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Big Dipper - Castle Creek Wilderness, AZ
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Overview: This hidden waterfall oasis is located on the eastern slopes of the Bradshaw Mountains. The Bradshaw mountain range keeps Prescott from becoming a suburb of Phoenix. The Big Dipper is worthy of a visit.


Dogs: I would not recommend this hike if your dog has no off-trail experience or easily gets into trouble spots. The trail leading in has cacti near and dear.

Hike: The trail heading down from the road is the Algonquin Trail #225. Little time is wasted heading straight down into the canyon below. The steepest sections are near the top. Soon after the trail eases into long lazy switchbacks. It's about a mile and a quarter to Poland Creek. #225 continues on to Horsethief Basin.

Sun exposure turned out to be more of a concern than the steep grade. The trail is slightly overgrown in the lower sections. It seemed dry in March after an extremely wet winter. I can only imagine how dry it is in the summer. Get off the trail when it reaches the creek. Head down stream to the left. It's four tenths of a mile to the Big Dipper. Along the way you'll pass several nice cascades and pools.

From what I read, the Big Dipper was merely a few hundred yards down from Hells Hole. I'm not sure where Hells Hole is... I came to a stretch of wall to wall water that I estimated to be at least 30 yards long. The walls are extremely steep on either side. At the tail end of March the water was too cold for swimming. The Big Dipper came at price. I'm not sure if the water was higher than usual. Nevertheless I climbed up the right wall and worked my way over. It appeared several others have taken this route. It's steep with prickly bushes and thick shrubbery to be negotiated.

Coming down on the other end it's only a short hop and a skip to the Big Dipper. It is a truly awesome sight to see. I was dreading the scramble back and found it hard to relax. If you plan on swimming below take a good rope as I didn't notice a route to the bottom. Then again, I didn't look much either.

I started hiking at 11:15am. It took two hours to reach the Big Dipper taking numerous photos along the way. It was an hour and half back to the trailhead. I was totally exhausted most of the return trip. A fall on the rocks earlier may have contributed. It seems like this would be a better hike if the water was warmer. Swimming the pools would save time and energy. On the other hand it's one hot climb back up to the trailhead. Shade does favor this area in the afternoon as it is on the eastern side of the mountain.

2016 Either I was a big wuss or the creek has filled in with sediment from fires. Getting to the Big Dipper without wall to wall water is reported more common now.
Description 47 Triplogs  2 Topics
RatedFavorite  
Wish List 25
 Region
 
0
0
 Black Canyon
Statistics
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,444 feet
Elevation Gain -1,187 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,200 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 - 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.7
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Perennial Waterfall & Perennial Creek
Author joebartels
Descriptions 209
Routes 742
Photos 9,432
Trips 3,478 map ( 18,036 miles )
Age 47
Location Phoenix, AZ
Photos
Viewed All Mine Following
4  2017-04-27 MountainMatt
8  2016-03-19
Dipper - Horsethief - Recreation - Algonquin
The_Eagle
8  2016-03-19
Dipper - Horsethief - Recreation - Algonquin
joebartels
10  2016-03-01 MountainMatt
4  2015-09-12 Lumberjill
40  2015-09-06 Peter_Medal
13  2015-03-27 ASUAviator
23  2013-09-02 kelraen
8  2013-04-20 jaysmith
20  2012-04-21 bigredjeepchick
5  2011-03-23 JuanJaimeiii
18  2010-09-18
Horsethief Canyon Trail #30
skatchkins
Page 1,  2,  3
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar
Forest Prescott
Wilderness Castle Creek
Backpack   Yes & Connecting
Preferred   Apr, May, Sep, Oct → 10 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:19am - 7:45pm
Route Scout
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Official Route
 
Alternative Routes
 
Water
Nearby Area Water
Algonquin Trail #225
same trailhead
5.0 mi
Senator Highway - Crown King to Prescott
1.9 mi away
39.0 mi
1,000 ft
Bullroad Trail #202
2.2 mi away
13.4 mi
1,830 ft
Muldoon Gulch & Swastika / Peck Mines
2.6 mi away
2.5 mi
350 ft
Horsethief Canyon Trail #30
2.7 mi away
2.2 mi
130 ft
Bradshaw Trail #216
3.1 mi away
7.5 mi
958 ft
[ View More! ]
Fauna
Arizona Black Rattlesnake
Black-tailed Rattlesnake
Canyon Tree Frog
Unidentified Fauna
Flora
Claret Cup Cactus
Fleabane
Rough Prickly Poppy
Named place
Algonquin Mine
Big Dipper - Crown King Quad
Castle Creek Wilderness
Horsethief Canyon
Poland Creek
Culture
Automobile Remains/Wreckage
Mining Equipment
Swimming Hole
Mean Fall
by joebartels

Overview: This hidden waterfall oasis is located on the eastern slopes of the Bradshaw Mountains. The Bradshaw mountain range keeps Prescott from becoming a suburb of Phoenix. The Big Dipper is worthy of a visit.


Dogs: I would not recommend this hike if your dog has no off-trail experience or easily gets into trouble spots. The trail leading in has cacti near and dear.

Hike: The trail heading down from the road is the Algonquin Trail #225. Little time is wasted heading straight down into the canyon below. The steepest sections are near the top. Soon after the trail eases into long lazy switchbacks. It's about a mile and a quarter to Poland Creek. #225 continues on to Horsethief Basin.

Sun exposure turned out to be more of a concern than the steep grade. The trail is slightly overgrown in the lower sections. It seemed dry in March after an extremely wet winter. I can only imagine how dry it is in the summer. Get off the trail when it reaches the creek. Head down stream to the left. It's four tenths of a mile to the Big Dipper. Along the way you'll pass several nice cascades and pools.

From what I read, the Big Dipper was merely a few hundred yards down from Hells Hole. I'm not sure where Hells Hole is... I came to a stretch of wall to wall water that I estimated to be at least 30 yards long. The walls are extremely steep on either side. At the tail end of March the water was too cold for swimming. The Big Dipper came at price. I'm not sure if the water was higher than usual. Nevertheless I climbed up the right wall and worked my way over. It appeared several others have taken this route. It's steep with prickly bushes and thick shrubbery to be negotiated.

Coming down on the other end it's only a short hop and a skip to the Big Dipper. It is a truly awesome sight to see. I was dreading the scramble back and found it hard to relax. If you plan on swimming below take a good rope as I didn't notice a route to the bottom. Then again, I didn't look much either.

I started hiking at 11:15am. It took two hours to reach the Big Dipper taking numerous photos along the way. It was an hour and half back to the trailhead. I was totally exhausted most of the return trip. A fall on the rocks earlier may have contributed. It seems like this would be a better hike if the water was warmer. Swimming the pools would save time and energy. On the other hand it's one hot climb back up to the trailhead. Shade does favor this area in the afternoon as it is on the eastern side of the mountain.

2016 Either I was a big wuss or the creek has filled in with sediment from fires. Getting to the Big Dipper without wall to wall water is reported more common now.
© 2001 - 2017 hikearizona.com

-
    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 $$
    None

    Prescott Forest
    Prescott National Forest Pass

    Only trailheads with six "amenities" have fees. Amenities are picnic tables, trash, toilet, parking, interpretive signing and security.


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    READ CAREFULLY :: Take 1-17 north out of Phoenix. Pass Black Canyon City up to the Bumble Bee Exit just after mile marker 248(exit at the bumble bee exit and go left or west). Follow FR259 25.3 miles to the turnout on the left(anonymous adds FR259 is not marked, at all. Once you turn off I-17 you are on FR 259). The turnout is located between mile markers 24 & 25. Closer to 25(25 is visible from the turnout according to anonymous). There's room for a half dozen cars. There is no visible trail signage. Look over the edge and you'll see the trail heading down. Trail signs are within the first quarter mile or so of the hike.
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
    stay out of the scorching sun
    prehydrate & stay hydrated
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