Saturday, January 24, 2009
RED CREEK Tonto National Forest Crystal clear, gurgling waters, red rock cliffs, shady mesquite forests and towering canyon walls make hiking Red Creek an especially relaxing experience. A tributary of the Verde River, Red Creek creates a narrow band of green in the desert and supports abundant plant and animal life. Simple and serene, the trail follows the creek and 4x4 roads. Stream hopping is a major feature of this hike but the creek bed is gravel (not mud) and the water is anything but deep or treacherous. The creek emerges from the canyon at about the 3-mile mark and trickles into a desert wash with big-sky views and miles of river rock underfoot. On the near horizon, a ribbon of green jutting over the desert ridges is a sure sign that a major water source is nearby. Keep following the trickle and it will lead you to the rushing waters and sandy beaches of the upper Verde River. LENGTH: 8 miles out-and-back RATING: Easy ELEVATION CHANGE: 400 feet GETTING THERE: From Carefree, follow Cave Creek Road (which will turn onto FR 24) for 32 miles to the FR 269 junction (Bloody Basin Road) and turn right. Go about three miles and turn left onto FR 18 and proceed for roughly 2.5 miles. Park in a dirt turnoff just before the steep descent to Red Creek. Expect to spend 2.5 hours on dirt roads. NOTE: FR 18 is very rough and requires at least a high clearance vehicle.