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Pine Canyon Loop - aka Deep Pools, AZ

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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.
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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 MineFollowing
8  2020-04-18
Bearfoot - Pine Creek Canyon - Deep Pools Loop
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 253
Routes 841
Photos 12,826
Trips 5,232 map ( 26,547 miles )
Age 52 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar Map
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Preferred Mar, Apr, May, Oct
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  5:32am - 7:32pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 Webber 200414.7 mi*
🔥 2011 Sandrock Fire4.6k
🔥 2004 Webber Fire4.3k
🔥 2004 Webber14.7 mi*
🔥 View (All) - over Official Route 🔥
*perimeter length in miles

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 makeshift 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 weren'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 than three feet... hehe.

The going gets more obstructed a couple of 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 would 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 really 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 weren'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 maybe more like 7. It only took me 3.5 hours at a moderate pace, so that it couldn't be much more than 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.

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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.

Permit $$

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 the 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.
90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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