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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Chevelon Canyon - North of Lake, AZ

Guide 40 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
  3.5 of 5 
1 Active
231 40 4
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 4 of 5
Distance One Way 9.13 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,160 feet
Elevation Gain 762 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,196 feet
Avg Time One Way 1-2 days
Kokopelli Seeds 13.12
Interest Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
7  2020-09-06 ljcygnet
17  2020-09-05
Durfee Trail
11  2017-09-02 topohiker
13  2017-08-13
Chevelon Lake #611
13  2016-07-26
Chevelon Creek - Lower Reservoir
6  2016-04-06 The_N
14  2015-06-05
Chevelon Canyon Backpacking
12  2015-06-05
Chevelon Canyon Backpacking
Page 1,  2,  3
Author AZHikr4444
author avatar Guides 7
Routes 0
Photos 632
Trips 83 map ( 529 miles )
Age 50 Male Gender
Location Cave Creek, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep → 7 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:30am - 7:29pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 2009 Weimer Fire17.2 mi**
🔥 2009 Durfee Fire22.7 mi*
🔥 1956 Dudley Fire33.0 mi**
🔥 View All over Official Route 🔥
*perimeter length in miles
**possible voids inflate figure

Wild Canyon Exploration
by AZHikr4444

Likely In-Season!
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This 1-2 day backpack appears in the second edition of Grubbs and Aitchison's Hiking Arizona. The book states it is an "8.4-mile hike upstream to Chevelon Canyon Lake" and mentions the "easy" route passing through "beaver ponds, swimming holes, and grassy campsites." My friend Richard and I hiked the canyon the week before the 4th of July. While we found many "easy" sections and quite a few wonderful campsites, TONS of beaver dams, and some absolutely great swimming holes, we also found incredible tangles of willow, wild roses, and other such brush, sheer cliff faces that were necessary to scale, disappearing trails and confusing game routes through swamps along skinny fingers of the winding creek, sections that required some intense boulder hopping, and many tests of our resolve and our increasing vocabulary of curse words.

The first 3-4 miles of the hike, from Chevelon Crossing Campground south to Durfee Crossing, is the most enjoyable. Begin by parking at the campground and follow the old jeep road south. Cross the creek immediately and look for the trail as it winds along the creek's south/east side. There are numerous great camping places right here, less than 0.5 miles from the campground. Soon the creek winds slightly west. Along here, you will see the trail follow the contour of the terrain, heading west- although the trail also continues toward the creek. Beware! Take the west trail- the other heads straight into some cliffs, with great views of the canyon, but you must climb these cliffs and come down the other side to continue. How do we know this? Yep. Because we climbed them. If you are on the trail, you will notice a low rock wall blocks this spur.

As the trail continues, it becomes somewhat difficult to follow because of the area's riparian nature and the many tree falls and brush. Soon the trail leaves the creek bottom and heads into some beautiful meadows with great camping spots along a very wide (at least 30-50 feet) section of the creek. Red ants have built their homes right in some of the camping areas, so be careful if/when you bed down. The trail here is wide and easily discernible. Enjoy, because, after Durfee Crossing, this will be the exception.

As the creek begins to wind back south, the trail stays on the east side all the way to Durfee Crossing. Keep an eye out for a picnic table made of logs off to your left, along a jeep road that heads up over the hill. While the trail seems to continue closely following the creek, it's easier to head up the jeep road, follow it back south where it connects with the trail. Also, soon the trail will cliff out at a sheer rock face about 10 feet above the water. Perhaps the trail continues above the cliff. We didn't think so, and besides, it's much more fun to cross here on this one-foot ledge, fingers grasping the rock for dear life.

About a mile after Durfee Crossing, powerlines cross high overhead above the creek. Here the going becomes increasingly difficult. The trail will disappear altogether, reappear as game trails winding along the creek bed, become like a mirage on the other side of the creek, flat and easily seen, and then disappear again after monumental efforts to reach it. Expect some great bushwhacking adventures through brambles of willow and New Mexican Locust, along with the ever-present poison ivy, of course. We discovered the rule- stay high! If the trail seems to be easily followed (and there are occasional rock cairns), and then disappears into the creek bed, backtrack and go up above the creek, and the trail can sometimes be retrieved. Perhaps a mile and a half past the power lines, the creek begins to wind slightly westward. Here you should stay on the creek's east side, as the trail is flat and easy. However, soon after the turn, the trail will fade away, and it becomes necessary to cross. Cross the creek and climb the ridge, and the trail will follow the ridge over a very sandy straight drop-off until it levels onto a flat slickrock area. Here you will find an old grave marked with a wooden cross, and further south, an old homesite. This is a very beautiful area of the canyon. There is a large cairn made of flat sandstone around here, almost like a bench.

The trail continues, becoming more difficult to follow, and the hiking slows to a crawl. After 9 hours of hiking the canyon, we finally found some scattered campsites on the creek's west side. We plopped down on a sandy beach, ate our dinner, and slept the sleep of the dead. But not before a nice dip in the cold Chevelon waters. It was a beautiful and peaceful night. Richard's lasting impression of this camp was the complete and implacable silence, an almost eerie absence of sound even close to the water. Snuggled in my bag in my hollowed sand bed, I slept perhaps the best night in many a moon, despite my tired bones and aching shoulders.

Sad to say, we never made it to the Dam. Although we were only about a mile and a half away, we determined that we could not enjoyably continue at the present rate of speed. We decided to turn back and use our last full day for more slow and lasting pleasures other than bushwhacking, cussing, and blasting through large rodent homes. Knowing what the look for in the trail, the return to Durfee Crossing was much more enjoyable. We hiked a good 4 hours, past the Crossing, to Red Ant Meadows, found a good campsite, and spent the rest of the day sunning ourselves in the meadow, swimming, and generally relaxing. There are literally millions of crawdads in Chevelon Creek, all after your toes, so watch out! One old battle-scarred one-clawed warrior challenged me numerous times to some toe wrestling, but alas, the Creek was his, and I was in no mood for conflict. I opted to bury them in the sand instead and see visions in the clouds above the canyon.

The hike out was easy and relaxing, following the well-established trail. There are some great camping areas, and even this close to Chevelon Crossing Campground, there are great swimming holes.

We estimated the mileage to be about 15-16 miles roundtrip. I would consider the trip from Chevelon Crossing to Durfee Crossing to be a moderate hike with some occasional route finding. However, south of Durfee Crossing, expect a much more difficult journey, with route-finding skills a definite necessity.

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2005-07-12 AZHikr4444

    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.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    From the Valley head up to Payson on AZ87- turn right at 260 (Mcdonalds) and drive past Christopher Creek to the Woods Canyon Lake Turnoff. This is Rim Road 300. Follow 300 and the signs, then take FS169, which spurs off of 300. Continue on 169, past the FS119, past the 169B spur (which will take you to the Chevelon Lake Dam), and on to FS504. Turn right on 504 for 2 miles to the Chevelon Crossing Campground. There are vault toilets right in the campground where you can dispose of the Mcdonalds breakfast you ate in Payson before hitting the trail. : )
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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