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East Clear Creek - FR95 to Kinder Crossing, AZ

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Guide 11 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Clints Well
3.5 of 5 by 8
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 4.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,531 feet
Elevation Gain 150 feet
Accumulated Gain 350 feet
Avg Time One Way 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.67
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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2  2018-07-15 MountainMatt
1  2018-03-30 N8TRGRL
12  2016-10-09 survivordude
13  2016-08-13
Lower Barbershop - East CC Loop
20  2016-08-13
Lower Barbershop - East CC Loop
22  2016-08-13
Lower Barbershop - East CC Loop
25  2016-07-16
ECC-Horse Crossing-Blue Ridge Loop
14  2016-07-16
ECC Blue Ridge to Horse Crossing Loop
Page 1,  2
Author JoelHazelton
author avatar Guides 16
Routes 10
Photos 967
Trips 406 map ( 1,971 miles )
Age 33 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
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Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Oct, Sep, Apr
Seasons   Late Spring to Summer
Sun  6:09am - 6:29pm
Official Route
5 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Cliffs and Crawdads
by JoelHazelton

Likely In-Season!
An off-trail hike following fishermen routes, game trails, and a perennial creek from the Forest Road 95 crossing of East Clear Creek to the junction with Kinder Crossing Trail #19.

This route is seldom traveled, and requires bushwhacking, deep wading, and one mandatory swim. If you intend to backpack this route, you will need a method of dry-proofing your gear. All water along this route must be filtered before drinking.

This hike is best done as a shuttle, but a loop is possible with about 3 miles of road hiking along FR95T and FR95. Begin hike at the large parking area south of the FR95 crossing at East Clear Creek. The descent into the creek from the parking area is steep and short. From here, it is a matter of following fishermen routes and game trails downstream. Follow the path of least resistance, or if it is an exceptionally warm day, stay in the creek, as it rarely exceeds waist-deep. Hikers will likely encounter day trippers and fishermen for the first 1/4 mile. The crowds quickly thin out and hikers will soon have the entire creek to themselves. At just over the 1 mile mark, there is a short section of boulders, requiring some careful rock hopping and some possible class 3 navigation, depending on the exact route. Once this section is completed, it is not long until the first and only mandatory swim at approximately 1.35 mile. This swim is approximately 50 feet long, and it is not possible to keep gear dry through this section of creek without some sort of waterproofing method. I used a $5 raft from Target to float our overnight packs across, one at a time, and with the exception of some wet straps hanging into the water, everything survived just fine. After completing this swim, I was able to eyeball a potential sketchy route up and over some cliffs on the west side of the creek that could have potentially avoided the swim, but it looks downright dangerous at spots and even if this route is possible, it is not recommended, especially for those carrying heavy overnight packs.

After this mandatory swim, the route immediately becomes less defined. Heavy bushwhacking is more common and signs of wildlife, especially elk, become more apparent. This begins an incredibly beautiful, remote, and wild section of creek, with canyon walls soaring over an abundance of idyllic swimming holes. We hiked this route on an ~85 degree day, and took multiple opportunities to drop our packs and take dips in the pools. A perfect, flat, sandy campsite is encountered at almost exactly the 2 mile mark, at a hard bend left in the creek (heading downstream). Many other flat spots for camping are passed along this hike, but most are full of small rocks, making for less comfortable nights of sleep (speaking from experience).

Within a mile of Kinder Crossing (around the 4 mile mark) trails and other signs of visitation become more common. Soon the trail crosses to the north side of the creek and promptly climbs up to a forested bench with a perfect campsite. Quickly after this campsite hikers will pass a trail sign, marking the lower end of the Kinder Crossing Trail, approximately 4.5 miles downstream from the FR95 crossing.

From here, hikers can either hike up Kinder Crossing Trail, or continue farther downstream another ~2.5 miles and exit at the Horse Crossing Trail. Please reference Kinder Crossing Trail #19 or Horse Crossing Trail #20 for details on these exit routes.

While the Kinder and Horse Crossing sections of East Clear Creek offer more forested benches for camping and easier access, it is my opinion that the harsher topography and inaccessibility of the FR95 to Kinder stretch make it more serene and beautiful. Having done this stretch, Kinder Crossing, Horse Crossing, and Macks Crossing, I find the section outlined in this hike description to be the most beautiful section of East Clear Creek that I have seen.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2016-06-13 JoelHazelton

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    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
    East Clear Creek - FR95 to Kinder Crossing
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    Took the family and some friends on annual camping trip for the Wife's birthday. Visited the moon on Friday night then mostly relaxed the rest of the weekend. We did take several hikes exploring around the area. Went a mile or so up the creek to some fishing holes with the kids. This is a beautiful canyon. Lots of fall colors from all of the oaks up there. Really smokey and low visibility all weekend due to prescribed burns in the area. Made it kind of creepy for October.. We caught about 50 crawfish (with some help) and enjoyed the evening feast!
    East Clear Creek - FR95 to Kinder Crossing
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    Lower Barbershop - East CC Loop
    note to self: double sock layer in all creeks, come prepared like Aravaipa or endure the pebbles

    Started out almost chilly :y:

    We dropped down into slippery steep Dane Canyon. Bruce had Culture Club on his mind and tumbled for us. Either highly skilled or lucky beyond words it all worked out. Once in Barbershop the first two miles were my favorite. The views and temps were just dandy. Then it was repetitive, warming and my feet became the view more and more.

    Out of Barbershop we did a repeat of East CC we just hiked last month. Compared to Barbershop it's a highway with use trails. Next up Lockwood Draw looked mighty inviting. We popped out around an obstacle then noticed more up ahead. During a five minute break the local mosquito blood bank declared war. Throw in 2pm and jumping out of this canyon seemed like the logical choice.

    Upon topping out we took FR96C back to the car. This turned out to be my second favorite portion of the hike. We had tall pines all day. It was a bonus to stroll along this fading old road as a nice breeze pushed away the heat of the day.

    It's been four years since the eagle dropped the tortoise on battleship. Great to see he's getting his confidence back and knowing who to trust. Ray switched to highly sophisticated water and it seemed to make the difference. Turned out to be a great late summer hike for all.

    carried 4qts, consumed 2.75

    several pretty fields of lupine, monster tall brown-eyed susan, abundant red cinquefoil in areas, western dayflower
    East Clear Creek - FR95 to Kinder Crossing
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    Lower Barbershop - East CC Loop
    Ever since the first time I drove up FR96 the first time, Lower Barbershop Canyon intrigued me. I took probably 6 years to finally get to it.
    The planned loop took us CCW down Dane/Barbershop into East Clear Creek and up another first time for me, Lockwood Draw.

    From the Sat views I could tell Barbershop was loaded with lots of pools. You can't of course tell how many drops or bypasses would be required. As it ends up, once you are in the Canyon :-k , it was relatively simple with no down climbs or even swimmers. Lower Barbershop is a very pretty canyon. Tall walls and picturesque pools. Our trip in this canyon lasted 7 miles, dropping only 340'. We did stumble on two Blacktail Rattlers in this stretch. One so small, it's rattle sounded cute.

    Next is East Clear Creek. Once you get 100 yards or so either side of the paved parking area, we saw no one. We were in here only 2 miles to get to Lockwood Draw. The first mile of this one gets some traffic, so you have a trail.

    Turning into Lockwood Draw, I had less worries for hiking up this one. After all, it's not even a Canyon, It's a Draw. After making it in only .2 of a mile in, we reached the first 20' dry-fall, that would have to be bypassed. We climbed up to get a better view. Ahead, the terrain was thick and we could see other required bypasses. Were getting bombarded by mosquitoes at this point. I'd scoped some old forest roads above that we could use for an escape route, so we climbed straight up and out of the canyon. We were lucky to be able to find a route that only had one tricky spot.

    The rest, was a cruise back to the Focus. We saw some Elk and well as one larger Bull that was loosing his velvet on the way back.

    Good times gentlemen.
    We laughed, we cried, we got wet and lived to tell the story.
    Thanks for driving Denny and Ray for dinner at "That Brewery" in Pine.
    I had my first Arizona Trail Ale!
    East Clear Creek - FR95 to Kinder Crossing
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    ECC-Horse Crossing-Blue Ridge Loop
    I threw out a bunch of options this week and this was the one that stuck. The 6.5 mile drive on FR95 is more like the I-95 "expressway". You could probably drive a sports car on it right now.

    Tall Pines and water were the theme for the day. We were the first vehicle in the 17 space paved parking. We were in the creek almost immediately. For the first 6.8 miles, we were able to cross or bypass water, never getting deeper than our knees. The Canyons and views are real sweet here. At about the 4 mile mark, you hit the western section of the Kinder Crossing Trail #19. surprisingly, we never saw anyone here.

    At Horse Crossing Trail #20, Chums topped off his water and we made the short lived .8 mile 500+ ft climb to FR513B above.

    Next it's off to the Moqui Lookout tower. We had a discussion with Forest Service Law enforcement as to why the road/gate was closed to the tower. We determined that no "Suspicious Package" under the lookout tower was going to stop us. The Suspicious Package ended up being someones lunch.

    The views from this tower were especially good. Some of the best I've seen from this Keeps 132' tall, 14' x 14' perch.

    The potentially tricky part of the day was next. We had to scrabble off the top of the Rim and get down to the CC Cragin Reservoir. Chums overlaid the Property map on my GPS track and we were able to skirt the Private Property and find an old unmarked "use road", I'd seen on the Satellite Views. It worked out better than expected.

    We stopped and checked out the Blue Ridge Dam for a bit and made our final push down ECC back to the vehicle. On this stretch, we had out deepest crossing of the day, up to our waist. The 2.5 miles clicked off pretty quickly.

    Temps on the Garmin recorded 70 for a low, to the mid 90's a few times on the day. When in the wind, shade and/or water, it was very comfortable.
    East Clear Creek - FR95 to Kinder Crossing
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    ECC Blue Ridge to Horse Crossing Loop
    Two hours of breaks. That was the theme today. ;)

    I agree with Joel's description: the section of ECC from 95 to Kinder is probably the most scenic. We were able to bypass the swimmer on the cliffs on the left. Surprisingly there was nobody at Kinder. Or Horse. Though we spotted two people down that way later after we had climbed out of the canyon and were taking another break.

    We hit the Pokéstop at Moqui and enjoyed some suspicious lunch from Joe's duffel but were disappointed to find somebody had molested the disc at the old Blue Ridge tower site. Skirted private property down to the lake. It looked super busy, but it appeared most people didn't venture past the boat ramp, with only 5-6 watercraft between there and the dam.

    Speaking of the dam. Damn! Hadn't ever been down below it before and it's impressive. The flow in ECC downstream is the result of a single 3" pipe. Probably a required output as part of the SRP agreement. Luckily ECC has numerous seeps and springs along the way that slowly add more flow. The first half mile from the dam is an unpleasant bouldery mess. It gets better/typical after that.

    Nice to cover a 10-mile stretch in the creek today. Thanks to Eagle for drawing it up and driving, and to Joe for sitting in back. :)
    East Clear Creek - FR95 to Kinder Crossing
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    E Clear Creek - Horse Crossing - CC Cragin Dam
    Bruce threw this loop together. We parked in a lot near the confluence of ECC & Barbershop Canyon. Immediately got our feet wet crossing the creek. Then hiked almost 7 miles to Horse Crossing, crossing the creek a bunch. Usually a foot or two deep, once waist high. The cool water was simply enjoyable.

    Only two blips of elevation you might very well miss if you sneezed. Lots of pines throughout the entire loop. Temps were nice in the shade and semi hot in the shade.

    Headed to Moqui Lookout Tower. A FS guy stopped us mentioning the area was closed due to a suspicious package under the tower. The Dynamic Sweet-talking Duo babbled up a storm and we continued up the closed road. By the time we reached the tower the situation was resolved. A nice lady that has been working this tower for seventeen years showed up. She just wanted to eat lunch. However the Dynamic Sweet-talking Duo had us in the tower in under five minutes. I would have walked around the mountain but you know how these pesky goal oriented hikers roll.

    Headed over and down to CC Cragin. Looked busy but only a dozen or two actually on the lake. The dam and spillway are interesting. Maybe they're all like this but I never noticed. The spillway vaults logs airborne then they crash down a series of choppy steps to break up.

    2.5 more creek miles didn't sound great. The water crossings were so refreshing it went by quick.

    Nice tall summer yellow creek wildflowers typical here and WCC, some up to seven feet tall! Two stretches in the creek had heavy mint, which was scentrific! Lots of healthy Wild Bergamot throughout the creek portions.
    East Clear Creek - FR95 to Kinder Crossing
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    Leonard Canyon & East Clear Creek
    Myself and Minkis were in need of some time in the woods. I've been too busy to get out much and Minkis is coming off hernia surgery and wanted to car camp with his dogs. He proposed a return to Victorine Crossing and I didn't hesitate to agree. Day 1 we hiked down into Leonard via Victorine Crossing. The creek bed was bone dry and the first big pool was almost empty. Fortunately the swimming hole at our usual camp site was full and cold, probably due to it being mostly shaded. We spent the day creekside while listening to thunder rumbling in the distance. We started our hike out just in time. As we approached the vehicle, it began to lightly rain and just before a lightning bolt struck a tree just feet from us. The sensation I felt before the loud crash was indescribable. We quickly got in the vehicle and I cracked open a cold beer immediately. This short, intense storm passed rather quickly and we set up camp. Day 2 we stopped at East Clear Creek for some creekside hiking / wading as we made our way toward Kinder Crossing. At a nice slow pace we stopped at every deep pool for a swim. We didn't end up making it to Kinder, which was good because Minkis was sore and we still had to walk back. We exited the canyon via game trails and got back on FR95.
    East Clear Creek - FR95 to Kinder Crossing
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    Started at the Blue Ridge Reservoir dam and followed East Clear Creek downstream to Horse Crossing, about 8 creek miles. Exited at Horse and followed the roads back past Moqui lookout tower (nice views up there) then west along the mesa until able to drop back down to the dam road, about 6 miles, with some moderate bushwhack on the final descent.

    With numerous access points this stretch of ECC gets pretty heavy use, there is a fisherman's trail most of the way, generally easy walking and only one mandatory short swim. Nothing nearly as spectacular as its clear creek cousin to the west (few places are), but a very pleasant creek hike nonetheless, with plenty of cool swim holes.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    From Payson, drive north on HWY 87 for about 47 miles to the Forest Road 95 junction. Turn right (east) on FR95 and drive for about 6.4 miles to East Clear Creek crossing. Immediately after crossing East Clear Creek, stay left and merge onto FR96. The parking area is just south of the crossing, on the east side of FR96.

    If the hike is being completed as a shuttle to Kinder Crossing, refer to the Kinder Crossing hike description for directions to the Kinder Crossing trailhead.
    page created by JoelHazelton on Jun 12 2016 10:59 pm
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