West Clear Creek Canyon
The Canyon
Rank: #12 Canyon Depth: 1,720 ft.
Rim Elevation: 5,520 ft. Stream Elevation: 3,800 ft.
Vegetation: Pinyon-juniper on canyon sides. Riparian on canyon floor. Frequently Seen Animals: deer.
Hiking Season: All year.  
The Trail
Name: West Clear Creek Trail #17.

This trail provides the only marked and maintained access to the lower reaches of West Clear Creek Canyon Wilderness. 

Difficulty: Moderate (along stream). Long and strenuous if you try to complete the entire trail in one day (not recommended).
Length of Hike (r/t): Approximately 7 miles to 4th stream crossing, which is where we recommend you turn around. (15.4 miles if you hike the trail up the side canyon and all the way to the rim, as indicated on the Forest Service trail map). Trail Elevation Change: 2,100 ft.
Trail Low Point: 3,680 ft.  Trail High Point: 5,780 ft.(if you take it to its terminus at the rim)
Water: Perennial (nonpotable)  
Tips: We have changed our recommendation after getting a complaint from a hiker who found the full round-trip hike of trail #17 to be much longer than expected, and was stranded overnight. After consulting with a Forest Service ranger, we recommend most hikers turn around at the 4th stream crossing (which takes you from the south to the north side of West Clear Creek). At this point, you will have reached the deepest part of the canyon, and satisfied the 20-20 canyon criteria. We haven't marked this point on the hike map because we haven't determined exactly where it is yet. Unless you have plenty of food and water and daylight left, and are in good shape, you should turn here. Stream crossings are well-marked, but if you should miss the 4th crossing, we recommend turning around when you reach the stream junction with a major side canyon coming in from the left. Exercise good judgment about when to head back.

If you choose to continue on Trail #17 past the 4th crossing, the trail angles up to the small plateau at the top of a shallow inner gorge (picture a mini Grand Canyon). About a mile after the stream crossing, the trail turns left into a side canyon, and after a while turns uphill and takes you to the canyon rim at Bald Hill. If you have 2 cars on your trip, it is possible to do a car shuttle, leaving a car at this terminus and driving back, but a high-clearance vehicle is needed. It is also possible to walk back to Bullpen Ranch via a loop made of forest roads and the Blodgett Basin trail, but it is apparently a more difficult hike than returning the way you came, and the roads and trail are not well maintained, so we are not recommending it here. 

In summary, our map still shows the whole length of trail #17, but you need not do the whole thing.

Guidelines
Hiking Permit Needed: None Maximum Group Size: 
Dogs Permitted: Yes, leashed Horses Permitted: No
Cross-country Skiing Permitted: Yes Mountain Bikes Permitted: No
Swimming: Yes.  
Safety Tips: Beware of sudden flash floods during times of high runoff and potential hypothermic conditions. Bring wading shoes for multiple stream crossings. Exercise caution on slickrock water slides.
The Drive
General Location: Roughly halfway between Phoenix and Flagstaff, above Mogollon Rim. Trailhead Accessible to Low-Clearance Vehicles: Yes (except during wet weather)
Nearest Town: Camp Verde  
Directions: Exit I-17 at the AZ 179 exit and turn east under the freeway. Drive about 9 miles on FR 618 to FR 215 and turn east about 3 miles to the Bullpen Ranch trailhead. Park at east end of Bullpen Ranch camping area.
More Information
U.S.G.S. Quad Name(s): Walker Mtn., Buckhorn Mtn. Office of Tourism Region: Central Territory
County: Yavapai Managing Agencies:
1) Red Rock Ranger District, P.O. Box 300, Sedona AZ 86336, (928) 282-4119 

2) Happy Jack Information Center, P. O. Box 19664, Happy Jack AZ 86024, (928) 477-2172, FAX 477-2173

3) Mogollon Rim Ranger District, HC 31, Box 300, Happy Jack AZ 86024, (928) 477-2255 FAX 527-8218 
Web Sites:
http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/recreation/red_rock/west-clear-creek-tr.shtml
http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/recreation/red_rock/west-clear-creek-wild.shtml

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