Barney Spring Canyon
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Difficulty:3B IV PG (v4a2 IV)
Raps:7 - 14, max ↨100ft
Red Tape:No permit required
Shuttle:Optional 1h 15min
16 Sep 2023
"We approached via Buckhead Ridge and took the Immaculate exit out. Updated GPX is on point. This ended up being a very worthwhile option adding a few
Spring to Autumn
Rugged, green, and full of interesting slotty features. Multiple deep pools requiring a swim (one of which smells of sulfur).
There is an optional possible keeper pothole near the end of the canyon that may require escape if this rappel sequence is taken (can be bypassed using alternate rappel).
This canyon has a lot of blackberry and locust thorns on approach and exit, as well as poison ivy. Long sleeves, long pants and gloves are highly recommended!
Some 5th class moves with mild exposure required on Barney sneak exit.
East Buzzard Point: For the shortest (though perhaps most insufferable) approach/exit, drive out along Buzzard Ridge and park at East Buzzard Point. Head west then southwest picking up a drainage. This drainage gets steep and slick descending down hill bushwhacking through lots of blackberry and black locust thorns. Eventually the brush will spit you out on the bottom where the canyon walls quickly grow high and slick rock appears. This route leverages the infamous Barney sneak exit.
Buckhead Ridge: Alternatively, you could park at Buckhead Ridge and make a loop using the Immaculate sneak exit. Follow the Immaculate exit path a short distance from the car park before branching off to the north to access a steep side drainage which leads to the southern fork of Barney. This route's exit is a bit less horrendous, though the route adds a considerable amount of time on approach and exit as well as 6 or 7 additional rappels. It is a much longer day.
Note: Approaching from Buckhead Ridge via the ropewiki kml track adds several rappels up to 100'.
From Buzzard Point:
R1: 60' tree RDC set up high
Be mindful of rope-eater cracks on the next few rappels.
R2: 45' rock pinch RDC
R3: 40' rock pinch LDC
R4: 50' rock pinch RDC into pool
R5: 90' bolt RDC
Continue down navigating through a couple deep pools.
You will eventually come up to the infamous "keeper pothole" rappel sequence (20' rappel / downclimb then 50' from bolts RDC) that may require escape gear depending on conditions. This can be avoided by climbing up on the right to find R6.
R6: 90' tree RDC. This bypasses the possible keeper pothole. You can see into it on your right as you descend the wall.
R7: 80' tree LDC
Barney Sneak: Continue down the drainage until you meet up with West Fork. Turn left continuing up creek a ways, eventually reaching a side canyon wall on the left. Go up this steep, loose drainage, climbing multiple walls and logs as you go. There are a few mild 5th class moves required to negotiate this exit and the terrain is compromised by fire damage and unstable. The drainage also has quite a few blackberry and locust thorns throughout, however most can be avoided by hiking along large deadfall logs and boulders. The brush gets a bit thick just below the top but is over fairly quick. Although short, this exit is largely considered one of the roughest sneaks in West Fork.
Immaculate Sneak: If you parked at Buckhead Ridge, you will have a marginally tamer but much longer day ahead of you. Once at West Fork, turn right and hike down a beautiful section of the creek to eventually reach the confluence with Immaculate. Head up the heavily vegetated lower Immaculate drainage which at one point will require a tricky 15' climb up the watercourse (as of July 2023, a log is available to provide an assist). Proceed up canyon, then thrash and claw your way up the standard Immaculate sneak exit to return to your vehicle.
West Fork Shuttle: One could also take an even longer exit route down (or up) the West Fork of Oak Creek. This is a lengthy hike requiring a long shuttle, but it's also easy walking through what is arguably one of the most scenic locations in Arizona.
- Super Amazing Map : Barney Spring Canyon
- CanyonChronicles.com : Barney Springs Canyon
- HikeArizona.com : Barney Spring Canyon
- Arizona Technical Canyoneering Book by Todd Martin : Barney Spring Canyon
- ToddsHikingGuide.com : Barney Springs Canyon
- ZionCanyoneering.com : Barney Springs Canyon
Trip reports and media
- Candition.com : RWID:613