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Hell Hole Canyon - Aravaipa, AZ

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Guide 11 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Globe > Globe S
4.4 of 5 by 5
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 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 8.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,078 feet
Elevation Gain 257 feet
Accumulated Gain 340 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 10.2
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
Dogs not allowed
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
13  2018-12-02 chumley
38  2018-12-01
Primo Araviapa and Hell Hole
34  2018-12-01
Primo Araviapa and Hell Hole
30  2017-12-08
East Aravaipa
21  2017-03-30 Steph_and_Blake
10  2016-12-17
Aravaipa Canyon
30  2014-03-17
Aravaipa Canyon
74  2012-12-01
Aravaipa Canyon
Page 1,  2
Author Steph_and_Blake
author avatar Guides 98
Routes 59
Photos 2,511
Trips 175 map ( 749 miles )
Age 70 Male Gender
Location Grand Junction, CO
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Jun, Sep, Nov → 9 AM
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:06am - 6:27pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
It was heaven, not hell
by Steph_and_Blake

Likely In-Season!
According to Wikipedia...
"Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness is a 19,410 acres (7,850 ha) wilderness area located in the U.S. State of Arizona. It forms the northwest border of the Galiuro Mountain range. The wilderness is administered by the BLM and is located northeast of Mammoth, Arizona in Graham and Pinal counties, about 120 miles (190 km) southeast of Phoenix. The wilderness includes the 11-mile (18 km) long Aravaipa Canyon, the surrounding tablelands and nine side canyons."
That description sounds somewhat boring and ho-hum, but we've been hearing praise about Aravaipa for years now. So, after having obtained the necessary permit ( see permit section ), we took off to see what all the talk is about.

It was close to a 4 hour drive from our home in the east valley to the trailhead at the east entrance to the canyon. We camped that night at Fourmile Campground on BLM, but could just as easily have camped along Turkey Creek (a tributary to Aravaipa Creek). In the morning we donned shorts, old tennis shoes, and hiking gaiters (in hopes of keeping pebbles out of our shoes). We quickly understood why everyone gushes about Aravaipa. Having myself grown up in WVa, my hubby in northern Illinois, and our friends in the NJ countryside, we felt like we were kids again hiking through a creek in the midwest or east coast.

The vegetation was lush, the water ever-flowing, there was plenty of shade, but enough sunlight to stay warm, and thousands of minnows. This was a whole new version of Arizona! The water never got deeper than mid-calf and it wasn't really any trouble to cross the creek (although we would recommend the use of a hiking stick and avoidance of mossy rocks). Hiking from east to west, Hell Hole Canyon is the first major canyon on your right (north). It was recommended to us by a couple people and, really, who can resist the name "Hell Hole" Canyon? The creek in Hell Hole Canyon is appropriately named Deer Creek as we saw a number of mule deer, a couple of which didn't seem terribly spooked by us. We saw a couple light grey frogs, hanging gardens, Vermilion Flycatchers and yellow columbine. We hiked a bit past the "hell hole", a window high up on the canyon walls to the spring (on the left) that seemed to supply most of the water to Deer Creek. The coolest part about this side canyon is how it narrows and twists and turns. We often thought "could this be the end?", only to be pleasantly surprised that it continued around the bend. You could hike beyond the spring, but we chose to turn around and head back. This was definitely heaven, not hell.

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2017-04-01 Steph_and_Blake
    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
    Hell Hole Canyon - Aravaipa
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    East Aravaipa
    I had an opportunity to head to Aravaipa for a couple of days and having never been to the east end, jumped at the chance. I now know I prefer this side and will come back for sure. At 3 hrs, it's really not a bad drive to get there and the benefits outweigh a little extra time on the road.

    Thursday night was the coldest of the season statewide, but we were prepared so it turned out to be no problem despite dropping into the 20s. Friday was an exceptional day exploring a couple of miles down Aravaipa and up the geologic wonder of Hell Hole Canyon. It was a real treat. I'd love to see this one with a little bit more water flowing in it.

    After seeing a bighorn up on the cliffs earlier in the day, we spotted some deer as darkness fell. The next two hours proved to be very entertaining!

    We wouldn't have noticed the next critter if not for its glowing eyes as we approached on the opposite bank, wondering what it was. Once we were perpendicular across the creek we shone our headlamps to get a better view. At this point it realized we would not just walk by without noticing it was there and it subsequently repositioned. When that happened both Jon and I caught a glimpse of its silhouette and both had the same reaction simultaneously: tarzan swing! That's a big cat! :scared: It seemed nervous at our presence as we shined our lights directly into its glowing green eyes 25 yards across the river. As is common on our hikes, Jon and I each complimented each other on how large and strong we were -- loudly and repeatedly -- :sweat: while once again heading upstream. Jon noted that our hurried 3mph pace in the dark had suddenly increased to about 4mph! :lol:

    Shortly thereafter a new set of eyes was watching our passage, but these were yellow. Though they sat high above us along the creek, as we got closer we could see it was just a curious raccoon (my first ever az wild sighting!). As we neared the trailhead, a skunk waddled across our path and seemed to be in no hurry to let us by. At this point we were trying to figure out what animal we wouldn't see tonight! Of course we weren't done yet. Next we spotted a gray fox that thought it was hidden and didn't run until it was obvious we knew it was there. Not much later we spooked a herd of javelina, and enjoyed watching the babies fight the current while swimming across the creek their parents had simply walked across. :lol:

    At this point we were happy we would be sleeping indoors for the night and headed back to TNC cabin to meet up with the others and share our stories over a warm fire and some wild fermentation in the coolship.

    The next couple of days included more wildlife sightings including coatimundi, turkey, and bobcat. Apparently there are cool birds here too!

    I'm a fan of wildernesses. Some are more wilderness-y than others. I've only been to Aravaipa three times, but I think it's one of Arizona's truly wild wildernesses and a wildlife gem. FWIW, we did not see a bear. ](*,) Maybe next time! :)

    A little dull. Sycamores were solid rust. Some cottonwoods still had a lot of green, others had some nice yellows, and some were mostly bare. Walnuts were prime yellow. Ash hadn't started yet.
    Hell Hole Canyon - Aravaipa
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    5am departure from Pima.
    Very scenic drive into the East entrance during sunrise.
    7am entrance into Aravaipa.
    Downstream to Hell Hole Canyon and in up to the spring/hanging gardens.
    Back upstream to Turkey Creek and a visit up to the cliff dwelling.
    Overcast all day, water felt great, lots of greenery with hints of autumn to come.
    Wildlife - 7 javelina (with young), 1 deer, 1 bobcat, 20 vultures, 2 hawks, 1 ring-neck snake, many creek fish, 1 heron, 10,000 caterpillars, 1000 butterflies, insects of all kinds & a very unpleasant amount of biting mosquitoes.
    Solid 9 out of 10 trip (1 point deduction due to the mosquitoes).
    Hell Hole Canyon - Aravaipa
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Awoke early from our Turkey Creek campsite to a chilly 35 degrees.
    Needed to warm up so I took an early morning stroll up the road and up to the cliff dwelling for sunrise. I believe this was the first time I have ever watched the sunrise from inside a cliff dwelling!
    Returned back, woke the yeti, broke camp then drove to the end of Turkey Creek for our Aravaipa hike.

    Being Preston's first time up the canyon, I would like for him to tell the story (he is a much, much better writer than I).

    I'll just say, every trip I make through this canyon just blows me away!
    This really is a special place, and a place I will visit many more times.
    Hell Hole Canyon - Aravaipa
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Ambika and Guru invited me to join them for their Aravaipa trip. Guru got called away overseas for business so it was just Ambika and me. We drove to the Nature Conservancy on the east side arriving around 7:30 Fri nite.

    The next morning we made ourselves a nice breakfast before leaving the Guest House for the TH. We stopped at the Salazar church that was all decorated for the holidays : rein : . The caretaker had just washed the steps so we didn't get to go inside.

    Soon we arrived at the TH and geared up for a long awaited venture in Aravaipa Cany from the east side. We had crossed the creek for the second time enjoying the scenery when some other hikers came upon us in their vehicle. They were driving on the road we were hiking. We didn't know you could drive further per the instructions we had regarding the TH and that's why we were walking. We were offered a ride and tailgate surfed :DANCE: the last mile or so to the Turkey Creek TH.

    And just like that we were finally in the creek heading down the canyon. You gotta love hiking in this canyon down the creek as the water, the last times I've done it, is just right. As we got down a little ways we encountered some campers preparing to depart. Ambika was impressed with the waders one of the fellows was wearing and come to find out, the guys were part of a group with some of our fellow HAZers.

    Eventually the group from the SierraAdventureMeetUp Group would catch up to us. They were on a photography trip so we would more or less mingle with them the rest of the trip into Hell Hole/Deer Creek area. We weren't planning on going up Deer Creek but it sounded like a good idea. I recalled reading trip reports and seeing photos so I was looking forward to the trek... altho we didn't know exactly where we were going :-k and so relied on the map Ambika had to get us up the right canyon.

    It was so much fun going up Hell Hole canyon especially as the canyon walls got taller and the pathway became quite narrow. In fact, once you get in a little ways Ambika was concerned the canyon was ending but indeed the path continued. Once again we ended up mingling with the SierraAdventure Group out of Tucson but no one really got in anyone's way and everyone seemed friendly. We would find ourselves walking with individual members from time to time.

    We took our quick lunch break at the first spring on the west canyon wall before joining up with the group at the next big spring coming from the west wall as well. We hung out for a short time. We ended up with Anita coming back with us (the others lingered and then headed up a little further before heading back to the TH). She had a gimpy knee. It's always nice to meet another hiking enthusiast that also does a little photography :) .

    We took our time and got back to the intersection with Aravaipa Creek in an hour. We rested our laurels for about 15 minutes before our trek back up the creek. We were quite disappointed with the lack of afternoon sun to light up the area. We did spy a large alcove where we had seen the two backpackers camped. It is quite large and would provide great cover if you got caught in weather. It is probably a 1/4 to 1/2 mile from the Turkey Creek TH.

    We thot the rest of the group was almost a good hour behind us so we decided we would walk back to the designated TH. We left a note on the pick-up and started heading up the road when I heard voices so we turned around. We should have kept going as only part of the group had made it back. We ended up having to wait another 45 minutes. Well at least I had a chance to try to figure out how to put my new pant legs on but not without an assist from Ambika :lol: .

    On the drive back, they almost blew right by our vehicle and yelled "jump" as they came to a halt. We jumped out the back, got our wet shoes off and drove the 3 miles back to the guest house where we drank our wine and snacked on chips and artichoke dip before enjoying our meal of salad, lasagna, and garlic bread. We reviewed the day and while the fall color was mostly done, we got some oranges and reds and truly enjoyed Hell Hole Canyon. Next year we hope to try it again from the east side as the hiking is soooo much easier. We'll try it a couple weeks earlier.

    The reason I think we all like Aravaipa so much is the great variety of what seems like high country terrain that mixes with the desert. To me one of the great joys of hiking here besides listening to your feet walking thru the water is seeing the fall color and just a glance away, a saguaro covered hill. It makes me smile! oh and snap ANOTHER picture. :D


    Hell Hole Canyon - Aravaipa
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    After my day trip through the canyon a month earlier, I went back to the BLM the next day and secured a 2 day permit to camp under the full moon. The main focus for this trip was to explore Hell Hole canyon. Entered from the east entrance and headed in through The Nature Conservancy area to Turkey Creek and the beginning of the canyon. Made my way down stream to the entrance of Hell Hole canyon, dropped my pack here where I knew I was going to camp and continued on down to Booger Canyon. Explored & rested a bit at Booger before returning back and setting up camp for the night. Beat the sun up the next morning, packed up and entered Hell Hole canyon.

    Hell Hole Canyon was Awesome! I enjoyed this side canyon more than Aravaipa canyon itself. Very lush foliage the first 1/4 mile in and soon had me hiking around many curves & bends that at one point had me a little disorientated. Hiked about 1.5 miles in passing many hanging gardens & one nice spring before the creek ran dry and I turned around.

    There is still a lot of AZ I have yet to see, but I just can't imagine it getting much better than Aravaipa!

    Permit $$
    Permit Required
    - BLM

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To canyon trip
    From Phoenix, drive east on US-60 to Globe. In Globe take US-70 southeast towards Safford. Pass through Bylas (last gas station before Safford) and take a right onto Klodyke/Aravaipa Road (15 miles west of Safford). Follow the signs for the Aravaipa Wilderness. There are 6 creek crossings to get to the trailhead, or you can park your car about 3 miles before the trailhead and hike in.
    page created by Steph_and_Blake on Apr 01 2017 1:11 pm
    3 pack - loud whistle
    go prepared
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