||A nice hike through a
pretty canyon along (and in) a perennial stream. A permit is required even
for a day hike into this canyon and must be booked ahead of time from the BLMs Safford
Field Office (520) 348-4400. Fee is $5 per person per day (quite steep if you ask me
considering the Grand Canyon is $20 per carload and is good for 7 days) and
is limited to 50 people per day. More
information is available on the BLMs Aravaipa
Canyon Wilderness Page
Due to its perennial flow, Aravaipa Canyon is home to many
species of plants and animals including 2 threatened minnows and over 150
bird species. The author has seen coati, javalina, rattlesnakes, gila
monsters, a great blue heron and many species of birds in the canyon.
||You can start at either
the west or east entrance of the canyon.
West Trailhead: Take US Highway 60 to Superior. At Superior,
take State Highway 177 south to Winkleman. At Winkleman, turn right on State Highway
77, 11 miles to Aravaipa Road. Turn left on Aravaipa Rd and drive 12 miles to the
East Trailhead: Take US Highway 60 to Globe. At Globe pick up US
Highway 70 to Klondyke Road (8 miles east of Fort Thomas). Take this graded dirt
road 45 miles to the East trailhad (several stream crossings are required).
||West Entrance - Passenger
Car, East Entrance - High Clearance Vehicle
||Easy - walk along the stream
||11 miles - one way
||December 1999 & May 2004
||December: Cold in the morning,
otherwise nice, high-60's, low-below freezing. Because this hike was done late in
the season, the author and his wife had the canyon to themselves (only saw one other
person the entire time). The only drawback was that the water was quite cold,
particularly in the morning (boots and socks also froze solid overnight). For canyon
hikes such as this one, the author wears a thin pair of neoprene socks under regular
hiking socks. Most people would probably want warmer weather to do this hike.
May: Warm and sunny
||From either trailhead
start walking in or along the stream. A walking stick is very helpful
to aid in balance when crossing the stream. Much of the time a use trail exists (typically
the trails on the south bank are easier to follow than the ones on the north), though you
will probably end up bushwhacking a little bit when the trail segment you are on suddenly
fades. It helps to carry a map and count the prominent side canyons as
you walk along the stream to keep track of your location. There is a fence
on the east side that marks the boundary of the canyon and trailhead parking
signs on the west. These will mark your turn around points if your goal is
to hike the length of the canyon and you haven't arranged a car spot.
There are a number of side canyons along the way though only Deer Creek is
really worth exploring.
Virgus Canyon: The canyon enters Aravaipa on stream left (the left
side of the stream if facing the down stream) and is steep and boulder
strewn for its entire length. You will have to do quite a bit of climbing
and route finding to work your way up this canyon. There are several dry
falls that are moderately difficult to climb. If you succeed in ascending
those obstacles your progress will eventually be stopped by a dry fall that
is not possible to ascend. The author spent 2 hours exploring up Virgus
Horse Camp Canyon: The canyon enters on stream right. Walking up
you'll soon reach a pour over that can be bypassed on canyon left (watch
your footing, the rock is quite slick especially if your feet are wet).
Above you'll find some slick rock and several more dry falls (which can be
bypassed on canyon left on a use trail). Eventually your progress will be
blocked by dry fall that you won't be able to climb.
Booger Canyon: The canyon enters Aravaipa on stream right and is very
steep with large sections of pock marked rock. You'll have to do some
climbing and route finding to ascend several large pour offs created by
boulders that have fallen into the canyon.
Deer Creek: The canyon is easily identified by the wide, flat and
gravel strewn mouth where it enters Aravaipa on stream right. It's easy
walking heading up Deer Creek and soon the canyon walls close in to form
picturesque narrows (about 20 feet wide at its narrowest point). After 40 or
more minutes of quick walking you'll hear the sound of falling water whose
source is a gushing spring in a fern covered grotto on canyon right (the
right side when facing down canyon). Another 20 minutes will bring you to
another dripping spring on canyon left and shortly above that some short
undercut caves. Not long afterwards the path becomes more shallow and strewn
with boulders, which is where I turned around.
Parsons Canyon: The canyon is located on stream left, just east of
Deer Creek. It is somewhat rocky and not terribly interesting. The author
walked up to the junction with Wire Coral Draw at a quick pace and back in
about an hour.
On his first trip author did this hike as a two day backpacking trip. The first day
he hiked from the west to the east entrance then back a ways, camping next to Parsons
Canyon. The next day was spent hiking out. The canyon is rather wide,
but is quite pretty with cotton wood and sycamore lining the stream. It's
interesting to contrast the riparian oasis surrounding the stream with the
Sonoran Desert vegetation that line the dry canyon walls. Water depth never exceeded knee level, though evidence of debris found well above
the stream bank indicates that the canyon floods from time to time.
On his second trip the author spent two days exploring many
of the side canyons of Aravaipa.
||I've created two maps of the canyon:
Map 1 (west), Map
Campsites are marked with a green tent (note: these are the ones I noticed,
there are most certainly others in the canyon).
||Click picture for larger
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