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Big Dipper - Castle Creek Wilderness - 29 members in 56 triplogs have rated this an average 3.8 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Apr 25 2021
emilystardust
avatar

 Routes 2
 Triplogs 402

39 female
 Joined Jun 23 2015
 Phoenix, AZ
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 25 2021
emilystardust
Hiking5.40 Miles 1,200 AEG
Hiking5.40 Miles
1,200 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
Linked none no linked trail guides
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My niece and nephew's favorite hike (since last year :D). Waterfall was flowing a little and water was quite chilly, but we all had a great day exploring and floating.
_____________________
Mar 25 2021
LJW
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 Photos 923
 Triplogs 218

27 male
 Joined Jun 02 2019
 Phoenix, AZ
Big Dipper - Horsethief Loop, AZ 
Big Dipper - Horsethief Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 25 2021
LJW
Hiking22.48 Miles 5,046 AEG
Hiking22.48 Miles   8 Hrs   19 Mns   2.97 mph
5,046 ft AEG      45 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
I heard there was some trail work done around Horsethief Basin and in the Castle Creek Wilderness, so I was curious to check out the conditions of the trails as well as see how the water was flowing in Horsethief and Poland Creeks. Started at the northern Algonquin TH around 7:30 and went clockwise starting with The Big Dipper.

Algonquin down to the Horsethief Trail junction is wide and clear. Left the trail where it crosses Poland Creek and hopped my way down. One tricky section where the water pools between slippery rock walls. Didn’t want to get wet, so I slid my way across on the south side of the creek. Big Dipper was running pretty good, lots of water in Poland Creek. First time seeing it running, pretty neat. Figure most are waiting a week for the temps to climb to get some swimming in.

Back on Algonquin to Horsethief Trail, which received recent maintenance. Trail is in brilliant shape. Tread is clean and the path is clear. Probably my favorite trail on the day. Steep climb up to big views.

Next was Twin Peaks Trail. Again, recently maintained and in good shape as far as I went. Looped around using Twin Peaks between Horsethief and the 240 TH. Gate is locked to get to the TH, though there’s parking on Senator not too, too far away.

Walked Senator Highway to Kentuck CG, which is no longer a true CG and is day use only. Kentuck trail is in good shape until higher up where it gets a little brushy but never too bad. Stopped at Horsethief Lookout. It’s closed for the pandemic but still offered good views of Lake Pleasant and the surrounding Bradshaws from the windy steps.

Worst part of the day was Coal Camp Spring Trail. One mile of trail from the LO to the road is lost to the forest. Needs to be regraded higher up and cleared the whole way through. Pretty good bushwack for about a mile from the LO to where it reaches the road that goes from Senator/Horsethief Lake to Coal Camp Spring/South Fort.

Road walk to Senator and then down to Horsethief Lake. Bad timing and I got there just as a few other folks pulled up. Had a walk around. Fun, short trail especially where it crosses along the dam. Then again, I’m a sucker for the small mountain lakes.

Three more miles of road walking to the southern Algonquin TH. Algonquin has been recently cleared the whole way and is a dream to follow. Big views as the trail descends. Good tread, no bushwacking. Was worried the whole hike about its condition, but it’s pretty much a highway the entire way now.

Got back down to the creeks and then back up. That final climb is never as bad as it seems. Mostly cloudy day, high 30s to low 50s. Didn’t see anyone besides a few trucks driving on Senator.
Named place
Named place
Horsethief Lake

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
4 archives
Nov 14 2020
GrangerGuy
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 Guides 4
 Routes 29
 Photos 188
 Triplogs 27

64 male
 Joined Dec 26 2018
 Phoenix, AZ
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 14 2020
GrangerGuy
Hiking4.20 Miles 1,400 AEG
Hiking4.20 Miles   8 Hrs      1.63 mph
1,400 ft AEG   5 Hrs   25 Mns Break15 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked linked
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The Road
The approach road is very picturesque. The little hamlet of Cleator has a very cute bar, including a Hobie Cat out front with a sign saying "Cleator Yacht Club". I planned on stopping here on the way back and getting a coke. However, as I approached on the return trip, there were trucks and ORVs everywhere. The place must have been packed. Really strange for a bar out in the middle of nowhere.

The Trail
I arrived at the trailhead about 7:45. It is indeed straight down at the very beginning. I took my tools with me in case a little brushing was in order. Looking forward to an adventure. It was about 42 degrees as I headed out. Wearing long sleeves for the first time, I think.

Very quickly, there was a nice trail register, which looked like it is dedicated to HAZ. The trail register is quite informal, compared to other wilderness registers. I encountered the remains of snow along the trail. Hard to believe, but there is quite a bit in this area.

Arriving at the wilderness boundary, the trail flattens out a bit. You do need to pay attention to the trail that you don't get distracted by the water bars or other paths.

Once in the wilderness, I ran into more and more catclaw, which slowed me down. I brushed for the next 2 hours. At about 10:00 I stopped to take a break. By that point, I had only traveled 0.8 miles in almost 2.5 hours. But the trail is much cleaner up to that point. There was a particularly robust infestation of catclaw at 0.8 miles, which I cleaned up. I had to leave a 2" stump, because I did not have a saw.

I worked until almost 1 pm, then had enough. I was about 1.2 miles in, where I quit working. I headed down into the canyon for lunch, and to hunt for water.

I walked some distance on the trail after crossing the canyon. From there, looking down into the canyon, I could see some pools down in the bottom. and then came to the conclusion if I were going to go down the wash to the Big Dipper, the best way to get there was to go back to where the trail crosses the wash and head down the canyon. I came back to the low point, where the trail crosses the canyon, and could see pools everywhere!

I stopped at the head of the canyon to eat lunch.

Clearly walking down the streambed is the preferred way to travel here. At the confluence of the two canyons, there is a lot of water in pools. This is the area referred to as the Horsethief Canyon water location in HAZ. One could climb down at that point from the trail, but it is kind of brushy. Walking in the streambed was much more pleasant today.

The canyon just keeps getting more and more beautiful as one continues down. Today, there has been no danger of getting my feet wet. A little scrambling has been needed, but not bad. Staying to the south east side of the canyon when going over the little dry waterfalls seems usually to be the best plan.

At 2:13 PM, I arrived at what has to be the Big Dipper. If there were water flowing in this stream, there would be a huge waterfall at this point, pouring into the pool at the bottom of the Big Dipper. It is probably 50 feet or more to the bottom, and it looks like a Class 4 climb down for me. This is as far as I go.

At 2:15, half my water is gone, and it is time to start hustling back to the car. There is a campsite in the canyon. I missed it on the way in. It is about .3 miles back up the canyon from the Big Dipper.

There is quite a bit of trash to pick up: The remains of a shoe, a hat, a belt buckle were in the streambed. Additionally, I picked up a tank top and a plastic bottle, about 1/2 mile from the trailhead. More trash than I have seen lately on the trails.

At the end of the trip, just past the wilderness boundary, I was walking straight into the sun and diverted off on to the old trail. This misses the parking lot by a couple hundred yards. Pay attention!
Named place
Named place
Poland Creek - Algonquin Trail

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Big Dipper - Crown King Quad Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Plenty of water in the pool, if you can get down to it. There are many pools in the canyon above, including one at the head of the waterfall into the Big Dipper.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Horsethief Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Many pools along the canyon, including at the marked spot.
May 23 2020
Ashleyannmarie
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 Guides 1
 Photos 136
 Triplogs 10

31 female
 Joined Oct 05 2019
 Phoenix, AZ
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar May 23 2020
Ashleyannmarie
Hiking3.70 Miles 1,200 AEG
Hiking3.70 Miles
1,200 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Headed down around 10am. Trail is pretty overgrown right now and lead to a lot of micro cuts and thorns stuck in your legs. If you can stomach wearing pants in the heat I’d highly recommend long pants for the hike in and out of the canyon.

Once down to the creek you can change into shorts and water shoes. It’s a boulder hop to get to the falls with a lot of creek crossing. The poison ivy is out in full force and was plentiful along the trail.

Once at the falls we made our way down a game trail to the bottom. Ivy all over a tree near the beach of the pool of the Big Dipper. Water still flowing and deep. Was still pretty chilly in the shade.

Hike out seemed faster but again, trail is pretty overgrown. None of us ended up with poison ivy but we did have battle scars all over our legs and arms from the Catclaw and scrub oak attacking us along the trail. All in all a really fun day! Shocked we only saw one other group being it is Memorial Day weekend. Other group did not swim and didn’t stay very long but were nice nonetheless!
Fauna
Fauna
Red Spotted Toad
May 17 2020
emilystardust
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 Routes 2
 Triplogs 402

39 female
 Joined Jun 23 2015
 Phoenix, AZ
Big Dipper - Castle Creek WildernessPrescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar May 17 2020
emilystardust
Hiking3.70 Miles 1,200 AEG
Hiking3.70 Miles
1,200 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
_____________________
May 11 2019
adrianazele
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 Routes 4
 Triplogs 1

53 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 Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
_____________________
Apr 06 2018
skatchkins
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 Guides 2
 Routes 22
 Photos 3,278
 Triplogs 222

43 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 24
 Routes 19
 Photos 416
 Triplogs 1,785

52 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
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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.
_____________________
Oct 15 2017
ibishop89
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 Triplogs 1

32 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.
_____________________
Apr 27 2017
MountainMatt
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 Guides 3
 Routes 194
 Photos 3,422
 Triplogs 517

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
 
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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
_____________________
Mar 19 2016
The_Eagle
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 Guides 9
 Routes 805
 Photos 10,311
 Triplogs 1,625

65 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
_____________________
There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
Dave Barry
1 archive
Mar 19 2016
joebartels
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 Guides 245
 Routes 837
 Photos 12,313
 Triplogs 4,964

51 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
_____________________
- joe
Mar 01 2016
MountainMatt
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 Guides 3
 Routes 194
 Photos 3,422
 Triplogs 517

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
_____________________
1 archive
Sep 12 2015
Lumberjill
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 Routes 2
 Photos 29
 Triplogs 27

39 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 122
 Photos 1,345
 Triplogs 83

50 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

27 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
avatar

 Photos 186
 Triplogs 14

33 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
avatar

 Photos 7
 Triplogs 2

38 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
bigredjeepchick
avatar

 Photos 62
 Triplogs 4

39 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
avatar

 Routes 571
 Photos 8,283
 Triplogs 1,824

54 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
Partners none no partners
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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average hiking speed 1.44 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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