In an isolated corner of the Coconino National Forest, Willow and Clover Creeks flow together to create West Clear Creek. Several writers have described this stream as one of the most remote and beautiful in the American Southwest. The canyon that the creek has cut into the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau is so deep and narrow that to proceed down it one is required to wade or swim as many as 15 to 20 pools that stretch from canyon wall to canyon wall. Some are as long as a quarter mile.
It goes without saying that any place this remote and inaccessible provides superior opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation. For most of its length the stream is a valuable fishing resource, too, and is stocked with trout by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Trails leading into the canyon from the rim attract hardy adventurers seeking good fishing and secluded swimming holes. Trails that lead up from the canyon mouth get a lot of use by weekend anglers, picnickers, day hikers, and backpackers who use the primitive trailhead at the old Bull Pen Ranch.
Read more about West Clear Creek Wilderness.
The image above was taken overlooking the canyon just west of Hwy 87. This little slice of heaven is on the eastern end of West Clear Creek Wilderness.
The western portion of West Clear Creek is managed by the Red Rock Ranger District (928-203-2900). The eastern portion is managed by the Mogollon Rim Ranger District (928-477-2255). The District boundary runs north-south through the Home Take Draw area.
Additional Source: The Wilderness Institute: West Clear Creek Wilderness
At a Glance
||Sedona, AZ and Happy Jack, AZ
||Red Rock Ranger District 928-203-2900 or Mogollon Rim Ranger District 928-477-2255
Attractions: Hiking and horseback riding trails, swimming, fishing, great views, photography, and wildlife viewing.
Mechanized vehicles, including mountain bikes, are not permitted in the Wilderness.
This area can be quite hot in summer but the stream flows year-round.
Hikes in the central canyon reaches require swimming long deep pools between sheer canyon walls.
Trails in the Wilderness:
Location: 52 miles south of Flagstaff and 12 miles east of Camp Verde off paved and graveled roads some of which can be a bit rough.
Access: The lower areas of this remote canyon (Red Rock Ranger District) are accessible via a number of roads and trails, including FR 214 and FR 215 off FR 618 (see scenic drives). Upper reaches of the canyon (Mogollon Rim Ranger District) are accessible via the Maxwell Trail and Tramway Trail off FR 81 and FR 81E.
GPS (Bull Pen, Map): 34°32'22.0"N 111°42'31.6"W
Forest Service Topo Map (FSTopo Geo-enable PDF):
Click map graphic for printable view.