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Pine Canyon Loop - aka Deep Pools, AZ

no permit
75 13 2
Guide 13 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson N
4 of 5 by 8
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 4 of 5
Distance Loop 5.45 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,257 feet
Elevation Gain -1,257 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,342 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 - 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 12.16
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Perennial Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
23  2011-05-07
Pine Canyon 26 to Deep Pools
10  2010-08-15
Pine Canyon Loop via Pine TH
53  2007-10-27 AzTEC
12  2006-10-01 AZHikr4444
5  2003-05-10 mjovery
7  2003-04-24 joebartels
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,812
Trips 4,252 map ( 21,403 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, May, Oct
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:08am - 6:34pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
deep in the shallow sense
by joebartels

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

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2003-04-24 joebartels
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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
Pine Canyon Loop - aka Deep Pools
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Pine Canyon Loop via Pine TH
Did Chris' group hike up to the rim. Tim, Dave, Liz and I took advantage of the situation and boogied up the actual canyon from Parsnip. It only adds about a mile to the hike. It's an obstacle course for a good mile yet pretty well flagged if you pay attention. The waterfall albeit barely running is pretty cool. Rather warm towards the end of the hike. I prefer this as loop from the top as I posted in 2003 concentrating on the better "canyon" section. Yet it's good to check off a little bit of trail I hadn't seen. Kyle's friend Rachel was new to the group. Good to meet you and great job on this roller coaster hike in warm temps.

Thanks Chris for setting this up and Jim & Ron for driving!
Pine Canyon Loop - aka Deep Pools
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We did two hikes in the same area. We started at the Pine TH and hiked the Pine Trail to the other side on top of the rim where it hits the Beeline again. We meet two guys from the scout camp along the way. They had a topo map of the un-official scout trails in the area. I've seen the scout trail signs, but had no idea where they went until now. There's a bunch of trails that take you to the rim from the Pine Trail. Some of them are: Temple Canyon, Deep Pools, Cinch Hooks and the Stradling. From a quick look at the map, I noticed that the Deep Pools trail was the easiest to follow. It followed the Pine Creek all the way to the rim. We decided to try that and to take the Pine trail back down. When we got past the Parson's spring they was a huge group of girls (about 200) hiking back to the camp. The Pine Creek trail was clear of any fallen trees.

We made it to the deep pools trail and followed that. For the first half mile the trail was easy to follow and well flagged. It lead to a rock slide area and there was a sign calling this place the "Darling Rocks". The well defined trail ended here. There still was some flags guiding us, but the trail got overrun with two layers of deadfall. Going up the creek was just as bad. After 10 minutes of this, I pulled out the GPS and saw that we were only about a 1,000 feet from the Pine Creek trail. We jumped trail and headed to the Pine Creek trail. It was nice to have a trail again. We hiked to the rim and got a couple of sprinkles of rain on us. We turned around and head back. We took lunch down by the creek.

The next hike was the Pine Canyon/Geronimo loop. We headed back to the Pine Creek / East Rim intersection and took a break before the big climb. Surprisingly the East Rim trail had some recent trail maintenance done. All of the dead fall was cut away and there was fresh flags. When we got to the rock pile, a cold wind started to blow and the sky clouded over. I was surprised to be this cold in June! The bushwhack from the rim to the forest road was pretty easy and almost thorn free. We made to the Milk Ranch road and took the West Webber down. All of the downed trees were cut away on the West Webber. We then hiked to the highline, then back to the car.

It was a cool to cold hike depending on our elevation. I looked around the internet for some info on the other scout 'un-official" trail, but I didn't find any info. I don't think I'll try the scout trail unless I find some info on them.
Pine Canyon Loop - aka Deep Pools
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I'm also thinking this is a bit longer than 5 miles or maybe it's just very slow going acending the canyon. :) The hike down to Parsnip Springs is more of a romantic stroll with it's sweeping canyon views, bubbling creek & springs, birds chirping, chipmunks playing, elks grazing, and sweet smell of the pine trees. Though the trek up the creek and back to rim can be quite an adventure if you're not ready for bushwacking and putting your route finding skills to use. I ended up seeing 4 elk total and got within 50 feet of them. Two were just eating away and didn't notice/smell me for about a minute and other two I almost caught up to on the trail before they ran away. The route out wasn't too tough to follow, but it was still a challenge. When I got within a 1/4 mile of the TH I ran across an eery-looking schoolgirl's backpack loaded with notebooks, completed assigments, workbooks, with her name on the stuff as well. :o On the way into town, I stopped by the sheriff's office and reported it. Apparently she's from Flagstaff and had her backpack stolen last year, but she's alive and well. :D
Pine Canyon Loop - aka Deep Pools
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This hike had me seeing red, literally! Since the entire route is marked with bright (or not so bright) red flags and chevrons, this is a great hike to practice route finding, and I had a blast..uh..blasting my way through the brush trying to follow these things. The creek was flowing very well and a couple of the crossings required some navigation. Beautiful cascades led me to entertain the hope that the waterfall might actually be running well.
Make no mistake- this hike is difficult- I think perhaps with the new upcoming rating system, we'll see this one rise to a 5. It was quite difficult bushwacking in the creek bottom, and the climb up to the "wall" was very Flatironesque to me, albeit just a short distance. The tub was black as oil.
I didn't expect to see any color, however, it is definately about to erupt- temp was right around 50 when I arrived at the TH (which is on FS Road 6038) at 7 am. Yellow is the dominate color now, but the maples are turning- already some are glowing. Imagine how hard its gonna be following those flags when the maples turn completely!
I was unsure just where exactly to leave the "trail" and hit the FS road, as indicated in Joe's writeup. I kinda got the impression it lay on the N side of the canyon (as it wound WNW), however I wasn't exactly sure when I was supposed to look for it. After ascending the wall, with its only a trickle of water, I hoped the trail would climb right up to the road, and it appeared to. After it rose close to the rim, I left the route and climbed up- but couldn't see the road. Backtracked to the red route and continued to follow- but I was thoroughly sick of bushwacking- so I whipped out the map. It showed FS road 218 on the other side of the canyon, so I climbed out of the creekbed and ascended the steep canyonside. Found it- and followed it to the head of the canyon and was surprised- the red flags even mark the route on the FS road! I take back everything I said about FS roads in my Geronimo Trail writeup.
You don't need to go to the highway- just follow the flags - trail comes out right next to your vehicle. The trail becomes the "first major left" that Joe mentions in his directions.
This hike rocks- and now my feet feel like rocks. Good sturdy soles on your boots are a necessity. Expect to be quite beat up as well.
Oh- this hike has GOT to be longer than 5 miles! According to the FS sign, it is 2 miles down the steep switchbacks before you reach Pine Creek. I logged it at 6- compromise. :)
Pine Canyon Loop - aka Deep Pools
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:) A good initial hike, although the trip back up the canyon was a little difficult in discerning the trail back up, both my son and I enjoyed ourselves. The markers up the canyon are spaced just enough for a good challenge. Great views going down the canyon. One day I would enjoy continuing on the pine trail at the deep pool signs.

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Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To canyon trip
NORTH Trailhead: From Payson head north on SR 87. Pass the towns of Pine & Strawberry. 1.1 miles past the 87/260 intersection near mile marker 279 turn right and go through gate. (Please close the gate entering & leaving) Trailhead is approximately 0.1 - 0.2 miles straight out past the gate. Keep an eye out on your left. It's NOT the first major left through a gate. It's just past that and it's kind of subtle. Park at the sign.
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