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Little Colorado River Canyon, AZ
mini location map2007-02-04
4 by photographer avatarazbackpackr
photographer avatar
 
Little Colorado River Canyon, AZ 
Little Colorado River Canyon, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Feb 04 2007
azbackpackr
Hiking6.00 Miles
Hiking6.00 Miles
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Most people will open this post thinking of Blue Springs, in the Grand Canyon area. Well, I'm here to tell you that the Little Colorado River is 300 miles long, and begins its journey to Blue Springs on the slopes of Mt. Baldy in the White Mountains, passing through Greer, Eagar, Springerville, St. Johns, Holbrook and Winslow along its journey.

My friend and I went to Wenima Wildlife Area just outside of Springerville to begin this hike. First we hiked downstream along the wide path that the Game and Fish Dept. has built. It follows the Little Colorado River, and ends at a little old cabin, the Slade cabin. After that, the fun begins. The canyon narrows and there is no established trail. Slippery creek crossings are inevitable, and the bushes are all very thorny. Usually when we go to this area we see the large herd of deer, but this time we saw three raccoons, a heron and an owl--all at the same time! It was a magic wildlife moment!

My photos don't really do the area justice. The thing about the gorge is that it is so completely hidden from view. Along the highway from Springerville to St. Johns one looks across miles and miles of hilly grasslands. The Little Colorado Gorge is only about 1/4 mile east of the highway, but most places you can't see the deep break it makes in the landscape until you are right at the edge of it. You wouldn't know it was there if you are just driving along.

When you are down in the gorge you feel like you are miles from nowhere. It really doesn't get too many hikers, outside of the Wenima Wildlife Area's established trails. At Wenima, there is a trail heading downstream (the one we took) and another heading upstream, on the opposite side of the creek. You follow these until they end, then you bushwhack. Don't wear shorts! It's pretty darned thorny in there! It is best from fall through spring. It gets a bit hot down in there in summer--I only go there during early mornings or evenings to see the wildlife during the summer. Lots of deer, beavers, antelope. I've seen bald eagles, golden eagles, and a mountain lion there. And loads of different water birds.

On the way back we took a different route in order to look at the petroglyphs. There are hundreds of them in this area. I am not going to tell you where they are. You will have to find them yourself. We ask you do not touch them as the oils from your hands can damage them. Also, Hooper Ranch Pueblo is in this area. It has a big fence with a No Trespassing sign. It was excavated in the 1950's by the University of Chicago, and all the artifacts taken away. Now it is just a rubbly mound of dirt, nothing much to see. It is considered a very important site, however. There are other village sites in this area as well. They are all around 1000 years old. There are lots of things to see in this area, but most people just walk on the short paths the G & F has built.
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There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
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