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West Clear Creek Trail #17 to Maiden Falls
14 Photosets

mini location map2012-10-06
8 by photographer avatarEartheist
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West Clear Creek Trail #17 to Maiden FallsCamp Verde, AZ
Camp Verde, AZ
Backpack avatar Oct 06 2012
Backpack18.00 Miles 1,800 AEG
Backpack18.00 Miles2 Days         
1,800 ft AEG20 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Fantastic hike up West Clear Creek through beautiful red wall canyons and cool water. We started at the Bullpen trailhead, hiked the 4+ miles to where trail #17 cuts up the mountain to the north, which is where we got off #17 and shot down to the creek via a rough wash/gulley, slightly challenging, mainly due to trying to avoid the dagger yuccas in the way. There is an old hunter's blind at the bottom. Once back down at the creek, we hiked/bushwacked another 2 miles or so, made camp, and then hiked another couple miles upstream in search of the falls. The "trail" through this section is not much more than various game trails through thick brush and leaf litter washed up from high tide. Much of it you have to wade or boulder hop through the creek. It was very fun for the most part; weather was great, water was cool and refreshing, the only less than perfect part was when you choose a slimy rock to step on and it tumbles you in the water inevitably banging up your ankle bones or knees. But still very worth it. You can't take on a trip like this and not expect some bumps and bruises and scrapes. We all came out with only minimal injuries. Definite chance of twisted ankles though, hiking both in the water and on the pseudo trails beside the creek. We didn't quite make it to Maiden Falls, as we were losing light pretty fast and we weren't too keen on bushwhacking in the dark, though we did bring flashlights, the prospect of doing that by flashlight did not sound fun. Made it back no problem though; much faster going downstream than up, I jumped in the creek and backstroked through any section that was deep enough, but those stretches aren't very long and I had to get up at every small rapids and either tromp through or get out and hike beside the creek whenever it was easier.
Hardly saw any wildlife, which is of course good and bad; a few garter snakes crossed our paths, didn't see or hear any rattlers, which was good. Lots of scat: I saw what I thought was mountain lion, deer and some old bear scat. We did see some eyes reflecting back at us up on the canyon wall across from our camp site, but couldn't tell what it was, some kind of small cat we guessed. It was trying to climb across the almost vertical canyon wall like a mountain goat. The most unusual animal we saw was a caterpillar-like thing that had long thick brown fur. We at first thought it was some kind of fungus, since it wasn't moving and was entirely covered in fur, until we saw one slowly crawling down a nearby tree. I have since learned this is a puss caterpillar or flannel moth and the fur is actually venomous! I did pet one though (couldn't help it) and I had no reaction.
The hike back to the Bull Pen the next day was much easier since it is mostly downhill the whole way. Even going back up at the hunter's blind to get back on #17 seemed easier, as we found a slightly easier path up the gulch that wasn't visible when we were at the top looking for a way down.
All in all, a spectacular trip, and I'm looking forward to doing it again, though next time we'll probably try the 3 day thru hike from the north end down to the Bull Pen.
Pussy Moth

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