Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
Meadow Canyon, Hanging Gardens, White Box & Out
Gear List General Canyoneering Gear: dry bag(s), grommets in your backpack, and water purification device (you'll come across plenty of water so it's nice to lose the weight of carrying a lot).
Rappelling Gear: 100 ft rope, pull cord, descending gear, harness, carabiners, webbing, rap rings, and helmet.
Gear to acquire when the time is right and nature provides: walking stick(s).
Meadow Canyon & the Rappels After you park your truck and reach the pond (see "Directions to trail" below) hike for about 20 minutes down a rocky streambed until you come to an intersection. At the intersection, turn left/downstream. You'll do a little boulder hopping and easy downclimbs for a bit until you reach an 80' dry fall. When facing the fall, you will see a relatively large tree to your left. This is the tree that we used for our webbing. We used a 100 ft rope with a pull cord. Continuing down the canyon, you will enter a section where large boulders choke the canyon floor. Eventually you will reach a 45 foot dry fall for your rappelling pleasure. We used a large boulder for our webbing. When you are done with that, you are back to some more rock hopping. You will come upon another approximately 80ft steep, drop. One in our group simply scrambled down this drop, another rappelled about 1/3 of the way and then scrambled, and one used a hand line for about 1/3 of the way and then scrambled. We recommend either rappelling at least part of the way or using a hand line part of the way. After this, you can secure your rappelling gear because you won't need it any more. The canyon will slot up moderately for a short while and pretty soon you will be splashing around in West Clear Creek (WCC). You will have done about two miles at this point.
West Clear Creak Get ready to be wet for a while! Also, get ready for the slippery bottom of WCC. It is time for you to look around for a sturdy hiking stick or two. We don't recommend bringing your own poles because they will get in the way prior to this point. Fear not, nature WILL provide. For approximately the next two miles, you will be hiking and swimming upstream through the crystal clear waters of the creek. From time to time, you can walk on dry land, but most of the time you'll be in the water. Use your dry bag as a floatation device. In early July, the water temperature was comfortably refreshing. Enjoy seeing myriad fish and crayfish until you come upon one of Arizona's Edens: the WCC Hanging Gardens. Others on HAZ have described that beautiful place and it is truly amazing. (I always enjoy drinking water straight from the source, myself!) After the Hanging Gardens, you will soon come upon the White Box... essentially several hundred feet of deep water swimming through a narrow canyon. Shortly after the White Box, you will come upon the WCC exit for this trip. To your left you will see a bus sized slab of rock in the canyon with various root markings on it, and about a 100 yards up from that on the right is an obvious, steep chute out of WCC. You have done a total of about four miles at this point.
Voyage Home The hike out of WCC is quite steep with about 800 ft of elevation gain in approximately 1/4 of a mile. It is relatively straight forward, but in one stretch, the ascent will open up a bit to the right. Stay left to stay on the trail. Once on the rim, when facing away from WCC, you will see power lines in the distance, perpendicular to you. You will be standing on a road. Follow the road as it heads up a slight incline and meanders to the right and diagonally toward the power lines. You'll walk along this road for quite a while among a seemingly never ending quilt of grass and junipers. Eventually, you will be walking parallel with/under the power lines. Follow this route to a small, wooded canyon (an eastern fork of Meadow Canyon). Drop into the canyon and then scramble back out. Soon you will see your truck by the gate. You have canyoneered, swum, and hiked about eight miles.
Conclusion WCC via Meadow Canyon is yet another amAZing adventure. It contains three distinct segments. In the first segment, you tackle some intermediate to more advanced rappelling opportunities in Meadow Canyon. In the second segment, you enjoy being wet most of the time as you head up WCC. In the third segment, you march and march some more back to your truck. If you parked under/near the power lines as we did, be careful when you get back to the truck. Ours was electrically charged when we came back, and it literally shocked the hell out of some of us!
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
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.
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