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Fish Creek Cyn - Bridge to Roger's Canyon, AZ

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Guide 7 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Queen V NE
3.7 of 5 by 7
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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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,323 feet
Elevation Gain -1,050 feet
Accumulated Gain 300 feet
Avg Time One Way 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
17  2016-02-13
Frog Tanks Trail #112
19  2016-02-13
Frog Tanks Trail #112
34  2015-02-14 legshurtbackhurt
45  2010-12-04 Vaporman
17  2008-11-09 nonot
Author nonot
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 236
Photos 1,969
Trips 476 map ( 4,511 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Nov, Feb, Mar → 8 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:08am - 6:31pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Easy? ...sounds fishy
by nonot

Overview: This trip description covers the upper half of Fish Creek from its start on Frog Tanks trail to the bridge over the canyon on Apache Trail. Reaching the upper portion at Frog Tanks will likely take you most of a day using a variety of hiking options. A loop with the JF trail will weigh in at about 22 miles, not counting walking or hitchhiking the Apache Trail itself.

In November of 2008 this canyon has one obstacle that makes the overall rating of the canyon class 2. If members of your party wish to swim in rather chilly waters with their gear, then you could rate this as a class 1 canyon.

Warning: This is a physically difficult route when done in only 1 day, even when done top to bottom.

A flash flood significantly changed this canyon between 2006 and 2008. Places where there use to be trees there are no trees and 15 foot piles of sand. The social trail in the last mile to the bridge was significantly worsened as well. So, please stay out of this canyon if any significant rains are predicted anywhere in the area. Fish Creek drains a large majority of the west-central Supes and can carry huge volumes of water.

If bringing children, they need to be practiced in bouldering skills as there are several climbing obstacles and given the size of the boulders, will be even more difficult for those who are height-challenged.

History: Fish creek canyon is a fairly reliable water source in the northern Superstitions. Presence of multiple ruins along the creek shows that the Salado Indians made use of this land. Unfortunately, the obvious settlements have been mostly destroyed by vandals.

Hike: Starting from Frog Tanks, Fish Creek cuts west where drainages from Angel Basin, Rough Canyon, and Paradise Canyon merge on their route to the lake.

For the first half mile, the scenery is spectacular. Arizona sycamores line the creek and the going is rocky, but flat. Water is frequently seen, some spots better than others.

About a half mile in from the top is the most difficult section of the entire canyon. Smooth rock walls tower on either sides of you and the canyon narrows. The creek funnels into a slickrock slot which has a significantly deep pool of water that spans the canyon side to side. Not wanted to take a chilly swim and drag heavy water-laden packs the rest of the way, the best (though not recommended) way to get around is to climb 50 feet to a gap in the tower on the left, looking down canyon, and shimmy/slide down a 70 degree slope on the other side. The right side (looking down canyon) has cliffs near the top the prevent progress.

Once past this section, the canyon resumes its relatively gradual slope downstream. The going is slow, but steady and one can marvel at the numerous caverns carved by the wind and water, making sections of upper Fish Creek look like Swiss cheese.

There is little overgrowth to worry about when the water is low, so we continue down canyon hopping on the larger rocks. After 4 miles of this enjoyable torture, the canyon opens up as Lost Dutch canyon joins from the south. Here, the creekbed turns to smaller gravel and it is extremely open and flat for the next mile. This section could get quite warm as it has little shade and lots of sun exposure.

Gradually, the canyon narrows and the rock-hopping will start to get more difficult. Beginning at 5 miles in there are numerous enormous boulders, some bigger than houses, that obstruct the creekbed. This section will wear you out as you boulder, in, over, and through these enormous boulder piles. Water is seen more frequently and begins to add to the difficulty of the canyon as you figure out how to go around.

Eventually, you find the social trails described in the Fish Creek Canyon - Upper Bridge trip description and follow these the last 0.5-1 mile to the bridge. Access to the road is found on the left, looking down canyon.

Water sources: Even after 4 moths without rain, water was found at least every third of a mile of the entire canyon. If you don't like the look of one source, proceed onto the next as some are better than others.

Camping: Since this will be a multi-day trip, nearby camping in Frog Tanks or Angel Basin can be utilized. Camping in upper Fish Creek itself is possible, there are numerous good campsites and several sheltered alcoves one could use.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2008-11-16 nonot
    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
    Fish Creek Cyn - Bridge to Roger's Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Claire & I had a three day weekend for President’s Day and FOTG wanted to return to Upper Fish Creek. The long weekend & warm temps gave us the perfect chance to explore the area.

    We left Tempe on Saturday morning and made the drive to Woodbury Trailhead. The road is bumpy and annoying but in good shape overall. We started hiking the JF Trail around 11am and saw Toddak by the Windmill. He was doing a large day hike from the Tortilla Trailhead. After chatting up with him we made the climb to Tortilla Pass which took some effort with the hot sun beating down and the heavy pack. Once over the pass we cruised down to Angel’s Basin and connected onto the Frog Tanks Trail. We arrived at our camp within the hour. We settled into camp and gathered an obnoxious amount of firewood. The evening was spent making dinner and enjoying the fire.

    Our day two started slowly. We planned on day hiking down Fish Creek and knew we had a swimmer within the first half mile. We wanted the sunlight for warmth. We left camp around 9:30am and made the half mile hike to the swimmer. Once there we scoped out the bypass on left. FOTG looked for a bypass on the right and checked out a possible ruin site that yielded some shards but nothing significant. The right bypass was a no go and he returned back to us at the swimmer. While away the girls and I talked and were not too excited about making the cold swim. The left bypass looked sketchy & I was thinking about other options for the day. FOTG came back to us and immediately tossed his boots across the pool and then jumped in and swam across. He reached the other side and didn’t say anything for a long moment. I knew it had to be a cold swim. He got back in the water and hugged the wall where I passed him our packs. I was up next. I slid into the water and felt all the air get sucked out of me! The water was freezing and I quickly swam to the other side where I immediately got into the sunlight to warm up. The girls were up next and were able to hug the wall and with FOTG’s help they were able to keep their upper half out of the pool. Finally we were all across!

    From there we went about two miles down Fish Creek. Our going was slow as we rock hopped & crossed back and forth across the creek. We kept dry & took a break near Goat Canyon & decided to turn around and head back for the swimmer. The return flew by and we found ourselves back at the swimmer. I went first and swam across holding my day pack above the water. The water was really cold but doable. Next up was FOTG and then Jackie and finally Claire. It took some work to get Claire’s pack across dry. FOTG stepped up and assisted with Claire’s pack. Thanks Lee I owe you one! Once back across all of us returned to camp.

    It was mid-afternoon at this point so we all decided to do a short hike north up Frog Tanks. We hiked a little over a mile and took a break in the creek and then returned to camp. We gathered more firewood and settled in for night two. All of us were tired from the day and turned in relatively early.

    On day three we pretty much woke up and tore down camp and started the hike out. The going was much easier with lighter packs. We topped off water at Angel’s Basin and made a couple of short stops to water the dogs. Overall it was an uneventful hike out and were back to the FOTG’s truck around 1:30pm.

    This was another fun trip with a great group. I enjoyed Fish Creek but will never hike it again as an out & back. I’d like to check out the lower section near the bridge at some point later this year. It would be ideal during the fall when the leaves are turning. Thanks Lee for organizing and getting us across the swimmer. Wet canyoneering is not my favorite during February!
    Fish Creek Cyn - Bridge to Roger's Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Tortilla TH along FR213 to Tortilla Ranch to JF trail to Tortilla Pass to Angel Basin down Rogers Canyon to upper Fish Creek Canyon down to Lost Dutch Canyon over to Tortilla Ranch and back along FR213 to Tortilla TH :sweat:

    Such a sweet loop in the rugged & less visited north central Supes! :y: I'd almost forgotten how much I feel in love with the many canyons in this area and was again blown away with the rugged beauty of it all on the drive & hike in & out. :o It was exactly a year ago that I first did this loop with some other HAZ guys and unfortunately we got rained on pretty good that second day but I enjoyed the loop enough that I'd been itching to re-hike it when winter came back around. This hike was also the only time I met GPSjoe & friends and was reflecting on what a pleasant encounter that was when I passed that section. ;)

    Worked that Saturday morning so hit the TH that afternoon and made quick work of FR213 though sections of that JF trail are almost returned to nature. :? I stayed on course for the most part with some light thorny bushwhacking though some sections had me briefly stop in my tracks and question where the trail went before pushing on... Great views of Supes Ridgeline off in the distance and Tortilla Mt had me longing to soon hike those as well. I rolled into Tortilla Pass just in time around sunset and setup camp for the evening. Since I was solo, a warm night & just an overnighter, I choose to forgo a fire or tent and just slept under the stars and played iPhone games while star gazing through the LONG evening. :)

    Slept in a bit the next morning so quickly broke camp and hit that brushy Rogers Canyon trail down to Rogers Canyon and found some clean pools to snag a couple liters from. Once down in Rogers Canyon, I dropped my pack and hiked upstream to Angel Basin to check out those cool ruins again before heading back downstream. Lower Rogers Canyon is always a treat to hike thru and even moreso with all the Fall colors. :D Hit the confluence with Fish Creek Canyon and began the long rock hop. After passing a couple pools, I hit the sweet 'narrows' section that was lightly flowing & full of water though it wasn't quite warm enough for a swim so I did the class 3 bypass on the left which is much easier when it's dry. :GB: The geology of this canyon is quite amazing but after loads & loads of rock hopping that exit trail at Lost Dutch Canyon is a welcome relief. :sweat: Plus I didn't have enough daylight to push on to the bridge. Put the gloves back on and took that thorny route up & back over to Tortilla Ranch and was able to catch another beautiful sunset while hiking out on FR213. :D

    Sweet! Other than at the TH along AZ88, I didn't see another soul the whole time while out hiking. :DANCE:
    Fish Creek Cyn - Bridge to Roger's Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This loops been on my list since Nonot wrote this trip description last winter, then Tewa posted an overnight trip for this weekend, I hadn't hiked the JF trail yet or this upper part of Fish, I also hadn't backpacked the Supes since Boy Scouts, and it also turned out to be a great hike to tag along with Wally & Mike on. :y: This loop is kinna borderline long day hike or relaxed overnighter. Wally was willing to drive his Jeep in on that crazy Tortilla Road :scared: so that saves us 3 miles of hiking each way and I logged us only hiking 9 hours those two days if I subtract my half hour sidetrip to Angel Basin. That JF trail isn't in too bad of shape and the views into the canyons along the way was pretty cool. It was also cool to finally meet GPSJoe, SunHiker, and Grashhopper on the trail as well. We eventually Tortilla Pass after some pushing thru the bushes and then angled north towards Angel Basin thru some slightly nasty catclaw just before reaching it. It's been a couple winters since I checked out the ruins, so I took a sidetrip up there while the others continued downstream to the Rogers/Fish confluence at setup camp. Those ruins were as sweet as ever and then I picked up my pack to hammer out the last 2 miles of the day. :D Wally & Mike had chosen a great campsite and already collected plenty of firewood, so all I had to do was show up and cook dinner. :lol: I hike a little slower with a full backpack and get slowed down by taking photos, so that evening I was able to talk more with them and get to know them better since we got in early and had a couple hours of daylight to burn. When darkness set it, we started the fire since it was getting cold fast. Some clouds rolled in and then left making us feel safe that it wouldn't rain when Wally & I finally turned in around 10pm only sleeping on pad/tarp .

    The next morning I wake up around 5am to some like sprinkles, so I opened up my tarp and tried my best to cover myself with it before going back to sleep. It rained pretty good those next couple hours and the water got in my tarp and puddled lightly so my bag did get a little wet, but I stayed pretty warm and dry inside. The rain stopped for about an hour while we woke up, made breakfast, broke down camp, and packed up just as more rain came. No point sitting around and complaining about it, so we hit the wet Fish Creek Canyon and carefully rock hopped our way downstream slowly perfecting our wet boulder dances. :GB: We soon hit that pool that needs to be bypassed and it was slightly tricky on the wet rock. We made it to that Goat Canyon hoping it was Lost Dutch Canyon but we still had another 2 miles to go. :sweat: After another tedious couple miles of wet rock hopping & boulder scrambling thru the scenic Fish Creek canyon we eventually hit Lost Dutch. We decided pretty early on to take this short cut out of the canyon and back to our vehicle since we didn't have a shuttle setup and the next three miles downstream would involve loads of scrambling and some shallow pools to wade thru. We made short work of the route from Lost Dutch and were very happy to reach the Jeep and make the bumby drive back out the Tortilla Road. 8)
    Fish Creek Cyn - Bridge to Roger's Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    JF to Rogers Canyon to Frog Tanks and out Fish Creek. This was a great hike.

    The JF trail has become severely overgrown and disappeared in sections, requiring a significant amount of route-finding. The last mile to the intersection with Rogers is severely choked by shrub live oak.

    I donned pants after the temps dipped a little and found the section of Rogers to Angel Basin much more pleasant than before when I had done it in shorts. It is still just as overgrown, but we were doing it downhill plus I had pants.

    When some others went to check out the ruins, I played around with my camera trying to see what effect a poor-man's polarizer would have on the shot. It is much more useful when taking pictures that would have the sky wash out, otherwise I didn't notice a big difference.

    Frog Tanks was as good as ever, the trail was good with very little overgrowth and almost no catclaw.

    Camped on Frog Tanks, great campsite to remember for future trips. Got up in the middle of the night to pee. It was interesting, at that moment the wilderness was deathly quiet, no crickets, frogs, or anything. Then the bigfoot vocalizations occurred and it all made sense. I listened for awhile then dozed off again.

    Fish Creek was great, but took longer than anticipated. I hadn't thought to pack a lunch for the second day and ran out of energy about 2 miles from the bridge and slowed Wally down a bit. We did the last 45 minutes in the thunderstorm with some heavy rain showers. We were trying to make sure we would finish before the eventual flash flood. The slippery rocks made it more difficult but also more fun.

    Eventually we arrive at the bridge where Snakemarks and legendary SuperstitionGuy gave us a lift back to the car up the hill. I meant to talk to them more, but I was really tired, hungry, and getting cold since we were drenched and just sitting around. Thanks again for the ride!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To canyon trip
    From the junction of Idaho Road & SR-88 follow SR-88 25.4 miles to the Fish Creek Bridge. Parking is limited.
    page created by nonot on Nov 15 2008 6:41 pm
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