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Christopher Creek Gorge, AZ

Guide 90 Triplogs  3 Topics
  4.1 of 5 
no permit
385 90 3
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 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 1 mile
Trailhead Elevation 5,690 feet
Elevation Gain -200 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1-3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 2
Interest Off-Trail Hiking & Perennial Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
14  2020-08-11
Floating dogtors orders
17  2019-09-07 GrottoGirl
15  2019-07-21 GrottoGirl
6  2018-05-21 cactuscat
4  2018-05-04 MountainMatt
1  2018-02-11 skatchkins
4  2018-01-13 MountainMatt
5  2017-07-21 MountainMatt
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Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 242
Routes 836
Photos 12,086
Trips 4,888 map ( 24,947 miles )
Age 51 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Jun, Jul, Sep → 9 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  5:34am - 7:27pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimeteracres
🔥 2006 Rim38.4 mi*

by joebartels

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Access has changed since this 2001 description. The highway is now divided and closer to the canyon. A hiker's adventure will range between 1 to 2.5 miles depending on where you park and desire to explore in the creek. Check the overview map in directions.

Christopher Creek Gorge is a popular summer weekend playground. I took the included photos the day after it rained. Therefore the water is muddy and doesn't appear to be so inviting. You can enjoy clearer pools if it hasn't rained in a week.

From the trailhead, a sign forewarns. "Warning this trail stops at the top of Box Canyon. If you choose to enter the canyon, exercise extreme caution; when wet, the rocks are slippery."

Just into the hike, the trail appears to fork. You want to take the right-side trail that heads more south and away from the road. Soon you pass under electrical wires. Ponderosa pines surround you, and the trail zigzags through the forest. The trail, at times, is hard to find. This area has been trampled by heavy use and large groups. You will enjoy the thick classic forest along this section, though it might be a bit spooky at night. Manzanita, which I find to be unique, is dense in places. A rocky section of trail is encounter. The going is relatively easy, and the grade is a gentle descent. Several campfire rings are passed along the way. A clearing is reached, and trails appear to scatter in every direction. Keep heading South-Southwest. Across the clearing, the trail picks up again in the trees. Last I had visited the area; there was a sign marking this as the end of trail #298 with the same warning note. The sign was leaning against a tree, so it's very likely it could move. You will start to go up a slight slope, and the trail is rocky and narrow. The edge of the canyon is reached quickly from the clearing area.

Bring an open mind; I heard yelling and screaming approaching the canyon. Once you have reached the canyon, it's best to keep following the trail hugging the edge down to the creek. Adventurous individuals head right down. Perhaps an occasional few rappel the sheer walls. Upon reaching the creek, you will need to cross the water. Follow the other side a short distance (west with the water flow) for the easiest access into the canyon. From here, it's up to you. Most make it past about two cascades with good size pools. Be careful on the rocks as the creek bottom is slippery. Enjoy your adventure and be safe!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2001-09-25 joebartels
    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
    Paved - Car Okay

    To canyon trip
    From Payson take 260 East for about 19 miles.

    Option 1 - Gap between guard rails
    Parking is on the south side of 260 which is 0.25 miles after/east of milepost 271
    Note: one group reported a boulder from the side terrain fell just missing their bumper

    Option 2 - Dirt road to the maintenance yard
    Turn right onto dirt road 0.15 miles before/west of milepost 271

    Map Overview
    - the flag is mile marker 271
    - the gap between rails may or may not be legal, you can see cars on satellite but obey signage
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
    Avoid Heat Illness - stay cool
    help comment issue

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