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Sycamore Creek - Tonto National Forest

Summary: A rock hopping trip hike along Sycamore Creek, a drainage which runs parallel to the Bee Line Highway near Sunflower. A car shuttle is required.
Directions: Drive northeast out of Phoenix on the Bee Line Highway (Highway 87).
Lower (car spot): Between mileposts 212 - 213, a short distance after crossing the large bridge over Sycamore Creek, turn right onto a short spur road. Drive in a short distance and pick a spot to park near the creek (this is a big ATV area and there are crisscrossed use roads everywhere). The author parked near an old steel water tank.
Upper (start of the hike): Continue northeast on the Bee Line to Sunflower (marked by a single building on the right side of the road). Turn left at a signed turn directly across from the building referenced above (crossing the south bound lane) and take this paved road down to a point near creek bed. I parked beside the creek beneath a home made billboard.
Note: It might be possible to drive closer to the canyon by driving a little further on the Bee Line and turning right onto a dirt road at a sign for Bushnell Tank. However, this road was closed due to fire danger when I was here.
Road Conditions: Passenger Car
Navigation: Moderate
Length: 6 miles
Date Hiked: October 2005
Weather Conditions: Sunny and nice
Required Skills:
Hike Description: From the upper parking area you may have to hop over a barbed wire fence or two to get into the stream bed. Once in, start rocking hopping down stream. Soon you'll see a dirt road on the left (Forest Road 22). Follow this road until it ends in a sort of cul-de-sac at which point you simply follow the stream. Soon you'll pass an old gauge station and the rock hopping begins. The upper part of the drainage is rather brushy and you'll have to do a little climbing around on the sides of the creek if you want to keep your feet dry. The water was flowing at a trickle when the author was here and was rather sludgy, unappealing and full of crayfish. This hike does not appear to be a very good destination if you're looking for a nice swimming hole. Continue down stream and eventually the red quartzite rock underfoot becomes white granite and the brush fades away. Just under half way through the canyon, the granite forms a nice boxy section that is rather pleasant and the saguaro dotted hills on either side make for some good scenery. Below the box canyon, the meandering stream straightens. You'll know you are getting close to the end when the canyon suddenly becomes quite wide. There is one more short section of granite box canyon (climb around on the left to avoid the pools), and just below an area frequented by . . . . um . . . . let's call them nudists . . . . before the canyon widens out once again. After a short hike, look for a use path up on the left that will take you through the streamside brush to the lower parking area.
Rating (1-5 stars):
The author
and a friend completed this hike at a quick pace in 4 hours. Water levels were low and we managed to keep our feet dry.
Maps: Click here: Map 1
Books: Canyoneering Arizona (2nd edition) - Tyler Williams
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
Gauge station. Sycamore Creek.
Climbing around to
avoid a pool.
Lower granite box.