Tortilla Creek (Middle)
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Difficulty:2A III (v1a1 III)
Raps:0-3, max ↨25ft
Red Tape:No permit required
12 Nov 2023
"Combined with Lower Tortilla and Peter's Cave, starting at Tortilla TH and ending at Tortilla Flat. Didn't need ropes or technical gear (will be updat
spring, fall, winter
The middle section of Tortilla Creek is big and scenic with a few vertical challenges that you may or may not decide to solve with technical gear. Most will likely use at least one handline. There isn't much in the way of narrows here, but a few sections of sculpted rock and pools make for some nice scenery.
I have drawn a long track on the map that connects the middle and lower sections of Tortilla Creek and Peters Canyon together in a long loop since that's what I did (2-3 day trip), but other options are available. An egress route can be found after the middle section opens up, on the north side of the canyon after some prominent, jagged rock spires and is described here: https://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=10083. I have not completed this route, but it appears to be off-trail, rugged and requires good navigation skills if you wish to attempt it.
The starting point is from Tortilla Trailhead which is about one mile after SR88 turns to dirt.
Hike south on FR213 from the trailhead (few will have a vehicle capable of driving this road) for one mile, then work your way down into the canyon below on the right (west) through a minor cliff band and a steep, rocky slope.
After a little under one mile of boulder hopping in the canyon, there are a few vertical challenges in the middle section that can either be downclimbed, handlined, or rappelled, to taste. If planning on downclimbing only, you may want to have at least enough cordage (about 20 feet) to lower packs on the climbs. If rappelling, bring material for anchor construction. The first drop is a moderate downclimb of about six feet at a chockstone, the second is not far beyond and can be worked around to the right to rappel 20 feet from a tree or climb under a chockstone and down another eight or so feet using some small, but decent ledges. A third vertical section is at a large sculpted pool and can be climbed around on the left. A few more drops to work through large boulders and short cliffs can be more easily negotiated afterwards as you work your way down canyon.
If hiking the canyon as a day trip, the exit route described on hikeaz.com is on the right after about three miles in the canyon, after hiking past some large, prominent, jagged rock spires. You could also hike the rest of the way down Tortilla Creek to visit the scenic, but brushy lower section to finish at Tortilla Flats (about eight miles total, car shuttle required). Another possibility is to continue down Tortilla Creek past the lower section to then link with Peters Canyon, then hike up Peters Canyon to make a long loop hike that will take you through the best part of Peters Canyon to eventually link up with Peters Canyon Trail, back up FR213 and back to Tortilla Trailhead (about 21 miles total, 14 of which is boulder hopping - not for everyone).
- Super Amazing Map : Middle Tortilla Creek