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Monday, June 16, 2014


West Clear Creek Wilderness

A tributary of West Clear Creek, Clover Creek trickles through a pristine, green canyon on the Mogollon Rim. The route is a primitive path weaving back-and-forth across the shallow stream as it drifts through berry-laden brambles, willows and alders. When warmed by the sun (or trampled by the resident cattle) meadows of clover exhale an earthy-sweet perfume into the air, soothing the senses and attracting swarms of honeybees. To add physical challenge to this otherwise effortless hike, a campfire-stained cave tucked high into a
canyon wall makes for a short but steep side trip. This densely-wooded, secluded area was recently selected for “wilderness rehabilitation”, which means several old access roads were blocked off to aid in the recovery of the riparian corridor. So, when visiting this verdant canyon, be sure to tread lightly, leave what you find and yield the right of way to wildlife and resurgent vegetation.

LENGTH: 5 miles roundtrip
ELEVATION: 6,700 – 6,800 feet

From the junctions of SR260/87 in Payson, go north on SR87 to milepost 285 where you'll see a small parking lot and a series of forest service signs in a meadow---do not park here. Instead, turn left onto Forest Road 142, set your odometer and drive 0.5 miles to an unmarked road on the right—this is easy to miss---look for a sign that reads “no trailers, dead end”, do not take Forest Road 611---stay right. Continue on the unmarked road for 0.6 miles to the trailhead marked by a brown metal cattle gate and a sign that reads “closed to all vehicles”. Go through (or around/under) the gate and follow the informal footpaths along the water. When you get to the ruins of an old bridge/dam, veer left and follow the creek as far as you like. INFORMATION: Coconino National Forest, West Clear Creek Wilderness

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