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Oak Spring Canyon - Tonto Basin - 3 members in 6 triplogs have rated this an average 4.3 ( 1 to 5 best )
6 triplogs
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6 Triplogs
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Dec 27 2016
chumley
avatar

 Guides 80
 Routes 681
 Photos 15,069
 Triplogs 1,550

47 male
 Joined Sep 18 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Oak Spring Canyon - Tonto BasinPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Dec 27 2016
chumley
Canyoneering4.42 Miles 1,580 AEG
Canyoneering4.42 Miles   4 Hrs   48 Mns   1.06 mph
1,580 ft AEG      38 Mns Break
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Jon introduced me to this place four years ago, but it was almost totally dry. I figured with good rain and snowmelt on Mt. Ord there was a chance for some good flow today. I heard the creek running from the trailhead and knew I wouldn't be disappointed.

After reaching the main falls, I decided to try to climb up and get to the top. The scree slope is very manageable and didn't take too long. Up top, I headed back downstream toward the top of the falls, and encountered a series of other falls on the way. All of them were able to be bypassed on the left/north side of the creek, with some steep scree slopes and exposed class-4 climbing along the way.

I enjoyed the upper falls, and the creek up here was more open and picturesque than below. Snow dotted the mountainside above and rough pink granite and smooth grey granite combined to make a nice stretch of creek. I was unable to get to the very top of the 95-foot drop as there was one final fall just above it. This was in a narrow slot with smooth granite and no way down without a rope. There was a nice tree with vibrant yellow just above the top of the big fall.

I headed back the way I came, and did my best butt-scoot/ski on the scree slope. I rode a nice little rock slide/avalanche for about 20 yards along the way. Got cut up a little bit, but otherwise no big deal.

It got dark on me and I made slow progress down creek, alternating between hopping on creek rocks and searching for some kind of cattle path on the side of the creek. The flora here isn't too friendly and I am apparently taller than anything that travels along the creek, so I did a lot of ducking to follow the best paths. Got back to the truck a little over an hour after dark set in. This was just what the doctor ordered for today! :y:
Flora
Flora
Moss
Named place
Named place
Oak Spring Canyon
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Isolated

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Oak Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
Didn't find spring source, but canyon was running nicely.
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Atlhaz
2 archives
Nov 30 2013
ssk44
avatar

 Guides 19
 Routes 12
 Photos 2,289
 Triplogs 286

46 male
 Joined Mar 31 2008
 Gilbert, AZ
Oak Spring Canyon - Tonto BasinPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Nov 30 2013
ssk44
Canyoneering2.00 Miles 650 AEG
Canyoneering2.00 Miles   4 Hrs      0.50 mph
650 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Oak Spring never disappoints. Perfect light flow with unique fall conditions. Very cool canyon. Rugged as hell, but very cool.


Eric
:D
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation Substantial
Perfect!
_____________________
ISAIAH 6:2-3 / MATTHEW 11:28-30
Sep 07 2012
chumley
avatar

 Guides 80
 Routes 681
 Photos 15,069
 Triplogs 1,550

47 male
 Joined Sep 18 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Oak Spring Canyon - Tonto BasinPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Sep 07 2012
chumley
Canyoneering2.20 Miles 543 AEG
Canyoneering2.20 Miles   3 Hrs   20 Mns   0.66 mph
543 ft AEG
Canyon Hiking - Non-technical; no rope; easy scrambling; occasional hand use
A - Dry or little water; shallow or avoidable water; no wet/dry suit
II - Normally requires a half day
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
Jonnybackpack
Got frustrated sitting at my desk looking out my window and watching it rain all morning. Ten minute break on the landing outside didn't fix the problem. About five phone calls later I decided that I wasn't going to accomplish anything today anyway. Walked into my boss's office and interrupted his viewing of the US Open on ESPN3.com (really, was he going to deny my request?) and more or less announced that I was going to leave and play in the rain.

Met Jon a bit later in Fountain Hills, and we headed for Tonto Basin. I knew nothing about Oak Spring Canyon. Never read the description, not a triplog, not a photo, not a glance at a map. Nothing. Made for a little bit of an adventure.

In the end, Mt. Ord had only gotten .24" of rain and subsequently, there wasn't much going on in the canyon. There was a nice trickle of water over the main falls, but otherwise it was mostly just a very cool hike in a nice remote canyon. I'll definitely head back here for spring runoff or after a more substantial (maybe 2+"?) monsoon storm.

Despite a little disappointment in the lack of flow in the canyon, it was an enjoyable hike, and was 1000x better than sitting in my office surfing HAZ while pretending to work all afternoon!
Fauna
Fauna
Dog
Culture
Culture
HAZ Rides
Named place
Named place
Sycamore Creek
_____________________
Atlhaz
Feb 12 2011
Vaporman
avatar

 Guides 2
 Routes 4
 Photos 8,687
 Triplogs 931

41 male
 Joined Mar 28 2005
 SLC, Utah
Oak Spring Canyon - Tonto BasinPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Feb 12 2011
Vaporman
Canyoneering3.00 Miles 1,400 AEG
Canyoneering3.00 Miles   6 Hrs   15 Mns   0.48 mph
1,400 ft AEG
Intermediate Canyoneering - Difficult or dangerous; Tech Climb; rope reqd; descent anchor; exit technical;
B - Up to light current; wading/swimming; possible wet/dry suit
III - Normally requires most of a day
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
This canyon has been on my radar ever since ssk44 posted those sweet waterfall photos last spring and it was great to final technically descend it. :y: In my search for the secret canyons of Parallel Play & Double Play, I thought this canyon might have been on of those but those canyons were later determined to be other canyons. Though this canyon was very recently descended by Todd Martin and names A-Okay Canyon. Well now that I know the rope length needed and the drops all have new anchors, it sounded like a great time to run out there and finally descend it. :sweat:

There's probably a few different ways to get above the narrows of this canyon. Originally I had plotted out hiking up the smaller drainage to the east and scrambling up a saddle and dropping in above the narrows. But on the drive in, I changed my mind and we hiked up the lightly vegetated ridges on the western side of the canyon. And then once above the narrows, it looked like one could also rock hop up this drainage to the 140ft falls and then scramble up a loose scree slope to get up to the first rappel. Our route on the western slope may have been a tad longer, but it seems like the easiest approach of the three. :) When we were above the narrows, we came upon a side drainage that looked interested enough so we dropped in that side canyon and ended up getting an additional 100ft double drop to reach the main drainage. Ohh snap, we dropped in right in the middle of the narrows and missed the upper section. ](*,) Ohh sweet, we can scramble up the eastern ridge and get above the first rappel. :GB: We thru the wetsuits on and I went a bit further up canyon to get a good view down that scree chute ravine and got a rush when I saw the 140ft falls down below. The upper narrows starts with a 25ft slick waterfall rappel followed by two slippery slides. The top of the two slides is a 15ft bumpy ride and ends in a super chilly swimmer that was rather shocking to the system and I banged my elbow pretty good also. :o The canyon mellows up for a bit with loads of rock hopping & light down climbing & plenty of sunshine to warm us back up. Though I was staying plenty warm in my 4/3 even though we were playing in chilly snow runoff. :) The canyon takes a hard right and soon we're hitting the 2nd official rappel (not counting our bonus rappel) of 30ft down another slick falls into a brief narrows section. Very soon afterwards we hit the super sweet big drop down a ~140ft lightly flowing falls. :y: I recently bought a spool of canyoneering rope and this was my 200-footer first canyon and I already put a fuzzy section in the sheath going over a sharp edge of the falls. :roll: ](*,) The technical section was over, but we left the gear on as we continued down canyon thru loads of down climbing & rock hopping and eventually dropped the gear in a sunny section. Further down canyon, the creek hiking got easier and the side ridges dropped lower and we recognized were we crossed the creek and scrambled back out and to my buddies SUV parked nearby.

Woot! Another sweet run down another flowing Mazzie canyon along the Tonto Basin. :D Hmm, I wonder what that nearby steep & craggy Sycamore Canyon barely to the south has in store. :-k Might have to start from the top of Mt Ord to get down into that one...
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Yea, canyoneering is an extreme sport... EXTREMELY dramatic!!! =p
May 01 2010
skatchkins
avatar

 Guides 2
 Routes 22
 Photos 3,266
 Triplogs 220

42 male
 Joined Dec 22 2007
 Mesa, AZ
Oak Spring Canyon - Tonto BasinPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Canyoneering avatar May 01 2010
skatchkins
Canyoneering5.50 Miles 1,265 AEG
Canyoneering5.50 Miles   5 Hrs      1.10 mph
1,265 ft AEG
A - Dry or little water; shallow or avoidable water; no wet/dry suit
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I had a couple places in mind for a Saturday hike and maybe a pre-camp, but after waiting too late to hear back on some things I was w/o the camp option and more looking like a just me trip. Either way I was looking for some more water involved hikes before it was too late, so I chose Eric's logged hike near Oak Spring.
I drove up in the morning and hit the dirt for the drive in. It really has become a high clearance trail and at least in a couple step spots I'd say 4x4. The road is washed out in one section to and you have to drive in the creek for a bit.
I was worried at first because the creek was only a trickle down the hill from the trailhead. A few more small pools and then a long dry section where the creek lay underground didn't help. Past this, when the canyon got more canyony I started enjoying myself more. Larger pools and the sound of running water started making it worth it. Nothing was too tricky on the canyoneering side as long as you planned ahead of time. It wasn't until I sneezed that I realized how echoey it had become inside the slot. I (we) had fun with that as we continued on up. You could hear the main falls quite easily before spotting them. While it wasn't boomingly rushing like on Eric's trip, it was still flowing more than I had hoped. I was pleasantly surprised for sure. I ate lunch and snapped some non wildflower pics with a couple of stacked CPL's to keep the F's lower (higher) for an attempt on the falls.
On the way back down I stopped at the larger 5ft deep pool for a dip. I may or may not have brought my clothes in with me.
Kept hiking back, spotting lots of lizards and frogs and three fast long snakes that wanted nothing to do with me.
When I got back to the up and out, my legs said they wanted to keep going and maybe look for the ruins downstream. I went up the other side and poked around for a while admiring the views. It was more meadowy up there so going wasn't too tangled like down around the creek. I wasn't able to find anything that resembled structures, just a lot of rocks strewn about. I did find what I believe was a broken Metate, so that was cool. On my meandering way back down to refollow the creek, I almost stepped on another gopher snake. I've come to accept the girly shriek I make when I find out that my next step is going to be all snake unless I roll my weight. This is my third in less than a month. I refreaked out when I pet my new friend and he fake rattled. Pretty convincing at first.
With my animal spotting complete, I headed back. The creek down from the trailhead was actually quite pretty too.
While driving out a saw a deer chilling in the shade.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
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May he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;
May he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;
Armchair Crisis Design
Feb 05 2010
ssk44
avatar

 Guides 19
 Routes 12
 Photos 2,289
 Triplogs 286

46 male
 Joined Mar 31 2008
 Gilbert, AZ
Oak Spring Canyon - Tonto BasinPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Feb 05 2010
ssk44
Canyoneering7.60 Miles
Canyoneering7.60 Miles   6 Hrs      1.27 mph
Basic Canyoneering - Scrambling; easy climbing/downclimbing; frequent hand use; rope recommended; easy exit
B - Up to light current; wading/swimming; possible wet/dry suit
I - Short 1-2 hours
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Oak Spring Canyon (02/05/2010)

What a ride! I had so much fun on this hike. The upper waterfall far exceeded my expectations. The momentum of the hike just keeps building as the canyon gets steeper. The waterfalls just keep coming! My 8-inch Gore-Tex Danner boots came in very handy while working my way along the creek. Keeping your feet dry is must in the winter. A single walking staff is a tremendous advantage in a canyon with water! I am not accustomed to standing below large waterfalls. The power, the sound, the wind, and the mist must be experienced in person to truly appreciate! Very cool... Although this is primarily a seasonal hike, I suspect that there is light perennial water flow in the upper canyon throughout the year due to thick vegetation and numerous large sycamore trees. This is a unique special location that not many know about.

Eric (ssk44)
8)
Flora
Flora
Arizona Sycamore
_____________________
ISAIAH 6:2-3 / MATTHEW 11:28-30
2 archives
average hiking speed 0.92 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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