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Backpacker Magazine – October 2007

Top 3 Easy Canyoneering Hikes

If you've always dreamed of descending into the center of the earth, try one of these creekbed hikes.

by: Tyler Williams

PAGE 1 2
Big Tujunga Narrows, CA, Christopher Brennen
Big Tujunga Narrows, CA, Christopher Brennen
Buckskin Gultch, UT, Valerie Long
Buckskin Gultch, UT, Valerie Long
Wet Beaver Creek, AZ, <a href=www.toddshikingguide.com" height="260" width="445" border="0">

Buckskin Gulch, UT
Hike the world's longest slot
From above, Buckskin is a narrow, jagged black fissure snaking across southern Utah's sunbaked dunes and slickrock, almost like a map's contour line. But trek inside it, and you'll see sculpted sandstone walls weaving through a dizzying dark hallway of rock, water, and mud. An out-and-back into the upper canyon is a perfect introduction to slot canyoneering—and to one of the sport's classics—without getting you in over your head. From the Wire Pass trailhead, follow a sandy wash for half an hour until sepia-toned sandstone walls rise on either side. At 3.5 miles, you'll reach a petroglyph panel of bighorn sheep and the beginning of the Narrows, where the slot pinches to less than 20 feet wide for the next 12 miles. Pick a turnaround time and stick to it, because the labyrinthine path will tempt you to linger.

Wind Down
Chill with a tall iced tea and a Southwestern Cobb salad at the Dam Bar & Grille on Navajo Drive in Page, AZ. (928) 645-2161

The Way
From Page, take US 89 N for 34 miles to House Rock Valley Road, between mileposts 25 and 26.

Wet Beaver Creek, AZ
Outsmart the Mogollon Rim crowds
Lower Wet Beaver Creek can look like northern Arizona's version of the Jersey shore—sun, water, and people. But just upstream, the scene changes entirely. Deep, clear, and partier-free pools ensconced in rippled redrock are shaded by arching sycamores and 1,000-foot-sandstone walls. The canyon can be done as a point-to-point hike in one ambitious day if you've arranged a shuttle car. Start at Waldroup Tank, where a steep descent down Waldroup Canyon leads to Wet Beaver's ironically dry creekbed. Springs surface within a mile, and the next 9 miles is a blur of bushwhacking, boulder-hopping, and swimming down the gut of this Mogollon Rim canyon. When you hear cannonball splashes and thumping boomboxes ahead, you'll know you've reached Bell Crossing, the popular swimming hole. Stop for a jackknife, then hike a sandy, flat 4 miles out to the Bell trailhead.

Wind Down
Head 15 miles up AZ 179 to Sedona's Oak Creek Brewing Company. Its nut brown is an area favorite.

The Way
From I-17 exit 298, go east to the Bell trailhead. The upper end of the canyon is exit 306, then FR 229 and 620.


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READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
AZ Hiker
Dec 19, 2013

When snow cover causes you to lose sight of your trail and landmarks, stay found by using a compass and reading Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart. (Amazon). This book makes learning how to use a compass easy. Before you hit the trail, be sure to calibrate your compass to the declination of where you will be hiking or skiing. Go to: http://magnetic-declination.com. A compass doesn't need satellites, a signal, or batteries and works in all types of weather, day or night, but you need to know how to use it. Learn how to orient yourself using a compass, a compass and a map, a map and no compass, no compass and no map. Look for it on Amazon, "Felix the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart". The ability to know your way and know where you are is something we all need in any survival situation not just while hiking and camping. Learn to stay found day or night by using a compass and paying attention to your surroundings. Learn what to do if you get lost, how to get rescued, and survival packing (for the car and for the trail) just in case you end up unexpectedly spending the night outdoors.

jesus
May 28, 2012

will try this hike, thanks, also can you tell me if it's a tuff hike cause i wanna take my girlfriend thanks

Jeff
Mar 10, 2011

can you give us an alternate driving route? the CA 2 has been closed for the last year or two at least. i've tried to get to this hike and i can't, not with the directions you give. the other 2 routes i found would make a 30 minute drive into a 2 or 3 hour one.

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