The innocuous, wildfire-tinged roadside pullout that marks the beginning of this hike gives little insight to the wonders that lie in the canyons below. This unmarked route ventures into the craggy desert canyons of Blue Wash and Camp Creek. Although this is not an “official” trail, it’s easy to stay on course by simply following the obvious footpaths and bends in the canyon. The first of several tricky spots happens at roughly the half-mile point where the trail seems to dead-end over a dry waterfall. Here, veer right and hike up above the rise following a narrow path-of-use. Once back in the gully, there are several more minor hand-over-foot rock scrambles to overcome before Blue Wash meets the wide, sandy course of Camp Creek. At this “T” intersection, head left and hike upstream, hopping the many rivulets that flow in meandering lacy currents. Soon, the rangy walls of a box canyon open up to reveal a cascade of water tumbling over a 20-foot-high granite escarpment. From here, those with good route-finding skills can opt to scramble up to the top of the falls and continue hiking north along Camp Creek where water-hungry reeds and velvet ash trees live side-by-side with drought tolerant cactuses and acacia. Please be respectful of the pockets of private property in the area.
LENGTH: 3.5 miles round-trip
ELEVATION: 3,243-2,643 feet
From the Loop 101 in Scottsdale, take the Pima/Princess Road exit. Go north on Pima Road for 13 miles to Cave Creek Road. Turn right (east) onto Cave Creek Road and continue 6.5 miles just past a sign on the right that reads “Blue Wash #1”. Park in the gravel turnouts on either side of the road. The trail begins near the cottonwood trees.
Cave Creek Ranger District, Tonto National Forest, (480) 595-3300
Bio: Serial blogger, manic hiker and “mom” to a dozen adopted dogs, Mare Czinar has been exploring Arizona trails for more than 20 years. After being led astray (or just plain confused) by outdated hiking books and online resources (hence the tagline: We got lost, so you don’t have to), Czinar sought to create a fully vetted, frequently updated online hike travelogue with current driving and hiking directions to spare fellow hikers the mental and physical wear-and-tear of aimless wandering.
In addition, blog entries are amended when road closures or wildfires restrict trail access. When not working, blogging, writing about the great outdoors or picking up dog poo, Czinar attempts to “stay found” while checking out new trails.