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Big Creek Falls - Coronado NF, AZ

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Guide 16 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
3.9 of 5 by 7
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 1.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,874 feet
Elevation Gain -200 feet
Accumulated Gain 400 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 3.2
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Perennial Waterfall & Perennial Creek
Backpack Possible & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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41  2017-09-18
Frye Fire 2017 Aftermath
3  2017-05-06 friendofThunderg
10  2016-10-20
Mount Graham 10,720
6  2016-09-22 cactuscat
26  2016-04-26
Riggs Flat Campground
20  2012-05-24 outdoor_lover
14  2011-08-02 CannondaleKid
20  2011-03-31
Cunningham Loop Trail
Page 1,  2
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
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Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Aug, Jul, Sep, Jun → Any
Seasons   Late Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:08am - 6:16pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
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Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
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free-fallin' on Big Creek
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
Overview: This combination trail hike and bushwhack leads to a small thirty foot waterfall below Treasure Park, where perennial Big Creek tumbles off the southern edge of the Pinaleno Mountains.

Warning: The final approach to Big Creek Falls requires scrambling above cliffs on steep, brush covered slopes. Be cautious and choose your route carefully: in some places, a slip could result in serious injury or death. Take note of your surroundings on the hike in, as there is only one way in and out of the falls area.

Hike: The hike begins at a hairpin curve and creek crossing on the south end of the Treasure Park loop road (forest road 89). Follow the faint use trail that heads south, down the west bank of Treasure Creek. Within a few hundred feet, the faint trail becomes a worn and definite path that enters a nice stand of spruce and fir along the edge of Treasure Creek.

Within a quarter of a mile, the forest gives way to an open, grassy park, where Treasure Creek joins Big Creek. A large cairn near the confluence marks the junction with a spur trail leading up Big Creek to the Hospital Flat Nature Trail. Continue down canyon on the main trail, which follows Big Creek.

At around 0.5 miles, exposed bedrock and a series of small cascades signal the edge of the mountain, while the footpath comes to a sudden end at a rockslide near the creek's edge.

From the trail's end, continue along the east side of the canyon for a couple of hundred feet, above the creek, until an outcrop of rock forces you up the east slope. A climb of one hundred feet or so will bring you above the impassable outcrop, thus allowing you to contour a short distance to the south, where you will find a slope covered in scrubby, gambel oak saplings. Descend this slope, which shortly pinches down to a narrow, rocky overlook, on the edge of Big Creek canyon's wonderfully rugged abyss. Aspens with names carved in them help identify the site. Out of the mouth of the V-shaped gorge is a fine view of Sulphur Springs Valley.

On the north (upstream) side of the overlook, a precarious footpath descends about fifty feet to the base of now visible Big Creek Falls. A small, level slab of metamorphic bedrock at the base of the falls provides an ideal place to relax and enjoy Big Creek's little gem. This rugged spot is the end of the line for hikers.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2008-09-04 PrestonSands
    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 12 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Big Creek Falls - Coronado NF
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    Frye Fire 2017 Aftermath
    On Thursday 9/14 the top portion of the Swift Trail (366) was opened back up to the public.
    This was the first opportunity for the Gila Valley residents to drive up and view the effects from the Frye Fire.

    I drove up and parked at High Peak road. Completed a big loop to & through the above linked trails/campgrounds.

    I've only got 2 thoughts -

    #1 - The fire was good for the overall future health and growth of the Pinaleno Mountain range for the decades and more to come, I do not deny that fact.

    #2 - For myself ..... the 40+ year hiker, backpacker, camper, fisherman & photographer of this magnificent mountain range ..... I am totally devastated and heartbroken by the destruction I viewed on top.
    The Pinalenos will never be the same for the rest of my life.
    I am shook, I am bitter & I am angry, but I am also very thankful that I got to see and share with my family and friends the incredible beauty of what once was. There will be many more great memories made on this mountain ..... just in a different way now and in different locations.
    Big Creek Falls - Coronado NF
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    Leaves are falling all around
    It's time I was on my way
    Thanks to you I'm much obliged
    For such a pleasant stay.
    - Page/Plant -

    Chasing autumn colors up high. Main focus was the aspens ..... and I found them!
    High Peak Road delivered, my favorite grove looked good. I was about a week late, but most still held gold.
    From #507 I finally completed the newly built connector trail over to the Big Creek Trail, cool little trail!
    Next up was Hospital Flat then down to Treasure Park. Big Creek was flowing good so I added on Big Creek Falls to the trip. Super fun boulder hopping down that canyon and the falls were a highlight.
    I then took the "spooky" back trail down to Snow Flat, ate & rested a bit by the pond before the climb up to the Swift Trail. Swift Trail then brought me back to the start completing the loop.

    Upper mountain closes November 15th so this was probably my last trip up high for this year. The lower Swift Trail however is starting to get good with color ..... real good! The next week or so should be primo for a scenic drive along the switchbacks.

    Good day for wildlife - 1 buck, 9 does, 6 Abert's & a dozen gobblers at Snow Flat.

    Big Creek Falls - Coronado NF
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    What a perfect day on the mountain! :y: I never wanted to leave. 60-65 degrees up at 8,000-9,000 ft ... I never got the least bit hot or cold. Mostly clear skies and delicious sunshine ... somewhat windy/gusty.
    I may have said this before, but THIS is definitely my new favorite trail up there. This super fun little hike packs a lot into its mile and a half ... meadows, forest, slick rock, waterfalls, pools, cool boulders, then a sporty little climb down to the bottom of the falls. Loved it.
    Falls were flowing well and I enjoyed the spray and ozone at the bottom.

    A few aspens near Treasure Park were already turning, and I saw a single eye-catching maple going pink.
    Big Creek Falls - Coronado NF
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    Parked across from Shannon and took -
    Swift Trail :next: Snow Flat :next: Snow Flat Trail :next: Snow Flat to Treasure Park :next: Big Creek Falls :next: Swift Trail.
    Snow Flat - Always one of the most beautiful places on the mountain.
    Snow Flat Trail - Short & sweet, light creek flow and greening up nicely.
    Snow Flat to Treasure Park - Not very green yet & a little spooky as always.
    Big Creek Falls - Good creek flow. Very scenic waterfalls on the lower section. Because of the good flow, I decided on the climb down to the Big falls. Had forgotten about the butt pucker factor on the route up & down, it was a tad :scared:
    Swift Trail - Still the best trail of them all! Road looked real good today.
    Not much wildlife spotted on this trip, but not surprising with all the people heading up to start the weekend.
    Too early yet for the wow stuff on top, but it's starting ..... I shall return!
    Big Creek Falls - Coronado NF
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    Roper Lake Ranger Trip #7
    Addie, Bianca, Lauren & Myself headed up Graham with the plan of hiking the Webb Peak area. The dirt road portion of the Swift Trail is not in the best of condition this year and for some reason the FS has not graded it for this summer season. We were traveling up in a low clearance car for this trip and made the decision to turn around close to the Fort Grant overlook and just hit up a few of the lower campground trails were the road was much better.
    We parked and started from Treasure Park first completing the out-n-back Big Creek Falls trail. Not much water running down the canyon and we were able to hike right down the creek bed from the lack of flow, very fun!
    We then took the "secret" trail down to Snow Flat. I always enjoy this one as it has such a different forest look then most of the other mountain trails.
    After a short break for lunch by the small lake, we hiked the out-n-back down to the nice overlook below Snow Flat.
    A walk up Snow Flat road and then back up the Swift Trail brought us to the start completing a loop.
    An hour of hilarious conversation back at Treasure Park was had before calling it a day and traveling back down the mountain to Roper Lake SP.
    Not our longest hike as a group, but another very enjoyable day on this great mountain!
    Can't wait for #8

    Pinaleno flowers are getting ready to explode, just need one good rain.
    Big Creek Falls - Coronado NF
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    Leaving my campsite at Hagens Point in the early afternoon following a 3 am arrival and 4:30 am bedtime, I voyaged further up the Swift Trail to start an afternoon wander at Snow Flat. I hadn't been to Treasure Park in a while, so off into the woods I went, totally at peace in familiar, pleasant surroundings. I made a loop around Treasure Park, stopping for water along the way. I had not visited Big Creek Falls in years, so I made my way down to it as well, resting contented at the base of its slick wall of splashing water. Realizing the need to get my evening plans underway, I made the return trek back to Snow Flat and then voyaged further up the Swift Trail, after my obligatory stop at Hospital Flat. A great day so far! :)
    Big Creek Falls - Coronado NF
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    3rd stop of the day. Nice little Trail out of Treasure Park Campground that meanders alongside one Creek, before joining up with Big Creek for the rest of the Hike. We had the choice of continuing to follow the Trail itself to an Overlook that would take you around so that you can see the Big Creek Falls, or just hopping off the Trail where the Creek really starts flowing through the Slick Rock on it's way to the Big Fall. We opted to follow the Creek and although the Water was very low, there was some very Scenic little Falls and Cascades. We arrived at the spot where the Creek takes the plunge over the Cliff and Chad showed me where the Overlook was located and also a possible Route down to the base of the Falls. There was so little Water running, that I decided to not take the time to go down to the bottom, or the Overlook. I'm sure that when that Creek is really flowing well, the Falls are absolutely spectacular and I will repeat this Hike to see that!!!! :D

    Nice little Gem of a Hike. This will be a repeater for me when the Water is better!!!
    Big Creek Falls - Coronado NF
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    Pinaleno Mountains
    Day #1 of mine & Pam's 2 day stay on Graham. I thought for the first day it would be fun to just drive up the Swift Trail and hit many of the shorter (1-2 mile) "nature" trails and leave the longer day hike trails for the next day. After meeting up at Roper Lake SP, we headed up the Swifty with the first stop being at upper Arcadia -

    Arcadia Nature Trail - Short & sweet stroll along the mountain side and up through the pines & oak to a nice overlook of Noon Creek ridge & Wet Canyon below. Good start to the day!

    Ladybug Peak - Always a favorite of mine to bag on the way up or down the mountain. The ladybugs are starting to congregate on top and I will have to return in a few weeks to view the full spectacle of hundreds of thousands!

    Big Creek Falls - Big Creek was not flowing at it's best today, but that made it possible to hike right down the middle of the creek's rock slabs down to the big falls. Always a scenic canyon to hike down heavy flow or not!

    Hospital Flat Nature Trail - One of the prettiest meadows on the entire mountain! Hiked the standard counter-clockwise loop and just took in the beautiful forest scenery with a lunch break back at the campground before continuing on up the Swift Trail.

    CP Flat Loop - Trail of the day! The aspens on this trail were almost full and the walk through "Letty's Grove" was truly the highlight of the day! We both sat at the end of the grove not really wanting to leave, but the sun was starting to fall and we needed to get down to Riggs Lake and secure our camping spot for the night.

    Riggs Flat Lake - After looping the campgrounds, we decided on a camping site (#1) and spent dusk getting camp set up and eating dinner. Night brought a campfire, some star trail photography & a couple of hours of good ol' campfire conversation! I settled into my tent around midnight and fell asleep to the sound of high mountain wind blowing through the pine trees above me.

    Great day #1 with Pam atop my backyard mountain home!!!
    Big Creek Falls - Coronado NF
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    After an early start yesterday, a strenuous hike and a few more albeit less strenuous hikes today, we sought one more easy one before taking the long trip back to Mesa. Again the allure of a water fall caught our interest.

    This one was pretty short and sweet, just right to end the day of hike. The trail was traveled enough no bushwhacking was needed on the hike down to the falls, but we didn't continue around and down to get below them, which looked like a challenge. A challenge more than we cared for just before a long drive home, so after a few photos we began the short climb back to the trail head.
    Big Creek Falls - Coronado NF
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    With the back half of the Swift Trail (Hwy 366) still closed until April 15th, I decided that I just could not wait anymore for it to open and mountain biked my way in to the trails. I first biked in to the Grant Hill TH and hiked the lower Cunningham Loop, jumped back on my bike and rode down to Hospital Flat and hiked the nature trail, then back on the bike down to Treasure Park and hiked down the Big Creek Falls trail. Spent about an hour at Treasure Park before jumping back on the bike and riding back up to my truck parked at the High Peak Rd TH.
    All 3 trails still have a few patches of snow on them and I was up to my knees on one short stretch along Cunningham Loop. Weather was perfect and all the trails were beautiful!!! I really thought by biking in I would be the only person on this side of the mountain for the day, but I must have been passed by 10 vehicles driving up that I assume were Mt. Graham telescope workers. This was the first time I have ever mountain biked on the Swift Trail and it ended up being one of the funnest day trips I have ever had on the Grahams!

    Permit $$

    Coronado Forest
    MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
    Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Safford, head south on U.S. highway 191. Turn west onto state highway 366 (Swift Trail). Follow highway 366 for approximately 22.6 miles to the signed Treasure Park turnoff, at milepost 137. Turn left at the sign and follow the campground road (forest road 89) for 0.4 miles to a hairpin curve where the road crosses a creek. There is parking available along the spur road that takes off to the right. The unmarked and faint trail follows the creek downstream (see description above).
    page created by PrestonSands on Sep 03 2008 11:31 pm
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