Frye Creek Canyon - S'mores, AZ | HikeArizona
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Frye Creek Canyon - S'mores, AZ

Guide 19 Triplogs  1 Topic
  4.4 of 5 
157 19 1
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
unreported if dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
5  2021-05-22 Heliops
6  2021-03-21
Frye Canyon Trail #36
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
Page 1,  2
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 0 map ( 0 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Phoenix
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar Map
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Preferred Mar, Feb, Nov, Dec
Seasons   Early Summer to Late Summer
Sun  7:19am - 5:45pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 2017 Frye Fire48.4k
🔥 2004 Nuttall30k
🔥 View (All) - over Official Route 🔥

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 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 in late August.


This canyon is extremely susceptible to fatal flash flooding. In sections, this canyon is very narrow, with no possibility of escaping a flash flood. The watershed upstream is huge, draining many square miles of the mountain up to its crest. Consider the current flow and look at other trips' historical data to gauge your 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 potentially 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 as a “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 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), its condition, 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 too far down, you may end up having to do a larger rappel. The last two rappels are kind of a 2 stage. Drop, stay on rappel, 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 rappel after the handline on canyon left that has/had a guide rope to clip in with your anchor. This rope was a crappy nylon rope that was maybe 4-5 mm. The guideposts were metal "T" fence posts hammered into the rock side 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 initially 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. You can scramble canyon left and literally walk down and avoid this rappel all together if you are careful.

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 getting 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.

     Permit $$

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

    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 a 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 0.6 miles up the hill until you reach another gate. Park here and hike through the gate and follow the trail about 0.4 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 antenna). 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, FR 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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