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Maxwell Trail #37, AZ

no permit
705 73 3
Guide 73 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Clints Well W
3.8 of 5 by 21
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 0.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,727 feet
Elevation Gain -640 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 1.57
Interest Perennial Creek
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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9  2019-08-30 OdinWiski
15  2019-07-27
Tramway - Maxwell - Willow
15  2019-07-27
Tramway - Maxwell - Willow - Pie
9  2019-06-22 LindaAnn
22  2019-05-10
Tramway Maxwell Loop
12  2019-04-25 jtaylor
19  2017-06-17
Willow Valley
6  2017-06-17
Willow Valley
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Jun, Sep, Oct
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:13am - 6:23pm
Official Route
11 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

Likely In-Season!
The Maxwell Trail starts near the end of FR 81E at the northwest corner of the parking area. The trail switchbacks to the edge of the rim and begins its steep descent into the canyon. Please be sure to stay on the trail in the section of the switchbacks as shortcutting destroys vegetation and aggravates erosion of the trail and surrounding ground cover.

The rocks exposed above the rim are predominately limestone laid down when the area was covered by a shallow sea. Once in the canyon the rock type changes to sandstone, which was also deposited as a sediment in an ancient ocean. The overstory vegetation along the trail consists of Transition Zone species of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and gambel oak. The acorns of the gambel oak were utilized by Native Americans as a food resource because of their high nutritive value.

As the trail nears the creek, the vegetation representative of a riparian community is encountered including red-osier dogwood, ash, willow, wild rose, canyon grape, box elder and poison ivy (learn to identify and avoid this three-leafed plant). The quiet pools characteristic of the creek provide habitat for blue gill, round-tailed chub, and suckers. This maintained trail ends at the creek but by bushwhacking and wading it is possible to access areas upstream and downstream of the trail.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot
  • Maxwell 37 Map
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    Maxwell 37 Map

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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 26 deeper Triplog Reviews
Maxwell Trail #37
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This one has been on the list for a while, and Joel and I have been doing creek backpacks at this time of year for the past few years. The weather was perfect for this ... a little warm everywhere, but absolutely ideal to be swimming and wading in a deep canyon.

A couple of things to note. As others have described, the trip down the drainage from Maxwell Tank, while relatively short, is overgrown with uncomfortable prickly things. What apparently nobody else mentioned is that this drainage is choked with unavoidable poison ivy. I mean like the fields of poison ivy. If poison ivy could be harvested for food, this canyon alone could eliminate hunger across the globe. Forever. :scared:

Once into Willow Valley we arrived at the first swimmer which may have been able to be bypassed on the right, but we knew we'd be swimming at some point so we just decided to get it over with. There ended up being four swimmers, and though it was a warm and sunny day, I can't oversell how cold these pools were. Absolutely full-body numbing cold. It was refreshing for about 30 seconds and after that it was a race to get to the other side. If I'm ever up here on a day that is under 85 degrees, I'd consider a wet suit for these.

After the swimmers, it's just wading and sloshing through water or along the shore and enjoying the countless amazing views in this incredibly scenic canyon. The farther down canyon you get the more space there is for camping and bypass trails along the shore. From the highest springfed pool where the water became constant to the confluence with Clover and WCC, there is a reasonably easy to follow use trail. This trail also reintroduces poison ivy, which was largely absent for a few miles, though it's a bit more avoidable than it was in the drainage leading into the canyon.

Things weren't too bad in the canyon, but up on the rim both before and after the hike, the bugs were relentless. Gnats, see-ums, no-see-ums, hear-ums, black flies, horseflies, dragonflies, elkflies, mooseflies, and baby chucpacabra larvae all feasted despite my skin glowing yellow with 106% pure deet. As I write this, I'm honestly not sure which welts are poison ivy and which are bug bites. Interestingly, there were no mosquitos. But I'm going to start breeding bat colonies to bring with me if this kind of thing ever happens again. ](*,)

Despite that, it was a fantastic weekend, and I'd do it again next week without thinking twice! :)
Maxwell Trail #37
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I had one free day this weekend, and Chumley invited me to join in on a hike to WCC. I hadn't done the Tramway-Maxwell loop in more than ten years, so I was happy to tag along.

It was a warm hike from the road down to the creek, so as soon as I saw water, I was happy to jump in. It was not nearly as cold as I expected it to be. Good thing too, because there was plenty of time spent wading through the water on this one. The vegetation was very overgrown--more so than I could ever remember seeing down there. We made our way through the brush, and the creek when necessary. Even though the rocks were very slick, with poles, I thought it was easier to walk through the water than the brush.

After a stop for lunch, we headed up Willow. I thought the scenery in Willow was great, and the path was better. At times, it felt like walking through marshland, and was very easy to get through. We passed a few small caves/alcoves that looked like they would be great places to camp. I think Chumley aimed to walk through every patch of poison ivy in the canyon, maybe just to see if we'd follow him though it.

We found some slightly better paths in a few places on the way back to Maxwell. The climb out felt harder than I expected it to be--maybe because my shoes were soaked through, and each step I took felt like I had a five pound weight attached to each ankle.

Fun day, and perfect weather to spend down in the creek. And it was nice to run into Joe & Bruce at the gas station in Payson--nice to meet both of you!
Maxwell Trail #37
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Looking for a short day trip to cool off in the clear water of WCC we decided on the Tramway Maxwell Loop. Knowing this was an ideal summer hike for pups, I decided to dognap Cup and Blanco and give them a little exercise in the woods.

Turned out to be a great day. The WCC portion of the trail was more overgrown than I remember with less of a developed route to follow. Especially upstream of Maxwell. But once we reached Willow, there was a surprisingly good use trail most of the way. I actually found this area of canyon to be much more scenic and interesting than the upper WCC part. I'll have to come back and try the loop from farther up that hits the cold swimmers.

There was a lot of algae on the rocks and underwater footing was as slippery as I can ever remember it being. And Willow has a ton of poison ivy. Rumor has it 9L is currently working on his 14th application of Tecnu since arriving home! :)
Maxwell Trail #37
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Maxwell-Tramway Loop
I don't repeat loops very often. This is the third time I've done this one. It's a drop dead gorgeous area.

With the threatening rain, I parked about a bit farther this time. These roads get real slick when wet.

Surprise of the day, was seeing nobody in the canyon.

Temps ranged from 75 to 85, with the 75 being when we finished. The humidity in West Clear Creek was brutal.

Like Arnold... I'll be back.
Maxwell Trail #37
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Got most of the Crew together for this one...Not an easy Feat these Days... :sweat:
Had planned on a Different Canyon but changed our Mind at the 11th Hour and decided this would make a Nice Day.
None of us had ever done it so it was New Territory for all...Including the Maxwell Trail Portion. Basically, did the Tramway/Maxwell Loop but came down the Canyon instead of the Trail...
Parked at the Maxwell TH and got the Roadwalk out of the Way first thing, before turning Left at West Tank and dropping into the Top of the Canyon.
Made our Way Down Canyon, Scrambling a bit, Downclimbing a bit and then some Rappels. A couple of the Rappels probably could have been Down Climbed and I know Ken could have done them, but we Elected to Rappel them. Ended up with 4 Rappels total...
Normally, it sounds like there isn't Water in this Canyon, but we ran into it in a couple of Spots. One Spot we probably could have avoided if we had Retraced and looked for a Bypass around, but why? Sooner or later, we were going to get Wet in WCC anyway, it was getting pretty warm and the Water looked pretty Fresh. So we Downclimbed into the Waist Deep Water and it felt pretty good... :D
Eventually, after the Rappels, we ended up in WCC, warm and ready for a Swim...Started heading Upstream towards the Maxwell Trail, stopping by a Deep Pool for a Refreshing Swim and then stopping for Lunch at the Maxwell Trail Junction.
Really Enjoyed the Maxwell Trail. It was an actual Trail mostly, not that "Straight Up Route, pretending to be a Trail" Look with big Steps and Light Scrambling like many of the WCC Trails have.... :sweat: Took our Time and eventually made it back to Mike's Vehicle.
Finished the Day with an unimpressive Dinner at That Brewery in Pine...Probably a good Place to Drink, but for what you pay, the Food needed to be much better...Was pretty disappointed... :?
But a Good Day nonetheless, with Good Friends that I don't get a chance to see much, although I've been chasing Ken around a few times this Spring and Summer... :lol:
Another Good Day in a Canyon with Good Friends.... :y:
Maxwell Trail #37
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Hey I finally got out on an outdoor adventure this summer. Pretty straight forward day, we parked at the Maxwell trailhead and made our way to the top of Tramway Canyon. Not as many false floors or deadfall as we thought we would see and what do you know, a few pools to cool off in halfway down the canyon. We replaced the webbing on the anchors as they were pretty crusty and had a couple good rappels to have fun with. A few good sections in this canyon to see but no narrows like you get on the southern end of WCC. Once out and in WCC, we made good time back to the Maxwell trail where dozens of people were having their fun in WCC. For the first time in awhile it seems, it didn't rain on us either in WCC or on the way back up. Good Times.
Maxwell Trail #37
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For quite some time now, Clairebear has been pushing for us to all visit her namesake--West Claire Creek. And now I know why! What a special place!

The roads getting back there are pretty rutted due to the snow a couple of weeks ago, so that made for an entertaining drive in. Claire was quite calm the one time that FOTGs kayak decided it wanted to pass us on the right. :o

We considered doing a shuttle, but with all the people and dogs it was going to be a challenge to fit in one vehicle. In retrospect, the road to the Tramway trail is so bad in many places that it's probably faster to just hike it!

Had a good time and somehow ended up with over 10 miles on the day. A pleasant surprise was the cloud cover which hid the sun most of the day, including on our hike out which was much appreciated. I'll have to come back here with somebody who actually knows how to fish. ;)

HAZ Tracks Note: In the canyon where our Garmins had several instances of jumping around and adding all kinds of unnecessary mileage, HAZ Tracks stayed remarkably accurate, with only slight jumps when the signal was lost due to obstructions. Whatever the algorithm to prevent those stray points is, it works exponentially better than whatever Garmin does.
Maxwell Trail #37
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Met up with the group for a fun hike in West Clear Creek. I've hiked this area before via the Point Trail. This was my first time on these trails and it was quite the adventure.

We left Tempe around 7am and made our way north with two vehicles. The drive took a fair amount of time but wasn't two bad. We turned off Lake Mary Rd and followed some forest roads back for WCC. We parked at the top of the loop of the official route. We would start and end our time hiking on the road.

The first two miles flew by as we breezed down the forest road. Before long we hit the Maxwell Trail and started our descent down. The trail is steep but in good condition overall. Once at the creek we headed downstream and had to get our feet wet. The going was very chill and enjoyable. I saw several patches of poison ivy and tried to avoid it. I cleaned up with Tecnu so we'll see if I catch any.

We headed downstream and passed the Tramway Trail. We continued down and made our way to the Point Trail where we checked out the weeping wall and then started the return. The going was very easy and everyone was having a lot of fun especially the dogs! We hit the Tramway Trail and then climbed up the route. There are a few steep sections with some step like rocks to climb up. Lots of fun! Once back on the rim we followed the road back to the cars and then made the return to Phoenix.

This was another really fun hike with a great group. West Clear Creek is such a treat when the temps hit three digits in Phoenix. The trek in the creek is so much fun and the dogs had a wonderful time! Thanks to Chumley and Lee for driving and thanks to Kyle just because!
Maxwell Trail #37
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Tried to escape the Valley heat, but was still hot up north until 10PM and hot again by 9AM the next day. Hiked to the tank and headed down the drainage. A little brushier than anticipated, but not terrible. WCC is dry where you first reach it, but there are several initial pools of ice water you have to swim through. Awfully refreshing considering the heat. As you boulder on you eventually run into water. First a little, then it finally starts flowing. Still missed the arch toddak posted. :( Once you reach the flowing creek it is awesome the rest of the way. Headed up the maxwell to breezier weather and cooler temps on Saturday night.
Maxwell Trail #37
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Took my son Ben and his friend Ben out for a couple of hikes. He requested nothing too long because he had to be back in the Valley at a reasonable hour, something with water.

Tramway/Maxwell Fit the bill for the first one in the Sampler Platter.

We had to park a little short of the loop start because of the muddy road conditions. Found out later from a camper that they'd received 3 hours worth of heavy rain the night before. This made the road walk to the rim, slick with mud laden shoes. I opted to go down the Tramway and up Maxwell.

The views from up top, as always, were outstanding! Once you get down to the creek you are in another world. Jungle like. The route between Tramway and Maxwell disappears every now and then. Because of all the rain the night before, the Creek was up and the jungle vegetation was dripping wet. I gave up trying to keep dry after about 1/10th of a mile.

Passed only one occupied campsite, which is unusual for this area. Made our way up Maxwell and the road walk back to the Truck. With thunder crackling all around, we got rained on a bit on the walk back.

I need to come back when I can spend more time exploring at the bottom. With the rain coming in and the muddy roads, it was not in the cards today.

Love this area

Permit $$

Map Drive
High Clearance possible when dry

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

Access: From Happy Jack Ranger Station, follow Forest Highway 3 (Lake Mary Road) south for 7.5 miles to Forest Road (FR) 81. Go right (west) on FR 81 approximately 4 miles to the junction of FR 81 and FR 81E. Go left on FR 81E to the end of the road. High clearance vehicles are recommended and the road may not be passable during wet weather.

From Clints Well (junction of State Route 87 and the FH-3) drive north on FH-3 approximately 7 miles to FR 81. Turn left (west) and proceed as above.
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