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Name: Lower Parker Creek Canyon Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: Not rated yet
Type: Hike Difficulty: (Medium trail)
Time: 2 - 3 hours Region: Central Arizona
Length: 1.7 miles (roundtrip) Elevation gain/loss/change: ~ +289 ft / -289 ft / 0 ft (roundtrip)
Type: Out and back Avg Elevation: 2800 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, winter Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Medium Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Low-Medium Scenic Beauty: High
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: February, 2015
Short Description: A hike through a narrow slot canyon filled with beauty and fun challenges
Geocaches: A few geocaches in the area:Parker Creek Slot Canyon ;Z 53 ;The Cutie Coati
References / Contact Information: Lower Parker Creek Canyon 4WD Loop; Upper Parker Creek Canyon 4WD trail; Upper Parker Creek Canyon Hike; A Tale of Two Canyons
Points of interest: Slot canyon, "light" canyoneering, fun challenges
Special Considerations: Large bee hives in narrow sections of the canyon. VERY DANGEROUS. If these are Killer Bees and they attack, there is no place to run or hide. Not recommended when they are active. DO NOT enter this during possible flash floods or after/during heavy rains - if this canyon gets filled with water, you will most likely die. Be ready to get wet. Some obstacles may be impassible with lots of water and can be dangerous. Use your own best judgment. Water can be cold during the winter months. Be prepared for this. Beware of hypothermia. You will need a high-clearance 2WD vehicle or 4WD vehicle to get to the trail head.
How to get there: From Globe take highway 188 north and drive 14.7 miles to highway 288. Take a right onto highway 288. Drive 12.7 miles on highway 288 until you come to A Cross Road. Take a left on A Cross Road and drive about 1.5 mile until you reach Waypoint AC1. Click here for directions to the 2WD/4WD trail at Waypoint AC1. From AC1, drive north on either of the two trails for about 0.65 miles until you reach the four-way intersection. Park in the open areas on the left. See Google Earth image on maps page. See the Lower Parker Creek Canyon Loop 4WD trail for more info.

Trail Description

Note:We went on this trip if February, two weeks after a really good rain. The amount of water and if it is fresh (not stagnant) can vary greatly. You may go out there and find there's little or no water, or that it is nasty, or that it's flowing too much. Be careful and plan your trip smartly.

This trail takes you through a narrow slot canyon. It's the lower end of Parker Creek Canyon and not the spot where this canyon is famous for canyoneering. But it's an awesome trail on its own. The section of the trail we did does not require any canyoneering skills (rappelling, ropes, gear, etc.), though you will most likely get wet. I do not believe there's any way through without getting wet if there's water flowing in any amount in the canyon. My understanding is there's water flowing all year round through here.

The trail begins with a short, steep descent from the parking area into the creek bed. The mouth of the canyon looms a short distance ahead. As the canyon narrows, you'll have to negotiate over boulders, through water (sometimes deep), up steep rock faces and through brush and trees. What fun!

The location we stopped, which I call "Sleeping Dog Grotto" is just awesome. The canyon is extremely narrow and the water has eroded out a corner of the canyon wall making it almost a cave. In addition, the water seeping down the walls has made it appear like the dripping walls of a cave. The designs in the walls look like the beginnings of stalactites. Green ferns hang over the edge, water flowing through their leaves. One rock had the appearance of a sleeping dog, hence the name.

Just beyond this grotto is a waterfall that must either be climbed or scaled down. My estimate was that it's about 8 feet tall, but how deep the water was below is anyone's guess. This is probably much easier going down, than up.

If you crave adventure in a beautiful and mysterious canyon, this could be the hike for you. It is one my top ten of hikes I've done in Arizona.

General Information and History

None at this time.

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The Trail

How to get to the trail head: If you don't have a high-clearance 2WD truck or 4WD vehicle, then park at Waypoint AC1. This is about 2 miles from the intersection of highway 288 and A Cross Road. Walk north on the trail toward Waypoint 001. There are two trails at this intersection heading north. The east (right/GREEN) trail takes you by the explosives building, the west (BLUE) does not. They are both about the same distance (~0.65 miles to the trail head) and will add 1.3 miles total to the hike. The hike along the trail is easy. If you have a vehicle that can make the drive, take either trail until you get to Waypoint 001. Park in the wide open area on the left overlooking the canyon to the north. See maps page for Google Earth image.

From the parking area at WPT001, head down into the valley to the north. The trail is well defined to begin with and quickly splits into a high and low route. I found the low route the easiest. It joins together after about 100 feet. The trail turns to the right and once again, I would take the lower route. Once you're almost down to the creek bed, I found the trail to the left was easier. We took the trail on the right back up. Both get you down to the creek in about 50 feet at WPT002. The length of this descent is about 0.2 miles. See maps page for Google Earth image.

Once you're down in the creek head upstream. Within another 1/4 mile you will find that the canyon begins to narrow. You can either take the creek bed or the trail south of the creek that leads to the open flat land just before the mouth of the canyon. Again, we did one way on the way in and the other on the way out.

Once you're in the canyon, keep heading upstream. Here's where you will have to negotiate a wide variety of fun obstacles. Do you best, plan to get wet and stay safe. Watch out and stay clear of the bees. There's only one place you may take a wrong turn. It's 0.43 miles from WPT002. Stay in the main canyon on the left here (WPT003). The one on the right leads to the "Jungle in the Desert". To tell you the truth, we didn't even see the intersection until we came back. March 2015 Update: We took this canyon on a different trip. A short distance upstream along this canyon is an awesome 35 foot waterfall with a deep pool below. It's well worth the 10-20 minute side trip.

Approximately 0.6 miles from the start of the creek bed, you will come to the Sleeping Dog Grotto and the waterfall. This is where we turned around.

I don't know what other adventures and beauty the canyon up ahead holds, but I hope to find out one day. When you're done exploring, return the way you came in.

Have fun and be safe!

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