| Home | Warning | Gear | Books | Photography | Hikes | Links | Flora & Fauna | Etiquette | About Me | What's New |


Meadow Canyon - Coconino National Forest

Summary: A technical canyon trip down a rocky (but non-brushy) tributary of West Clear Creek. Some climbing and bouldering are required, as well as 2-4 rappels of 20-80 feet. Your reward is some good scenery and a nice (if short) stretch of narrows. This hike may be performed as a down and back trip or as part of a longer hike along West Clear Creek. To complete this hike as a down and back trip you will need one to three 50' ropes (I suggest at least two) and a 100' rope, harness, carabiners, webbing, helmet and descending and ascending gear. For a through trip, one 200' rope will suffice. 
Directions: From Phoenix take I-17 north to Camp Verde to exit 287.  Turn right (east) onto Highway 260. Follow 260 out of town up onto the rim and under the power lines. Just before you reach mile post 245, turn left onto an unnamed dirt road (there is a gate blocking this road that you will have to open to get through). Once on the dirt road take an immediate left and follow this rutted dirt track 1.2 miles until you reach the power lines. Turn right and follow the road that runs beneath the power lines. There are two tributaries to upper Meadow Canyon, you can start your hike in either one. The western most one can be reached by turning left onto a dirt road after driving 0.3 miles under the power lines - head through a fence then drive down a very rough & rocky road 0.2 miles and park next to a stock pond. The eastern tributary can be reached by continuing along the power lines until the road stops descending. 
Road Conditions: 4-Wheel Drive, a High Clearance Vehicle will probably get you close
Navigation: Easy 
Length: 6 miles
Date Hiked: January 2002
Weather Conditions: Cold w/patches of ice and snow 
Required Skills:
Hike Description: I will describe this hike beginning at the western tributary of Meadow Canyon, however, from whichever area you start your hike, simply begin walking down the rocky streambed. After about 15 minutes you will come to an intersection with the main canyon, turn left and head down stream. The canyon is shallow and filled with basketball sized rocks at this point, however this is more than made up for by the fact that no bush wacking is required in the entire canyon. If you look closely you will see that many of the rocks have fossilized shells partially exposed in their surface. After a while the stream bed begins cutting into the sandstone and you will be faced with a series of dry falls that may be down climbed. Shortly afterwards you will reach an 80' dry fall. The drop consists of a 20' drop to a ledge then a 60' drop to the canyon floor. It might be possible to down climb the first 20', but since there are no anchor points on the ledge, it's best to rig this falls from the top. The author used a prominent tree on the right side of the canyon to rig off of (though there are other options) and used a 200' rope, ~85' of which wound up sitting on the ground (I believe this rappel can be performed with a 100' rope depending on your choice of an anchor). Continuing down canyon, you will enter a section where large boulders choke the canyon floor. This slows your progress somewhat as you pick your way through, climbing where necessary. Eventually you will reach a 45 foot dry fall and your next rappel point. There is a large boulder on the right side just above the drop that makes for a good anchor point (15' of webbing should do it). The author used a 50' rope which was about the right length. More rock hopping down canyon, and your next obstacle is an 85' steeply sloping chute - the author and his wife simply walked down (though some may prefer to use a rope). Shortly below the chute is a 20' drop off that is best negotiated with a rope (the author down climbed this point, but doesn't recommend it), the anchor is a large tree on the right. Below this drop, the canyon narrows up nicely and you will pass through a very pretty section of canyon. This ends far too soon, however, and the canyon opens up just before you reach the confluence with West Clear Creek. The author and his wife spent 20 minutes skipping stones across a large pool just upstream of the confluence, then turned around, retrieving all rope and webbing on the way out. 
Rating (1-5 stars):
The author and his wife completed this hike in just under 6 hours at a leisurely pace. Some of the drop offs had pools at the bottom, but all were frozen solid when we were here.
Maps: Coconino National Forest Map
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
The upper canyon. Negotiating the 80' rappel. The start of the 
short narrows.