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White Canyon - Shuttle, AZ

no permit
13 1 0
Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Superior S
4 of 5 by 2
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,176 feet
Elevation Gain 570 feet
Accumulated Gain 800 feet
Avg Time One Way 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.67
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Possibly Connect
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
23  2017-01-02
White Canyon Upper - SW Approach FR319
13  2012-12-10 bensondk
Author bensondk
author avatar Guides 4
Routes 8
Photos 159
Trips 13 map ( 101 miles )
Age 68 Male Gender
Location Florence, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Mar, Feb, Apr
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:12am - 6:23pm
2 Alternative
Named place Nearby
Ok for us 60+ hikers
by bensondk

This hike is the completion of an effort to connect White Canyon from two different directions the northeast and from the south. Initially, I hiked in to White Canyon from the northeast (Official trail in HAZ by Grasshopper as White Canyon Upper - SW Approach FR319). As Grasshopper describes, the approach from the northeast takes you to the top of the valley with some fantastic views of White Canyon. Further investigation showed a number of approaches from the south from Battle Axe Road, but no routes that connected to the top of the ridge where the approach from the northeast ended. The track described below is the result of a combined effort with George from Solera, who recorded the initial track.

The accompanying GPS track is helpful in picking the right general area, but in places may not have followed the best line, as it is easy to miss the trail. The GPS track does become very helpful in knowing where to leave the creek to go up to the top of the valley to the right.

Using the track from George as a guide, we parked my pickup at a wide spot on the road (N33 09.658 W111 04.433) beyond which the road deteriorated a bit. More aggressive drivers with suitable vehicles could drive up to 1.1 miles further and park where the road separates from the creek bed.

The hike in on the first 1.1 miles is on a travelled road, mainly used by off road vehicles. It passes a spring which has been fixed up with a pipe coming out of the ground keeping a pool filled. Later I was told that this spring is warm water, although I didn't think to feel it at the time. As you hike in on the road the cliffs to the side become more rugged and impressive.

Where the creek bed separates into two, the road follows one, and the track takes the other as you work your way up the creek. About 0.2 miles from the road, you are likely to encounter a registration stand. This registration stand is located in a remote location, and contains a surprising number of entries. It seems likely that a number of hikers going up the creek bed would miss the registration completely.

As you work your way up the creek, you will encounter all sizes of boulders some of which will test your scrambling skills, but none of which required any special skills other than picking the easiest route. A trail can be found for much of the way, but it will disappear from time to time particularly where the trail is right in the bottom of the creek.

After about 3 miles from the parking spot, you will come to a waterfall (likely dry) on your right. This is where you leave the creek bed and turn uphill. At first, this will appear to be impossible to scramble, but if you look closely at the left hand side, you can begin to see a path, and as you work your way up, you find that it is indeed not that difficult to scramble. If you use a series of switchbacks, the otherwise very steep track can be made much easier. Initially, we thought that it might be ok going up, but could be difficult to descend later, but descending turned out to be relatively easy as well. As a comparison, those familiar with the hike to the Picket Post summit will find this route by the waterfall slightly easier and much shorter duration.

Once at the top, we returned the same way we came. For hikers in this area for the first time, I would encourage you to go further to the north along the edge of the valley to take as many scenic lookout points as time allows. If transportation can be worked out to combine this track with the one called White Canyon Upper - SW Approach FR319, a very good outing can be had by hiking from one trailhead to the other.

Check out the Triplog.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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2012-12-18 bensondk

    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 Triplog Review
    White Canyon - Shuttle
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    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:

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Phoenix, take US-60 E (signs for Mesa - Globe), Take the AZ-177 exit at Superior, Turn right onto AZ-177 S/Ray Rd, Continue to follow AZ-177 South for 9.6 miles, Turn right onto N Battle Axe Rd (considered a primitive road) and go for 2.3 miles, turn right onto a less travelled road which heads gewnerally northwest for 0.7 miles, then swings to the Southwest and goes about 0.8 miles to reach the parking spot.
    page created by bensondk on Dec 17 2012 5:10 pm
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