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Friday, July 24, 2009


UPDATE: Sept 12, 2013-- Spoke with the forest service today. Even though the box canyon is located on forest service land, they have  NO plans to develop a hiker trail or trailhead.  The reason has to do with ADOT right-of-way.  Also, ADOT plans to install a 12-ft. wall along SR260 in the area above the canyon.  (Good luck getting around that.) Gila County has also been actively towing vehicles parked along SR260 for obstructing traffic.  Access now involves trespassing on private property. Recommendation---do not hike here.
UPDATE: April 2013--Construction continues to thwart access to this area. There is currently no stable/official route to the box.
September 2012 UPDATE:
Road construction on AZ260 continues to restrict access.
Do not try to hike in through the Boy Scout Camp, it is private property and hikers have reported being stopped and turned away. “THE BOX” Christopher Creek Canyon There’s always a lot of woopin’ and a hollerin’ at this favorite summertime swimmin’ hole where the scene on any given weekend is a collision of Andy Griffith-esque country charm and the Nine Inch Nails crowd. Cooler-toting baby boomers in plaid Bermuda shorts and white socks mingle with young people in butt-crack-bearing swim trunks to cool off in the clear water and fresh, pine-scented air of Christopher Creek box canyon. For millions of years, the spring-fed waters of Christopher Creek that spill from the base of the Mogollon Rim, have sculpted the rose-tinted ramparts that flank the gorge and funnel water into slippery chutes, churning rapids and low-flow channels awash in swirls of pine needle litter. The most spectacular section of the gorge is less than a mile in length and can be fully explored by those who don’t mind boulder hopping, minor hand-over-foot climbing, wading and swimming. However, most of the action takes place at the head of the canyon where the sun-warmed escarpments fill up quickly with sunbathers and weekend warriors. So, if you’re looking for solitude---try a visiting on a Tuesday. HIGHLIGHTS: Canyon-bound outdoor “spa”. LENGTH: 1.25 miles roundtrip RATING: moderate-difficult ELEVATION: 5,680 – 5,400 feet DRIVING DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 120 miles GETTING THERE: From Payson, go east on Highway 260 for 19 miles. Between mileposts 271 and 272, look for a dirt turnoff on the south (right) side of the road. Watch that rut! NOTE: a visitor in July 2011 reports that, due to road construction in the area, this parking area is off limits (see comment below).  According to ADOT, road maintenance on SR260 is causing traffic slow downs and lane restrictions,
so I suspect that the uproar may be due to parked vehicles blocking the flow of traffic or getting in the way of dozers. The road project is scheduled to run thru December 2011. Please leave a comment if you encounter drama at the trailhead.  FOR CURRENT ROAD CONDITIONS:
INFORMATION: refer to the Tonto National Forest map

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


GRANITE MOUNTAIN TRAIL Granite Mountain Wilderness West of Prescott, the unmistakable, monolith of Granite Mountain dominates the horizon. Meandering through a wilderness of billion-year-old granite boulders and colored with a mosaic of wildflowers and blooming shrubs, trail #261 leads to a scenic, cliff lookout area 2,000 feet over Granite Basin Lake. Junipers, pines and oaks, shade parts of the trail but most are exposed to the sun. Between the months of December and July, the cliffs are closed (the maintained trails in the area remain open) to climbing due to nesting Peregrine falcons, and if you have a good eye, you may be able to see one of the fastest creatures on the planet in flight. Once at the “Vista Lookout” sign, continue hiking among the boulders as the path hugs the escarpment and opens up to a spectacle of volcanic crags, a blue horizon and distant mountain peaks. At the end of the trail, there’s an optional boulder scramble to an interesting jumble of granite spires. LENGTH: 9 miles roundtrip RATING: moderate ELEVATION: 5,580' – 7,220' GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, take I-17 north to the Cordes Junction interchange then turn left (west) onto Highway 69 toward Prescott. In Prescott, take Highway 89 south (a.k.a. Sheldon Street) and drive 1.3 miles to the “T” intersection with Montezuma Street. Keep following Montezuma Street., which will turn, into Whipple Street which will then turn into Iron Springs Road (a.k.a. SR 10). Drive 3 miles on Iron Springs Road and then turn right onto Granite Basin Road (a.k.a. FR 374). Drive 3.5 miles to the signed Metate trailhead where there’s a restroom and a water fountain. There’s a $2 daily fee per vehicle. The dirt roads are accessible by sedan. INFO & MAPS:


LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN Phoenix Mountains Preserve Hard-core hikers are easy to spot. They’re the ones finishing up when casual trekkers are just showing up at the trailhead. They also know the “good spots” and the best times to visit them. In addition to having unobstructed sunrise views, Lookout Mountain trail is usually much less crowded than nearby Camelback and Piestewa Peak trails. LENGTH: 1 mile roundtrip RATING: moderate ELEVATION: 1,579 - 2,054 feet GETTING THERE: the trailhead is located on 16th Street south of Greenway Parkway in Phoenix INFORMATION: