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Rock Creek Canyon - Mazatzals
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mini location map2013-03-16
40 by photographer avatarazmike
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Rock Creek Canyon - MazatzalsPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Mar 16 2013
Canyoneering6.00 Miles 2,500 AEG
Canyoneering6.00 Miles   9 Hrs   30 Mns   0.63 mph
2,500 ft AEG
Intermediate Canyoneering - Difficult or dangerous; Tech Climb; rope reqd; descent anchor; exit technical;
C - Strong current; wading/swimming; waterfalls; possible wet/dry suit
III - Normally requires most of a day
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
We camped Friday night at the trail head along Center Creek. Saturday morning at 8:00 we headed up the trail alongside Center Creek before veering off on the trail away from the creek and the long climb to the top of Rock Creek Canyon. We were on a good trail for almost the entire hike up the mountain until the last 0.25 mile or so. The fire had resulted in lots of erosion so the trail would disappear, but there were cairns to guide you to the top.

The weekend prior, there was a big storm that moved through the area. It dumped a lot of snow in the Mazatzals. It even snowed in parts of Phoenix. After the storm blew through, the temperatures rose into the 80's by mid-week, which resulted in a lot of snow melt in the mountains and a very strong water flow in the Rock Creek Canyon.

We did 8 rappels, all down waterfalls. We all wore 3mm wet suits which worked out perfectly. Temperatures were in the 70's with no clouds in the sky. The upper sections of the canyon get a lot of sun so it made for a warm day.

The 180 ft. waterfall rappel which is the third to last was exceptional. I had been in Rock Creek 6 weeks earlier and the water wasn't flowing as much as it was this day. The last two rappels are into pools of very cold water. These last two pools don't get much sun and are definitely the coldest in the canyon.

After the last rappel, the canyon opens up and we hike maybe 0.25 mile down the creek bed to a point where we started climbing out on the left. It was marked with ribbons on a tree. Just about 1/2 way up, there is a faint trail you can follow well below the ridge line . It will disppear and reappear often, but look for the colored ribbons on the trees. We hiked far enough on the trail that you can see Center Creek and the cars below to the left. It was a great day to be in the canyon.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Center Creek Heavy flow Heavy flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Rock Creek Heavy flow Heavy flow

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