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Big Dipper - Castle Creek Wilderness - 29 members in 51 triplogs have rated this an average 3.8 ( 1 to 5 best )
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May 11 2019
adrianazele
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 Routes 4
 Triplogs 1

51 female
 Joined Oct 16 2007
 Peoria, AZ
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar May 11 2019
adrianazele
Hiking4.70 Miles 1,504 AEG
Hiking4.70 Miles   4 Hrs   47 Mns   1.36 mph
1,504 ft AEG   1 Hour   20 Mns Break
 
no photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
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Apr 06 2018
skatchkins
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 Guides 2
 Routes 22
 Photos 3,186
 Triplogs 214

41 male
 Joined Dec 22 2007
 Mesa, AZ
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 06 2018
skatchkins
Hiking3.70 Miles 1,200 AEG
Hiking3.70 Miles
1,200 ft AEG
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Good time. Plenty of water. Waterfall still falling, just less. Rope is gone. Explored the next day.
Culture
Culture
Campsite HAZ PicMimic
_____________________
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
Jan 06 2018
mt98dew
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 Guides 16
 Routes 19
 Photos 398
 Triplogs 1,454

50 male
 Joined Oct 24 2010
 Phoenix,Az
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 06 2018
mt98dew
Hiking6.39 Miles 1,200 AEG
Hiking6.39 Miles   5 Hrs   39 Mns   1.13 mph
1,200 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Finally made it to the "Big Dipper". I had tried to do this hike last year, but the water was flowing so strongly I ended up staying on the Algonquin.. I came up last month with the intention of doing this hike and got so caught up in trail maintenance that I never even made it to the river. Today, with the trail being clear, (to the river - though I will admit that I was disappointed to see that I had missed some patches of cat's claw from my previous visit), I had no problem making my way to the Big Dipper. The river bed was dry with only a couple of isolated pools to be seen. So I was able to hike the entire length without having to deal with any of the vegetation that boardered the banks. As I was hiking though, I was eye-balling the banks and I "think" the northern face would offer an easier route to the Dipper if the wash was flowing and you were trying to skirt the water. This lack of water is a stark contrast from what I encountered last March. In the write up Joe mentions a "Hell's Hole" in the area. Not sure exactly what that is referring to, but now would be an ideal time to try to identify that area, since there is no water to compete with. I took a couple of pictures of the pool at the base of the fall and headed back. Looked like there was a very slow seep just prior to the fall - so slow I couldn't see the water moving, but rocks were wet that I wouldn't expect to be wet.
Instead of heading back to the vehicle I continued on the Algonquin and worked on cutting back some of the encroaching vegetation. (I had hiked this flat section to the cabin back in 2016 and I "remember " it as being a fairly clean hike. Based on how bad it has gotten since then, I'm thinking someone must have been doing some maintenance prior to that visit). I didn't spend too much or get very far, but I was aggressive in the the sections that I cleared. Hopefully that will keep the trail clear for that much longer. Plan on coming back up after some decent rain or snow?? and seeing the Big Dipper in action. Saw 2 deer on the way out which was a pleasant surprise. Otherwise, I had the trail to myself ( though there were couple of vehicles at the TH taking pictures). Looked as if Crown King was going to be busy today. Passed at least 20 vehicles heading up, as I was heading out.
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Oct 15 2017
ibishop89
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 Triplogs 1

30 male
 Joined Sep 29 2017
 Phoenix,AZ
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 15 2017
ibishop89
Hiking3.70 Miles 1,200 AEG
Hiking3.70 Miles
1,200 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Definitely avoid this trail at all costs. The overgrowth of thorned bushes is numerous and the sheer amount of bees and wasps is alarming. On top of it all, while mentioned that the waterfall is perennial, that is not so. All the way down with cuts all over and not a single source of water was a joke. Even if there was a waterfall present, I would avoid this trail. Side note: getting to the trailhead is a pretty solid 26 mike treck with a lot of blind turns and crazy drivers so be careful. I even watched one Jeep almost take out a cow crossing the path.
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Apr 27 2017
MountainMatt
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 Guides 3
 Routes 192
 Photos 2,777
 Triplogs 441

27 male
 Joined Jan 24 2016
 Arizona
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 27 2017
MountainMatt
Hiking6.03 Miles 1,760 AEG
Hiking6.03 Miles   4 Hrs   48 Mns   1.92 mph
1,760 ft AEG   1 Hour   40 Mns Break20 LBS Pack
 
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
Nice little visit back to one of my favorite swimming holes!

The whole area is recovering quite nicely from the Gladiator Fire and is healthy as can be after the bounty of winter storms.
It's thriving so well that the trail is now becoming somewhat overgrown in many places, especially the lower sections, I sported shorts and a tank top and received quite a bit of cats claw exfoliation.

I had to make a quick stop at the old Algonquin mine to check out the leaning architecture this time around.
Horsethief Canyon is a gem right now, vibrant greenery, clear cascades and dynamic views make this a return visit destination just on its own, a Bradshaw backpacking trip may now be on my agenda before it gets too warm.
Has there even been any Hazzers that have backpacked in the Bradshaws lately?
I can't recall seeing anything but day hikes over the past couple years in this area which continues surprise me because of how beautiful and diverse I find this overlooked mountain range.

The weather, conditions and day could not have been any better!
I had the Big Dipper all to myself, cooled off in the pools and most importantly just enjoyed myself.
Just had one little quicksand scare in the pool directly donwstream from the falls, with one footstep the shallow sandy water I was walking on suddenly turned into a gut wrenching sinkhole that certainly gave me a scare considering I was out there solo like usual.

Other than that this was one of those rare perfect days where everything just went smooth as butter from start to finish.
8)
Culture
Culture
Intrepid Back Shot
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Big Dipper - Crown King Quad Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Horsethief Canyon Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Poland Creek Medium flow Medium flow
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Mar 19 2016
The_Eagle
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 Guides 5
 Routes 792
 Photos 9,159
 Triplogs 1,080

63 male
 Joined Jan 20 2009
 Far NE Phoenix,
Dipper - Horsethief - Recreation - Algonquin, AZ 
Dipper - Horsethief - Recreation - Algonquin, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 19 2016
The_Eagle
Hiking16.39 Miles 4,521 AEG
Hiking16.39 Miles   10 Hrs      2.07 mph
4,521 ft AEG   2 Hrs   5 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Big Dipper
Finally hit the Big Dipper for the first time. Easy to get there with only minor rock hopping. Kept dry easily.
Such a pretty area. The mSD Card in my phone self destructed, so I have no pictures. Hopefully Joe got some.
I can see why this place is popular. We got there early enough in the day that noone was there.

Horsethief Canyon Trail #30
This is a favorite of mine in the area. The creek has been flowing every time I've been there. This trail in the past has seen very little traffic, but it seems to be getting a bit more now.

Recreation Trail #201
I'd remembered this one as being hard to follow. The last time all we had to follow was a trace from the TOPO maps Those are notoriously inaccurate. This trail actually is not all that bad to follow, when you are on it... The track that I posted is spot on for all but the first 100 yards on the east end. I adjusted out our "exploration" and used RM/Satellite predict where it actually starts on the east. It may in fact start a little farther South than I show it.

Senator Highway #52
We had a 2 mile road walk on this to get to the Algonquin Trailhead.
Kind of a busy day with 4x4's, ORV's, and Motorcycles.

Algonquin Trail #225
The start of this one is all but impossible to find without a track. I'm sure the fire took out the old TH sign. This one needs some love. There are numerous downfalls across the trail. Joe and I put a dent it it by clearing the ones we could and adding some appropriate Cairns. There are some real nice views from this one. I saw a red headed wood pecker on this trail.... without a body. :o

Back down by Horsthief Creek we were mostly in the shade w/ a light breeze. Perfect.
4 or 5 other groups had signed in after us, but we saw no one the whole day.

Another very enjoyable day in the Castle Creek Wilderness!
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Big Dipper - Crown King Quad Medium flow Medium flow
Plenty to go around

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Horsethief Canyon Medium flow Medium flow
Running water the full length
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There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
Dave Barry
1 archive
Mar 19 2016
joebartels
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 Guides 213
 Routes 824
 Photos 10,880
 Triplogs 4,287

49 male
 Joined Nov 20 1996
 Phoenix, AZ
Dipper - Horsethief - Recreation - Algonquin, AZ 
Dipper - Horsethief - Recreation - Algonquin, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 19 2016
joebartels
Hiking16.39 Miles 4,521 AEG
Hiking16.39 Miles   10 Hrs      1.89 mph
4,521 ft AEG   1 Hour   20 Mns Break14 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Check out Bruce's triplog loaded with details!

Still love this loop. We last hiked the exact loop five years ago.

Wore pants on a whim. It would have been brutal without. There is a little catsclaw, not really the issue. The killer brush is shin height, more of a low lying gauntlet of swords. It jabs right through thin pants that ward off catsclaw.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
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Hike Arizona it ROCKS!
Mar 01 2016
MountainMatt
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 Guides 3
 Routes 192
 Photos 2,777
 Triplogs 441

27 male
 Joined Jan 24 2016
 Arizona
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 01 2016
MountainMatt
Hiking3.20 Miles 1,008 AEG
Hiking3.20 Miles   6 Hrs   15 Mns   0.91 mph
1,008 ft AEG   2 Hrs   45 Mns Break
 
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Such a beautiful little solo stroll to The Big Dipper for a day of cold beers and relaxation! :y: I'm still blown away how easy it to access such a nice place so close to the I-17. Along the switchbacks I could see snow at the top of the mountain which was a nice sight to see since I wanted a strong flowing waterfall, and the recent scaring of the Gladiator fire gave the whole area such a unique look. Anyway the only part I was somewhat not excited about was the "the wall to wall narrows" that everyone put in their hike descriptions. Well when it came to that portion I almost didn't even notice because I just simply walked right down the middle of it in soft mushy sand, the creek still running strong pitched to the right of the narrow instead of filling it like a pool. The Big Dipper itself was flowing like a champ and I took photos from a scenic rock vista and proceed to down scramble around to get some photos from the base which turned into nap on a perfect rock throne I found. The bottom pool was bigger than I've seen in most photos but what confused me is why the narrows section upstream was not completely filled with water. :-k I got in the water intentionally to test it out and although the hit temps outside the water was still almost too cold to even comfortable have your feet in. Before I left I proceeded to take final photos along the edge of the pool and then got to comfortable because the edge of the muddy brim gave way and I plunged waist deep into the pool. :sl: Luckily managed to knee my arms above my head with my phone clenched in hand, the dip in the pool was actually a good thing because the hike out was a hot one due to the lack of shade and beaming setting sun. All in all a fantastic day and can't wait to come back during the summer! :DANCE:
Fauna
Fauna
Canyon Tree Frog
Named place
Named place
Big Dipper - Crown King Quad
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Horsethief Creek Medium flow Medium flow
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Sep 12 2015
Lumberjill
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 Routes 2
 Photos 26
 Triplogs 26

37 female
 Joined Aug 22 2014
 Phoenix, AZ
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 12 2015
Lumberjill
Hiking4.30 Miles 1,508 AEG
Hiking4.30 Miles   4 Hrs      1.23 mph
1,508 ft AEG      30 Mns Break10 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Started out on a gorgeous morning and pretty much had the trail to ourselves the whole time. The trail was overgrown with cat claw and though I knew this was the case, I wore shorts and was bleeding pretty quickly. I was quite happy to make it to the stream and start doing some boulder hopping. We made it to the Big Dipper but couldn't figure out a way to get to the pool at the bottom of the waterfall. Well, at least not safely! And there didn't appear to be any way to get back up, even if we had gotten to the bottom. Back the way we came, travelling through the stream/river bed was pretty easy going and I had almost forgotten about the cat claw. We started the climb back up, up, UP the mountain in early afternoon. The sun exposure and the heat made for a grueling climb. It was warmer than we anticipated and we ended up stopping to rest for a few minutes. I wasn't super excited about just sitting in the sun, but my legs were very happy for the reprieve. There were storm clouds all around us that were flirting with covering up the sun for us, but didn't actually do so until we got back to the car. :?

On our way in, we saw a snake that was probably about 6 feet long (not a rattler, but not sure what it was) and on the way back to I-17, we spotted a tarantula crossing the road, which was pretty cool. :) Good day for seeing wildlife!
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Sep 06 2015
Peter_Medal
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 Guides 9
 Routes 121
 Photos 1,342
 Triplogs 79

48 male
 Joined Feb 19 2013
 Prescott, AZ
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 06 2015
Peter_Medal
Hiking9.50 Miles 2,600 AEG
Hiking9.50 Miles   7 Hrs   40 Mns   1.24 mph
2,600 ft AEG28 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked linked
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We hitched a ride with day hikers for a hike to the Big Dipper on Saturday afternoon, planting our exit vehicle at the junction of Poland Creek and Forest Road 688 (34°15'2.67"N 112°14'4.54"W). Mapping out a straight line path of the Poland Canyon on Google Earth, figured our trip was going to be 7.3 miles to our exit. About 1/3 mile downstream we found an ideal place to break for camp ( 34°13'3.47"N 112°17'44.29"W) for our next days adventure. We set out a little later then we wanted at 9:15. The journey along Poland Creek was a boulder hoppers paradise. Temps got up to 96 degrees. It was a very warm day except when the sun was behind the clouds. Hiking along the creek, there were a couple occasions the canyon did not permit a non-technical descent, or would place you into yet another pool of water. None of the team were looking to getting wet, so in said occasions, we back tracked and bush wacked "up and over", at times having to take our backpacks off for some rock climbing up or down the canyon walls. The thorny bushes were unforgiving. At the end of the day all of us looked like we barely survived a knife fight. The gameplan was to catch up to the Silver Chirstmas Mine and poke around, but the extended length of our planned route, coupled with the torture of the sun and heat forced us to scrub our little side trip. None of us GPS'ed the route, so sorry, do not have any exact metrics of the trip.
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"Before there was a trail..... there was no trail"
Aug 23 2014
AlaskaSunDevil
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 Triplogs 1

25 male
 Joined Apr 13 2014
 Tempe
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Aug 23 2014
AlaskaSunDevil
Hiking3.20 Miles 1,008 AEG
Hiking3.20 Miles   4 Hrs      1.07 mph
1,008 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Me and my buddies headed out to escape the heat and get out of Phoenix. The road into the trail was really slow going as it was about all my little Focus could handle but it is fairly easily drivable by a car.

The first part of the trail descending to the creek is very overgrown and has lots of thorny bushes to grab at your legs. We all made the mistake of wearing shorts and have plenty of scratches to show for it. Once you get down to the creek the real fun begins. The very first boulder we jumped onto had a decent sized rattlesnake. That'll get you going. If you don't want to get wet it takes plenty of time picking your way across the boulders. On the return trip we decided to just walk in the creek and it saved us a ton of time as well as being pretty refreshing. Heads up that the sandy sections in the creek are not solid ground at all and you will sink pretty deep in them. Learned that by falling into the creek.

The water was super high, not at all what I was expecting from previous triplogs. The wall to wall section of water requires you to wade through it if you don't want to scramble along the sketchy wall of the canyon. The waterfall also appears to be back to it's former glory and the pool area does not have any sandy beaches, it is just one giant pool.

Overall awesome hike, one I would definitely do again.
Here is the youtube video of our trip if you want to see it. http://youtu.be/MMCKSYls7ac
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Sep 02 2013
kelraen
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 Photos 160
 Triplogs 11

31 male
 Joined Oct 08 2011
 mesa
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 02 2013
kelraen
Hiking3.20 Miles 1,008 AEG
Hiking3.20 Miles   5 Hrs      0.64 mph
1,008 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Looking forward to Labor Day weekend, I decided I wanted to try somewhere new. I then did what I always do when I'm looking for an adventure: check out logs on hikeaz. I saw this place and decided to give it a shot! I brought a buddy of mine and we headed out to Bloody Basin road. I had never gone back on this road before, and while the description shows a car as being okay, I wouldn't recommend it, as it would take a LOT longer. Anyways, seeing water on the way in along the road and crashing down the hillsides was a great indicator.

At the trailhead, we headed down and I saw quickly how long down this was. Not too bad really, but definitely a long slog back up. Getting in to the creek, I found the water to be PERFECT! Just refreshing enough to be amazing, but not too cold at all. Probably the best water-temperature/outdoor-temperature mix I've had in a long time :y: . Made our way down and shortly got the waterfall. The pool certainly is a lot smaller than it used to be (based off of the old Pics). At it's deepest it's only about 6 feet deep, so I wouldn't recommend jumping. The rope that used to be there is no more. My buddy wasn't quite as comfortable with the scramble down the rock, but made it mostly unscathed (mostly being the operative word :? ). I'd definitely recommend bringing something to tie off to allow easier access. Not that big of a deal on the way down, but a lot harder getting up. Anyways, enjoyed the falls for a while and then headed down stream to see some other cascades, frogs, tracks I didn't recognize, and some fun little slogs. One thing I'll say about this place, watch where you step! With all the silt in there now, you can easily sink down a foot or two where you thought it looked solid (that's what I did!).

Made our way back up the waterfall (with some difficulty), and then the long hike out. The weather was gorgeous and we hiked in the shade almost all the way up. About 5 hours at a nice leisurely pace and chilling for a while down at the falls.

Overall, I didn't know what to expect with this place. While this waterfall wasn't the most spectacular I've ever seen, nor the biggest, it certainly is one of my favorites now. Something about it just made me feel at home! Definitely want to go back!
Fauna
Fauna
Canyon Tree Frog
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Apr 20 2013
jaysmith
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 Photos 7
 Triplogs 2

36 male
 Joined Mar 11 2009
 Phoenix
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 20 2013
jaysmith
Hiking3.20 Miles 1,008 AEG
Hiking3.20 Miles   5 Hrs      0.64 mph
1,008 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Hiked the big dipper late last April with my brother. This was my 5th time out there, and I was amazed at how much silt and sand have filled up the canyon! The long stretch that used to be a mandatory swim was now just a trickle through a sandy floor. You no longer have to get wet at all on this hike, which in my opinion is unfortunate. It is still an incredibly beautiful area, and I will continue to come here as a quick respite from the heat of the valley. The Dipper was still a decent waterfall, but the pool below is now a much smaller pool but mostly sandy beach. (I will post photos). It makes for a nice little place to relax, and you can still wade into what little of a pool remains. Next time I think I will head upstream when I reach the creek, and see what lies up in the canyon.
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Apr 21 2012
bigredjeepchic
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 Photos 62
 Triplogs 4

37 female
 Joined Apr 05 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 21 2012
bigredjeepchick
Hiking3.20 Miles 1,008 AEG
Hiking3.20 Miles
1,008 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
skatchkins
Did this again with by brother (skatchkins), my husband, his mentee kid, sister-in-law, and Laura.
Weather was perfect for the chilly water. No snakes this time, just frogs and a turtle.
Fauna
Fauna
Canyon Tree Frog
_____________________
May 04 2011
JuanJaimeiii
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 Routes 562
 Photos 7,617
 Triplogs 1,599

52 male
 Joined Jan 30 2011
 Chandler, AZ
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar May 04 2011
JuanJaimeiii
Hiking4.20 Miles 1,008 AEG
Hiking4.20 Miles
1,008 ft AEG   3 Hrs    Break
 no routes
Linked linked
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Hiked down to the Big Dipper with a small group of friends yesterday. We waded through the channel and then rock hopped the rest of the way down. The water was down in the river a bit but still flowing okay. The waterfall was AMAZING! We all jumped in and the water was ice cold! Didn't swim long. Good times though!
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Mar 23 2011
JuanJaimeiii
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 Routes 562
 Photos 7,617
 Triplogs 1,599

52 male
 Joined Jan 30 2011
 Chandler, AZ
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 23 2011
JuanJaimeiii
Hiking3.20 Miles 1,008 AEG
Hiking3.20 Miles   3 Hrs   14 Mns   0.99 mph
1,008 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
Yesterday I hiked down the Alognquin Trail #225 to Poland Creek. The destination was the Big Dipper Pool but I didn't make it all the way. What I estimate to be a quarter mile from the finish line was a pretty challanging area with water in the middle and steep rocks on either side. My buddy and I attempted to go up and over on the right side but were attacked by the many trees and prickly bushes. We are going to return in a month to do the East Fort Trail hike just past Crown King and at that point we plan to swim/wade through the channel. Yesterday it was just a tad too cold for this. Nice hike otherwise and the trail seems to be rarely used. Lots of overgrowth.
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Mar 19 2011
WilliamnWendi
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 Guides 2
 Routes 58
 Photos 1,253
 Triplogs 213

46 male
 Joined Dec 26 2009
 Phoenix, Az
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 19 2011
WilliamnWendi
Hiking3.20 Miles 1,008 AEG
Hiking3.20 Miles   6 Hrs      0.53 mph
1,008 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Started this hike out pretty ambitious. Planning to hit the Dipper come back and find the infamous Hells Hole with just a guess of where it might be based on my read of the topos. Time for all those plans were quickly eaten away by a multitude of events. First the 1-1/2 hours I guessed it would take just to get to the trail head became 2 hours and 20 minutes in our little white Altima. That dirt road is certainly passable but 25 miles wears you down.
Then I was hoping against hope that the water might be swimmable but was pretty sure nobody was getting in the water... And neither of us did, way too cold still. But ultimately this turned out to be our downfall in reaching the big dipper itself. In the photosets for the trail description there is a picture of a group who are up to their pits in water and ever one is holding their packs over their heads. I had that in my head the whole way hoping that they were doing that just for fun. Yeah,no. I scrambled all over the rock for a good while looking for some clever little route to sneak past and although their were a few that pushed the limits of just crazy enough for me try there was no way I was gonna put Wendi in any of those situations.
We resigned to giving up, eat our lunch and reflect on all the beauty that we did see. Which considerable. There are a ton of swimming holes, these small orange spotted butterflies were every where you looked and stepped... carefully stepped so as not to step on them or tree frogs that constantly under foot once we reached the canyon bottom.
After lunch I took my own little trip. A last ditch effort to prevail over our obstacle by backtracking a bit and find a line over the top southern canyon wall. I did succeed and even set up some ducks as I went. I ended up on what looked either game trail or some other "Don't know when to quit" hiker, couldn't find definite tracks one way or the other, just obvious signs of disturbance.
Eventually I made it to the other side. Caught Wendi's attention, which took some doing, I learned later that she was being delighted by a small baby frog. By the time I made it back to her it was obvious that we needed to get back to the trail head.
Just as the trail leaves the water we stopped and stuck my feet in the water just to say that I could. I also pulled out my pruners for the track back. I pruned every catclaw that looked menacing from there to the trail head. We'll be back in a little warmer weather to be sure.
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The Tree of Understanding, dazzling, straight, and simple, sprouts by the spring called Now I Get It. - Wislawa Szymborska, "Utopia"
Dec 13 2010
AZWanderingBea
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 Guides 27
 Routes 62
 Photos 2,620
 Triplogs 700

63 male
 Joined Jan 23 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 13 2010
AZWanderingBear
Hiking3.20 Miles 1,008 AEG
Hiking3.20 Miles   3 Hrs      1.07 mph
1,008 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Did this hike a long while back. Didn't realize it was a listed hike on here until I was cruising some photos.

Parked up on Crown King Road and hiked down. Trail is easy enough. You will know when to turn south and from there it gets dicey, or did for me. Wasn't prepared to swim (especially alone)when I hit some deep and steep walled pools, so I chose to go up and left (west). Was a total scramble. The descent was easier once I reached the top of the falls. Came out the east side which wasn't really much better.

Continued east once I got out to the old Algonquin Mine. You will know it when you see it. Lots of briars along that portion of the trail. The hike out is a huffer at the top, but quick enough.
_____________________
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach
Sep 18 2010
skatchkins
avatar

 Guides 2
 Routes 22
 Photos 3,186
 Triplogs 214

41 male
 Joined Dec 22 2007
 Mesa, AZ
Horsethief Canyon Trail #30Prescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 18 2010
skatchkins
Hiking1.85 Miles 1,000 AEG
Hiking1.85 Miles
1,000 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Now out of the Recreational brush and on an actual trail, I decided to keep going until nightfall and find a good camp spot hopefully near water. The trail looked well traveled and semi-recently maintained- cut back and wide enough for two. It was also cairned heavily along the way. The old topo and the posted route would have kept me off of this easy path and in the thickets higher up.
I made it to the first unnamed creek in no time and found it trickling and still holding some nice pools. I contemplated camping here but thought with the light left and the trail so hospitable, I would press my luck at the next creek over. Unfortunately the trail began petering out as it continued up and along the ridge. By keeping my feet in the high grass I was sometimes able to make out the overgrown trail but the further along I went, the more it disappeared. At the point where route, map, and path all dictated a downward commitment, it was just following drainage courses down the steep hillside. A scramble would be too nice of a word for what ensued. I was trying to keep on the stable rocks but many turned on me trying to goad me into following them on what they touted as a faster path. I gave up persisting in the correct path, even as random cairns appeared and I skied down random old waterways. I can't imagine attempting an upward assault on this side of the hill. The light was fading fast but I could see the water steadily growing closer. I paused a few times to reassure my mind I was just overexerted and not panicking. I finally made it down on my own terms and well off any map lines that entered downstream. The good thing was I had spotted a great pool that looked like it had a small beach on the way down, so I hiked a hair upstream further to check it out. With a little rock rooting, I made a great bed in the soft silt two feet off the water and still had room for a small fire ring. I gathered a little dry wood from the immediate area in the almost dark, and lit up my accommodations to begin dinner and to ward off the early animals visitors. A private party creek dip after dinner and I was ready for the moon to see me to sleep.
The next morning I woke to the buzzing of yellow jackets quite interested in the leaves of the tree next to me. I stayed brave in my bag for as long as I could but then figured it was morning enough to begin breakfast on the other side of my pool. I got going again shortly after and decided to stay in the creek for as long as I could, giving up on the route completely. Still no animals but a fair amount of tracks including bear in the soft soil.
After rock hopping a ways, I came to the confluence (I really like saying this word for some reason- really, it's on my fun list of words I try to insert it all the time into everyday conversations) at the real Horsethief Canyon and found a decent waterfall that told my backpacked self that I shall not pass, so I had to back track a smidge and get up the hill and around.
More ghost cairns appeared in drainage shoots down the other side until I got to the creek and what the old topo iconed as the Algonquin Trail beginning. With a little searching I found a trail and cairns popped up everywhere as I walked in the tall grass between the creek beds. Near an old pen fence I lost it and moved towards the main creek where I gave up again trying to regain it. I headed downstream admiring the much prettier surroundings and better waterflow and pools. I saw that the mapped route climbed out again before the next...confluence and figured it was probably due to another unnavigable fall, so I refilled my water and looked and found the way out. The detour switchbacks weren't bad and were quite short and in no time I was close to the creek again and next to the old mining cabin. The creek pools got larger and deeper below as I made my way onto the old road along side. I was excited to see the road in the distance thinking my footsteps would be easier until I was actually on it and the catclaw began to thorn rape my legs. Halfway through the unshaded and unseasonably hot "trail," I joked out loud, "Well, Michael, maybe we should turn around and go back," and that was when the only other hiker of the trip, relaxing on the creek below heard and hailed up to me and my hiking partner. I thought about shouting ahead, "What? No you keep going I'm going to talk to this guy and then catch up," but the many times being caught talking to myself on seemingly empty grocery isles has weaned me (us) of that prideful behavior.
We shouted for awhile, about where I had come from, and then him telling me he had tried the Algonquin with his wife from the top only to lose the trail, have to set up camp and then give in and hike back out. He mentioned some catclaw but the ones still holding me in their embrace all the while during our discussion assured me this man had no idea what real catclaw love was.
I struggled free and plodded on and was refreshed to see Poland Creek coming into view. The last part of the old road that hovers over Poland seems immune to overgrowth and a nice flat camp spot can be found. I hiked down, took off my heavy pack and rolled my tattered pad out under a rock outcrop for some napping. I woke to find I still had 3hrs before I should see my Big Dipper companions so I left a note and my large pack and small packed it down to the confluence and large pool I had passed above. Poland was almost completely fry until this feed hit but the deeper pools still held strong. I got into the water found a nice submerged seat and continued my read in All The Pretty Horses (man as macho as that book can be that title seems uber-gay out loud) for a few hours until I heard the brother-in-law's voice on the ziplocked 2-way.
He made it to me and I found out everyone had canceled except his mentor kid (Mentee). It was still ok since neither of them had been to the Dipper before so I led them on down without too much frustration.
The long swim had turned into what we called the poop channel ("All poop, All the time") and we were able to wade through it. The stinky mud wanted our shoes as souvenirs, especially the part towards the end that had no water but still sunk you in a good foot. Black and sloppy, our slippery steps continued the rest of the short way to the now just trickling fall. To my great surprise, the Dipper was only down maybe 6 inches which is nothing to for the depth that lies beneath. The water wasn't as cold as it was in April but it was still chilly out of the sun. We stayed for a goodish amount of time and then hiked back so that we could make it to the climb out before 6:30 so we weren't rock hopping by flashlight. I was saddened to see that even the trail to the creek here was thorny, of course I didn't care at this point because my damage was already done. We made it up in 50 minutes with lights on the last half, then drove down the hill for home and In and Out.
_____________________
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
Apr 18 2010
skatchkins
avatar

 Guides 2
 Routes 22
 Photos 3,186
 Triplogs 214

41 male
 Joined Dec 22 2007
 Mesa, AZ
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 18 2010
skatchkins
Hiking3.90 Miles 1,249 AEG
Hiking3.90 Miles   5 Hrs      0.78 mph
1,249 ft AEG
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
bigredjeepchick
I'd had this trail in my wish list for a couple years and got reminded by J. Larson's recent hike.
Most of my hikes aren't a "want" scenario but a "need." I need to get away, therefor I do.
Of course I researched all I could ahead of time on HAZ and printed out the directions and nifty little map. Half of my fun comes from the planning (ask me about my map room :)
Anyway, it looked like it was family duo on this one so my sis and I drove out and up to the trail. We stayed above the washboard most of the way off the highway until we caught up to a slower vehicle on the curves. Sometimes that's a good thing for me, slows me down, keeps me in check. Anyway about 1.5hrs and we were suiting up at the trailhead.
I think there were about three other vehicles parked there. We met two groups coming out as we were switchbacking.
I finally got a link cord this week for the old abused etrex I traded a friend my iQue M5 for (which as nice as it is on paper, somehow doesn't "do" tracks but was free for some work I did anyway). I still have my old 3600 which I would love if the internal battery didn't only last for an hour. I keep it because I would miss it in the vehicle for its color topos and also miss for its solitaire and MP3's on certain secluded sit down occasions.
Anyway, less coffee ramblings and more on topic trip stuff. The point was, I got to do my very first official route for this trail instead of powering up the other GPS 6 different times along the trail like usual to just ease my mind on my whereabouts.
So the trail- Not too much to think about on the way in. After boulder hopping and some climbing later on in the day, the steep side took a little toll.
Did the down stream, loving the water sounds the whole way. Also did the long legged brotherly thing where you hang back just a little but still let sister legs make it on her own for her own piece of mind.
Got a few steps too close to a descent sized Black Rattlesnake that was only sporting two rattles and seemed to to be stingey on the shakes on top. I only heard two hints of a rattle later on when he let me know that no he wasn't going to come out of his new shady position on his own for pics and to move it along. Other that that he was cool with us and us with he. (btw, nurse sister and I were wondering, if a bite should take place down in the canyon, would it be best to work the poison in by hiking out on your own legs for help or hope your partner could get some kind of help for you as you waited much longer below?)
Anyway, most of the pools were clear and full. Plenty of 8ft mark spots to dip along the way.
When we got to the narrow section we went left-up then straight down.
The rope down to the Dipper was pretty tricky. From above, at its position on the left, it dropped you right into the water. I free climbed it down a little further over since I was wearing my unwettable camera and gun. Dana dropped down on it to the steep water's edge but then came to the realization that she wouldn't ever be able to touch the bottom and didn't want to get wet yet past the knees. She made me blow up one of the tubes and float it over but by the time it was ready, her arms had lowered her to the neck line anyway.
After bring her a tube and making her blow up mine, I took it and floated around, played in the waterfall and then tried to climb it. It did what I wanted to do but couldn't yet and slipperily slid me down, fully submerging me in the cold water. Of course the wind picked up just then and I retreated back into the sunnier part of the pool. For those curious, the pool is at current at least 18 feet deep, perfect for jumping (just make sure there is no unseen debris beneath!).
We let the sun get over the hill top, and took some better pics before deciding we were just about out of light for the trip back. We moved the rope over a bit so it could be accessed out of the water, but the assisted climb still required a bit of hand and toe work and an awkward chest oomph over the ledge.
Now that the sun was out of the picture, every waterfall looked like it needed to be photographed but I resisted somehow for the sake of time. At the narrows, I tried out the other side but Dana retraced her previous steps. It took longer over there and from my vantage point, the rock face looked a lot more severe. The frogs also started getting noisy along the way, calling back and forth along the creek. (Yet another side story: My previously non-camping brother-in-law, upon one of his first trips with us to Red Creek, ran all the way back to camp in the dark after exploring with his friend, because I needed to "come quick with the gun, because there was something out there!". This was the weekend right after the rabid mountain lion incident, so I asked him to detail me on what he heard. He said he couldn't explain it, he'd never heard anything like it before. I asked him to try and reproduce the sound before I went storming off into the night to find it on my own. His words: "It sounded like a digital goat." Well I went with him to the area the sound came from, having no idea what to expect. After a long dark silence, the tiny little camo frog in the crevasse finally spoke again. Before he could turn and run (thank God he is a little too much closet-Dem for his own gun), I showed my light over his monster in the dark, and you know what has happened ever since.

Dana and I both made it, kept on keeping on, missed our snake friend on the way out, crossed the creek for the last time and headed up to pay our toll on the steep in the fading light. We hit the vehicle at 7:15 and rolled down the hill lights ablaze until pavement was spotted.

Note: bring some bug spray. Not an issue until the shadows bring them out, and sometimes even the curious ones bite.
Flora
Flora
Claret Cup Cactus
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
_____________________
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
average hiking speed 1.17 mph
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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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