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Pine Creek Narrows - Isolation Canyon - 1 member in 4 triplogs has rated this an average 5 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Jun 24 2019
MountainMatt
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 Guides 3
 Routes 192
 Photos 2,807
 Triplogs 445

27 male
 Joined Jan 24 2016
 Arizona
Pine Creek Narrows - Isolation CanyonPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking avatar Jun 24 2019
MountainMatt
Hiking3.18 Miles 468 AEG
Hiking3.18 Miles
468 ft AEG35 LBS Pack
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Quick little evening after work trip to this sweet little spot.
Instead of starting on the AZ trail and eventually walking down canyon like before I entered from a eastern side canyon I remember from my last visit.
Had to make a big bypass to avoid a swimmer and cliff but other than that the spur trail was cairned and I assume the preferred route by climbers.
Once I hit Pine Creek Canyon I forgot how rugged this worthy chasm is and it has taken a beating with fresh massive flood debris piles from the snowmelt earlier this year which created new and bigger pools overall.
Stopped at the big pools and currently dryfalls below “The Ledge” and returned back the same route with variation at the top hitting high points and scanning cliff edges for anything of intrigue.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Pine Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
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http://www.mattwhelanphotography.com/
1 archive
Jul 22 2017
MountainMatt
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 Guides 3
 Routes 192
 Photos 2,807
 Triplogs 445

27 male
 Joined Jan 24 2016
 Arizona
Pine Creek Narrows - Isolation CanyonPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Backpack avatar Jul 22 2017
MountainMatt
Backpack4.23 Miles 397 AEG
Backpack4.23 Miles   18 Hrs   29 Mns   1.54 mph
397 ft AEG   15 Hrs   44 Mns Break55 LBS Pack
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
Jonnybackpack
I have no idea how I let Buford talk me into backpacking inside a rugged canyon during the height of monsoon season but I did and I'm sure glad too!
We got a late start messing around earlier that day testing the capabilities of Bufords trucks 4-wheel-low and new tires as we scouted narrow and rough roads leading to another entrance into Pine Creek downstream from the narrows.


We than just parked at the official Pine Canyon TH and looking like homeless people crossed the highway and began our formidable descent into the depths of Pine Creek.
At first travel was at a normal pace of your typical canyon but as the paths soon faded it became a arduous and incredibly slow moving task that tested my patience with a fully loaded pack.

After alot of bushwhacking and portaging we surprisingly discovered one of the only decent campsites in the entire canyon which was also high above the creek bed which gave me extra peace of mind even though the radar showed no more rain for the day.
We unpacked and continued further downstream to "The Narrows" in preparation of shooting sunset inside them.
It was that point I almost backed out due to how gnarly it appeared [ youtube video ] and due to the constant thought of flooding in the back of my mind probably because I witnessed a few firsthand the previous day.


Bufords enthusiasm can be contagious at times and considering he pursued on down with the Daisy the wonderdog in hand it was enough encouragement to follow.
We then were inside the guts of the narrows and came to a stop at a 100ft long silty deep placid pool, Jon begin to strip down and got ready to swim to see the largest waterfall on the other side while I instead climbed up to a highpoint and set up for some photos.
We finished up photos at 8pm (later than I had planned) and of course still had a fair share of canyoneering to do under the darkness of the night. [ youtube video ]
On the way back to camp Buford feel chest deep in the water behind me due to some miscommunication of what "staying to the right" meant. :sweat:
His phone, clothes and bag were soaked but eventually it all dried out and no harm was done.

Sawyer filters are amazing, it was my first time using one with brown silty water and it surprisingly came out crystal clear except it definitely still tasted like mudwater, vitamins and minerals yum!

The next day if it were up to me I would have made the steep climb out of the canyon at a particular weak point and walked back from there but we stayed inside the canyon instead and made the slow trudge back upstream.

Capped off the great trip with burgers and beer for breakfast at "That Brewery" and then spent the rest of Sunday chasing storms and driving the entire length of FR 300.
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5 archives
Feb 14 2015
chumley
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 Guides 75
 Routes 667
 Photos 13,266
 Triplogs 1,425

46 male
 Joined Sep 18 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Pine Creek Narrows - Isolation CanyonPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 14 2015
chumley
Hiking7.27 Miles 2,696 AEG
Hiking7.27 Miles   4 Hrs   25 Mns   2.11 mph
2,696 ft AEG      58 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I spotted this canyon from up on the rim last summer and followed up with some map research. Saturday was a perfect day to check it out after kicking off Arizona Beer Week with breakfast in the Wilderness. :y: Needless to say, that put a solid delay on going anywhere, and I wasn't on trail until 2pm.

My mapped plan was to descend through the narrows and then climb up Oak Spring Canyon to meet up with the AZT/Oak Spring trail back to the TH.

I was really pleased with the water flow in the canyon, as I hadn't expected there to be much. In fact, I suspect that much of the year there are only standing pools of water in here rather than a nice flow. This canyon can definitely flash though. Luckily you can see if there's flow in Pine and the watershed is only a few miles across, so no distant thunderstorms can sneak up on you in summer.

It was only after I spotted three climbers rappelling down the several-hundred foot cliffs on the side of the canyon and got back home to research it that I realized that "The Narrows" of Pine Creek (as they are called on maps) is known as Isolation Canyon in the climbing community. Suddenly, I knew all about the place ... I just hadn't realized that's where I was!

I managed to keep my feet dry until near the end, when it was just easier to cross a pool on foot than attempt some kind of bypass. There are some really special spots in these narrows including some very good size waterfalls. Two places involved some climbing, and I was happy to find ropes in place to help me along.

Because of my late start, I realized I wasn't going to have time to complete my loop as planned. So I bailed up a very steep slope and headed for the power lines that lead back to Pine. I don't recommend this route as it is very steep and thick with brush that eats hikers. I did startle a healthy looking bear on the ridge, and it lumbered down into a side canyon. So that was another highlight of the day!

I made it back to my truck just as it got dark, and then crossed the street to meet up with Karl, Kathy, and Kyle at THAT brewery for a few minutes. :)

For somewhere that is so ridiculously easy to get to, I was surprised to see only one previous post on HAZ through here. I'll definitely be back. I'd like to see it in summer green, and also see how the water flow changes in different seasons.
Geology
Geology
Unidentified Geology
Named place
Named place
The Narrows
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Profound observer
May 05 2001
mazatzal
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 Routes 31
 Photos 2,166
 Triplogs 1,074

62 male
 Joined Jul 28 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Whiterock Mesa - AZT #25Payson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking avatar May 05 2001
mazatzal
Hiking9.40 Miles 1,500 AEG
Hiking9.40 Miles   6 Hrs      1.94 mph
1,500 ft AEG   1 Hour   10 Mns Break
 
PIne TH to Ridge tank and return.
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1 archive
average hiking speed 1.86 mph

WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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