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Trail #17 to Supai Falls - Coconino National Forest

Summary: An out and back hike from the north side of West Clear Creek to a nice waterfall. This hike uses Trail #17 to access the creek, then heads off trail up the stream bed.
Directions: From Phoenix take I-17 north to Camp Verde to exit 285.  Turn right (east) onto Highway 260 (you can also use the General Crook exit as a shortcut to access 260). Follow 260 for about 7 miles.  Between mile posts 226 & 227, turn left (north) onto Forest Road (FR) 618 following the signs for Bull Pen Ranch.  After about 4.2 miles turn right onto FR 214. Follow FR 214 for 5.3 miles and turn right onto rocky FR 214A. Follow this rough road 1.1 miles to a signed pull off on the right. (Bald Hill Trailhead (UTM 441498mE, 3824502mN))
Road Conditions: High Clearance Vehicle (required for FR 214A)
Navigation: Moderate - there is one very tricky turn involved
Length: 5-7 hours
Date Hiked: October 2004
Weather Conditions: Cool and sunny
Required Skills:
Hike Description: From the parking area, begin walking on the flat, well established trail as it heads through the juniper trees. After 5 minutes you'll pass a sign marking the boundary of the West Clear Creek Wilderness area and the trail begins descending steeply towards the broad basin of an unnamed side canyon of West Clear Creek. Just before reaching the basin, the path bends right and begins heading along the right slope of the side canyon as it descends towards the creek. When it nears the creek, Trail #17 bends right and travels along a bench above the creek heading down stream. Our destination lies upstream, so we must diverge from the established path to get into the drainage. Trail #17 approaches West Clear Creek perpendicularly. When the path nears the creek you will see a prominent red sandstone cliff band directly ahead of you. At this point, where Trail #17 begins to bend right heading down stream, look for a cairn on the left. Leave the path to the left and begin following a faint to non-existent route towards the center of the side drainage you have been following. The path becomes more distinct as it winds down into this side drainage and across to the other side, heading upstream and eventually dropping down to enter the West Clear Creek at an established camp site (this spot is marked with cairns). Congratulations, you've managed to complete the difficult route finding part of the hike! Now, begin bush whacking and boulder hopping your way upstream. There is no trail for this part of the hike and you'll have to cross the stream several times, so don't bother trying to keep your feet dry. The routine for hiking in West Clear Creek is to boulder hop up one side of the stream until you're forced into the creek. Wade across the stream, struggle through the vegetation on the other side, and repeat. If you're trying to avoid swimming, like I was on this chilly October day, you'll have to climb up onto the Supai layer on two occasions to avoid sections where the walls close in to form deep pools. About an hour or so of rock hopping, brush thrashing and wading  will bring you to a nice waterfall cascading over picturesque red sandstone. You can get up to the falls by climbing a hill on the right (facing up canyon). Enjoy the view, take some pictures and when ready, return the way you came.
Rating (1-5 stars):
The author completed this hike solo, spending quite a bit of time route finding and avoiding the deeper pools in 7 hours.
Maps: None
Books: Portions of this hike is contained in: Canyoneering Arizona - Tyler Williams
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
Juniper dotted basin on
the way to the creek.
Descending towards
West Clear Creek.
Supai Falls. Another view of the falls.