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Willow Valley, AZ
mini location map2020-06-20
11 by photographer avatarmikemcg
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Willow Valley, AZ 
Willow Valley, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 20 2020
Hiking11.57 Miles 3,785 AEG
Hiking11.57 Miles   9 Hrs   20 Mns   1.73 mph
3,785 ft AEG   2 Hrs   38 Mns Break
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
Our original plan was thwarted by the Bush fire, so we chose to explore Willow Valley, and I'm glad we did! We parked one vehicle at the top of the Maxwell trail, then drove the other one to the Maxwell tank to skip the 3 miles of walking on the forest road. High clearance is definitely required toward the end! It got a little bumpy but not too bad.

The descent from the road to the creek at Maxwell tank is fairly easy. We followed the wash down, watching out for poison ivy, which was present but avoidable. There's a 10 foot drop toward the end, but it was easily climbed down at the left corner, while others in our group went out of sight to the right and found a way down over there. The views and sounds in the canyon are amazing, with the high canyon walls, the many colors, the sun peeking in, and the echoes of the birds as well as our voices.

There was no water in the canyon initially, but we soon encountered 4 deep pools, each about 20-30 yards long, and crossed them in tubes, although one nimble member of our group was able to climb around all 4 of them on the right without getting wet. The water was a little chilly at first but we quickly adapted and enjoyed it.

We then took our time enjoying the views of the canyon. There was a lot of fun rock hopping. The views were amazing throughout, and the pics don't fully capture the experience. I think it was about 8 miles total in the canyon, but all of our GPSs recorded approximately 11 miles. As we went further, more water was present, and eventually the creek was continuous. There were a lot of beautiful swimming holes, but they were easy to go around for those who wanted to avoid them.

About 5 miles in, the canyon widened a little, and we started seeing a few campsites. There were well-worn use trails along the sides at this point, which made the trek much easier, but they were really thorny at times, and there were numerous poison ivy patches (or individual plants) to avoid. It got a little gnarly carrying my tube through the vegetation!

The Maxwell trail to the top was great. It was nice to be on a well-defined trail after all the rock hopping and thorns! That part went pretty quickly.

Overall a beautiful canyon, clear water, awesome people, good times!
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
Beautiful yellow flowers in patches. I didn't get any pics of them...
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