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Apache Trail Canyon

Apache trail canyon
Apache trail canyon
Scrambling in Apache trail canyon
Apache trail canyon
Apache trail canyon
Apache trail canyon
scramble route on the Apache trail canyon
map: Apache trail canyon


How to Get There
This hike is located near Canyon Lake, AZ.

To get to the trailhead: from the Phoenix area, take US-60 East. Take the Idaho Road exit and go North. From Idaho Road, turn onto HWY88 towards Canyon Lake. When you reach the tourist trap of Tortilla flats, cross the creek and drive another 3.0 miles. Park in the dirt area on the left (North) side of the road near the power lines.
canyon lake
Superstition and Mazatzal Wilderness

Hike details

3.60 [Miles] Total
Hike Distance- Details
Through the canyon is 2.2 miles. To return to your car along HWY-88 is another 1.4 miles.
5.00 [Hours]
It took us 5.0 hours hiking to complete this hike, with a 15 minute stop for lunch.
Elevation Change
500 Total gain/loss [Feet]
Elevation Details
About 500 ft elevation change.
Hike Trail Type
Special Features


Best Season
  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • November
  • December
Date Hike completed
January 04, 2010


Solitude Details
Excellent. It is highly unlikely you will have to share this canyon with anyone.


Difficulty Rating
difficulty detail
There are some really cool narrows close to the Phoenix area. Be prepared both physically and mentally for the scrambling needed. The hike described here is a Difficult hike.


Be Aware of
serious scrambling, bush whacking, route finding

Hiking and scrambling through Apache trail canyon near Phoenix, Arizona.

Apache Trail canyon was named by Tyler Williams in his book, Canyoneering Arizona (revised edition). Thanks to his exploring, hikers like us have another enjoyable adventure possibility in the Superstition Wilderness area. If you're interested in some fun boulder hopping and scrambling to interesting desert canyon narrows, then this is an excellent choice for a spring hike. However, the scrambling in this canyon is not trivial, so if you are not comfortable with scrambling with some exposure then this hike is not recommended.

From the parking area, cross HWY-88 to the South side of the road. You'll need to use your route finding skills here to find the entrance into the canyon. Although it looks like further upstream it would be easier to get into the canyon, there is a 30 foot dry fall that you would need to rappel down. Walk cross country along the canyon downstream of the fall and keep an eye out for some cairns that mark the entry. The entry requires some strong down climbing skills. Some would prefer to be on belay for this down climb. We did notice a few slings with rap rings illustrating that some preferred to rappel into the canyon. This picture shows part of the down climb as taken from the bottom of it.

From the down climb, continue downstream. The canyon narrows quickly and there are substantial boulder jams that need to be navigated to continue progress. There is at least one challenging down climb in this section, along with one really neat cave formed by the boulders jammed in this section. 

The narrows in the canyon will soon open, potentially exposing some water pools to scramble around if you want to stay dry. The further you go, the more the canyon opens. The hiking here is more boulder hopping than scrambling, so it is a welcome change. There are some remnants of what appears to be an old bridge that once spanned this wash, as well as a multitude of views to enjoy along this stretch.

When the canyon reaches the road, scramble up the loose rock to HWY-88. It's a quick 1.4 mile walk back to your car.


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