Sycamore Canyon - Bushnell to Round Valley, AZ | HikeArizona
for free!

Sycamore Canyon - Bushnell to Round Valley, AZ

Guide 41 Triplogs  2 Topics
  4.3 of 5 
no permit
412 41 2
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
View 1
tap icons for details
Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Shuttle 7.85 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,500 feet
Elevation Gain -1,099 feet
Accumulated Gain 228 feet
Avg Time Hiking 6-8 hrs
Kokopelli Seeds 8.61
 Interest Off-Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
 Backpack Possible - Not Popular
unreported if dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
Will recalculate on button tap!
12  2022-06-04
Sycamore creek - Round Valley
3  2020-05-01 toddak
7  2020-04-28 jillyonanadventu
2  2020-04-28
Sycamore canyon
3  2020-04-18 RickVincent
6  2020-03-21 RickVincent
12  2019-04-14 skatchkins
8  2019-04-06 RickVincent
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
author avatar Guides 6
Routes 0
Photos 346
Trips 225 map ( 1,994 miles )
Age 66 Male Gender
Location Tempe, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar Map
Expand Map
Preferred Oct, Nov, Apr, May → 8 AM
Seasons   Autumn
Sun  7:30am - 5:44pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 Diamond 2 20046.8 mi*
🔥 2020 Bush Fire193.5k
🔥 2005 Edge Complex Fire72.3k
🔥 2004 Diamond6.8 mi*
🔥 1998 Black Fire4.0 mi*
🔥 View (All) - over Official Route 🔥
*perimeter length in miles

Pools vs. bouldering
by hikeaz

Narrow canyons are deadly in the event of a flash flood. The 2020 Brush Fire makes this canyon susceptible to powerful flooding through 2024.

For those of you who have hiked the section of the Agua Fria south of Badger Springs, this is a similar hike, only longer. This was an exploratory hike for all of us. We started at the new boondoggle gate at the Bushnell Tanks turnoff from the Beeline. Making our way down the dirt road (FR22), we passed the various campsites that now appear unused. After about 1 mile, we turned off and followed the Sycamore Creekbed instead of taking the road up onto the hillside. Making our way down the creek was a bit tiring.... up onto boulders, back down again, through the catclaw, around the cockleburrs.... repeat.

As we made our way down-canyon we noticed an old gaging station on creek right. Once past the gaging station, we saw no signs of humans, other than the debris that headed downcanyon in a flashflood, until we neared the end. The further downstream we proceeded, the better the canyon became. We passed massive outcroppings of granite in all shapes, colors, and sizes. This hike was getting good! As you can imagine, there is no trail or route in this canyon; we just crossed the creek, boulder-hopped awhile, pulled out a few thorns, and then switched sides and repeated. The deeper into the canyon we went, the bigger the boulders became, and, in some instances, some exposure had to be dealt with in down-climbing from these boulders and walls. There are tons of waterfalls and swimming holes in this deep section, and it is amazingly beautiful. Some of the granite, as will be the case in creeks, has been polished, and is slippery, especially when wet. Be careful! In a few areas, some "figuring" was required to avoid the need to swim. Sometimes we climbed up-and-around and in other cases, some fun bouldering "moves" served us better. If the weather had been warmer, the hike would have gone quicker, as we would have just plowed/swam through the pools vs. bouldering around them - BOTH are fun, however.

After about 3.5 hours in the canyon it widens out and we started to see a few footprints here-and-there. To us, this was signaling our arrival near our finishing spot. As it was, we hiked about another 40 minutes once the canyon flattened/widened out to our awaiting shuttle vehicle that we had dropped off pre-hike.

Notes: A+ for adventure. This should likely be called a canyoneering trip vs. a "hike", although it is not technical. Catclaw abounds, dress accordingly. Your time to hike this canyon could vary greatly from ours - know your limits. Due to the willows and other branches being bent downstream, not to mention the 1000' change in elevation between trailheads, I would recommend that be the preferred direction of travel.

Thanks to my good friend, Tim, for suggesting the route, and to him, Randy, and Lyle for being the best hiking buddies a guy could ask for - and allowing me to accompany them on this hike.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

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

2007-01-12 hikeaz
  • guide related image
    guide related
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 canyon trip
Beeline Highway (State Route 87) to FR22 (Bushnell Tanks) driveway. This is the UPPER trailhead. The LOWER trailhead (recommended FINISHING trailhead ) is off of an unnamed dirt road heading east, at Round Valley. (this is about 4 road miles south of the UPPER trailhead, so the shuttle is a snap)

end of page marker