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Clover Creek Canyon, AZ

no permit
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Guide 16 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Clints Well W
3.8 of 5 by 9
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 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,846 feet
Elevation Gain -1,800 feet
Avg Time One Way 6-8 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 11
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
4  2018-04-29 MountainMatt
23  2017-06-25 KBKB
1  2016-08-13 ssk44
5  2015-07-26 Alston_Neal
14  2014-09-21
Pivot Rock Canyon
20  2013-09-01 Alston_Neal
38  2013-08-10 Bradshaws
8  2013-07-14 ASUAviator
Page 1,  2
Author toddak
author avatar Guides 7
Routes 5
Photos 1,053
Trips 391 map ( 6,151 miles )
Age 54 Male Gender
Location Puhoynix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, May, Jun → Early
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  6:13am - 6:24pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Fun tributary to West Clear Creek
by toddak

A challenging but non-technical canyon following one of the headwaters tributaries of West Clear Creek.

Some canyon sections are tight and narrow and could be dangerous in heavy monsoon downpours.

From the parking lot, go through the cattle fence and follow the creek along an old dirt road until you reach an old stone and cement bridge. Leave the road, going left and following the creek; shortly you will reach a barbed wire fence with a sign designating the West Clear Creek Wilderness. Directly across the creek is a huge rock overhang that makes a great shelter in the rain. For the next mile or so the creek gently wanders through easy, open terrain often following faint trails, passing several sweet camping sites.

Eventually the canyon starts to narrow - the next 3 miles are the tightest section, with some scrambling and working around boulders and fallen trees. Somewhere around the 2.5 mile point is the most significant obstacle on the hike, a section of smooth rock sloping down to a 5 - 6 foot downclimb into a waist deep pool. Easy to negotiate going downstream, it would be a bit more difficult if returning upstream, although we were able to use a log in the slot to make it easier.

At about the 4 mile mark, the creek turns sharply left as it joins another side canyon coming in from the northeast. The next mile or so downstream is open and easy walking through grassy meadows and forest to the junction with Tom's Creek coming in from the southwest. Go right (downstream) at the junction of the two creeks for roughly 3 miles of moderate hiking and pleasant wading to the junction with Willow Valley and the true start of West Clear Creek.

From here you can return upstream 8 miles to the start. Better is to continue down WCC several hundred yards to where the Maxwell Trail will take you steeply back up to the rim on the north side of WCC canyon. There you can meet a shuttle vehicle to take you back around to the start via 9 miles of dirt on Forest roads 81E and 81 north to Lake Mary Road and then south 13 miles on pavement back to Milepost 285 on Hwy 87.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2009-05-28 toddak
    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
    Clover Creek Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I love the first part of this hike. The meadow just down from the trailhead parking is such a nice place to relax and hang out. Ha.. I've never actually hiked beyond the meadow. This has become a yearly summer escape.

    Clover Creek Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Beauliful day, Took the kids and wife out for a short hike :) had to be back in town by 6pm :? or I would have gone to HAZfest. Regardless, we had an awesome time. Everything was so green and the weather was perfect. Got to the trailhead at around 10. Found a pair of boots (picture is in photo set) sitting on the ground :-k . They were in great shape. I'm sure someone is missing them :( Like I said in the picture set if they are yours or you know who lost them PM me and we'll get them back to their owners :D This hike is great and if it hadn't been for the dozens of cows we had to deal with ](*,) :lol: it would have been perfect :GB:
    Clover Creek Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    With the extreme heat that hovered over PHX this past weekend i just had to get out of town and get a cool hike in so headed out to the West Clear Creek Wilderness' Clover Creek Canyon, i expected it to be a challenging WATER hike but all we found was mostly puddles of stagnant water, more heat, lots of bugs and plenty of dead dry wood that could potentially cause a wildfire. :scared:
    The canyon itself had a few narrow areas and plenty of much needed shade. Ran across a few dead animals that included a deer that became dinner sometime ago and a smiling raccoon head that met its match. On the hike in i saw a very large brownish-black bird flying away at about 100 feet away in front, it could have been an eagle due to its size but thats just my guess as i wasnt able to see the front of it. This forest is alive, there was plenty of birds and plenty of roadents. There were plenty of perfect camping spots near the TH including a perfect looking cave were one could set up a tent.
    One more cool thing was not having had to come across another single person the entire day....if you want solitude....THIS IS IT!
    Clover Creek Canyon
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Sometimes it's hard to gather words to describe the essence of a particular place. Transcendence, fulfillment, cleansation, all part of the experience on this hike. Every nook was occupied by a thriving life form exploding with growth and luster. The canyon walls left me detached and indifferent from everyday life, confined to an isolated world of joy. The sights, sounds, scents and textures enthralled the senses into an escape I won't ever forget. Incredible.
    Clover Creek Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I was looking for non-technical overnighter up on the rim to just getting away from it all and mid-April is usually when all the rim roads re-open so I figured I'd drive up and see how much snow was left and which roads I could access and was pleased to see no snow and the roads pretty much all re-opened. :y:

    I worked that Saturday morning, but I drove up that afternoon and got a few miles in on FR142 before parking and beelining across the rim towards middle Tom's Creek and dropped in via a steep side drainage. It'd been SO long since I'd been in WCC that I was quickly enchanted by even a hint of the sandstone goodness yet to come. :D Followed Tom's Creek downstream to its confluence with Clover Creek and continued on to the confluence with Willow Valley and the beginning of WCC and setup camp at a sweet campsite nearby. Nice, it only took 3 hours of scenic rock hopping to get here. :sweat: Heated up a Mountain House, rolled out my bag & pad, made a small fire, watched as the full moon lit up the canyon thru the clouds, and listened to the many canyon sounds. ;)

    Woke up early the next cool morning, did the morning rituals, and made an early trek up Willow Valley to the 'springs'. The morning stayed cool and the water was chilly, so I avoided the creek when possible and stuck to less scenic side trails. The deciduous trees and ferns and grass haven't all grown back yet with much evidence of some massive winter flows that rushed thru here, but Willow Valley was still just as amAZingly beautiful as she ever is. :D On the way up, I saw a handful of geese and even a few elk grazing down in the creek. Once at the springs, I chilled at took a lunch break & power nap before returning downstream and taking loads more photos in the better light. At the confluence & back at camp, I packed back up my full backpack and by then I'd decided I wasn't going to return the way I came in but instead continue down WCC and exit up 142E trail and walk 142 back to my car. :sweat: It's been a few years since I'd hiked straight thru this part of WCC so I was kinna surprised and how close every thing was together. :lol: Before I knew it I was passing the Maxwell trail, Tramway trail, the springs and Sundance Canyon already?!? :o I crossed the waist hike chilly creek to enter the Cathedral of lower Sundance Canyon as was treated with the lightly trickling 180ft falls and a 6th high ice/snow mound at the bottom. After checking that out, I continued around the corner and up the 142E trail and was pleased that I'd still have plenty of light for the LONG road walk back to my car. :sweat:

    WOW, West Clear Creek always has a way of blowing my mind every spring/early summer with it's amAZing beauty and I can't wait to start canyoneering here again. :y:
    Clover Creek Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Took my girl Anna to Clover Creek. Afterall, the area was beautiful with running water, green grasses and wildflowers at full bloom when I was there one month prior. Almost as soon as we put our feet on the ground, I noticed that there was no running water. The green fields weren't so green and the wildflowers had dried up and died off. Anyway, what I described to her as a beautiful area, really lost its luster in one month's time. It was an easy stroll in (fast too, since there was nothing really to look at or enjoy). We reached a nice meadowy area about 1.7 miles in and stopped for a snack. We were uninterested to continue, so we headed back to the trailhead and called it a day.
    Clover Creek Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Planned to do Fossil Creek, but was immediately turned-off by the over-packed parking lot at the trailhead. Instead drove up to Clover. Found myself a camp spot about 1/2 mile from the trailhead. The rain was pretty heavy, so I decided to take a snooze and wait it out. After half hour nap the rain had stopped. I threw on my pack, grabbed my camera and headed down to the creek. Wow, does the rain bring out the colors. Green, green, green...and the colors of the stone...beautiful. This turned into more of a photo tour than a distance hike. The big bumblebees were out pollenating flowers. Butterflies were everywhere..on the flowers, on the rocks, having little butterfly sex. I found a ripe raspberry bush and picked myself enough berries to "1/2 fill" a sandwich baggy. They were delicious. I had the place all to myself..huge contrast to the congestion over at Fossil.
    Clover Creek Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Wow, what a bushwhack and boulder hop.

    Clover Creek starts out nice. There is water (and cow patties) and you follow a trail for about a mile to a mile and a half. Then it turns into an all out bushwhack through New Mexican Locust Bush. Eventually you reach a section of slickrock and all the water goes underground except for scuzzy pools. At the crux Todd describes I made it through that section dry, but I could see others getting wet and getting back up would be a bit difficult.

    After the "upper section" you enter a NE-SW section where another trail comes down from Clover Tank. There is no water from this section until you get within 0.3 miles of WCC. I dry camped here and listened to the birds (owls were very active that night.) It took about 3 hours to make it here.

    The next day I found a great trail that goes throughout the entire NE-SW section of the canyon and was sad to leave it as I continued N towards WCC along the lower half of Clover Canyon. It got hot, it was painful, there was no water. It was all rock hopping, there are a few bypass trails overgrown with N-M Locust. I think this trip would be good a few days after a good storm, but right now it is pretty masochistic. Finally, graciously, the water returns and you begin to see trout the last 0.3 miles to WCC/Willow Valley junction. I jumped straight in the water and waded the entire way to the confluence to cool off, sooth my itching, and cool off the scratchy leg syndrome from all the bushwhacking. It took me 2.5 hours to reach the confluence with Willow valley.

    If it wasn't for the fact this hike ends at WCC I would rate it a 1. The rating would likely be higher if there was water like when Todd went. As it turns out, drybagging all my gear was completely unnecessary. Except for swimming in WCC I didn't get wet above the knees.

    I hiked over to where Maxwell trail reaches WCC and chatted with some folks there, I did get wet up to my waist doing that. Lots of crawdads in WCC!

    Thanks to Todd for the beta as I was wondering about this for some time as to whether a rope was needed.
    Clover Creek Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Well I was looking for a way to access upper WCC this summer with just my car and then toddak posted this timely trail writeup. :bigth: I've done that Willow Valley a few times, but I always wondered what WCC's other drier fork would be like to hike. I left work around noon on Friday and drove north to the FR142/AZ87 junction and parked at that small parking lot just off of the highway to save some wear on my car and just hiked the half mile up the meadows and over the ridge to the TH. From there it's just as the writeup describes with an easy old road to hike at first as it snakes around, then a couple miles in it narrows up a bit with some small pools/rock hopping/log jams for a few miles, and then it dries up and gets easier again for another mile until it reaches Tom's Creek. It was around 7pm when I reached that confluence (took about 3.5 hours to hike thus far) and decided to take advantage of the good camping spots instead of pushing on to the WCC confluence. :zzz: After a pleasant night of camping, I packed up and continued on a couple more hours down the last few miles of Clover. That last stretch of hiking was only moderate with mostly dry boulder hopping, only a handful of logs to get around, and some pleasant strolls along the small creek. I found another great camping spot just at the end of Clover at the confluence with WCC and dropped my camping gear there to be my base camp for the weekend. With just my waterproofed gear for water hiking, I continued up that scenic Willow Springs a few miles to the 'springs' that the creek flows from and ate lunch and enjoyed the beautiful day in that amazing canyon. I took a short creekside nap before heading back and since it had warmed up nicely, I swam the few optional swimmers on the way downstream. :GB: I got to camp late in the afternoon and had some time to burn, so I checked out the bottom of that Shamrock Canyon nearby, gathered some firewood to make a fire, and read a few magazines better turning in for the night. If Saturday was my day to relax, then Sunday was definitely the day to get my butt kicked... :sweat: Sunday morning, I woke up early again with the sun and hit WCC downstream a few miles going past Maxwell, Tramway, a short into the echo chamber of Sundance Canyon, 142E trail, and then took a short sidetrip up the bottom of Bear Canyon before heading back upstream. I passed a good dozen good campsite in those few miles and about half of them were filled on this 'busy' weekend. On the way back, I also verified the locations of those 142E & Tramway trails by hiking up them briefly since I haven't hiked down them yet but wanted to make sure I knew where they were in case I needed to bail on them during future WCC trips. 8) I got back to my camp at the Clover/WCC/Willow Valley confluence around 1pm and loaded my camping gear up for the hike out up Clover. I was starting to drag those few miles up to the Tom's Creek confluence and decided to experiment with a potentially shorter more direct route up Tom's Creek and then bushwhack it up and over to FR142. I figured if Tom's Creek was technical I would have heard about it by now or read about it in Todd's book... :lol: I stuck to that windy creek about a mile before finding a bushy hikeable side canyon full of fallen trees that was heading in the direction I needed to hit that forrest road. It was a little steep, but I kept pushing up to the ridge, got a GPS lock, headed in the direction of my car, and shortly ran into that FR142 following it a couple miles to AZ87 and my car. :sweat: It ended up being about two miles shorter and saved me another two hours of tiring canyon hiking. Yet another great adventure into WCC for an amazing 2.5 day trip... :D

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To canyon trip
    From Camp Verde take Hwy 260 east then north on Hwy 87 towards Clints Well / From Payson take Hwy 87 north towards Clints Well. Before you reach Clints Well, at Milepost 285 turn west on FR 142. After 0.5 miles take a sharp right turn onto unmarked road (do not take #611, stay right) and proceed another 0.6 miles mostly downhill to the parking lot and trailhead.
    page created by toddak on May 28 2009 7:25 pm
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