Canyon Creek - Tonto NF, AZ | HikeArizona

Canyon Creek - Tonto NF, AZ

Guide 32 Triplogs Mine 0 3 Topics
3.4 of 5 
no permit
405 32 3
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,545 feet
Elevation Gain -250 feet
Accumulated Gain 250 feet
Avg Time One Way 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.83
 Interest Perennial Creek
 Backpack Yes
feature photo
Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
5  2019-07-28 Falke
22  2018-10-09
Fall Break in the Canyon Creek
10  2018-09-28
Canyon Creek / Mule Creek
13  2017-11-03 TheNaviG8R
25  2017-10-14 TheNaviG8R
9  2017-10-10 topohiker
14  2017-09-16 Steph_and_Blake
13  2017-09-09
Canyon Creek / Mule Creek / Naegolin Disc
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
author avatar Guides 3
Routes 0
Photos 1,156
Trips 336 map ( 3,414 miles )
Age 51 Male Gender
Location Mesa
Associated Areas
list map done
Payson Region
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar Map
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Preferred Apr, May, Jun, Sep → 9 AM
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:54am - 6:19pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimeteracres
🔥 2002 Rodeo-Chediski Fire233.5 mi**
Nearby Area Water
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Fauna  Nearby
Flora  Nearby
Culture  Nearby
Fly fishers gold mine
by te_wa

Ambush at the Perkins Store

. . . . . . On the twenty-second day of September in 1887, Sheriff William Mulvenon of Yavapai County Arizona, along with a posse sprinkled with Tewksbury sympathizers, set about the destruction of the remaining Grahams and Blevins. As John Graham and Charlie Blevins approached the unfinished Perkins store, Mulvenon stepped out to demand their surrender. In Pleasant Valley at that time, he was lucky they didn't shoot him on sight. Instead, they turned their horses to get out of range of the perceived threat. Within seconds a hail of bullets sent their way by the posse, hidden behind half-built walls, ended both their lives. John's brother, Tom Graham, escaped to Phoenix only to lose his life half a decade later at the hands of Ed Tewksbury.
. . . . . . This is only a small part of the amazing saga of the Pleasant Valley War. In all, fifteen cattlemen and at least three sheep men were slain over the five years the battles ensued.

There is much history of this area as there is with most of the Mogollon Rim country. In recent years, the Rodeo-Chediski fire may have been the topic of discussion in these parts, and the devastation is seen almost immediately from the trailhead. It is, however, a worthy sight to gain perspective and respect for our fragile environment.

This hike starts from the East end of a campground at 6545 feet. It winds its way along a normally dry runoff about 1/4 mile to the creek/canyon bottom. The "canyon" is very shallow and bordered by rolling hills with a typical Rim country riparian environ. (If you come here to fish, you have many sections of the creek at this point that will offer bait-friendly waters, otherwise around the 1-mile mark and just past the OW bridge, you can only catch and release with artificial lures). Heading downstream from the canyon bottom, you will head south-east for 1/4 mile to a barbed fence, continue along a fisherman's trail that skirts a large meadow on the right. It doesn't stay in the shade after noon but beats bushwacking the creek. Since the going was pretty slow near the water, I found that I could both see more from the meadow's ledge and make better time to my destination, the hike's end at the Fort Apache Reservation. Just past the OW bridge, a dirt road is an easy way to get deeper into the canyon. I took it. There are many open grass-filled meadows along this 5-mile hike that tempt one to kick off the boots, hide under a hat, and catch some zzz's. At first sight, you start to see the evidence of the fire that ravaged the canyon in 2001. Because of the fires, erosion allowed scouring floods to impact the creek. A year later-for instance, what was once a living riparian habitat now has less canopy of trees providing less shade and allowing the water temps to climb higher than the once-thriving Brown Trout population can handle. It is said by the US Forest Service and AZ Game and Fish that the brown trout numbers are down TEN-fold compared to 1999. Hopefully, with the efforts of AZGF, the creek can be restored to a Blue Ribbon destination. At any rate, there are rainbow trout in the stream, and boy are they plentiful! Upstream at the hatchery, which produces some 300,000 catchable fish a year, several of these 5-6 inch trout escape and make their way downstream.

I noted that at mile 2.5, the road from OW bridge starts climbing upwards, so that is when I left for the stream bed once again and finished the next 2 miles crossing the creek, taking pictures and scouting campsites. This hike generally follows a very easy to negotiate creekbed and meadow. At mile 3.75, it finally changes personality by entering into a basalt cliff canyon that zigzags its way for the next 1.25 miles. This is where the fun starts, so plan on getting your feet wet! I hopped and jumped over a slippery creekbed for over an hour when my GPS stated I'd gone 5 miles. Well, I did not see any evidence of an Indian Reservation boundary, no fence or signs. I decided not to risk going further, so I turned around and headed back a mile and a half until I exited the deep slabbed red rock canyon to a proper campsite on creek left. What a night... cool breeze, clear sky, total relaxation.

In late October, you can expect freezing temps; my water bottle had a crust of ice in it. My 32* down bag was barely enough... Take caution also to falling tree snags, loose footing in the creek, and hang your food bag.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2006-10-22 te_wa

    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 $$

    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Payson head east on Hwy. 260 for 34 miles to the Young Rd. (Young-Heber HWY) Go south for exactly 3 miles to forest rd. 33 and turn left. Drive east on this well-graded dirt road for 4.5 miles to Airplane Flat campground. At the east end of the camp, you see a fence followed by a path leading into the canyon. Very easy to find, however after good snow you will need 4x4 to access this area.

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