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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Bear Canyon Upper - East Bear Canyon Loop, AZ

no permit
251 11 1
Guide 11 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Clints Well
3.8 of 5 by 5
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Loop 4.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,644 feet
Elevation Gain 464 feet
Accumulated Gain 750 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.45
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
4  2018-08-03 Craigbhikin
8  2018-04-22
Bear Canyon (Middle) - Mogollon Rim
8  2018-04-15
Bear Canyon (Upper) - Mogollon Rim
19  2015-08-31 AZWanderingBear
10  2015-07-09
Bear Canyon Loop
30  2014-09-26
FR300G-9737y TH Start: UprBearCyn- EBer Loop
38  2014-07-02 kingsnake
15  2012-10-20
Houston Brothers Trail #171
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   Sep, May, Jun, Aug → 10 AM
Seasons   Early Summer to Late Autumn
Sun  6:08am - 6:30pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
.. Prime Autumn with Big Tooth Maple ..
by Grasshopper

Likely In-Season!
Overview: East Bear Canyon "off trail" hiking can be compared to hiking sections of our Mogollon Rim- Barbershop Canyon and Dane Canyon with seasonal water flow and pooling within East Bear Canyon as of this August'12 hike description posting.

In Autumn, with surprisingly numerous large stands of "Big Tooth Maple" within the entire East Bear Canyon section, this LOOP should provide some excellent Autumn colors during prime season.

East Bear Canyon drainage is mostly easy to navigate with numerous animal routes to follow with some downed trees to negotiate. The lower East Bear Canyon secondary drainage "exit" point to reach remote FR9032E will require some tolerance and patience due to downed trees, overgrowth, and required route finding skills (see my posted 8/23/12 "official" GPS Route with key waypoints noted). It is highly recommended to download and follow this "official" 8/23/12 GPS Route posted herein.

Please Note: The recommended, easier to navigate loop option (with less bushwhacking/tree downfall/route finding) for this hike description is to continue past the above noted lower East Bear Canyon secondary drainage "exit" point, continuing on down the East Bear Canyon drainage to its intersection at Bear Canyon Upper then continue off trail and up hill to intersect the lower end of FR300G (for this hiking route section to reach FR300G from the intersection of the lower end of East Bear Canyon at Bear Canyon Upper, it is highly recommended to download and follow the posted hike description "alternate" 9/27/12 GPS Route..with all key way points included). This recommended hike option (utilizing 1.8 miles on FR300G) now makes this a 5.1 mile loop.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2012-08-29 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
    Bear Canyon Upper - East Bear Canyon Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Day 2 of my 4-day camp above Bear Canyon.

    Dropped down into East Bear Canyon from my camp up on FR 300G via a steep drainage. Lots of water at the bottom. Slowly worked north to the confluence with Bear Canyon. Foraged along the way on the last of the season's wild raspberries. Also sampled some salad greens growing in abundance (common plantain and dandelion).

    The confluence with Bear Canyon has a very large pool. Just north of the confluence I found a huge dead pine along the eastern slope that groaned with each gust of wind. The roots of this ancient giant grew straight out of a sandstone wall. The roots had split the rock. That is gonna be some kind of a crash when this thing comes down.

    Back tracked south and took an unnamed drainage that would lead me back fairly close to my camp. Quarter mile in or so I got cliffed out by a 30 foot waterfall. Took a sketchy route along the western slope instead of surrendering. Found a matched elk shed in the drainage. It was several years old and partially deteriorated, but the upper third of one was still solid and will make some nice handles on some future craft projects. Scared up two elk, a cow and yearling, about 500 feet from my camp.

    I do love the Rim!

    Link to the camp trip report:
    Bear Canyon Upper - East Bear Canyon Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4

    Another last minute throw together. Wanted to do something in Prescott, but with the rodeo there and me *hating* crowds :x -- and traffic :doh: -- I figured Payson area would be better. I started with Grasshopper's recommended route, but adapted it to travel the entire length of both East Bear Canyon, plus the entire length of the return canyon. (Travelling counter-clockwise.)

    With 110° predicted for the Valley, and 95° for Payson, I figured maybe 90° for a high on the Rim. It was 75° when I started at 8:30 a.m. and 90° when I finished at 12:45 p.m.

    Other than the highly civilized bit between AZ 260 and Woods Canyon Lake, I had never been on Rim Rd. When I crossed it a few times during last week's Railroad Tunnel hike, it did not seem bad at all. However, the first four miles east of AZ 87 were very bumpy, while the next miles to the battle memorial were bumpy low in corners. The last couple miles to FR 300G were fine. All along the 15 miles it was maybe 1.5 lanes wide at best. It took me about 40 minutes to drive from AZ 87 to FR 300G. I would not drive a car on it.

    After parking, I walked down to "Dude Lake", which was a dry tank. I then started down the head of East Bear Canyon. It was narrow, with larger boulders, but smooth sailing. When I got to a small meadow, I picked up an animal trail. Tons of Elk poo and prints from that point to the turn-around.

    East Bear Canyon was easy travelling. 3-5' above the water channel, on one or both banks, there was a 10-25 yard wide shelf, so the plentiful deadfall was easily avoided. No pricklers to speak of. Lots of greenery, particularly ferns, but few flowers. LOTS OF BUTTERFLIES. :) I was suprised to bump into a VV88 sign, and .15 miles further on, a VV89 sign, as I thought they were Crook Trail markers, and Crook Trail is a mile southwest (according to the always fallible topo). :-k

    The fall, just up the return canyon from the turn-around, was dry. I bypassed it to the right. As the return canyon was rather narrow, and heavily obstructed, I stuck to a contour about 30 feet above the canyon bottom for the first mile. A small bug joined me for lunch opposite Grasshopper's canyon exit. Probably 50% of my energy expenditure was in that first mile, but after that the canyon started getting wider and less brushy. Smooth sailing, especially through a half-mile long fern patch. (Where the creek bottom was sandy.) The final mile was on FR 300G.

    Finally, my crappy Garmin 62S lied, telling me I had hiked 1.13 miles further (7.71) than MapDex calculated after I uploaded my track. That's a healthy 15% error. :roll:


    Video: ... autoplay=1 (BobP approved length ;) , w/t some different photos)

    Very few flowers, but lots of greenery, especially ferns and those plants that look like corn leaves.
    Bear Canyon Upper - East Bear Canyon Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    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 - East Bear Canyon Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Early Autumn :FG: Big Tooth Maple bliss on our Mogollon Rim :GB:
    Bear Canyon Upper - East Bear Canyon Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    And Hank leads another Winner! : app : We were hoping to get lucky and find some Fall Color down in this Canyon on this Trip and we were not disappointed. :y:

    After waking up to the Bugling Elk, we set off in the Grasshopper for the TH. Got parked and headed down to where we descended down into the Canyon. Much steeper descent than the West Bear Loop I did with Hank earlier this summer. We were almost to the bottom and started seeing RED! And Orange...And Yellow.... :GB:

    The Maples were turning alright! Not all of them, there must have been a freak early frost, as some of the Maples were already done, some were at Peak, and alot of them had not even started turning yet. I'm guessing that the Canyon is quite a bit cooler than above, but just hasn't had that "hard" freeze that really sends the signal to the Trees that winter is around the corner.... :)

    Let the picture taking commence!!! :sweat: And it did!!! Even without the Maples, it was a beautiful Canyon with a trickling Creek, Mammoth Rocks and today, beautiful Blue Skies. Later in the day, some Dr. I know, must have ordered up some nice Clouds too... :)

    It was a perfect day for a stroll down a colorful Canyon. Our pace was slow, full of awe at one of Mother Nature's finest displays...The walking was fairly easy, either through the Creekbed or along a sure-to-find Game Trail alongside....

    Arrived at the area where it was time to exit out the Canyon and it was a steep sucker going up too... :sweat: But we made it and walked back down the Forest Road to where the Grasshopper was patiently waiting for us.

    Another great day Hank! You sure know how to pick 'em! :FG: Thanks for letting me tag along on this one, looking forward to the next! : app :
    Bear Canyon Upper - East Bear Canyon Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I had been looking forward to this first exploratory off-trail Mogollon Rim "East Bear Canyon" hike since my June 23rd visit to confirm the recommended prime Autumn hiking route for the
    "Bear Canyon Upper - West Bear Canyon Loop".

    It was my hopes that this "East Bear Canyon" would also confirm my suspensions for another good choice for prime Autumn (~mid October) Mogollon Rim did :DANCE: with continuous stands of Big Tooth Maple and some Aspen.

    Now we just need to follow through via Autumn Mogollon Rim visits to this area for some :FG: pics which I'm hoping we can deliver for both hiking sections of "West & East Bear Canyons"..TBD ;)

    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 ~.90 miles to the easily missed FR9737Y intersection on right side (small water tank visible) which is the Parking/TH Start for this "off-trail" hike (at waypoint 34.43827 -111.21574). It is highly recommended you download and follow the Driving Route (with key waypoints) posted above to this hike description;
    page created by Grasshopper on Aug 29 2012 4:41 pm
    3 pack - loud whistle
    safety first
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