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Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
Coconino National Forest
Stage 1 Fire Restrictions Aug 14th to TBD
deep in the shallow sense
This hike takes you down trail #26 to the creek crossing near Parsnip Springs. Then cuts back up Pine Canyon via the creek.
From the subtle trailhead head down to the creek crossing. If still intact you'll notice a half dozen signs pointing every which way except up & down. Two depict Deep Pools.
It's here you head back up the canyon via the creek. The first few steps along the steep bank make you wonder what you're getting into. Now for the good news. The entire route is marked. Red/orange ribbons and make shift chevrons lead the way.
Soon you'll encounter a great spring. It reminded me of See Spring & Parsnip Spring because it cuts a cool trench down to the main creek. There's a small cascade, but nothing to write home about. The tagged route crosses the creek repeatedly. I imagine if it wasn't marked you'd spend a full day figuring out the best route. Did I mention the setting is right out of a storybook! No kidding. The pines are huge. The bug factor was perfect. Yes you read that right. Perfect, I told you it was out of a storybook. The flying bugs were hovering in the pine-filtered sunrays. And no they weren't nagging on your side, just out enjoying the spring sun! The creek was flowing, the sun was warm and the breeze was pushing winter out the door I tell ya! It was awesome; I swear you could bottle it up and sell the atmosphere on eBay!
I continued on in search of the Deep Pools. A few stretches raised my adrenalin. First there was a three-foot cascade but I didn't think the ten-inch deep pool qualified. Next came a swerve in the canyon. A wall appeared to start carving into the canyon. Fifty yards later it petered out. Another cascade got me wide-eyed once again. The pool was "deeper"! Though by an inch or two at most it could barely be called a pool for anybody over three years old. Hey, at least this one was wider then three feet...he he.
The going gets more obstructed a couple miles in but still nothing bad. The creek dried up and so did my hopes of encountering any notable Deep Pools. The terrain gets steep so it did add a new spark of sorts. Working up I didn't have a map or a clue if this was going to be a loop or an out-n-back hike. Three hours into the hike I was determined to make it LOOP! So I kept telling myself I could hear highway traffic in the distance. The canyon started getting real steep. I began thinking I'd encounter a wall so concern set in. In the distance I could make out a thin but tall waterfall (tall compared to anything else this canyon was dishing up). I wasn't sure if I should be excited or if this was my imaginary wall.
I guess the best way to put it is... it turned out. It wasn't a wall, it was negotiable on the side and it was a pool. Deep? Well it was probably six feet deep. Wide? Maybe 3x6? By Poncho Doll standards this was a tub, not a pool by any means. Our hero Doll would never write this one up though. There's a huge tree trunk dunked in the tub. If it wasn't for that it would be one cool tub... with the 12-15 foot trickle waterfall and the canyon views.
There's a chance Deep Pools exists on one of the two canyon forks. It is a fun & quick loop. The canyon exit and return to the trailhead is up to you. There's an FS road to make the trek back painless. I took it to the highway and followed the road back five minutes. I believe had I taken the FS road left it may have taken me back to the trailhead too, but I'm not really sure.
Note: I didn't spend much time figuring out the distance on this loop. It's 5 at the least but may be more like 7. It only took me 3.5 hours at a moderate pace so it couldn't be much more then 5 with all the off trail distance. Looking at the map it'd be easy to cut the loop even shorter by cutting out the level draw to Parsnip. Just some thoughts
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.