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Shamrock Canyon, AZ

no permit
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Guide 12 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Clints Well W
3.3 of 5 by 6
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 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Loop 2.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,734 feet
Elevation Gain 750 feet
Accumulated Gain 900 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5-8 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.1
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
12  2015-06-20 outdoor_lover
38  2014-07-05 GrottoGirl
18  2014-06-14 desert_boonie
10  2013-07-21 azmike
40  2011-07-31 Vaporman
21  2010-07-05 Vaporman
15  2009-09-13 nonot
5  2009-09-12 toddak
Author nonot
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 236
Photos 1,969
Trips 476 map ( 4,511 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep → 10 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  6:14am - 6:23pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Don't fear the keeper
by nonot

Likely In-Season!
A short, technical drop into the headwaters of WCC. This canyon has seen 10 registered descent parties over the last 3 years. Don't kid yourself to imagine that any help will be coming along, you need to be a self-reliant party.


Always check weather conditions before entering a canyon, you don't want to be trapped in these places during a flash flood! You are responsible for evaluating your own abilities and whether you are a danger to yourself or to your party. Ask yourself if you are really ready to attempt this canyon before committing.

You will need a full set of normal canyoneering gear: harness, helmet, caribiner, rappeling device. Add to that an optional wetsuit and at least 2x150 ft ropes. 2x200s worked out well. Be prepared for keeper potholes. The canyon was dry after weeks of good rains other than the keeper and nonkeeper potholes. A wetsuit may not be necessary in summer, however if you become kept you will get very cold very quickly, so a shortie may be advisable in summer, more needed in spring or fall.

First descent claimed by Joe DeSalme. He and Sara DeSalme asked in the canyon register that the canyon be kept secret. Since it has been published I think their secret's out, but they're in the book as well so...

On a nice September afternoon, we departed from the road heading downhill ENE. We encountered a cliff band and headed slighty SE to bypass it and then route found our way to canyon bottom to the E. A short few hops over dead logs and through trees and brush brought us to a 15 foot drop into skanky water. You can avoid this first downclimb by bypassing on canyon left. After going around the pool we dropped back into the bottom 50 ft downcanyon and signed into the trail register. We suited up here.

After the register is a 6 foot downclimb into a deep, semi-keeper pothole. Since there is no rappel rigged once you're in it you're committed. Be prepared to deal with this first obstacle as a team, don't let it catch your group off guard!

After this, a few downclimbs are encountered through some narrow cracks.

When you see webbing from a glue in ring bolt on right (LDC), you've reached the technical part. The first drop is a 10 ft drop followed by a 5 ft traverse to a 20 ft rappel, which ends free hanging into a big, shallow, disgusting pothole. Mmmm, wanted to be a canyoneer! Climb out of the gunk on canyon left (LDC) and await the rest of your party.

On the backside of the rock on right (LDC) from the skanky pothole is another webbing clad ring glue in bolt for the next two-stage section, the Blue Canyon Cult special. Rig ropes for their full lengths, 150 ft at least. Off this bolt, rap 60 ft onto a short gravel filled slot, then get some slack and walk through a bowl. Before you proceed, evaluate the next portion carefully. You can rap down the chute into the deep keeper or you can try to find another route to avoid it (while still staying on rappel). Use your wits and be safe! Have a backup plan if you get kept! If you misstep you're probably going to pendulum into the keeper, hopefully you can avoid smashing into the wall. After you have obtained the ledge on the far side of the keeper, be careful setting up the continuation of your rappel. Don't pull your ropes when you reach this lip! You will need to continue down another 30 feet, but plan carefully!! Due to all the angles and lack of straight lines, you could be in for quite a whipper if you get it wrong! After all are safely down on terra firma you can finally pull your ropes, if you used 200 ft ropes, on left (LDC there is a ledge which makes for a great rope pull as you have sight of the anchor. I have to comment that this was one of the more awkward sequences I've faced in a canyon, this would be a poor choice of canyon for a beginner. A big group could stage people at several points along this sequence, but most of these spots allow offering of only minimal assistance.

After a short walk of 30 feet you will find a slung tree. You can rappel this (40 feet?) or climb around and down (not recommended, I rolled a couple 1000lb+ stones on my way down, the ground is unstable).

After another few dozen yards over some dead trees and through bushes, you will reach the final rappel, a 50-60 ft or so rappel from a slung ring bolt on right (LDC). This rappel is against a vertical wall. After this is a bit of a bushwhack, albeit not too bad, until you reach WCC.

The exit and trip distance statistics will be described as we did it, although I HIGHLY recommend simply heading down WCC to either exit at Maxwell (with shuttle) or the Point Trail (shuttle or long roadwalk). OK, after just a smidge more than a full mile downstream WCC (if you hit Tramway you went too far), is a side canyon with NO trail that indicates any access. Along the way you may find some petroglyphs.

The climb up the exit canyon is steep; full of bushes, logs, and mud; and full of sharp thorny trees at the very top, but if you relent you can find your way out of WCC. Hint: at every decision point on the climb out go LEFT (LUC). With any luck you should find an old road that reaches canyon bottom coming in off the right (west) wall (LUC). Follow the road until it ends, then climb up the hill on left (LUC) until you find another road. Turn right on this road until you reach the road you drove in on (142F). Turn left until you find your vehicle. It rained a bit on us on the climb out. I think every part of my body got muddy and scratched on the climb out, your experience may vary...

decent clearance is needed to obtain the trailhead, more than an average sedan. Some mud.

Remember, don't do this canyon alone or unprepared. I believe the R rating on this canyon is deserved. Surprisingly, after all the rains we've had the keepers were still in keeper mode.

The trip motto/description is based on a comment left in the canyon register by someone using a humorous alias.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2009-09-13 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.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Shamrock Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    We had set a day to do this Canyon over a Month ago and a week before decided to make it a Multi-Canyon Camping Trip...But this Canyon was our Main Reason for going. None of us had done it and it was Time to see it... :DANCE:

    Another Person joined us at Camp Friday Night for the Remainder of the Weekend, so we were now 4... :) Following the Description and knowing the Timeline could Range from a Half Day to almost a Full Day, we left Camp at 8:30. We ended up taking more Time on the Drive because we were Reading the Directions from both HAZ and Todd's Book, which matched...The Directions are Wrong, I should have gone off the Topo Map and nonot's GPS Route. I'll Post a Correction on the Page. If you go to the End of 142F, you end up on a long Sliver of Peninsula and the wrong side of the Drainage of the Exit. So we Backtracked and Parked at the Intersection of FR6379 and FR 9370.

    We started out following FR6379 and using the Topo Map since none of us had a GPS. We actually turned off the Road just right, but went a little too far into the Terrain and had to Double Back a little. We sorted it out, started the Descent in and ended up Perfect, only about 100 Yards or so from the First Obstacle.

    Rather than Bypass the First Obstacle, we went ahead and Rappelled in off a Tree, using an existing Anchor...Did another Downclimb into a Small Pool and then Slid into a Deeper Pool for our First small Swim. Rappelled into a Bigger Pool that went back into a Cool little Grotto and then we were at the Big Rappel with the Keeper Pothole. You couldn't see the Pothole from the Anchor, so we didn't know what kind of "Mode" it was in. I went down First, since I was most Familiar with the Canyon Description and I knew what to expect and what everyone had been doing to avoid the Pothole. The Hallway led to a Slotted Swim and then I was on the Ledge. There would not be much Troubleshooting on this Day, the Pothole was Full and looked like it had just quit Running Over a day or so before. But, I opted to Work it like it was in Keeper Mode, going around the Rock and then I went down the Fin between the Pothole and the last Drop. I got off Rope on the Other Side of the Pool and waited for everyone else, so I could let them know the Route if they didn't want to go into the Pothole.

    Our Beginner Guy was next and even though I directed him to go around the Rock, he ended up trying to Descend a bit to do it and that Sealed his Fate.... :lol: He didn't have any Ascenders with him, so he couldn't correct even if he knew how, so he just went ahead and went in the Pothole and swam out to me. That's when we realized that being at our Location and trying to finish the Rappel was not a Good Thing. He dropped off to finish the last 40 Feet and with the Rope Angle at that Point he ended up doing a huge Swing to the Left which was quite interesting and not too Good on the Rope... :o Rather than follow him at that Point, I waited for the next Person, so I could instruct them to go down from the Top of the Fin....She came around the Rock fine and dropped the remaining 40 Feet perfectly...That just left our LMAR on Top. I decided to go ahead and finish the Rappel and we would Guide him around from the Bottom. I weighed the Risks of Ascending back up the Fin or doing that Intensive Swing and decided that the Swing was the Lesser of 2 Evils, so I dropped off the Edge and immediately Whipped Left about 30 Feet...Kind of gets the Adrenalin going a bit... :sweat: And then I was Down. Last Guy came down without Incident and since we followed nonot's advice and took 2-200's the Rope Pull went very smoothly... :) Then, we were off to the Next Rappel down a Log, with the Last Rappel being down a Gorgeous Garden Wall... :)

    Heading to West Clear Creek, I was slightly Off Guard and realized that the Stinging Nettles were not at the Exit to go back up, but in the Lower part of Shamrock... :sweat: They were thick and it was very difficult to avoid them in spots...Everyone got into them at least once, most got hit more than once. I got hit 4 Times... :sweat: Haven't dealt with those since I lived in MN long ago...When I'd hit them, it was like getting hit with a small Electrical Shock and then the Burning began...Shocking at first, then just very Annoying, but by the Time we hit the Exit Trail out, most of the Burning/Stinging was gone. We went Swimming a couple of Times in WCC so I think that helped somewhat...

    The Goal on the Exit was to take the GPS Route out in a Drainage between the Maxwell and Tramway Trails...That Goal didn't work out too well. I think it's Time for me to Invest in some sort of GPS or find someone with an Old Smartphone they don't want and learn HAZ Tracks... :sweat: I was told that there was a Use-Type Trail most of the Way up, but we could not find it and the Bushwacking was pretty Intense...After about 45 Minutes or so of thrashing around in the Brush and Locust, trying to find a good Way up, we voted to abort and just keep Hiking the Creek to the Point Trail and Exit there...It became very Convenient to have Camped on 142E and we had Vehicles still there, so we Hiked out the Point Trail and then hit Camp, grabbed another Vehicle and went and Retrieved the First One...It was a Good Decision as we probably were in Camp in about the same amount of Time it would have taken us to get up that Drainage and our way seemed much Easier... :lol:

    It turned into a fairly long Day, we were a little Slow going through Shamrock, but that was Ok. Only 1 Mistake, by me, that was a little Rough on my Brand New Rope, but the Rope is fine, broken in :sweat: and we were all Good... :) Pretty Canyon, but the Narrows are very Short, shorter than Bear actually. Not sure if I'll do that one again, but it was Nice. I didn't hardly take any Photos of the Canyon itself because the Light was pretty bad, but I got quite a few of the WCC Portion, half of which I had never Hiked before...It was a pretty Section of Creek... :)

    We had planned on doing either Wilbur or Sundance on Sunday and had another Guy coming up Sunday Morning to go with us...By the Time we got back to Camp, the Ambition to do another Canyon the next Day was fading fast... :lol: We called our Friend and left a Message, but he showed up in the Morning anyway and he was as worn out as we were from a Wedding the Day before....He was just as happy to come up to Escape the Heat. So we Voted, and it was Unanimous, it had to be 5:00 somewhere, so we just sat around Camp for half the Day laughing, eating and somewhere in there, a Bottle of Tequila showed up... :D

    Good Trip with Good Friends...Lots of Laughs and some Beautiful Canyons to top it off...Hope to do it again soon... :y:

    Some Columbines in the Creek....
    Shamrock Canyon
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    With the original plan for the day a no go because of road closures, we went with the backup plan. Couldn't have asked for a better day in this area, a strong early breeze, fresh air to breathe, and a surprisingly lush area for it being so dry.

    We took the long way in with the drop more towards the top to see the early narrow section, why others would want to avoid this section is beyond me, it was just amazing to see how promising and scenic this canyon was so early.

    Water levels were expectedly low, I guess the only drawback to this day was this factor. We did however enjoy the millions of bugs swarming around each pool we encountered, good protein for the day to keep me moving, didn't have to eat much of my food. As we made our way down we kept shaking our heads with amazement of how beautiful this canyon was and everything it had to offer. All the rappels were great and the longer ones towards the end were very scenic. I think Mike and Jake got a little mad at me for going first and stopping halfway down on rope to take in the views. :)

    On the exit we all got stung on the legs by either the lightning plant or some poison ivy? Not sure what got us, but we all were tingling on the legs for the rest of the day. No break out and i'm fine now, but what a weird feeling I've never had before. Once out of Shamrock we checked out a little bit of Clover Canyon. Some nice big pools and clear water to see the fish in was a nice sight to see. On the way out in WCC we found the wall with petroglyphs on them and wondered about the authenticity. The exit out we took wasn't too bad, lush and brushy again but a path is there to be followed.
    Shamrock Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Seven of us did Shamrock Canyon as part of the AHOTE Canyon Crawl event on the rim this weekend. We hiked over to the drop in of Shamrock encountering a couple short rappels before the long twisted rappel in the canyon. This rappel with a keeper part way down is interesting. Although not difficult, it was a little more technical than I was expecting in this canyon. The keeper is avoidable by stepping around it RDC.

    This was a beautifully green canyon with a great deal of moss and fallen trees. Once we reached WCC, we hiked about a mile to the drainage on our left that is marked with a cairn. We continued past the cairn a couple hundred feet before climbing up that drainage. It was a steep and muddy climb with a lot of brush and fallen trees as obstacles. There is no trail. Falling rocks are a definite hazard in this drainage especially after a rain, so be careful. Once we climbed past the steepest part of the drainage, we continued to climb out the slope on our left to the road and our vehicles. We were lucky that we didn't get rained on as we climbed out the drainage. It would have made for a more difficult climb out.
    Shamrock Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Well I was a little tired from hitting Horsetank Wash the day before but a cute gal talked me into another canyon up on the rim. I choose Shamrock since it was the only WCC canyon I hadn't done already this summer and I felt I could safely get her down canyon with no issues with her limited canyon experience. :)

    That 142F is marked well this summer, so making my way up it in my car wasn't a problem at all. After driving a few miles up that road, I parked at a junction near the exit canyon and dropped down east into Shamrock canyon. It's a tad higher up canyon than in Todd's book, but it's a gentle slope and you get to see more of the lush scenic canyon and I get to test out more of her down climbing skills before reaching the main technical narrows. ;) We encountered loads of mossy down climbs, some small narrows that we bypasses, and loads of canyon stew before reaching the first optional rappel. I could of down climbed that initial 10ft drop but no point taking the risk with her and being on rope made it easier to avoid that stinky keeper pothole. And I was able to use the rope to help keep her out of it also. :D The water is only waist deep in a few sections and it's the middle of summer so I opted to forgo the wetsuits but that also meant out skin took more of a beating on the down climbs & pesky vegetation. : rambo : This is soon followed by a mossy chute that requires a controlled slide to land on some submerged logs to avoid getting completely wet. After going thru another vegetated narrows, you hit the first bolted rappel of about 30ft into a waist deep pool with another bolt on the right. Pull ropes and re-rig for at least 100ft of rope both sides so you can get you about 50ft down into the hallway, across that pools, and if you want to avoid the keeper you lean hard right LDC past the arch and over the fin of sandstone. She's not ready for a keeper and I didn't want to carry more than 200ft of rope, so I figured this was the best setup for us. :) Another 30ft log-choked rappel is just around the corner with another 60ft open drop just beyond that. Below is a great sunny spot for lunch and to drop the technical gear before bushwhacking your way to the beautiful West Clear Creek. :D

    The technical canyon is short so I recommended we venture up the scenic Willow Valley for a couple hours. It was of course as amAZing as ever with it's many cool swimmers, tall colorful sandstone walls, and lush vegetation. We got a good 2-3 miles upstream before turning around and heading back to WCC. Back at the confluence, we picked up our technical gear and headed downstream a bit for the steep exit canyon. The exit was of course steep and full of more poison ivy & stinging nettle but we were able to avoid most of it thankfully. ;) It was SO nice to be done with that sweaty steep hike out of WCC with less than an hour of light left. :sweat:
    Shamrock Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Woo, finally got around to doing the last 'published' technical canyon of WCC! :y: I had been putting this one off because of many reasons like it required 2 long ropes, rough road in, keeper pothole, not rated very high, possibly needed a wetsuit, and it tough to convince someone to tag along... Well today was the day and it'd been WAY too long since my last solo adventure! :D

    So that 142F isn't marked too good and I didn't want to beat my car up too much, so I just got out turned on the GPS and huffed an additional two miles to the canyon. I ended up just dropping into the middle section of the canyon and hit a couple nice sections of narrows that I bypassed for the most part before reaching the canyon register. Hmm, no one else has signed in since Steve & Todd were here last summer... :-k The short & sweet narrow section starts with a few downclimbs & pools and then you hit that 40ft rap from a sweet keyhole ledge into waist-high pool. I'm glad I didn't bring a wetsuit because I only got wet up to my waist. ;) Rappel #2 is the 'tricky' one of the day that starts with a 60ft drop, goes thru a pool, and then drops down to that big teardrop-shaped keeper, so I broke out my 2 200ft ropes and set them up for full length. The rappel thru this final section of narrows was pretty sweet, but that keeper is SO easily avoidable it was comical that I'd been fearing it all day. :lol: Maybe if I was with others, I'd give that keeper a try but for now I'll just snap a picture and keep on going. So I rap the additional 20-25ft from that arch ledge and the flipping centermark of my 200ft is sitting on the ground. :x Ohh snap!?! You mean I could have done this canyon with a single 200ft rope and I'm needlessly taking the 2nd one for a walk all day... :roll: Afterwards there were loads of treefall to avoid, a 30ft drop, then a cool 60ft, and then loads of rock/boulder hopping before reaching the amazingly beautiful WCC confluence. :) So I was thinking that if I had time I'd run up Willow Valley a bit, but I ran thru Shamrock so fast I had loads of time left and decided to hit the most scenic section by going a few miles upstream to the 'springs' and back. So I dropped the ropes and gear at a campsite I used the last time I was down here and made the long rock hop upstream. On the way up since it was warmer, I stuck mostly to the creek and did a few swimmers but on the way back I stuck mostly to the trail whenever I could find them avoiding most of the pools. The 'springs' were as amazing as ever, quite the gem to behold! :o After eating a quick lunch and taking a power nap, I turned around and made pretty good time back to the confluence. It was tough throwing those two ropes back on my back especially considering I only really needed one of them today, but I sucked it up and headed downstream WCC towards the steep exit canyon. This is a popular section of the creek so I was able to follow trails most of the way and the exit canyon wasn't too tough to locate esp with a GPS. I broke out the gloves, put the pant legs back on, a longer shirt and made the steep brushy ascent back up to the rim. : rambo : It's not the nicest way out of WCC, but it works and it wasn't too unpleasant and before you know it I'm back on the forrest roads walking to my car after a long exhausting yet highly rewarding day. :D
    Shamrock Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Todd made it look easy. On the way out after climbing out the worst part of the exit canyon, Todd yells out "Bear!". I whip around and see a big momma bear leading 3 fat healthy looking cubs uphill on the opposite side of the canyon. Awesome!!

    I got my foot jacked when unintentionally playing roll the boulders, we'll see if the big toenail falls off or not. Shook it off at the time but after a nights sleep hiking was ruled out on Sunday. However I'm hanging out at my campsite when a sheriff's SUV and two ambulances race by at 50 Mph towards Point Trail. Turns out some guy with a bad knee twisted it at the bottom and couldn't make the hike out. They helicoptered him out.

    I spent some time talking to the volunteers and the paid fire/sheriff rescue. The guys have training and gear, but the first responders weren't equipped for technical climbing/canyoneering Rescue (at least, as far as I could tell, I tried to stay out of their way for the most part). One of the EMTs had Todd's canyoneering guide, which I thought was interesting. They are learning the area but I imagine if you have canyoneering troubles, a separate special crew would be needed to attempt to extract you, which means that canyon rescue is a longs ways off in both distance and time. Gives you something to think about before attempting anything over your head. Thanks to all those out there that volunteer with SAR or work SAR cases, we really appreciate your efforts!
    Shamrock Canyon
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Fun little canyon, always good to get off the beaten path. I included a few action pics of nonot, who also had some good info on rappel setups and some cool specialized gear (potshots!) that I now have to buy. But I gotta say that seeing the bear family was the highlight! What keeps these big critters fat and healthy? I just don't see that much berries and edible vegetation around up there. Bark beetles maybe?

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To canyon trip
    Hmmm, let's see. From where 87 meets 260 west, head west to FR144, turn right and go until FR144 T's into...FR149? Turn left and go until FR142(?). Go right and on this road, past the turnoff for FR142E (see directions for the Point Trail) - unless leaving a shuttle there. Turn left shortly after FR142E onto... I believe FR142F. 142F splits, go right. Don't take any of the small roads that split off to the left. Near the end of 142F is a fallen tree blocking the road, you can bypass on right, the end of the road is another 200 yards past the tree, there is a campfire ring there and some trash in the area. A dirt birm prevents further travel.

    I'm not sure I got all the FR #s and roads correct as I generally fail to see the signs on these roads, your best bet would be to print out a map or take the GPS coords from the starting location. Be warned there are some forest roads not on the map.
    page created by nonot on Sep 13 2009 9:43 pm
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