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Bear Canyon to Mule Crossing
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mini location map2022-06-02
18 by photographer avatarkingsnake
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Bear Canyon to Mule CrossingPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking11.38 Miles 759 AEG
Hiking11.38 Miles   4 Hrs   51 Mns   2.35 mph
759 ft AEG
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
It was a frustrating drive up to the Rim, with the most hair-pulling occurring following a Forest Service vehicle from AZ-260 nearly all the way to FR 34. She was driving 20 mph on dirt, swerving, and even occasionally brake stabbing. Obviously had never driven on dirt before. Did I mention she was Forest Service?

I finally started hiking around 9:00 a.m.

After crossing the spillway, a gravel path descends to a flat between the spillway to the left, and a creek to the right. I went left because there was a rock “bridge” and a little more space on the canyon bottom. I followed a human foot trail for the next ½ mile. There were so many beer cans -- mostly Bud Light, of course -- that I didn’t bother picking any up. I did pick up other garbage -- including my first balloon of the season -- though. ♻️

The log jam is really something to behold. I hoped the jam meant less deadfall down canyon, and for the most part that is true. I low-crawled once: I stood up too soon, and got stabbed in the neck by a sharp branch stub. Thankfully, no arteries were penetrated.

The only other bloodletting threat in the canyon were mosquitoes, and I didn’t see any north of the log jam, not even when the canyon got wet again. Other critters I encountered were a few lizards, the usual scattered bones, and quite a few butterflies: The ones that stayed still long enough to photograph were spring azure and Queen Alexandra’s sulphur butterflies. 🦋

Besides the "booby trap" (or whatever it is) and the lean-to, I found some fallen branches tied in a X with parachute cord. At the end of my hike, there were some teen boys swimming in the lake. I wonder if they were Boy Scouts, and these were their projects?

A ¼ mile north of the log jam, the canyon passes under a high tension powerline. It’s an open area, roughly 100 yds. wide, so any possible shortage in the powerline doesn’t spark a wildfire. The Bear Fire, which ignited three days prior to my hike, ¾ mile northwest, was started by humans. Luckily, it was out by the next day, having burned only 15 acres. 🔥

I did get confused at Mule Crossing, first starting to follow FR 89, then contemplating the wrong spur to exit the canyon. The correct spur is beween Willow Creek and Bear Canyon. I made it up in seven minutes.

The forest road is covered in about an inch of dust. With one small exception, it is easily SUV-able as far south as the powerline. I saw tire tracks south of the powerline on FR 92A1, where the Forest Service says it is no longer legal to drive. (Yet there were no signs.) Other than a short stretch of forest clearing, there was plenty of shade. 🌲

It was around 3:30 p.m. when I finished, so rather than stop at Woods Canyon Lake for Good Humor ice cream, we headed straight into Payson, hitting Culver’s for dinner and their Flavor of the Day: chocolate custard with M&Ms, Oreo bits and Dove Chocolate drizzled with chocolate syrup. 💉

Hike Video:
 Named place
 Named place [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Bear Canyon  Willow Creek
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
Northern bog violet, spreadfruit goldenbanner, Canada violet, alpine false springparsley, spreading fleabane, dandelion, field chickweed, western wallflower and New Mexico groundsel.
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