If you live here in Arizona, you know that without a good air conditioner and a swimming pool, it's too hot! Despite the high temperatures here in the desert area of the state, you can still go out and enjoy the nature and the outdoors. More than any other state in the United States, Arizona is famous for its many canyons and beautiful valleys, many of which can be reached within a few hours' drive from the Phoenix metropolitan area. If you're ready for a real outdoor adventure, a great summer day trip to one of Arizona's magnificent beaches, then check out Christopher Creek Box Canyon & Ellison Creek Cascades, and discover the Arizona Canyoneering adventure!
Through a local hiking group, I joined the TLC hiking group, led and supervised by Eric Kenneman, I saw that there was a really exciting water tour scheduled, easy to classify as moderate, which seemed very enjoyable. Although I have been hiking and camping in the beautiful Muglun Rim area of Arizona for many years and recently visited Christopher Creek area a few months ago as well, I have never heard of Box Canyon or Ellison Creek Cascades before. But I always enjoy hiking, going outdoors and exploring new places to go in Arizona, so I was excited to register on this day.
I met with Eric Kenneman and the TLC hiking group early on Saturday morning, and by 7:45 am, we left Fort McDowell Casino, heading north on Rt 87, also known as Beeline. Driving on Route 87 to Payson is one of my personal favorites. An absolutely wonderful mountain scenery along the way! We arrived in Besson in about 1.5 hours, then we headed down 260 East and we traveled for 30 minutes and 19 miles to Christopher Creek, and we arrived by 9:30 am. Since there was no official parking for this hike and with the roads being built that day, Eric advised us to stand in the daily use area of Christopher Creek camp. So for a small fee of $ 6, which was strictly applied, and with ample space, we all parked our cars there.
Starting from Christopher Creek Campground, we traveled one mile along the shoulder on the south side of Route 260, where we were right next to the right of the Boy Scout camp, we passed through a fence, collected the group, and then set off to the Canyon Box. The path was not really noticeable at first, but we quickly found our bearings and then took our way through beautiful pine and forest plants and after only short routes, perhaps about a mile, we reached the top of Box Canyon. Wow, what an incredible view looking down the valley. Very Wonderful! After stopping to take some pictures, we followed the path down too hard down the creek below.
As soon as everyone safely reached the water's edge at the top of the creek, Eric soon jumped into the water and began to guide the group down the stream, swimming and running from one waterfall and one swimming pool to another until about 1/4 to 1/3 mile down and reached a 35-foot waterfall Which can only safely try by rappel. With being my first "rowing" experience, I took it at a much slower pace and lost most of the group! After taking the plunge into the first swim hole, I found the water cool, but very refreshing. So one waterfall after another, each one looks bigger than the other, I kept practicing slowly, scrambling, jumping in the pool after another, trying to see if I could reach the group. I had just jumped out of a 10-foot-long waterfall and fell completely into a deep water pond, and then I followed up in a few ways when I began to notice the cold and my feet and hands really numb. That's when I knew I had reached the limit and to the point where I couldn't move forward. Christopher Creek Gorge is a beautiful and popular place for kayaking in Arizona because of its many waterfalls and small pools. However, you should realize that the water temperature is cold, especially if you are at the time, and if you do not have a wet suit, hypothermia is one possibility and one of the risks of blasphemy. But I brought it back safely with the help of a few people along the way who helped me return to the rocks. As soon as I go back, it took only a few minutes to warm under the hot sun at the top of the shelf and I was fine again.
By then Eric returned, with the rest of the group coming one by one behind him. A few minutes after the group was assembled again, we started the return journey and arrived at Christopher Creek Campground and our cars by 12:30 and 12:45 pm. Once everyone returns safely again, it's time to head to the second high water day, Ellison Creek Cascades, northeast of Payson. By 1 pm, we went back to our cars and drove down 260 West to Bison, then stuck on Route 87 North for a few miles until we reached Houston Mesa Campground, then turned right onto Houston Mesa Road, also known as FR 199.
It was a very nice and scenic trip outside the Houston Mesa Road, although some signs are still evident from the devastating Water Wheel fire in 2009. About 8 miles and shortly after crossing the East Verde River, we stopped in a small area stop over Right in Cold Springs Campground. We stopped, we got out of there, we passed through the gate and started walking a short distance, about a mile from the dirt road trail, FR 420, and then we hung up at the bottom of Ellison Creek. The views along the 420 FR of the surrounding Tonto National Forest area were truly spectacular!
Temperatures in August were fairly warm, with very low temperatures, so there were a lot of people already in Ellison Creek, where the swimming hole was very popular during the summer months. When I got down in the creek, I jumped through the rocks and rocks until Erik and the group touched at the swimming hole next to the falls. Everyone on that day had a great time because next to the tree there was a big tree with steps carved like a staircase so you could climb up and jump into the pool below. Wow, that looks like fun!
After spending a few hours in the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the cold water at Ellison Creek, it's time to go home again. We started our hiking trip at around 4pm, which made us walk down the hot dirt road but we feel cool and refreshed now! We went back to our cars and parking by 4:30 pm, then back to Payson, then we went to Phoenix where we went back to Casino Fort McDowell at 6 pm.
All in all, it was truly an extraordinary day and another excellent crane, well planned, organized and guided by Eric Kenneman himself from the TLC Hiking Group and a great summer day trip and outdoor rowing adventure I highly recommend and look forward to doing it again in the near future!