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Peoples Canyon, AZ

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Guide 6 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northwest > Kingman 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.
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Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 4.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,190 feet
Elevation Gain -707 feet
Accumulated Gain 150 feet
Avg Time One Way 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible & Connecting
Dogs not allowed
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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12  2014-03-01
Santa Maria - Lower Peoples Canyon Loop
45  2013-11-16
Peoples Canyon Loop
13  2013-01-26
Peoples Canyon Loop
21  2013-01-26
Peoples Canyon Loop
Author chumley
author avatar Guides 75
Routes 667
Photos 13,162
Trips 1,416 map ( 10,534 miles )
Age 46 Male Gender
Location Tempe, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Feb, Dec → Any
Seasons   Autumn
Sun  6:18am - 6:37pm
Official Route
5 Alternative
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Wapner's Verdict
by chumley

Private Property Notice
First things first. The land in the area of South Peoples Spring is private property. Access to this part of Peoples Canyon requires written permission from the landowner. Contact information for the land owner can be obtained from the BLM Kingman Field Office.

There are no developed trails in the Arrastra Mountain Wilderness. All travel is off-trail and requires careful route-finding and caution. This is a severe desert climate and this remote location can be dangerous at any time of year, but especially so in the warm summer months. Be prepared.

This route travels along an old overgrown mining road from the northern edge of the Arrastra Mountain Wilderness boundary, heading southward and up a gentle 100-foot climb before dropping steadily into Peoples Canyon. The old roadbed ends after about 1.5 miles and travel continues down-canyon on your own route.

At about 1.6 miles, you encounter a shady grove of Sycamore trees, and as the canyon narrows pools of water appear. This is Sycamore Spring. There is no obvious spring source, but the existence of the large trees indicates ample groundwater, and it is a consistent source of surface water year round. BLM Wilderness areas permit cattle grazing and this spring is reasonably accessible so it is likely that you will encounter cattle (or signs of them) in this area.

This section of tree-filled narrow canyon continues for about a quarter mile before the terrain changes as the canyon dries out again. The next 2+ miles is spent heading down canyon along portions of sandy wash, boulder-hopping, and large swaths of carved stone slabs. The travel is relatively easy compared to many off-trail canyon hikes in Arizona. Travel at or above 1mph is not unreasonable.

The landscape surrounding the canyon changes as you proceed offering differing views as you go along. There is not much shade in this part of the canyon, and the canyon walls are wide and of moderate slope, so sun exposure can be a problem during hot weather.

At about 4.2 miles you encounter another riparian area, South Peoples Spring, marked by large Sycamore, Cottonwood, and Willow trees. Pools of water begin to appear, and shortly develops into a lightly flowing stream cascading through carved channels in the rock. It is approximately at this point that the canyon enters private property. Proceeding downstream from here requires the permission of the landowner.

The canyon narrows here once again, and travel becomes increasingly difficult through thick bushes, and some more scrambling is required over and around large boulder obstacles. At about the 4.5 mile mark you encounter the terminus of the shortest hiking route to South Peoples Spring. Downstream of this point, the canyon is difficult to travel in due to water, pools, small cascades, and thick vegetation. After about another half mile, the bulk of the water retreats underground and the travel becomes easier.

This description does not address the 3.5-4.0 miles of Peoples Canyon from South Peoples Spring to the Santa Maria River, but this section can also be hiked with few obstacles.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2013-11-18 chumley
    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
    Peoples Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Santa Maria - Lower Peoples Canyon Loop
    Last year presented a memorable adventure through the heart of Peoples Canyon. An exciting high flow creek fueled by storms galore tickled our fancy.

    Two months of bone dry conditions surrendered to a 90-100% forecasted chance of rain in the area. The Eagle suggested finishing lower Peoples a few times throughout the week.

    After six nice-view, albeit draggy, miles down the "Beautiful Santa Maria" we reached our hero... Peoples. Along the way we reminisced Ives Peak. The Eagle's Disneyland loop on that one looks stellar from every angle. Me thinks it's among the best the area has to offer on a consistent basis.

    After a refreshing break we headed up Peoples. The muggy yawner of a day began to shift. Hey did you feel that breeze? Yep, it sure felt nice as the temps suddenly dropped five degrees too. The narrowing canyon gained our attention. The canyon split and the dice were rolling in our favor. Twisty, boulders and a deep... depression. Back in Peoples baby!

    Acceptable, enchanting, oh who are we kidding. Going up a mild spring fed canyon just doesn't compare to going down a mild flood in action. Under a mile to South Peoples Spring it gets progressively tedious. With a tenth to go I opted for operation abort canyon and climbed out. Straight up I headbutted the base of a cholla. Nothing horrific like Denny's Ocotillo slip-n-tackle last week, just not paying attention.

    The Eagle lasso looped us over to an unnamed canyon that traveled SE back to the "Beautiful Santa Maria". This circled us completely around Negro Ben Peak. The canyon was dry and traveled "down" a bit quicker with a few flora battles keeping it spicy.

    It's good to check off Peoples. Negro Ben Peak looked interesting and worthy of a visit if you are base camping nearby.

    The guaranteed rain made good on it's promise pounding us our final tenth of a mile. Boy howdy was it cold. Excited anticipation of hiking through those conditions all day seemed nutty.

    Note: nearly twenty miles in a wetsuit in dry canyons is borderline torture

    Carried 3 qts, consumed 1.5

    Moderate for this year, light for good years. Desert lavender, owl clover, one sprig of lupine, Brittlebush and several other yellows.
    Peoples Canyon
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I've wanted to explore this area for over a year now, and after the JBLP trio were there during a flood last winter my interest was piqued even more. But their visit did little to appease my curiosity since I knew that the conditions during their visit were extremely rare.

    So Joel and I headed up early Saturday morning for a planned overnight in the canyon and I thoroughly enjoyed the landscape here. It's remote and rarely visited. The elevation is a bit lower than the Supes, so there is not nearly as much vegetation to fight, especially up away from the canyon bottoms. Sparsely spaced cactus and desert shrub made travel fairly quick and pain free. In the canyon bottom, travel was surprisingly easy going, except for in the spring areas where growth made for some serious bushwhacking. Still, willows, reeds, ferns, and riparian grasses don't cause nearly as much pain as catclaw and manzanita!

    The drive to the trailhead is 90% nice dirt road. The other 10% is mandatory 4x4 high clearance. Just a couple of short stretches, but not the kind of road a Rav-4 or CRV is gonna enjoy. A real truck is definitely in order. Once done with the 5-mile dirt road to the trailhead, we made it down canyon in pretty good time. We took a nice break in the narrow canyon area at Sycamore Spring, followed by changing terrain along a couple of dry miles before reaching South Peoples.

    At this point, we found the only flat ground possible and managed to squeeze our two tents on what might be considered a gravelly beach adjacent to the creek. Joel set out to find some photographic opportunities, and I headed out to explore some areas around the canyon. Had I had more daylight I would have liked to check out the cliff-lined ridge on the west side of the canyon, but I only managed to get about half way up before deciding that daylight wasn't on my side. The views from above the canyon were still spectacular and I would love to come back and spend more time exploring here. I did find what turned out to be a concrete trough -- something I had seen on a satellite photo and decided to seek out.

    I went up one side drainage, crossed over a ridge, and descended a parallel drainage. Both were really neat. Narrow little slots with sandy bottoms. Often not more than 3 feet wide, but only 5-20 feet high. In a few places there were small dry falls that I had to bypass, but nothing was ever a real challenge.

    Downstream of South Peoples, the vegetation is very thick and travel is significantly more difficult than any part of the canyon above it. I managed to get about half a mile in about an hour's time which is about where the water heads underground and the canyon dries up and becomes easier to travel in again. I'll have to get back here sometime to finish the last few miles to the Santa Maria.

    So after a couple of evening beverages, we enjoyed perfect weather for sleeping and awoke to sun on the cliffs above. The hike out to the road was uneventful, and the 2-miles of road hiking back to the the car seemed neverending but still scenic. I surprised a few head of cattle that had adopted a friend in one of nature's paradoxes that just doesn't seem real. I've had several days of emails and photo exchanges with a biologist at AZGFD about it and they are sending a team out to check it out.

    Didn't see another vehicle or person all weekend, though there were some obvious man-made boot prints in the sand from time to time, so it's not like nobody has ever been here. Then again, who knows when the last time it rained there?

    I posted a few more photos than I normally would just because there's not much information out there on this one. I also try to keep my videos under 3-minutes, but this is a new area for me and most who visit this site, so I went over a little bit. Hope you don't fall asleep... ;)
    Peoples Canyon
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Peoples Canyon Loop
    Johnlp 365!

    An Excellent Adventure into a little traveled area.

    4 days of rain, and rain all day, made this Epic

    Permit $$
    information is in description

    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To canyon trip
    From Wickenburg, travel about 44 miles north on US-93. At the junction of AZ-97, (milepost 155) make a U-Turn across the divided highway and travel south on US-93 for about 200 yards. Turn right onto unsigned dirt road and proceed through closed gate. This road requires high-clearance and mandatory 4x4 in several locations even during dry weather. Follow this road for 5.2 miles and park adjacent to a sharp right turn at the bottom of a small hill along the wilderness boundary. (Note: from mile 0.7 to mile 3.25 the dirt road crosses State Trust land and requires a permit for recreation. The other parts of the road and the trailhead parking are on BLM land where no permit is required.)
    page created by joebartels on Nov 18 2013 8:30 pm
    2+ mi range whistle
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