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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Wilbur Canyon, AZ

Guide 26 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
  4.8 of 5 
no permit
1 Active
306 26 0
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 Loop 4.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,388 feet
Elevation Gain 750 feet
Accumulated Gain 900 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 6-9 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.2
Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
6  2019-10-17
Wil-Bear & Between
4  2019-07-25 MountainMatt
15  2016-05-27 GrottoGirl
6  2015-09-12 outdoor_lover
34  2015-08-22 outdoor_lover
30  2015-06-28 GrottoGirl
14  2015-06-06 oceanwithin
19  2014-08-17 GrottoGirl
Page 1,  2
Author nonot
author avatar Guides 96
Routes 236
Photos 2,001
Trips 483 map ( 4,568 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep → 9 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  5:34am - 7:30pm
Official Route
0 Alternative

Mmmm, canyon stew!
by nonot

Likely In-Season!
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Class 3 canyoneering into West Clear Creek, rappels up to 75 feet. It finishes with some moderate downclimbs and some yummy wades through canyon stew!

This is a technical canyon; you will need a full set of canyoneering gear (including helmets) to attempt this loop. Furthermore, due to length and difficulty, I would recommend beginners try easier routes first. Oh yeah, don't bring your new clothes on this hike; you might not be able to wear them in public afterward without being referred to as "that smelly guy". Wilbur will be cold, depending on conditions, a shorty wetsuit would probably be fine in summer if you're warm-blooded, but some may prefer a full-body wetsuit, especially on cooler days. I'd recommend you bring a 200 ft rope. I didn't see any particularly difficult rope pulls, but bringing a backup rope is never a bad idea.


Since 2006 this published canyon has about 30 registered descents. Thus far, the canyon has sprouted a few bolts in places natural anchoring opportunities are not convenient. Please do your part to keep this canyon clean and avoid placing any more bolts; no more are necessary.

From the forest roads intersection, head east about 3/4 mile on the road, go N at the intersection another ~1/4 mile, then bushwhack your way east to drop into Wilbur. There is a lot of New Mexico Locust to plow through, so pick your route and earn your canyon! Once at the bottom, Wilbur is fairly flat and brushy for a while. After yesterday's torrential rains, the upper canyon had about 10 hours to dry out, and it was filled with clear water in some shallow sections. After heading down the creek for about 20 minutes, we bypassed a possible rappel on canyon right LDC.

After splashing through several potholes and some easy downclimbs, we reached another drop of about 15 feet with a choice of rappelling off a deadman on left or downclimbing a suspect log on canyon right. We rigged the first rappel here, although, in drier conditions, the logs might not be so slippery. Once down this first drop, few opportunities of escape exist.

The next rappel is about 75 feet from a tree on right LDC. It would probably be good to have a 200 ft rope for this one depending on where the anchor is set up. We signed the canyon register and rigged our rappel. On the way down, I had to clear the way of some deadfall/log jams that had been washed into the canyon and jammed into the chute. I apparently missed one because the next rappeller got a jab in the ribs from a branch. 2/3 of the way down is a semi-keeper, although it was full of logs one could use to arrange to climb out. Furthermore, those in the know could easily avoid getting into the pothole at all by maneuvering around it while on rappel. Continue to the bottom, but don't coil your rope after everyone is down; the next rappel is just over the enormous chockstone boulder.

This next rappel consists of a 35 (?) foot rappel from a pinch point on left LDC into a dry grotto, followed by a 20 ft walk and another 20 feet rappel into a bowl. Don't pull your rope after the first 30 feet; there is little to anchor to on the platform halfway down. In the bowl, you would be in a keeper, except an enormous log makes for a convenient platform. Once everyone is down into the bowl and on the log, pull the rope. Use the log to climb to the keyhole and rig a 50-foot rappel off the ring bolt (with on left LDC. Very short people or kids may need a partner to assist in getting from the log into the keyhole.

My memory is a little dim here. I remember downclimbing some of the chutes that had rappels rigged, but we wanted to challenge ourselves. There were about 3 moderately difficult downclimbs. I think we belayed some of the members down these climbs; they are steep and moderately high (12-25 feet). LaMAR. Towards the end, you get into some very narrow slots and some excellent canyon stew. Wade through this and set up the final 60 ft or so from a bolt and rappel into West Clear Creek, and you're done...not.

Turn left and head for the Calloway Trail #33. A decent trail is on the right bank for the first third of a mile. After this is a 1.5-mile locust gauntlet, or if you choose, trying to walk down canyon mid-stream on algae-covered rocks and slipping and making a fool of yourself. You will be thankful to eventually find Calloway Trail and hike the 750 ft uphill back to the trailhead. Walk south along the road until you get back to your vehicle.

After recent rains, most will be unable to make it to Calloway Trail. We got as close as we could and hiked an extra 5 miles that day too, and from the canyon through the mud, making for a long day. On reaching the vehicle at dusk, we found 1-2 other good-sized trucks stuck in the mud just past where we had stopped. Beware the sudden thunderstorms that could trap you there, or bring a 4x4 with locking front and rear diffs.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2009-09-08 nonot
    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 $$

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To canyon trip
    Location: Southeast of Flagstaff on roads that are either paved or graveled and suitable for passenger cars in most weather.

    Access: Approximately 2.5 miles north of the junction of State Routes 87 and 260, turn east onto Forest Road (FR) 144. Follow FR 144 to FR 149. Turn left on FR 149 and then left again on FR 142. Follow FR 142 for approximately 4 miles to FR 142B. Turn onto FR 142B and continue to the road's end. FR 142B is very rough and requires high-clearance vehicles and occasionally four-wheel drive to reach the trailhead.

    J&SHike writes: To get there pay close attention to your odometer. From I-17 at Camp Verde head east on Hwy 260 past the Bull Pen trailhead turnoff on up towards Hwy 87. Three miles before coming to Hwy 87 go left onto FR144. Follow this road 1.8 miles to the stop sign and the junction of FR149. Turn left onto FR149 and drive 1.2 miles to the junction of FR142. Turn left onto FR142 and drive another 2.8 miles to road 142B. 142B will be on your right marked by a big orange/red "B" spray-painted on an old Ponderosa pine tree. Follow this road 0.3 miles to a gate, once through the gate close it and proceed another 2.3 miles to the trailhead. 142B splits along the way about three times but is well marked. It's a rocky road requiring a high clearance vehicle, if muddy you might also need 4WD, but is pretty flat most of the way.
    page created by nonot on Sep 08 2009 7:34 pm
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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