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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.

Pumphouse Wash - Lower, AZ

Guide 32 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
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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 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,740 feet
Elevation Gain 370 feet
Accumulated Gain 370 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 6.05
Interest Off-Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
Backpack No
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
16  2020-10-25 adilling
15  2020-10-24 chumley
10  2019-09-28 thirstylizard
7  2017-04-05 o2bav8
7  2017-01-07 arizona_water
16  2013-05-26 paulhubbard
73  2012-05-12 WilliamnWendi
16  2011-06-06
James Canyon
Page 1,  2,  3
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 241
Routes 829
Photos 12,055
Trips 4,845 map ( 24,780 miles )
Age 51 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Jun, Sep, Oct → Early
Seasons   Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  5:13am - 7:43pm
Official Route
1 Alternative

by joebartels

Likely In-Season!
Pumphouse Wash is the headwaters of Oak Creek. The canyon I describe spans 4 miles from FR 237 to the Pumphouse bridge on 89A. Kelly Canyon enters from the east near the top of Pumphouse Wash. James Canyon also comes from the east at the halfway point. James Canyon captures water from an area around and across I-17 that you have likely driven over without knowing. Packed with narrows, pools, and several waterfalls, James Canyon is fantastic but not really in the day-hike category. The upper section of Pumphouse from James Canyon to FR 237 is a broad, shallow course. From James Canyon down to the Pumphouse bridge, the canyon is narrow and much higher. Therefore I have split Pumphouse Wash into upper and lower descriptions.

From the parking area, head down the steep slope into the canyon. I made it down without issue. The gal behind me slid down on her butt. Once in the wash, head back under the bridge and up the canyon. The wash is rocky with mid-size boulders from the beginning. Please note this is not an area to be exploring with rain in the forecast. You will find yourself a river ornament if you choose unwisely.

Large smooth finished gray boulders get you thinking about fierce currents in the canyon. Turning the first left bend, the noise of 89A gives way to the peaceful wilderness. The going was easy, having hiked this canyon after nearly four months with little rain. Usually, you encounter wall-to-wall pools, and two may require a swim. The others have scramble routes to one side or the other.

I passed several trees wedged in-between the canyon walls. Hopefully, this should forewarn those planning a rainy day hike. If it's raining to the north or east, you're in trouble. It doesn't have to be raining in the canyon for a flash flood to occur.

A short steep canyon enters from the east near the 1.5-mile mark. Continue up to the larger and broader canyon coming in from the east, which is James Canyon. Here I opt to turn around. Continuing up Pumphouse Canyon requires negotiating a 14-foot fall. The only means of getting around is a steep scramble route to the right. It's easier getting up than down, in my opinion, so keep that in mind. You can also head on up James Canyon, which is fantastic. However, you'll probably get into more than expected.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your canyon trip to support this local community.

2000-01-25 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 $$
Red Rock Pass - may or may not be required. Go to Red Rock Pass then check "When is a Red Rock Pass Required?". If you have questions contact the Coconino forest service.

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To canyon trip
From the 'Y' in Sedona ( 179/89A )
Go north for 13.2 miles to what would be mile marker 387.7

There is a pullout just after crossing the bridge on the opposite side of the road. The trick is to slow down the traffic behind you to make a safe turn. Be careful as this pullout is small and on the side of the canyon.
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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