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Bear Canyon (Upper) - Mogollon Rim, AZ

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Guide 15 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Clints Well
3.7 of 5 by 9
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 3.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,508 feet
Elevation Gain -396 feet
Accumulated Gain 424 feet
Avg Time One Way 2.0
Kokopelli Seeds 4.61
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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6  2018-07-13 MountainMatt
8  2018-04-15 MountainMatt
15  2017-08-05
Devin Bear Fred Lasso
20  2017-08-05
Cabin Loop - Mogollon Rim
15  2016-07-09
Bear Canyon - Cabin Loop via Washington Park
7  2016-07-09
Bear Canyon - Cabin Loop via Washington Park
15  2015-07-09
Bear Canyon - Houston Draw Loop
3  2013-05-25 PrestonSands
Page 1,  2
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   May, Sep, Oct, Jun
Sun  6:13am - 6:22pm
Official Route
9 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

Likely In-Season!
Overview: Upper Bear Canyon is defined here as the "off trail" hiking section from where the split of Upper Bear Canyon with East Bear Canyon intersect. This hike as now written is an "out and back" beginning at the forced end of FR300G (due to Forest Service placed down trees). From the Parking/TH Start, this hike is a ~3.0 mile total one way to the upper most end of Bear Canyon. It is also possible this hike could be a loop or shuttle hike if an additional, adequate upper Bear Canyon hike exit route and TH Parking location is later determined. Upper Bear Canyon "off trail" hiking can be compared to hiking sections of our Mogollon Rim- Barbershop Canyon and Dane Canyon with significant seasonal water flow and pooling as of this June'12 posting.

Also Note: For the stronger hiker with off-trail route finding ability, this Bear Canyon(Upper) hike description can be combined with the Bear Canyon(Middle) hike description for a longer 10+ mile shuttle hike.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot

    One-Way Notice
    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.

    Most recent of 13 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Bear Canyon (Upper) - Mogollon Rim
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    In the past, I have tended to be lukewarm to this area and really only sought if for dog walks, or social hikes. However, some healthy monsoons from the night before turned this area into a water wonderland and I may have just had my best hiking experience to date up there. This hike was just what I needed to fall back in love with AZ hiking again!

    Jackie and I camped on the rim the night before and endured some pretty nice storms in the back of the Xterra until sometime after midnight, but is proved to be worth it, as we awoke to those unique post-storm conditions that have that ability to transform an area so much that it almost seems foreign. There were dramatic clouds, ephemeral flows everywhere and water literally spewing from the saturated face of the rim. John and Chumley met us near camp and we were off for the short road walk needed to commence our loop. We chose a less rugged bypass of the first mile of Bear Canyon, but later learned it was not needed as the hiking was easy within the canyon and the fire damage minimal. After meeting back up with Chumley, we continued the rest of the loop together. There were really no dull portions to this hike and it never go overly difficult for us, or the dogs. We all marveled at the amount of water along the way and the dogs may have reached some level of nirvana, in terms of the swimming opportunities and frantic squirrel chases. We did not run into any other hikers until the last couple of miles, but the trailhead was busy with campers and the walk up 300 was a little annoying with three unleashed dogs and all of the traffic.

    A big thanks to Chumley for putting this variation of the Cabin Loop together and for getting permission from the local trail steward (@toughboots) to complete the loop. I can't think of too many better ways, or better company to mourn my transition into the mid-30s with.
    Bear Canyon (Upper) - Mogollon Rim
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    Devin Bear Fred Lasso
    Not thrilled with the prospect of hiking somewhere that wasn't the Grand Tetons, Sierra Nevada, or Yellowstone, we set out despite it all to chalk up some miles in cooler elevations.

    After a little hiccup with the new AZT cut we figured it out. Nicely done, but the signage needs to be updated. Footings for two foot bridges over the East Verde look ready to be poured, but aren't done yet. I was disappointed that the new cut only leads right back to the powerline road, and not all the way to the switchbacks of the railroad tunnel trail. Not sure if that's the next step or not. (@sredfield ?) Last night produced a prolific monsoon storm on the rim, and the main Devin cut and all side drainages were flowing with water all the way to FR300.

    That was the theme for the day, and actually made this a really nice hike. We met Blanco and Cup near their camp and dropped down into Bear Canyon. It's fine. Absolutely ideal burn. I'd go so far as to say fire managers probably wished it had burned more.

    Water, water, water. We skipped from Bear over to Fred Haught, where there was even more water flowing. Where we had previously managed dry crossings, that came to an end. General Springs Canyon was flowing nicely, and the AZT was a slushy mess in places. There were 3 mandatory wet crossings, and some others that weren't worth the effort to try to stay dry.

    It was a real treat to see this area under these conditions. After sending the pups back to camp with their humans, 9L and I headed back down to WashPark as a light rain began to fall. No lightning and perfect temperatures so nothing of concern. Good day all around! :)
    Bear Canyon (Upper) - Mogollon Rim
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    Bear Canyon - Cabin Loop via Washington Park
    Headed off to Cyle Kountry for some cooler temps and tall pines.
    Temps on the day ranged from 71 to 91, The Coolest in the morning after the climb to General Spring Cabin. The warmest at the Railroad Tunnel in the late afternoon. It was in the 80's most of the day and perfect in the shade and with a breeze.

    First time driving to the Washington Park TH and any vehicle could easily make it there.

    Colonel Devin Trail #290, is as steep at the top as I remembered from doing AZT #27. We took a cool down snack break at the cabin and then headed SE through the woods to Bear Canyon Upper. I'd done this portion before. There are quite a few areas that the game have provided a nice path to follow. It's a lush area with tall cliff walls that is very picturesque. The places where the game had not left a trail was slow going and takes a toll on you. After 5+ miles we cut our track short and scrambled straight up and out of the the creek bed.

    On to the ridge line, we ran across a long ago tree cleared roadbed, that made navigating the forest to FR719 a breeze.

    Once on the Fred Haught Trail #141 it was clear sailing in the pines. Here we ran into HAZ Lurker Samantha, who gushed about the Web Site and an unlikely member. "Do you guys know AZChumley" :sl:

    On the way down, we decided to check out the Railroad Tunnel Trail from the top. Neither of us had been on this section before. Some might want to use this as an alternate route to the top, as it is a less steep alternative.

    On the way home, while gassing up, we ran into the before mentioned AZ-Chumley, one of his partners little Johnny 8K, Jackie who was watching after the Leemobile that had be commandeered, and Linda aka Lindaagm. Great to meet you. Be careful of the company you keep. :o
    Bear Canyon (Upper) - Mogollon Rim
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    Bear Canyon - Cabin Loop via Washington Park
    Upper 70's looked refreshing so the adventure was on. Devin is a straight shooter and gets you to Kyle/Hank country quick. Stopped at the first cabin heading in and out to rest and enjoy the cool breeze.

    The meat of the hike was Bear Canyon. It's nice. Big pines, occasional water and such. Nearing six miles negotiating downed trees with no prize on the horizon was losing it's lure. We agreed to forego the next two miles and jump out. It was steep. We stumbled upon an old long gone road on a finger of a ridge. Based on the stumps and trees in the road it looks like it was logged back in the 50s.

    Then onto FR719 thinning is obvious in areas that include countless slash piles. Semi amazing as this is a blip of an iota in a sea of canyons and ridges on the rim.

    Out General Springs with a stop to the Railroad Tunnel utilizing the upper trail we've never hiked. Ran into the gossip wagon heading

    a few nice specimens are out, several large areas of Wild Bergamot
    Bear Canyon (Upper) - Mogollon Rim
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    Hiked from our camp on FR 398 down into Bear Canyon and downstream to where it intersects FR 95. Easy going for the most part and really scenic. A couple of small pools were encountered both with easy work-arounds on the right (LDC).
    Found prolific wild hop plants as well as a mass quantity of wild roses and maple trees. Water in the canyon was intermittent, sometimes on top and sometimes underground.
    Bear Canyon (Upper) - Mogollon Rim
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    Bear Canyon - Houston Draw Loop
    Kyle invited me for a walk in one of his favorite areas. Do I want to spend the day at 106 or 76 degrees. Duh.

    We dropped into Bear Canyon off of FR95 at FR9737M (as depicted on the TOPO maps) There was actually a Forrest Service sign for this road, but no road. We picked a pretty good route just making our way down the side of the canyon.

    The Bear Canyon drainage was flowing pretty good the entire length we were in it. It was green, green, green! You can find game trails to navigate most of the way, but still need to cross over the drainage many times. It's easy making your way down there, but slow going.

    We crested a bit of a rise in the drainage, to a small grassy meadow. We were both surprised to stumble on a huge Bull Elk, still in velvet, feeding in the grass, not more than 50' away. He was gone before I could get the camera going.

    We only had one spot where we had to go up to avoid a swimmer. Would have been a good swim if it was warmer.

    Out of the drainage and on our way to Pinchot Cabin, it started to rain lightly. Perfect timing as we'd planned to stop at the cabin for lunch anyway. It rained and thundered while we ate lunch under the awning of the cabin. It was actually a bit cold.

    On the Houston Brothers trail we made up some time.

    We dropped into East Bear Canyon following a side canyon down. The Elk have made a decent path to the hill. A few more miles in the canyon and I was ready for the climb out.

    A pretty hike, in great temps. Lots of tiny strawberries along the entire hike. Lilly did great on the hike. Even all the off trail stuff. Thanks for the hike and driving Kyle.
    Bear Canyon (Upper) - Mogollon Rim
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    "Memorial Day Weekend on the Mogollon Rim? Who won't be camping there?" Looking to avoid all human contact and test out some new backpacking gear, I decided to go off trail and spend the night alone. Turning off of the Rim Road Freeway, I stashed my truck in the trees, shouldered my pack, and walked off into the forest late on Saturday afternoon.

    At the first canyon crossing, elk were grazing in a beautiful meadow. I admired them for a bit before they retreated into the trees. I continued on, meandering through the forest over small canyons and ridges, well away from any roads, and eventually settled on a campsite at dark.

    "Hmm, why didn't I bring more water?" I thought, as I pumped from a tiny, filthy stock pond, clogging my filter. Bats circled haphazardly above, while noise from a tree nearby resulted in my first living porcupine sighting. 8) They would be my only company.

    Dropping my pack, I became distracted by a large campfire on a distant ridge, which soon grew into a small wildfire in the windy conditions. :o I nearly left before realizing it was only the moonrise. 8-[ Having set up my tent and new sleeping gear, I settled next to a log, where I relegated my cloudy stock tank water to dinner duty (after a thorough boiling). The resulting Ramen was delicious! I read for a while in the peaceful timber before crawling into my tent for the night.

    Rolling out of the tent on Sunday morning, I made some oatmeal with the last of my water, then packed my gear. I took a roundabout way back, passing beneath maple canopies and aspen groves, where I encountered several elk. One narrow side canyon filled with tall and stately spruce trees proved exciting, with the discovery of an old mountain lion kill, and giant, fresh bear poop.

    Emerging from the wild at my truck, I smiled. I had not seen, heard (!), or come across any sign of other humans on my off trail adventure. Success! I fired up my truck, and rolled down the road once more. Horton Spring was calling me...
    Bear Canyon (Upper) - Mogollon Rim
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    The portion of the Houston Brothers trail between FR300 to where it crosses FR139A is a hidden gem of autumn color. It dips into the upper portion of numerous drainages, each one with more big tooth maples, aspens, and oaks than the one before it. It is a 5-star trail for fall foliage!

    I was a little late this year, and the peak of the maples has passed. There was still some left, but most of the maple leaves had already fallen, making a colorful carpet on the forest floor. The aspens are near their peak, and there was still abundant color. A persistent breeze created a wonderful effect of leaves "raining" on me all day!

    I started at the Barbershop trailhead on FR139 and headed down into the eastern portion of Upper Bear Canyon, a beautiful off-trail meander. I hiked downstream a couple of miles to where the west leg of Upper Bear Canyon meets the eastern leg I was in. From there I hiked straight up hill and took the 139A road a short distance to the Houston Brothers junction. From there it was a couple of spectacular miles back to my truck.
    Bear Canyon (Upper) - Mogollon Rim
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    Bear Cyn Upper Exploratory from FR398 TH
    This trip log, associated picset, and GPS Route are intended to document a "second" entry and/or exit route from the FR398 TH for the Bear Canyon Upper Main Drainage.

    In the process of confirming this new and recommended "off trail" route in my exploration snooping, I may have also located a possible Bear Den in this uppermost section of Upper Bear Canyon :)
    Bear Canyon (Upper) - Mogollon Rim
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    June of this year I did my first exploratory hike into Bear Canyon (Middle) heading up canyon from the recommended Park/TH Start for this hike at the intersection of FR139A/Fred Haught TR#141. On this June exploratory hike, I went up canyon only 1.7mls of the 5.3ml one way distance due to a narrow canyon section with significant water pooling.

    My goal this July visit was to explore the additional section of middle Bear Canyon that I was unable to hike (ie, elected not to hike and be wet) in June.

    This July'12 visit, Larry and I started from the recommended Bear Canyon (Upper) Park/TH at the end of FR300G for a faster access to the most upper end of middle Bear Canyon. We then hiked an out and back down Bear Canyon (Middle) to stop at where I had ended my June adventure.

    Now having completed this entire ~5.3 mile one way hike, I am impressed with my June-July trip findings of significant water pooling (which may require you to get wet if hiking the entire route), scenic canyon cliff geology, lush green foliage including ferns, pines, oaks, aspens, and numerous stands of Big Tooth Maple which should all make for a very pleasant summer Mogollon Rim high country off-trail escape and should also make for a very pleasant prime autumn :FG: off-trail hike experience.

    For more detail, please also see my posted June-July GPS Routes with key waypoints, and my geocoded picsets with captions.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    From the Phoenix area- Drive Hwy 87 north through Payson, Pine, and Strawberry.. approx 10.5 miles north of Strawberry on Hwy 87 at MP281.1, turn right at signed FR300 (the Rim Road) and continue on FR300 for ~14.5 miles to the intersection with signed FR300G. Turn left onto FR300G and continue for ~2.4 miles to its FR300G end at the Parking/TH Start for this off-trail hike (at waypoint 34.45698 -111.21131). It is highly recommended that you download and follow the Driving Route (with key waypoints) posted above to this hike description;
    page created by Grasshopper on Jun 13 2012 8:17 pm
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