Christopher Creek Gorge
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Raps:4-5, max ↨42ft
Red Tape:No permit required
Spring to Autumn;BEST in May;Jun;Jul;Sep
This is a really fun canyon with good flowing water most of the year (rare for Arizona). Christopher Creek features several rappels, a few slides and a couple of jumps (check depth first). Wetsuits highly recommended.
Parking: 34.31717, -111.06258
Top of Approach Hike: 34.31099, -111.05616
Start of Canyon: 34.30879, -111.05721
Exit: 34.31198, -111.06902
There are two options for the approach: through the woods or by the road. If you are not comfortable with a five to ten minute hike next to a highway, take the slightly more complicated "through the woods" approach.
From the parking area, hike southwest towards the maintenance yard, then east under the power lines for about 1/10 mile, go up the ravine, continue east for about 1/2 mile total, crest the hill to find the trail - OR - much more simply follow the road for the short hike to the trail. If following the road, head up the embankment on your right just before it becomes steep (about .4 mile), then follow the wire fence to the east a very short distance until you come to the obvious spot where people are ducking under the fence (where the fence has been mangled to make getting under it easier) to follow the trail on the other side. Stay on the trail hiking south, you should not come too close to the camp grounds if you stay on the trail. Farther east of the main trail are others that will circuitously take you to the canyon, but are out of the way and on posted private property.
Before arriving at the first anchor, there are several small jumps and pools. Most can be climbed around.
- R1: Bolts, canyon right, 25-feet, moderate down climb in the crack canyon right or rappel 20 feet from a pinch point on canyon left to stay in the watercourse and rappel through the short falls.
- R2: Bolts, canyon left, 42-feet, into a deep pool. Optionally can be jumped. Proper high-jump form is critical - forearms crossed over chest, lower legs crossed, head upright, tongue on roof of mouth, pencil dive. Optionally, rope can be pulled up a comfortable height above the water and a combination rappel/jump can be performed for those intimidated by the height. When releasing from the end of the rope there must be only 12-18 inches of tail to prevent the tail from whipping up and causing finger or hand injury.
- R3: Bolt on top of boulder right down canyon, 25-feet into deep pool. Optionally, jump from boulder, there is a ledge to make it about a 20-foot jump. Make sure someone checks depth. Can also downclimb right of boulder.
- R4: Bolts, canyon left, 35-feet, into a deep pool. Optionally, the 15-foot dry chute can be slid into a 20-foot free-fall for a 35-foot slide/jump combination. Proper slide form is critical so as not to fall forward in the air and do a face plant on impact.
- R5: Bolt, canyon right, 20-feet, next to the waterfall and into a small alcove. Optional jump from the large boulder platform mid-canyon from one of several ledges between 25-30 feet.
After the final rappel, there is a long swim and then a very interesting section opens up. After several narrow chutes and channels, it is possible to climb up canyon right. Doing so you will miss one of the most scenic parts of the canyon. Stay in the watercourse or stay canyon left until a narrow box drainage enters from canyon right. Some careful down climbing and stemming is required. At this confluence are several nice shelves to gear down. Exit up the left side of this drainage for a couple hundred feet and then hike up the bottom of the drainage for about 10 minutes. Another drainage appears on the right with high walls. Just past this drainage head up the steep rocky hillside peppered with yucca and crawling cactus. There are some cairns. You will head almost due north to a large flat area and maintenance yard. Cross the flat area to the trailhead and your car just beyond.
If you walk to far along the highway you will end up at a summer camp. I believe it's for boyscouts. Please be respectful and do not trespass or cut the fence as that area is private and we want to be good stewards.
- TheBetaProject.org: Christopher Creek Canyon
- OnRopeCanyoneering.com : Christopher Creek Canyon
- HikeArizona.com : Christopher Creek Gorge
- Arizona Technical Canyoneering Book by Todd Martin : Christopher Creek Canyon
- ToddsHikingGuide.com : Christopher Creek Gorge
- Super Amazing Map : Christopher Creek Gorge
- ZionCanyoneering.com : Christopher Creek Gorge
- CanyonCollective.com : Christopher Creek Gorge
- WildPathsAZ.com : Christopher Creek Gorge
Trip reports and media
- Candition.com : Christopher Creek Canyon
On 4/11/15 two canyoneers jumped all of the rappels. It's a blast if you like jumping. You must send a depth tester down on rappel first to make sure your landing zone is deep enough and clear of any boulders, tree trunks or tree branches that may occasionally get washed down in flash floods or mudslides.
On 4/9/16 another group of canyoneers jumped from every rappel station after testing depth.