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Red Creek - FR18 to FR16A, AZ

no permit
20 2 0
Guide 2 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Camp Verde > Verde S
4.5 of 5 by 2
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,536 feet
Elevation Gain 310 feet
Accumulated Gain 500 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
15  2015-03-15 AZWanderingBear
5  2013-04-27 ssk44
Author AZWanderingBear
author avatar Guides 27
Routes 62
Photos 2,620
Trips 700 map ( 4,689 miles )
Age 63 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Nov, Mar, Jan
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:11am - 6:32pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Call of the Canyon Wren
by AZWanderingBear

Overview: The existing described hikes for Red Creek takes one from the Red's intersection with FR-18 east to the Verde River. This is a great hike and is also used by 4x4 enthusiasts to see how much damage they can do to their rigs. Just teasing, but it is a challenging ride. The hike along the Red to the Verde is a fantastic great hike like most hikes through Arizona riparian areas. However, hiking upstream from FR-18, while shorter, packs a punch. There is a huge amount of geology on display. The canyon floor is luxurious in growth. Wildlife is abundant and often seen scurrying away. And you get to hear the Canyon Wrens sing along a large part of the hike. I've yet to hear a single Canyon Wren along the lower hike to the Verde.

Warning: You are a minimum of 2.5 hours from the nearest doctor or emergency room. This hike requires some minor rock scrambling. There are critters here. And in the large alcove along the northern side of the Creek is a large permanent colony of bees.

Hike: This hike can be started from either end. the description here is from FR18 westward to FR16A. You might want to park your vehicle at the top of the Red's canyon. The drive down is not overly technical, but would be a challenge for lower clearance and two wheel drive vehicles.

Once down into the creek bottom head west. You will pass several great car camping sites. Beyond these sited there are only intermittent signs of a trail. Just pick your own way. Bringing shoes you don't mind getting wet would be a great idea. Sometimes walking in the creek is the best way forward.

After 15 or so minutes you will find a gloriously noisy set of little waterfalls where the creek washes over some granite. Go up and south for the best way around. Not far beyond the falls you will see a small hanging garden along a wall of sandstone on the south side of the creek. The seeps and shade here keep the ferns very healthy. Just west of the ferns is a volcanic pour over. Some time in the history of this area, a small amount of lava flowed along what was likely a small wash feeding into Red Creek and creating a floor in the wash. It is just a little of the interesting geology on display along this hike.

Just a bit later you will need to go up and over another rock outcropping with some smaller falls. Not much later look north as the canyon floor widens and you will see a large cave, or more precisely an alcove. The ceiling is more than a hundred feet above the floor which is littered with very large boulders that have calved off from above. The best entry is from the west side. However, this is the home of the bee hive mentioned above. You can see it about 20 feet above ground level, set back into the rock wall about 40 feet before you get to the alcove. From experience I can tell you that you don't need to see the alcove that bad if the bees are swarming around. In cooler temps you are likely fine. You've been warned!

Several hundred feet west of the alcove and on the south canyon wall are several smaller elevated alcoves which are accessible with minimum scrambling. The make great shelters and there is evidence of camps and fires in them. At the time of this description, one hold a small memorial to a lady who like this area. These alcoves are very smooth and were formed largely by water erosion and some limited additional calving.

Beyond the small alcoves the creek wanders through an area of dense vegetation. There is a long list of animals who call this area home, so keep your eyes open.

Eventually you will enter a very narrow section of the Canyon and the creek will turn 90 degrees to north. FR16A is just over a half mile on up the creek and this area is easily traveled.

Water Sources: Red Creek is normally spring fed and very clear. Obviously runoff occurs after rains, and flash floods are common after heavy rains. The spring water you will normally find in the creek should be filtered or boiled, but is quite tasty.

Camping: Good camp spots exist on either end of this hike and there are countless backpacking camp opportunities along the creek. Your first sound when you awake at one of those might be a Canyon Wren calling for you to begin enjoying another day on Red Creek. There are worse ways to wake up.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2015-03-16 AZWanderingBear
    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 Review
    Red Creek - FR18 to FR16A
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Day 3 of our Red Creek trip began with a great breakfast and then a hike west from camp. Love this section of the creek and was eager to show the sister-in-law how pretty and interesting it is. Got off to a great start as we scared up a Gila Monster less than 5 minutes out of camp. That is only my second one in all the thousands of miles I've hiked in AZ. Big boy too. Somedays things just go right, well for a while anyway.

    We kept going up though the landmarks I knew well, stopping to examine tracks in the wet sand and flowers and geology. The hanging gardens are really nice. Canyon wrens sang to us ever few minutes, my favorite sound.

    Soon we arrived at the large alcove. I detoured off north to see if it were possible, or advisable, to check it out. Eased along the wall until I saw the bee hive and it was seriously busy. Paused long enough to point it out to the sister-in-law. Mary Jo was having none of it and hanging way back since she hates bees and pretty much bugs in general. We eased away and the girls head on upstream. I wanted to zoom in from afar and get a photo of the hive. This thing hung several feet down from its anchor on the rock wall. Just as I zoom in i get a bee buzzing me, but ignore it. Well until it landed on me I ignored it. the there was lots of buzzing. Yelled at the girls to move fast and I took off in trail. Didn't dare catch up with them because then we'd all be under attack. Of course there was no way to catch Mary Jo. She would have won last year's Kentucky Derby the way she was moving. I kept swatting and moving. Got 3 good stings but eventually the buzzing sound quit and we were good. I'm one of the lucky ones that doesn't react much to stings, so all was good. Could have been much worse and is a good lesson learned for me.

    As the adrenaline settled we dropped back into a relaxed mode. I stopped along a strip of wet sand to show the girls some large raccoon tracks. They were 30 feet back and of course talking. Then there was some screaming as the largest raccoon I've seen burst out of the bushes across the creek and headed up the side of the canyon. And the adrenaline is back. Probably for the raccoon too with the volume of those screams. Poor critter.

    Hiked on the FR16A and then turned back having lunch in the shade of the narrowest part of the canyon. We began to hike back to camp. Stopped by the smaller alcoves on the southern canyon wall just before we got to the bee infested larger alcove. We had not stopped to explore these on our hike in since we were at full speed as we passed. The girls signed the memorial log book in the more accessible of the alcoves. We passed the bees very quietly this time and with far less waving of hats and hands.


    The hike was a great end to nice weekend trip to Red Creek. We will be back.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    Take Cave Creek Road north until the paved road stops and continue on as it is now Forest Road 24. From Carefree at the intersection of Scottsdale/Tom Darlington Rd it is 35 miles. FR 24 will end at FR 269 Turn right and go 3 miles to FR 18. This is where it gets fun. FR 18 is a very unmaintained road continue 2.3 miles and park at the start a STEEP decline to the creek.
    page created by AZWanderingBear on Mar 16 2015 2:59 pm
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