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Frye Creek Canyon - S'mores, AZ

146 15 1
Guide 15 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
5 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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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 2.45 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,186 feet
Elevation Gain 835 feet
Accumulated Gain 874 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4-6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.82
Backpack Yes
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
14  2019-07-01 GrottoGirl
21  2019-06-09 GrottoGirl
8  2018-08-19 GrottoGirl
23  2016-05-15 GrottoGirl
44  2015-09-15 outdoor_lover
16  2014-09-06 desert_boonie
14  2014-05-24 azflyguy
6  2014-04-26 markyarch
Author knightwolf007
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 0 map ( 0 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Phoenix
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Feb, Nov, Dec
Seasons   Early Summer to Late Summer
Sun  6:03am - 6:26pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
the potholes
by knightwolf007

Frye canyon is a sweet short canyon by Mount Graham. There is little to no beta online for this canyon so I thought I would finally post some info on it to help others out. For such a good canyon, you get a good bang for your buck. Easy approach on a groomed trail without much elevation gain, and the hike out is as simple as hiking around the reservoir and back up a dirt road! You will get wet and wetsuits would definitely be needed if you are not doing this canyon in the dead of summer. The water was probably in the high 60s when we went late August.


This canyon is extremely susceptible to lethal flash flooding. In sections this canyon is very narrow with no possibility of escaping a flashflood. The watershed upstream is very large, draining many square miles of the mountain all the way up to its crest. Consider the current flow and look at the historical data of other trips to gauge comfort level with its flow (link below). Is there a possibility of heavy rain upstream? It can happen quickly and there is a real possibility of death. Canyoneering in this type of canyon with potential heavy rain is like playing Russian Roulette. You don’t want to be responsible for another’s death or your own due to ignorance.

An example: look at the historical data for Aug 19th 2014. Started out as “heavy” flow, but what some experienced C2/3 canyoneers might consider a doable level - so they head in (ignoring or not even knowing the bleak forecast). That afternoon while in the inner canyon the CFS jumps from 1.5 to over 20 within an hour - lethal levels within minutes! Highly unlikely that anyone would have survived these levels if in the inner narrows of this canyon. There are several such CFS examples each year.

I have passed on this canyon several times over the years due to flow or potential flash flooding. Be safe out there! : ) Know your canyon (including its watershed), it’s conditions and possible conditions (including the forecast). – Darrell (AZ-Outdoorsman)

You will do a little bit of hiking until your first drop in. Most of the raps in this canyon are well bolted. I would say the longest rappel in this canyon is about 125ft. There are a total of rappels of around 10. 1-2 are downclimbable. Keep an eye out for anchors at each rappel point, because if you miss one and drop to far down you may end up having to do a larger rapel. The last two rappels are kind of a 2 stage. Drop, stay on rapel, pop out of the pothole and drop again. If the canyon is ever dry, they may become keepers, so be prepared for all conditions. You will come to a point where there is a handline canyon right to get down. Use these with caution! There is also a rapel after the handline on canyon left that has/had a guide rope to clip in with your personal anchor. This rope was a crappy nylon rope that was maybe 4-5 mm. The guideposts were metal "T" fence posts hammered into the rockside into holes that appeared to be drilled. The posts themselves are NOT very secure. Previous canyoneers rigged webbing off the last of these posts. Upon inspection of this post it was loose and the spine of the post was cut, thus reducing its structural integrity. These posts were originally used to keep the tubing for the reservoir system on the side of the canyon wall. Not meant for canyoneers to rappel off them! Anyway, barely pulling on this "anchor" snapped the post clear off the rockface, webbing and all tumbling down the face. If you are careful, you can scramble canyon left and literally walk down and avoid this rapel all together.

There is a bit of bushwacking in the middle of the canyon. You will come to a resting spot where you can see where you parked your car (if you continued up the high clearance vehicle road) before you get to the 2nd half of the canyon. Just follow the creek as best you can until the canyon opens up again. This part was my favorite as it had the most watery rappels :)

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2014-08-25 knightwolf007
    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
    Frye Creek Canyon - S'mores
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    This Canyon has been on the List for awhile now...Once I really got my Feet Wet in Ouray, I knew I could do this Canyon so when a FB Friend threw out an Invite, I was in.... :y:

    We did it as a Day Trip and took 2 Vehicles for a Shuttle. I thought that might have been Excessive, but by the Time we got back to the Vehicles, I was glad he did it that way... :sweat:

    Early Start, got down there, got the Vehicles in place and started Hiking...I had a few Nerves on this Trip. I knew the Slickrock in this Canyon was a big Issue as far as Traction goes, I was going with 4 Guys that I had just met and I only knew the Experience of 1 of them. And we were all doing this Canyon for the 1st Time. :sweat: It turned out Fine with 1 small Exception...Oops... :o

    We dropped in and followed the Creek down...No Slipping involved for most of us, but the Rappelling and the Sliding was sure a Blast...What an Awesome Canyon this was. Exceeded my Expectations and more...So Glad I got to do this one... :y:

    Over 3/4 of the Way Down and I came to what looked like a Good Slide. One of the Guys had gone down before me, so when I asked about the Slide being Ok, he stated that it was...He must have somehow avoided what I hit. At the Bottom of the Slide, on the Slide itself, there must have some kind of Rock Outcropping under the Water and I hit it with my Left Heel with my Knee locked. I went from 20 MPH to a Dead Stop instantly and the Concussion and Compression traveled all the way up my Left Side almost to my Neck. Apparently one of my Ribs decided that the Buck should stop there and I felt something go... :( Was pretty sure something broke, but I didn't get it Confirmed until 2 Weeks later...(Today) I was Lucky and hadn't Punctured a Lung though, so that was Good. It hurt like Hell to Breathe, but at least I could Breathe. After the Initial Shock and Pain went away and everyone else had Downclimbed the Slide, we continued on, with me being a lot more Uncomfortable, but still under my Own Power. I was now quite a bit Slower as well. Rappelling wasn't too bad, but everything else was troublesome and I got Winded really easily due to Breathing much Shallower. ;) But...we made it down with just that 1 Incident and I was still Walking and Talking...And apparently Swimming. The Guys decided to try to Downclimb to the Dam and walk over on the Dam to the Vehicle. I looked at how Narrow the Top of the Dam was and said No Thanks and swam the Reservoir back to the Car. I ended up beating them all back there... :lol: After we Retrieved the other Vehicle, we hit the Road for Phoenix, tired but glad we saw and did such a Sweet Canyon...By the Time I got back to my Vehicle in Mesa, I had to basically fall out of Philip's SUV, I had gotten so stiff and sore. The Rib was getting seriously Painful and it was hard to Move at all. I didn't have Time for an Injury though, I was leaving for Zion the next Day... :sweat: (Details in Future Triplogs)

    Great Canyon with Good People...Met some New Friends and had a Blast, even with the "Hiccup"....This Canyon will be an Annual One for me, it's that Good. Hope to do it just a Tad better the next Time around though... :sweat: I am now on "Light Duty" for at least another 8 Weeks...No Canyons, No Backpacking and probably nothing more than very Light Hikes where I don't have to carry much of a Pack...Time for some "Strictly Photography" Trips I guess... :) I feel extremely Lucky to have Escaped that little Incident with just 1 Rib...I should have Broken my Leg...Better to be out for Time, than for Surgery with Pins and Plates, and then Time.... :o

    Photos...Quite a Few this Time. These Class C Canyons really make for some very Photogenic Rappelling Scenes and it's one of the Few Times I actually enjoy Photographing People... :D

    Videos...There are 3...The First 2 are a slightly Sketchy Slide that we did. You hit your Tailbone a bit, but you're going so Fast that it's a glancing Blow... :lol: The 3rd is my Failure to Videotape myself doing a Slide that involved Potholes with Hydraulics...I've Fallen in a Hole and I can't get out.... :lol: ... 0uFA ... PYxk ... HKUs
    Frye Creek Canyon - S'mores
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    A week ago my buddy Jake told me he couldn't go out this weekend, a few days ago he said things had changed, today we had a pretty good time.

    He's been to this area before doing the non technical middle section of the canyon so he pitched the idea to me to hit this canyon up. At first I didn't want to drive out that far for a day trip but I don't get to venture with Jake too often as our schedules are so different so of course I was game.

    We get there in the morning and it looks like a good rain storm was going to grace us with her presence. We parked at the bottom of the reservoir, gathered our gear and off we went. As we hiked up the road we played an awesome game, how many bud light cans would we find. Unfortunately the answer was too many to count. Once we could see the amount of water flowing through the canyon which made us both look at each other with excitement, this was going to be good.

    Once we entered the canyon near an apparent gauging station, the sun came on out and actually made getting into the cool water pretty enjoyable. The upper portion of the canyon was a warm up for the bottom portion. So many rappels, all of them in waterfalls. The middle section offered a double dip slide that at first glance looks like a water trap to break most of the bones in your body. Luckily at this portion there was a group of kids enjoying the water so Jake and I did what any responsible adult would do, we asked the kids to slide down the rock to make sure it was good for us. The plan worked pretty well and this waterpark ride was actually pretty fun.

    The short middle brushy section isn't too bad or long and is worth the bushwhacking as the lower portion of this canyon provides you with some of the most fun you can have in water.

    I only have two warnings for anyone who is going to do this canyon. You can slip and break a bone or two at any time, and once you do this canyon in the water you will never want to do a canyon that doesn't have water in it ever again. :)

    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 / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To canyon trip
    From Phoenix: Head to Globe then continue to 70E until you reach Thatcher, AZ. The first stoplight is Reay Ln, take a right. Follow this until you reach another dirt road on your right hand side right before an car junkyard. It is forest road 103. follow this about 7.5 miles and you will see a sign to your left (along with the reservoir). You can park down there or find a spot here. If you have a decent higher clearance vehicle you can continue another .6 miles up the hill until you reach onother gate. Park here and hike through the gate and follow the trail about .4 miles and look for another trail off to the left. There are about 4-5 switchbacks up the hill and eventually leading you to the saddle. At this point you should be able to look down and see the water monitoring equipment (just a small antennae). Find your way down and drop into the canyon itself.

    Preston Sand's directions: From the highway 70/highway 191 junction in Safford, head west on highway 70 for 3.75 miles to Reay Lane in Thatcher, AZ. Turn south onto Reay Lane (milepost 335.65) and follow it for 1.2 miles. At the 1.2 mile point, there will be an unmarked dirt road to the right (west) just before the auto wrecking yard. Turn right (west) onto this dirt road, it is forest road 103. Follow forest road 103 for about 7.9 miles to a parking area just above Frye Mesa Reservoir (you will see a Coronado National Forest sign at 7.6 miles). Start hiking up forest road 103 at this point, or drive another 0.67 miles up the now nasty 4x4 road to the "official" trailhead.
    page created by knightwolf007 on Aug 25 2014 2:57 pm
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