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West Clear Creek - Bear Canyon to Bull Pen - 3 members in 6 triplogs have rated this an average 4.7 ( 1 to 5 best )
6 triplogs
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Oct 04 2020
ShatteredArm
avatar

 Guides 4
 Routes 89
 Photos 452
 Triplogs 92

37 male
 Joined Nov 30 2015
 Phoenix, AZ
WCC - Cash Tank to FR214A, AZ 
WCC - Cash Tank to FR214A, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Oct 04 2020
ShatteredArm
Hiking16.00 Miles 2,000 AEG
Hiking16.00 Miles   10 Hrs   31 Mns   1.54 mph
2,000 ft AEG      6 Mns Break
 
no photosets
Spur of the moment trip to "finish" WCC. Friday evening a friend became available, so we decided that this would likely be our last chance to do what would easily be the most difficult leg of the canyon. Dropped off my Jeep on FR214A on the west side (debating going to Bull Pen, but I figured I'd be too tired to run the easy part of the trail anyways) on Saturday night, and shuttled around to Calloway Tank to camp.

Only went about a mile on FR142A, and decided we're not saving much time, so at 8AM we parked the car and jogged the rest of the way to Cash Tank. The big unknown this weekend was how cold the water would be. At the first swim, we inflated the cheap tubes, and floated down the creek. At this point, the water was cold enough to numb my arms and legs, guessing about 50F. Started getting some sun exposure after the White Box though, and the water was much more pleasant after that.

Took a break at the Hanging Gardens, assessed our pace, and decided we didn't have any reason to be concerned yet. Near Meadow Canyon, we saw a band of coatimundi, with a few juveniles. Despite being so young, they were already very skilled climbers. This is now the farthest north I have seen coati.

Just a couple minutes later, I encountered my first rattler of the year (believe it or not), and he was not happy. It was of the black tailed variety.

Red box... This was my favorite section, mainly because it is amazing and I had never seen it before. My friend thought the white box was prettier, so both were new to him, so that's probably a less biased view. Took a break in the red box and we spotted a pretty big natural arch about halfway up the canyon wall, not sure if it has a name.

After the red box it got a little more miserable, with a stretch where progress was difficult - no dry rocks in the creek, but vegetation covering the banks. Got a little concerned about daylight there for a bit, but the terrain opened up a little bit. It got a little slow again just before Maiden Falls, with a couple of spots requiring a little bit of poking around to find the way around.

Got to the falls around 3:45pm IIRC, and knowing the rest of the way would be easy, I felt a lot better about the daylight situation. Took a couple of minutes to celebrate the fact that we had now seen the entire canyon above Bull Pen, and made good time to the exit.

Somehow managed not to fall off a cliff exiting the canyon, and powered up the hill. It's amazing that even on a steep climb like that, you can move twice as fast as you can in the creek. Got to the top right around sunset, without needing to pull out a light. That's a win in my book.

Overall, took 10.5 hours from car to car, and we weren't dawdling much at all.
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Aug 08 2020
ShatteredArm
avatar

 Guides 4
 Routes 89
 Photos 452
 Triplogs 92

37 male
 Joined Nov 30 2015
 Phoenix, AZ
WCC - Calloway to Cash Tank, AZ 
WCC - Calloway to Cash Tank, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Aug 08 2020
ShatteredArm
Hiking12.00 Miles 2,128 AEG
Hiking12.00 Miles   7 Hrs   8 Mns   1.69 mph
2,128 ft AEG      3 Mns Break
 
no photosets
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Low rain chance weekend, so I decided to continue with my quest to see all of West Clear Creek. Next stretch was Calloway Trail to Cash Tank, so we just parked a car on FR142B and looped it (figured it would take as long to set up a shuttle as it would to just jog the roads).

Calloway Trail was the first part of the canyon I ever saw (back when I was a teenager), so it's always nice to see that place. Amazingly, there was a short dry section near the trail where the creek disappeared under the ground - never seen that before in West Clear Creek. Flow is really low right now.

This might be the first section of the canyon with mandatory swims (I don't remember any on the previous stretch), and some of them are quite long. But we made pretty good time, and within a few hours, we were already at the bend at the end of FR142J (I'm pretty sure there is a route down from the end of FR142J I scrambled down with my dad many years ago, and the cairns at the bottom seem to confirm that).

After this, we actually saw wet spots on the rocks; didn't expect to see people in this section of the canyon, but we passed them shortly thereafter (they were also doing Calloway to Cash Tank). This section of the canyon was also easier traveling, with a lot of rocks sticking above the water line that made travel in the creek relatively easy.

A couple more swims as you approach the last bend, and this was a beautiful area that kind of reminded me of the White Box. After about 4.5 hours in the canyon we reached the Cash Tank exit, and the rest of the trip was uneventful.

I found this section of canyon easier and more scenic than Point Trail to Calloway Trail, and my favorite so far on the quest.
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Aug 08 2020
jillyonanadventure
avatar

 Routes 9
 Photos 554
 Triplogs 48

39 female
 Joined Jan 21 2019
 Scottsdale
Bear cyn point to Calloway, AZ 
Bear cyn point to Calloway, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Aug 08 2020
jillyonanadventure
Hiking9.74 Miles 3,186 AEG
Hiking9.74 Miles   8 Hrs   14 Mns   1.26 mph
3,186 ft AEG      32 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Gathered a small group and went on a new canyon adventure! I plotted a route to take us through a section of west clear creek to explore more around bear canyon starting off at point trail and heading downstream. We met at 8:30am to quickly set up camp then a few of us went to drop off a shuttle vehicle at the Calloway trailhead, which was our exit point. This was where our first hiccup came in, as the directions I had pinned from google maps were completely off. We were in a maze of awful roads for a while before finally reaching the correct location and returning to the rest of the group. They had waited about 2 hours for us to get the shuttle situated, so we were starting the canyon way later than intended. It was a mob scene at point trail and even in the bottom going both directions, but after about 1.5 miles they disappeared. :y: The canyon was beautiful, but it was a mixture of extremely slippery creek walking, or thorny bushwhacking on the sides. We each fell countless times, and were bleeding as well. There were a few swimmers along the way that would have been difficult to bypass, but we didn’t need to inflate floaties. It was slow moving down the canyon and the bushes just got thicker as we continued on. :sweat: We finally made it to our exit point at Calloway which was super steep switchbacks, but a defined path at least. This was pretty brutal for a day hike given how slow moving it was, but it was definitely a beautiful one! Definitely make sure to have a lot of fuel for this one since it’s so grueling. Glad to have friends up for any adventure! Camped near point TH and celebrated @john9l’s birthday! Woke up nice and chilly which was awesome :D
2 archives
May 16 2009
toddak
avatar

 Guides 8
 Routes 5
 Photos 1,186
 Triplogs 450

55 male
 Joined Nov 15 2005
 Puhoynix, AZ
West Clear Creek - Bear Canyon to Bull PenPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Canyoneering avatar May 16 2009
toddak
Canyoneering25.00 Miles 2,800 AEG
Canyoneering25.00 Miles
2,800 ft AEG
Canyon Hiking - Non-technical; no rope; easy scrambling; occasional hand use
B - Up to light current; wading/swimming; possible wet/dry suit
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Nice trip report Brad, but I thought a few pictures might help convey what an absolute treasure this canyon is. The photos cover the section from the Cash Tank entry/exit point downstream a couple miles to Meadow Canyon, a lovely side canyon. This section includes the famous "white box", a 75 yard swim through a narrow corridor, and the "hanging garden spring" pouring down the flower-covered hillside right into WCC. This may not be the easiest stretch of WCC to visit, but its worth every step!
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1 archive
May 16 2009
JoelHazelton
avatar

 Guides 16
 Routes 10
 Photos 967
 Triplogs 406

34 male
 Joined Mar 22 2006
 Phoenix, AZ
West Clear Creek - Bear Canyon to Bull PenPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Canyoneering avatar May 16 2009
JoelHazelton
Canyoneering17.00 Miles 2,500 AEG
Canyoneering17.00 Miles2 Days         
2,500 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The mileage and elevation gain are only estimates, as I did not bring my GPS. We didn't do this entire section of canyon, just hiked a maze of dirt roads above cash tank and then a mile or so of canyon.

The original plan was to park my truck as close to cash tank as I could get it, and then mountain bike the rest of the way to the trailhead, then hike down and work our way downstream to hanging gardens for the campsite. Camp 2 nights at hanging gardens and head back Monday. Well, this was immediately thrown off Friday morning when I woke up to find my catalytic converter stolen off the bottom of my truck. They could offer me a small SUV for a rental, and figuring the ground clearance was about the same, I accepted. Later I realized we couldn't fit two mountain bikes in it, so that idea was scratched. We would be hiking the roads.

Fr144 degraded really quickly, basically right at the turnoff for the Calloway trail, so we ended up having to park there, leaving a pretty significant hike to Cash Tank. I won't get too specific, but during our hike on the fs roads we missed two turnoffs, due to a combination of me leaving the forest service map in the car and the roads not having signs. We did a lot more hiking than we needed to and almost ended up back out at the 260 at one point. We finally made it to the bottom of the canyon by about 6:30 PM and there were no flat spots big enough for a tent to be found. We eventually ended up just throwing our sleeping bags down between rocks on a beach. I let Andrew sleep in the best spot because all he had was a sleeping bag and I also had a sleeping pad to add some comfort. That evening we were completely beat, but still had enough energy to have a small fire and some camping "drinks".

The next day we decided to just daytrip to the hanging gardens and camp at the same spot, so after breakfast we waterproofed and headed off. Swimming the white box was probably the coolest thing I've ever done. The water temps were absolutely perfect. Chilly when you first jump in, but very enjoyable within a minute or so. We actually swam into one of the side alcoves where there was a deep cave and climbed up the small cliffs and dove into the water for a while. A great swimming hole! We never explored the cave because there was quite a bit of scat leading into it :scared: As we left the white box, dark clouds rolled in and thunder started booming. We talked about it for a minute and decided to turn around. It seemed a lot like monsoon and, although the chance for rain was rather slim (10%), i know those storms can be pretty unpredictable in the high country. It started raining while we were swimming back. Once back at camp, I drank two and a half liters of waterr, filtered a couple more, packed up and hiked out. The hike back to the car took about 3 hours.

Overall it was a fun adventure but somewhat of a disappointment. Now I know the area, so I will be back again very soon. Especially after Toddak's recent set... I need to see those gardens!
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"Arizona is the land of contrast... You can go from Minnesota to California in a matter of minutes, then have Mexican food that night." -Jack Dykinga

http://www.joelhazelton.com
Apr 19 2009
itsradBrad
avatar

 Guides 1
 Triplogs 4

36 male
 Joined Jan 28 2009
 Glendale, AZ
West Clear Creek - Bear Canyon to Bull PenPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Apr 19 2009
itsradBrad
Canyoneering25.00 Miles 2,800 AEG
Canyoneering25.00 Miles
2,800 ft AEG
Basic Canyoneering - Scrambling; easy climbing/downclimbing; frequent hand use; rope recommended; easy exit
B - Up to light current; wading/swimming; possible wet/dry suit
VI - Two or more days
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
See hike description.
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average hiking speed 1.5 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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