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Hess Canyon to Salt River - SRC Wilderness
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mini location map2013-03-24
34 by photographer avatarOregon_Hiker
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Hess Canyon to Salt River - SRC WildernessGlobe, AZ
Globe, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 24 2013
Hiking8.60 Miles 1,638 AEG
Hiking8.60 Miles
1,638 ft AEG
Linked none no linked trail guides
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This was my second attempt with Grasshopper to hike down Hess Canyon to the Salt River. Last time we got stopped by a steep drop on slick rock into a pool of unknown depth. This time we brought help. Our HAZ rock climbing friend, trekkin gecko, was kind enough to accompany us and bring a climbing rope to help us get up and down the rough sections. The gecko and Outdoor Lover met us at the planned start of the hike at the fifth gate on FR367. The rest of the group were coming from Camp Grasshopper near Clay Spring at the end of FR346 where we had been camped for the last several days. The drive from camp took us longer than planned because of the long 4x4 section of FR346 and the many gates that had to be opened and closed so we got to the hike start location about 45 minutes late. [-X OL and the gecko were there waiting for us. Fortunately the views are exceptional from that location high on a ridge so there were no admonishments for our tardiness.

The first 2 miles of the hike follows FR367 to where it ends at an old corral in the bottom of Hess Canyon, an elevation drop of about 1020 ft. This makes for a long climb back to the car at the end of the day. This section of road is drive-able for a 4x4 for the first 0.7 miles with moderate pin striping until reaching a washed out steep section. Turning around at this location is a little tricky. An ATV or modified 4x4 with experienced driver could probably drive all the way to Hess Creek.

We spent some time exploring around the old corral and the remains of what was probably a ranching shack. The clusters of bright green Cottonwoods and the sandy creek bottom make this area quite picturesque. As we proceeded along the creek bottom we encountered an owl at the first bend who was reluctant to leave possibly because of a nearby nest. This resulted in some delays for picture taking and several photographers in the group got great close up pics. My 4x zoom lens wasn't quite up to the task but I enjoyed watching the antics of the others trying to get close up shots without scaring it off. We finally left the owl and proceeded on down the canyon. The White Ledges pass through this section of the canyon making for some spectacular views.

Randal and I got left behind by the rest of the group because of our incessant picture taking. I spotted a pair of Big Horn sheep up on the canyon side so we were even further delayed taking pictures. They did not appear to be threatened by our presence and were grazing as they proceeded down hill towards us. At one point Randal whispered that he was having difficulty getting a good photo because their heads were always down grazing. I gave a low whistle which brought their heads up and appeared to instigate a brief bout of head butting with the loud knock of colliding horns reverberating through the canyon. After that the rams continued browsing down the hillside towards us now appearing to be the best of friends.

We encountered the slick rock drop-off at the next bend where Grasshopper and I had been stopped on our previous visit. The pool at the bottom had filled with sand and it was an easy short butt slide to the bottom. So easy that Grasshopper and the rest of the group had blown right by without recognizing it as our previous stopping point. I was embarrassed that we had been stopped on our previous hike by such a minor obstacle. :oops:

A short distance and a couple of creek bends further down canyon we came to a real obstacle - a slick rock vertical dry water fall about 20 feet high. Trekkin Gecko had no problem scampering up and down the wall on the west side of the waterfall but the rest of us had varying degrees of trepidation so out came the climbing rope and a sling for attaching it to boulders. It turned out to be an easy down climb with the aid of the rope and quite do-able with out a rope for people with some experience climbing rocks and willing to take a little exposure. We would all do the climb back up without the rope on the way back. The remaining obstacles on the way to the Salt River all had fairly easy bypass routes.

The two Randys had a hard turn-around time for ending the hike. Their repeated question "How much further to the river" kept being answered "Just around the next bend". When they reached their stop time the rest of us tried to convince them to keep going because this time the river really was around the next bend. But by then we had lost credibility and they started the trek back to their cars. Sure enough, 4 minutes later and just around the next bend - there was the river.

The return hike back up Hess Canyon was quite enjoyable because the late afternoon light show-cased canyon walls that had been in deep shadow on the way down. When we approached the parked cars at the end of the hike we were surprised to see the two Randys still there relaxing with cold beverages :o So much for their hard turn around time. :sl:

I rate this hike as one of my personal AZ favorites. The multicolored rock layers in the canyon walls and the White Ledges make for spectacular views and hiking with HAZ friends is always a treat. :thanx: Trekkin Grecko for the help negotiating the tough sections. Your patience and skills were much appreciated.
Named place
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White Ledges
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