Despite the fact that the Wilderness is only one-half mile to two miles wide, the canyon offers wonderful opportunities for solitude. As for beauty, serenity, and complexity, the hiking is rarely exceeded in Arizona. Wild, primitive, and trailless, the canyon bottom is narrow and filled with water in places, requiring you to swim or wade if you hike the entire length . . . a challenge to be avoided during storms. A fairly easy trail starts at Bull Pen Ranch, follows the creek six miles, and climbs up the northern slope to the rim. This route is especially popular with anglers, who fish Clear Creek for German brown and rainbow trout. Two more trails, Maxwell (about six-tenths of a mile long) and Tramway (about three-fourths of a mile), also lead to the canyon bottom. The U.S. Forest Service calls West Clear Creek Wilderness "one of the most rugged, remote canyons in northern Arizona." Clear Creek Canyon, opening on the Verde River on the west, is the longest canyon cutting through the Mogollon Rim along the edge of the Colorado Plateau. The canyon's very steep walls reach as high as 1,000 feet. It extends about 20 miles eastward before splitting into Clover Creek and Willow Valley, which form the headwaters of West Clear Creek. Pine and fir grow higher up, pinion and juniper on the slopes, and along the creek is a riparian habitat dominated by sycamore, alder, and cottonwood.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the West Clear Creek Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.