking for an exit point on the east side of the canyon. I saw one spot that looked promising, but decided to continue downstream and explore a bit more with the time I had remaining. There's a horseshoe bend in a narrow slot with high vertical walls before the canyon opens up about a quarter mile below the box.

    Here I made my exit, encountering an obstacle consisting of about a 15 foot vertical layer that included a dryfall near the top of the drainage. There was a crack on the right that was nicely protected from exposure and allowed me to get above it with a short class 4 scramble.

    Once above the canyon, it was just a pleasant stroll along the edge of the canyon, taking in the views from a variety of outlook points. Once I had returned above the box, I descended this side into the canyon above the fifteen foot falls, discovering yet another fall, this one in a narrow slot of smooth rock that dropped into a nearly hidden circular pot.

    For the most part, I was able to stay in the canyon from here back to the top with the exception of one narrow section that would have required me to get wet again, which I chose not to do. With darkness approaching, I made swift time on the return, getting back to my truck in less than an hour.

    White Canyon, you've got me hooked. Can't wait to get back and check out the lower part and explore some more. The geology out here is awesome! So is the stout! :y:
    White Canyon Upper - SW Approach FR319
    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.
    White Canyon Upper - SW Approach FR319
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    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.....
    White Canyon Upper - SW Approach FR319
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I set out to climb Peak 4053 and decided since I was already out this way I'd continue on into the White Canyon Wilderness for some recon for an upcoming hike farther into the wilderness from the north.

    Hmmm... :? I'm wondering why this is called 'SW approach' when it comes in from the northwest...

    Whatever, after my side-trip to the summit of Peak 5043 I continued in the wash up to the point of the deep drop-off where Grasshopper climbed up the east side and continued. Instead of following that route I climbed up the opposite side seeking the same thing, a safe drop back into the canyon. I found one that with quite a bit of care would allow dropping down, just not getting back up to I continued climbing up and around to the next drop. The next two were not feasible but after stopping for lunch and scanning the terrain I believe I found a good route down. I was running short on time so I didn't attempt it and filed it away for another day, but it comes down in an area where Tracey and I were over a year ago so I'm pretty sure of it.

    On the return trip I decided to cover new ground so I climbed well above White Canyon to the northwest and traversed the slope back to the original trail. Looking at my route after that fact it appeared I followed a topo line on the map but it was far from it... having to drop down and climb every wash done the slope took a lot of energy. Oh yeah, and following javelina trails can be a blessing and a curse... part of the time they are nice smooth trails, but only into patches of prickly-pear cacti or thorny brush where one would have to crawl through to follow.

    Back in the creek bottom every time Grasshopper's route avoided slots or steep drops, since I was now going upstream and most of the holes were dry, I climbed every one I possibly could, ultimately avoiding only one.

    Overall, only the first and last portion of the hike offers little to see, the rest is awesome! Again I shot well over a hundred photos along with a video from in the Jeep of what looks to be an 8 or 10-point buck. It was moving too fast for a high-zoom still shot so I'll have to check the video frames to count the points. I'll probably get the video posted first, or when I get around to it.
    White Canyon Upper - SW Approach FR319
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I've been planning and waiting for the right time to schedule this exploratory hike for the past twelve months 8-[ . This past week on 2/15/12 was the right day and Jack (our HAZ-mnlumberjack) was interested in joining me.

    Since SUN_HIKER (Gabriele's) trip log and GPS Route post on 2/12/11, I knew that I wanted to checkout this alternate "SW Approach FR319" off-trail route into the upper White Canyon Wilderness and upper White Canyon main drainage access area. On 2/12/11 Gabriele joined a hiking group that hiked in via this alternate route. They were successful in hiking in 3.7 miles from their beginning TH Start on FR319 to enter the main upper White Canyon drainage. Thank you Gabriele for your trip log and for posting this GPS Route.

    My plan for this 2/15/12 exploratory hike was to follow the 2/12/11 track for 2.7 miles in, then veer off track west then southwest along the uppermost White Canyon rim areas to try and locate a safe, hike-able route down to the main upper White Canyon creek drainage. If successful, this would put us approx 1.4 miles further up the main White Canyon creek drainage from where the above noted 2/12/11 track entered the main drainage. This would allow for a very nice hike down the most scenic sections of the upper White Canyon creek main drainage for ~1.4mls to connect with where Gabriele's 2/12/11 track entered the main canyon drainage. This waypoint location would be our exit point out of the canyon drainage and then a ~1 mile hike back to connect with our original hike track in for the additional 2.7 miles back to our TH Start off FR319. A good plan :) but..

    Unfortunately, we were not successful in locating this above hike-able route down as planned. The topo maps and Google Earth really don't adequately represent the true cliff drops in this section, thus without canyoneering/climbing experience and gear, hiking access down from this upper White Canyon rim section is not safely possible (as best as we can now determine).

    The really good news is that the numerous upper rim "overview points" for rugged near and distant White Canyon Wilderness views are just outstanding! :y: So, in hindsight, if we had located a safe, hike-able route down to enter the main canyon the 1.4mls further up the main canyon drainage, we would have missed all the eleven (11) scenic pic "overview points" (please see this hike description "official" GPS Route with noted waypoints, geocoded picset, and detailed pic captions for further reference).

    Summary: This "SW Approach FR319" hiking route into our upper White Canyon Wilderness and upper White Canyon is an excellent alternate hike choice for the posted HAZ "White Canyon" canyoneering description for those qualified for this type of off-trail adventure. Also, the first 2.7 hiking miles in (.8mls of 2.7mls on 4WD FR2260) is mostly along a primitive hiker/hunter/animal use route within the most upper White Canyon drainage and this route is rock cairned as of this writing with minor overgrowth and minimal bushwhacking required.

    For those interested in a possible hike visit via this new alternate route, here are three main GPS Routes with key waypoints that further document what I discuss above:
    Yellow track = my "official" one way route for this hike description;
    Black track = my actual(11/29/08) 1.4 mile hike within the upper White Canyon main drainage;
    Red track = Gabriele's actual (2/12/11) 1.0 mile track from exit/entry point within the upper White Canyon main drainage to intersect the Yellow track for the 2.7 mile hike back to TH Start;
    White Canyon Upper - SW Approach FR319
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I went out into the White Canyon Wilderness on an exploratory search with the Grasshopper (Hank) today to see if there was a way of connecting his previous trail from the lower trailhead with an upper (new) trailhead. On that earlier hike, Hank ran into an insurmountable waterfall in a narrow part of the canyon and was forced to retrace his trail to exit.

    We drove South on Hwy 177 out of Superior until we reached FR319, a gravel exit on the West side of the road. We continued on FR319 which quickly turned into a trail requiring high clearance and FWD. At a junction in the trail just past an old rock building foundation, we were able to safely park at a wide turn around area. From this point, we hiked a bit more than a mile along the ATV/Jeep trail to it's end where we dropped into the beginnings of a canyon that would ultimately take us into the Wilderness Area.

    The creek bed was wet with patches of green grass,pools of water, occasional running water and a good crop of Catsclaw to navigate through. Along the way, we came across narrow canyon sections that forced us to scramble up along poorly unmarked cattle and wildlife trails. This scrambling and dodging continued on until we reached a narrow canyon entrance that was dammed up by boulders creating a 15 foot drop into a large pool of water.

    At this point, we still hadn't reached Hanks previous turn around point, but were nonetheless forced to climb the walls and look for a way to drop back down into the canyon. The area above the creek was beautiful solid rock and easy to get around. We kept leapfrogging each other going from one point to the next admiring the views and noticing that the small creek was becoming more distant at each viewpoint. Soon we even lost track of each other for several scary minutes.

    Once reunited, we found some shelter from the winds, had lunch and discussed the results of the journey so far. Hank was a bit disappointed that we were unable to drop down into the canyon and connect with his earlier trail, but the hour was getting late and we still had more than three miles to return to the little red truck.

    The return trip went fairly quick since we didn't have to stop quite as often for taking photos and admiring the scenery. Back at the truck, we changed out of our hiking gear, had some liquid refreshment and some of Pat's home made cookies (yum), then it was back to home.

    Overall, it was a very interesting hike into some extremely beautiful and rugged country that sees very little use. The hike into the Wilderness area leaves a bit to be desired, but is fairly easy going and has interesting views along the way. The high country around the creek is spectacular with some great views of Battleaxe and other mountains both close and distant. If you plan on using this trailhead to access the Wilderness, you should leave enough time for exploring the high country and hopefully you can find that elusive route to the bottom of the canyon.

    (T)hank(S) Hank for inviting me to accompany you on another interesting outing.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    From the Phoenix area: Hwy 60 east to Superior,AZ; From Superior, Hwy 177 south to easy to miss intersection with FR319 at waypoint coordinate N33.21487 W111.06485; Right turn (west) onto FR319 and download-follow the above posted "Drive to White Cyn Upr Hike - via FR319" (~.84mls in from Hwy177) at intersection of FR319/FR2260(not signed);

    Please note: As of this writing, driving past this above recommended FR319 Park/TH Start by continuing on FR2260 to its +.8 mile end near perennial White Water Spring, is only recommended with a 4WD vehicle with high clearance and upgraded LT type off-road tires;
    page created by Grasshopper on Feb 22 2012 11:01 am
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