Seneca Falls is normally a rock climbing destination for me, but due to its spectacular scenery and its proximity to a major thoroughfare to the high country, I feel compelled to add it to the site as a hiking destination also.
I would particularly recommend a stop at Seneca Falls, which would offer a great break any time one was on a road trip to the high country via Hwy60. It is located 35 miles north of Globe, just before the highway begins its descent into the Salt River Canyon. A five minute drive through the old campground and past the lake will bring you to the small parking area and the overlook. The totally unexpected scene that unfolds is breath taking.
The sheer walls of colorful basalt towering up (actually down) to 250' were formed eons ago by the unassuming Seneca River, a small tributary of the Salt. The canyon below you actually appears deeper than it is wide. You can see the small pond formed at the bottom, which is fed by a seasonal waterfall which must fall in tremendous torrents the entire 250' drop after a good storm. I can only imagine the ground must actually shake. The pond then drains over another sheer cliff of nearly the same proportions into the mostly inaccessible end of the canyon as it drains toward the Salt River Canyon which can be seen to the north in the distance.
To access the canyon, just look for the narrow gulley starting at the south end right next to the parking area. Beware that it is narrow, steep, and loose, but should not pose too much of a problem for any half-fit hiker. It will take you to the bottom at the pond in 5 or 10 min. where you can enjoy and photograph the awe inspiring walls rising around you. Standing on the edge of the cliff below the pond with vertical walls both rising up and falling down around you may tighten your inards a little. Note: be careful of the abundant poison ivy growing in thick, stalky, patches that are easily avoided. If you look closely, you may notice some stainless steel rings on the rock walls. These are referred to by climbers as bolts and make up the protection for the 27 established "sport" climbs in the canyon. It's not hard to imagine that these routes are revered for their continuous uninterrupted vertical length.
Being on the San Carlos Indian reservation, years ago this area with its lodge, campground, and stunningly pretty little lake was to be a tribal owned recreational sports resort. It was to have camping, hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, rafting, and climbing. The bolts for climbing were actually put up by two very well known Arizona climbers in consignment with the tribe. My suspicion is that casino gambling probably played a big part in the demise of this ill fated enterprise. Whatever the reason, although the area is in a somewhat dilapidated state, it is still there to be enjoyed by those willing to take a short time out of their long drive for what one could only rate as one of the best "stretch the legs" anywhere around.
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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.
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