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Wet Beaver Canyon Loop, AZ

no permit
284 35 3
Guide 35 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Camp Verde > North Camp
4.8 of 5 by 19
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 22 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,900 feet
Elevation Gain 2,506 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,000 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2-4 Days!
Kokopelli Seeds 37
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Ruins, Seasonal Waterfall & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
9  2016-09-04 MountainMatt
18  2015-08-23 VolcanoCLMBR
12  2015-08-08 Tsd906
1  2015-07-04 HandsomeRob
10  2014-07-25 Tsd906
4  2012-06-16 JoelHazelton
25  2012-06-16 chumley
8  2011-11-23 LittleKnee
Page 1,  2,  3
Author Lizard
author avatar Guides 15
Routes 0
Photos 403
Trips 17 map ( 75 miles )
Age 39 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Jun, - -, - - → Early
Seasons   Late Spring to Late Summer
Sun  6:15am - 6:24pm
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Canyoneering trip
by Lizard

Overview: This is a tough but gorgeous 2-4 day hike/float/swim trip through a red rock canyon along the Mollogon Rim.

Wet Beaver Canyon was the first canyoneering trip I ever took, as well as the first hike I ever posted to HAZ. Even all these years later, the hike still hold a special spot in my mind. Wet Beaver Canyon offers superb scenery, isolation, and adventure in one of the wildest and most beautiful canyons along the Mollogon Rim. Inspired by AZ-Outdoorsman's marvellous recent photo set, I've decided to re-write the 2001-11-26 description I originally posted for this hike, to correct some factual errors and to provide more information on the canyon.

Wet Beaver Canyon can be done as either a shuttle hike, from Waldroup Place to the Bell trailhead, or as a loop trip utilizing the Bell and Apache Maid trails. I recommend the loop as it saves wear and tear on your vehicle, as well as providing a "warmup" day before hitting the canyon proper. If you do decide to do this hike, preparation is essential. This is a hike for fit, adventurous individuals. You must have a method for waterproofing and floating your pack (good methods are described in the Tonto Creek description). I'd strongly recommend that you limit the size of your group to no more than three, particularly if you plan to do this as a multi-day backpacking trip. The campsites within the canyon are small, few, and far between, and a smaller group will also limit the impact on this pristine place.

From the Bell trailhead, you will want to follow the Bell trail for approximately 1 mile to its junction with the Apache Maid trail. Turn left, or north, onto the Apache Maid trail, and follow it as it climbs relentlessly up to the top of the Mollogon Rim. At the top of the rim, a sign warns that the trail is difficult to follow from that point forward. Your goal from this point is the head of Waldroup Canyon. The easiest way to reach it is to strike out cross-country, following jeep roads as they fade in and out, aiming for the northwestern shoulder of Hog Hill. A short climb over the shoulder of this small peak will deliver you to the basin where Waldroup Canyon starts to cut into the earth (this is also the starting point for the shuttle trip).

Next, you will head down Waldroup Canyon. In order to make it through this canyon, you will have to descend seven waterfalls ranging in height from 10 to 30 feet. All of these can be scrambled down, or bypassed, without the need for technical rock climbing skills. The only difficult one is the fourth waterfall, which can be bypassed by a tricky scramble on creek left. If you are unsure of your abilities on rock, it may be helpful to pack a rope to lower your pack down the waterfalls, thus improving your balance for scrambling.

Just downstream of the confluence with Wet Beaver Canyon, you will find powerful springs feeding the flow in Wet Beaver. The springs also create the first big pool you must swim. This pool is always much colder than the pools downstream, so don't worry if you find yourself gasping at the temperature.

From this point on, its a simple matter of following the creekbed all the way down to Bell Crossing, and the Bell trail. To make your way through the canyon, you must swim a minimum of 12 pools, and wade twice that. You will be in water the rest of the way down the canyon. There are some areas that are so beautiful they deserve to be discovered on their own, so I am purposefully leaving this description somewhat vague.

The upper parts of the canyon are long stretches of agressive rockhopping down a thick riparian corridor, broken up intermittently by a swim across a short pool. As you cross the halfway point though, the long riparian corridors shorten, and the pools get bigger and better. My favorite part of the canyon is the lower third, when it starts to cut through the red Supai sandstone.

Shortly after you pass the long pool that stretches around several corners, with red Supai walls curving overhead, keep your eyes on the right (north) wall of the canyon. You should be able to spot a small cliff dwelling reposing on the wall of the canyon before too long.

When you start to spot trash and other hikers along the creek, you are getting close to the end at Bell Crossing. Look for trails heading away from the creek on the right. From here, its a simple 4 mile hike on the Bell trail back to the trailhead.

Check out the Triplogs.

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2005-07-19 Lizard
    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 of 12 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Wet Beaver Canyon Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Finally the moons and planets aligned allowing my wife and I to get away without the kids so I could show her why I am always raving about how beautiful and fun Wet Beaver Creek is. We were somewhat pressed for time, so we opted for the out and back hike vs. the full loop hike. Plus I was a little unsure of how she would handle the full 22+ miles and dropping in Waldroup Canyon etc. So we car camped Friday night (enjoyed the heavy downpour and lightning :scared: ) then woke early and started off around 6am. Got to the Crack and had it to ourselves for about an hour and a half, laying around on the rocks like lazy lizards. After the first day trippers showed up, we began our boulder hopping up the canyon. Sad to see the amount of trash at the crack ](*,) We hiked 3-4 miles upstream making sure to swim the big pools then eventually turned around and returned to the camp spot up on the ledge near the huge boulder perched atop another. Woke up and hiked back out. We were on the Bell trail back to the car around 10 am and it was getting hot. Passed several groups of people with little kids who looked to have very little water with them??? Anyway, it was a great weekend to spend quality time together in one of AZ's gems!

    Some gear notes (Yes I'm a gear junkie). Tested on this trip: (1) 5/10 Water tennie shoes...awesome, although nothing grips the slimy rocks, these shoes do grip better than any others I've tried. Held up very well boulder hopping and gripping other surfaces. (2) Watershed Westwater waterproof backpack...This thing is incredibly huge (I carried 99% of the gear) and water tight. When I say water tight, I mean I could have used the bag as a floatation device while completely on top of it and it stays sealed! The Ziploc type closure is incredible. (3) NRS stealth life vests...these made the longer swims very relaxing and the low profile allowed us to wear them with a back pack on over the top of the vests while boulder hopping/hiking. My wife is not as good of a swimmer as I, so she really appreciated them. Made for floating and snapping pics very easy and enjoyable too.

    Forgot to mention...brought along my brand new GoPro that I got for father's day...forgot it in the car. :tt:
    Wet Beaver Canyon Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Yep, I just can't stay away from this place. Brought some friends from work to share this special place and they brought their sons. We parked at the top of Waldroup Canyon and car camped Friday night. Began the descent around 7 am on Sat, and camped creekside about halfway down the main canyon around 5pm. Finished up around 2 pm on Sunday at the Crack. The Crack was super busy, probably about 30-40 people. We had pre-staged our other vehicle at the Bell TH so we packed in and made our way back up to the top of Waldroup where we ran into a group of ladies who had just hiked out of Waldroup and were searching for their car... :-k hmmm? We offered our help, but they swore they would be ok.

    Weather was great Sat and Sun, with threatening clouds overhead Sun evening as we left. The drive south and west through Phoenix was treacherous with all that rain.

    Already planning my next one here and a section of WCC soon. :y:
    Wet Beaver Canyon Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    So my first attempt at WBC was with my Dad in June. We parked at the top of Waldroup Canyon and hiked down into the main canyon camping after just two of the swims at the campsite just below the waterfall. We camped and exited back out the way we came as his legs were not feeling up to the task of going further down. The hike back out of Waldroup really did him in.

    I returned this weekend to do the loop hike solo. Started Friday morning at @ 5:40 am and made it to the top of Waldroup canyon by 10am. It got a little hot up top especially traversing the left shoulder of Hog hill. I began with 100oz/3 liters of water in my bladder and a Smart Water bottle filled with coconut water/water mix. By the time I reached the first spring feeding WBC, I was out of water. Next time I will bring a little bit more water and suck up the weight penalty. Dropping down Waldroup canyon is always fun with the 6+ drops/waterfalls (Dry). Thanks to whoever left the rope at the middle/big drop. I lowered my pack on that one, but traversed all the others normally.

    Once in the main canyon the first water shows up about 1/4 mile down and then your first swim as the water is enclosed on both sides by rock cliffs, like a hallway. This pool was pretty chilly, but man did it feel good in this July heat. I'm going to guess at temps up top ~100 and down in the canyon ~85...again just a guess. The main canyon is filled with about ~20 spots requiring swimming, so I was wet pretty much the entire time. I reached my campsite at around 2pm and set up my hammock/tarp, and just relaxed after pushing it a little too hard/fast in the heat. Thunderstorms rolled in around 7:30 pm and kind of concerned me, but no rain other than a very brief/light sprinkle that lasted about 10 min. Pretty warm all night with the exception of early morning and it got down to maybe 70...guessing.

    Next morning I got up, still feeling the lingering effects of pushing myself in the heat the day prior. After getting packed up I pushed on down the canyon planning on going as far as I could and camping one more night. As I continued down, swim after swim, I noticed I was able to just push on through to the end. So I just decided to go all the way out without stopping for the second night. In hindsight, I should have stayed one more night to relax and enjoy it a little more.

    The pools/swims down toward the end start to become more red/supai rock and very impressive for you photog types. Amazing views! I ended up finishing at the Crack and ran into some tourists in dire need of water as they had brought little with them and drank it all. I filtered some for them and then hiked out with them to the parking lot at the trailhead. Made it to the car at 7pm. All in all a great hike. Like I said I think next time it will be a 3 day hike for me and I will take it a bit easier on day one, so as not to over do it in the heat.

    I brought a Intex inflatable tube (Think inner tube) and a swim noodle as a back up. I would sit in the tube with my pack in my lap and basically backstroke. After learning how to get in it with my pack (first time was a disaster) it got easier. My pack was lined with dry bags and then doubled bagged with a large contractor trash bag. I liked using the tube, however, inflating and deflating got old and at times I left it inflated, but traversing the canyon (Boulder hopping), through tree branches without puncturing it was very challenging and slow going. The tube made it, :y: and now that I know where the swims are located, next time should be easier as I'll be able to stow it away when I know the next swim is a ways off.

    Camp sites level for tents are few so I would recommend hammocks in this canyon.
    Wet Beaver Canyon Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Tried to get an early start from PHX and managed to be on the trail just past 9am. High-tailed it to the crack and took a short break there before getting to the planned fun of the day exploring upstream. We were doing a little bit under 1MPH in the creek, but enjoying the numerous pools and swims. I had my trekking poles, which I would consider an absolute must for anybody trying to traverse this creek. The rocks are very slippery and it's a whole lot easier if you have the extra balance.

    Keeping an eye on time and knowing we wanted to be back to the crack by dark, we reached a good spot to turn around after what was ultimately only about 2 river miles upstream. We took a few breaks along the way for food and hydration, and of course, photos.

    Most of the hike back down the Bell Trail was in the dark, but somehow we managed to keep the headlamps off until about the last mile or so. Long drive back to the valley after a very satisfying day.

    9:10-10:20 Bell Trail to the Crack
    All day upstream
    7:50-9:15 Bell Trail back to the car
    Wet Beaver Canyon Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Cool to cruise this loop as a monster day hike, light and fast, dawn to dusk. Roughly 3.5 hours to the head of Waldroup, another hour to the springs, 7 tough hours along the creek, 1.5 back to the trail head. Gorgeous as always, the water was a bit chilly but the warm air temps made it tolerable.
    Wet Beaver Canyon Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Always great to visit this fantastic canyon. Blessed with good cloud cover all the way up and across the mesa, some good thunder with a little evening rain and perfect refreshing spring water in the creek. Added a GPS route for the Apache Maid trail to the head of Waldroup Canyon.
    Wet Beaver Canyon Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Got a crack-of-dawn start to try and beat the heat, mountain biking the first 2 miles of the Bell Trail to save a little time. Was able to get up Apache Maid, across the mesa, down Waldroup and to the springs in about 6 hours. Navigation across the mesa was straightforward, with mostly obvious trails/roads and lots of cairns. Finding the head of Waldroup Canyon was the only small difficulty - pass Waldroup Tank and hike clear across the valley/meadow below to the far (southeast) corner and it becomes obvious.

    Once into the wet section the pace slows considerably, but there's no reason to hurry through this wonderland anyway! Camped a few miles downstream of the springs after a gentle thundershower, then spent the next morning enjoying the bulk of the many fantastic swim pools. Perfect water temp, and it may even be clearer than West Clear Creek! Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and eventually the signs of "civilization" reappear. But the magic of Wet Beaver Creek won't fade.
    Wet Beaver Canyon Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Wow! This trip was much more difficult than I thought it would be. My friend Mike and I arrived at the trailhead at 10 P.M. on Friday night. Since camping at the trailhead is not allowed, we hiked the first two miles to the Apache Maid trail and camped there. Early the next morning we immediately set out up the Mogollon Rim. Mike kept a blistering pace; he appeared to be just strolling along as I struggled to keep up with him. We hit the top of the rim in 45 minutes and stopped for a rest. From there we set out cross-country but quickly picked up a jeep road which we followed for quite a distance. At one point, as we were mindlessly walking along, a 4 foot rattlesnake, camouflaged in the road, rattled and lunged. I jumped 6 feet backward before Mike even saw the snake and realized what was going on! Then we watched the snake slither away; now we were totally awake! :) Soon after that, Mike and I had a disagreement about which hill was Hog Hill. We ended up hiking around the south side of Hog Hill. ( Who are you going to trust; me or a silly GPS unit? :wink: ) We cliffed out and had to contour up the east side of Hog Hill. It was completely miserable, and we were running out of water. On the plus side, we stumbled across some petroglyphs on a rock on top of the west wall of Waldroup Canyon. Since there is no reason for anyone to be hiking through that area, I am fairly confident that we are in a very small group of people who have actually seen these petroglyphs.
    Finally at 3 P.M. we reached Waldroup Canyon. There was a small pool of water which we pumped and drank, pumped and drank, and pumped and drank. We were so dehydrated! We set off down the canyon bypassing or downclimbing all the dry falls with ease. About 4:30 or so, we reached Wet Beaver Creek. The first pool was frigid :twisted: and the second pool was only slightly better. Shortly after the second pool, we saw a small campsite so we stopped there. We had hiked 13.5 miles that day and we were beat. We made a small fire, dried off and went to bed. The next day, Sunday, we set out about 8:30 A.M. We thought we'd cruise the canyon and make it back to the car by 3:30 P.M. We were wrong. The pools were nonstop; about 20 in all. The narrows were by far the most impressive. Wading the creek was extremely difficult, as the rocks were covered with slippery algae. Mike and I must have fallen about a million times each! :twisted: The alternative to the creek was boulder-hopping and thrashing through the dense trees and bushes and scrambling over mounds of driftwood. It seemed no matter what way we chose to go, it was very difficult. Around 3 P.M. or so we stopped to eat near a nice pool. We saw a large school of sucker fish. About 12 of them had gathered together and they were rather large, about 14"-16" in length. We also saw many trout in the pools as well. We also saw the cliff dwelling. I was looking hard, high up the canyon wall. It turns out that it is right in front of your face about 100 ft above the water. It didn't seem worth exploring though. Finally, at about 4:30 P.M. or so, we reached Bell Crossing. There were some other people cliff jumping and I joined them for a few minutes, happy to only have 4 miles to go. By this time, the balls of my feet felt as though the skin had ripped off them and every step was a test of will. Mike and I cruised the Bell trail back to the truck, fueled by thoughts of the burgers we were about to have. :) We got back to truck at 6:45 P.M. much later than we thought, but happy that we weren't in the creek in the dark. This was the first hike that Mike and I have ever done together, and it was a test. We had some disagreements, mostly caused by his GPS, but we kept our heads together, and worked everything out. I sure this is the start of some more serious adventures!
    Wet Beaver Canyon Loop
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    I just completed this hike of the Wet Beaver Creek Loop. Wow is this a tough hike. I fell so many times racing down that creek my ankles and knees are killing me. This has to be the toughest and coolest hike I have ever been on. We set out at 3pm on Friday and went up the Apache Maid trail, camping that night on the soft dirt roadway on top of Hog Hill. Waking up before dawn on Saturday morning, we set out for Wouldrop canyon and entered into it. It was really fun climbing down this part. Watch out for all of the cool waterfalls that you will have to scramble past. Once we reached the convergence with Wet Beaver creek, we soon found water rushing from the spring. For the rest of the morning and afternoon we boulder hopped, fell, swam, cliff jumped, slipped and hiked our way through the eight or nine miles leading up to Bell Crossing. This seemed like it would never end and we had to swim through over 20 pools where there was no other way around. This was a very rugged trip especially to do in just over a day. We reached our car about 6:30pm after an amazing day down Wet Beaver Creek.
    Wet Beaver Canyon Loop
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    We did the wet beaver loop trail. It was four day but that was the breakfast, the drive up, hiking, and the hot dinner on the drive home. I can't explain how wonderful it was. The water falls and water pools are better in person. This hike was awesome. It was funny how we found the hike. My friend and I were bored and on-line we came across this hike that said EXTREME. Well I had never did any hiking some camping as a kid and he was at the same hiking skill as me. He made the remark of "that can't be that hard, let do it" so we packed and planned and we did it. The packs were way over packed (80lbs.) and all we had for maps finding skills was a topo map of the area and my buddy had his cheap compass and i had my great grandpa's compass. Maybe not the smartest thing but it was an experience of a life time. My goal now is to hike every mountain top in az. and if time permits farther.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To Bell Trailhead
    From Phoenix go North on Highway I-17 to the Sedona Exit which is SR179. Do not turn left to go to Sedona. Instead turn right, this is FR618. Follow FR618 2 miles and turn left onto FR618A. Follow the signs to the trailhead. This is a great trail. Unfortunately the parking lot may change your mind. Broken glass is everywhere. The trailhead is secluded. Car theft is more than obvious, even signs forewarn you of the danger. Beware, do not drive the family 4X4 up here packed with valuables.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 109 mi, 1 hour 51 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 214 mi, 3 hours 31 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 43.8 mi, 46 mins
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