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West Clear Creek - Bear Canyon to Bull Pen, AZ

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8 3 1
Guide 3 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Clints Well W
Rated
5
5 of 5 by 1
 
10
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
Canyoneering
Consensus
View 2
Grade2
WaterB
Risk
TimeVI
Statistics
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Difficulty 4.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,552 feet
Elevation Gain -2,800 feet
Avg Time One Way 5 days
Kokopelli Seeds 29.67
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Perennial Waterfall & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes - past 6 Miles
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
8  2009-05-16 toddak
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar
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Preferred   Apr, May, Jun, Jul → 8 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  7:22am - 5:15pm
Route
 
0 Linked
 
Water
Nearby Area Water
Point Trail - West Clear Creek
Point Trail - West Clear Creek
same trailhead
7.2 mi
-750 ft
Sundance Canyon
Sundance Canyon
0.1 mi away
1.5 mi
850 ft
Bear Canyon - West Clear Creek
Bear Canyon - West Clear Creek
0.4 mi away
3.0 mi
-600 ft
Avocado Canyon
Avocado Canyon
1.1 mi away
5.5 mi
800 ft
Tramway Trail #32
Tramway Trail #32
1.1 mi away
1.0 mi
-750 ft
Tramway Canyon
1.3 mi away
1.8 mi
800 ft
Shamrock Canyon
Shamrock Canyon
1.4 mi away
2.6 mi
900 ft
Maxwell Trail #37
Maxwell Trail #37
1.8 mi away
0.5 mi
-640 ft
Dirty Snake Trail #76
Dirty Snake Trail #76
2.2 mi away
1.6 mi
8 ft
Tramway Maxwell Loop
Tramway Maxwell Loop
2.3 mi away
6.0 mi
968 ft
[ View More! ]
Named place Nearby
Very tough no trail canyon
by itsradBrad

Notice
Mileage has not been verified. Time will vary considerably by your ability.

Foreword
This hike can range from difficult to impossible depending on how well prepared your group is and the amount/type of gear you carry.


Canyon Overview
We began the hike off 142E east of Bear Canyon and ended at Bull Pen road where we dropped off a vehicle before heading off to the trail head (16 miles west as the crow flies).

The canyon starts out fairly easy to hike for the 1st 4 hours or so and then the difficulty increases and doesn't let up until the final 8 trail miles or so. Remember, in this canyon "as the crow flies" and "trail miles" are drastically different because of the snaking and twisting nature of the canyon.

Consider
For this trip you must be prepared for long days of overcoming obstacles, back tracking, constant wading and water crossings and approximately 10 swims. Some of these swims are 100+ yards long and the water is very cold in April when we went. We estimate water temp in the high 40's low 50's (April).

Author's Gearlist
To tackle these swims we utilized a small inflatable raft for floating 2 packs at a time and a rope to ensure we didn't lose it. The swims are very challenging and the biggest time suck of the entire trip. I would recommend practicing changing shoes/prepping your raft so that you can minimize this time suck. Some days you will only make 5 or some miles of progress in 8 hours of hiking.

Here is the gear list that I used: Shelter, Tent, Sleeping bag, Poncho and a hiking pole is an absolute MUST!
Food/Cooking: Food, Cookware, Burner, Lighter, Fire Steel, Plate, Spork, Cup, Baggies/Bags, Water Bladder, Water Filter, Bottle, Fishing rig, Stringer, Net, Seasoning
Hiking Gear: Pack, Boots, Aqua shoes, Drybags, Sunglasses, Extra reg glasses, Monocular, Flashlight, Headlamp, Whistle, Insect Repellent, Sunscreen, Compass, GPS, Gloves, Cell Phone, Camera, Rope, Walking pole, Raft
Tools: Multi-tool, Brush, Hatchet, Shovel, Knife (2)
First Aid: H2O2, Hydrocort UNG, AAA Ung, Epi-pen, Cipro, Flagyl, Ibuprofen, Gauze, Wrap, Nail Clippers, Tums, Imodium, Ankle Brace
Hygiene Toothbrush, Bar Soap, Toilet paper, Deodorant, Hand Towel
Clothes: Pant/Shorts, Hoodie, Thermals, 2 Shirts, Extra Socks, Flip Flops, Hat
MISC: Cards, Pen and Paper, Handgun. RENT a satellite phone online before you take this trip. You will find it to be absolutely invaluable. Take this piece of advice even if you don't think it's necessary.

I would recommend buying a quality pair of water shoes for this trip, no WalMart specials or you'll regret it. Also consider bringing a wetsuit depending on your cold tolerance.

The fishing isn't too good until the last few miles so I'd probably ditch the fishing gear and just bring a net for crawfish if you want.

A good GPS and nice 24k topo maps will save your butt when trying to keep on the right trail on your way out of the canyon on the final 6 mile stretch.

Terrain
The terrain in this canyon is some of the most challenging I have ever seen. When I say there is no trail I mean there is ABSOLUTELY NO TRAIL for the 1st 18 miles of the hike. Be ready for slow moving.

Observations
The things we came across are as follows:
Gravel bottomed stream (easy)
Medium & large rock bottomed stream (algae = very slippery)
Thick bush whacking (sticker bushes where the worst)
Short grass, dirt (a nice break from the madness)
Large and medium boulders (up and over all stinking day!)
Steep grades with loose dirt and rocks/cacti (very dangerous)

Camping
Be aware that areas suitable for camping are few and far between. If you see a spot withing the last 2 hours or so of daylight TAKE IT! Look for rock stacks as a hint of campsites above!

Warning
This hike is not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced. Be prepared and be safe, it's damn near impossible to get out of this canyon without finishing the hike. Good luck and be safe! This trip is a challenge, not a leisure hike.

itsradBrad
    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 $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To 142E Trailhead
    From Phx, take I-17 N to exit 287/HWY 260. Take 260 E and just before milepost 249, turn left/N onto FR 144. Take FR 144 1.8 miles and turn left onto FR 149. Follow FR 149 1.1 miles to a T junction with FR 142. Turn right onto FR 142 and follow it .8 mile to FR 142E on the left (there was a sign for 142D and on the other side of the same road was a rock painted with 142E). Stay straight on FR142 another 0.8 miles until it dips down and crosses Tom's Creek. There are parking options in this area off the road.

    2016-07 lindaagm writes: The last 1/3 mile or so on 142E is the only rough part, maybe not great for low clearance, but easy enough to park there and walk a little extra to the trailhead.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 132 mi - about 2 hours 30 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 237 mi - about 3 hours 59 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 90.2 mi - about 1 hour 51 mins
    page created by itsradBrad on Apr 26 2009 2:13 pm
    help comment issue

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