West Clear Creek Trail

HARD 89 reviews
#20 of 169 trails in

West Clear Creek Trail is a 8.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Sedona, Arizona that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

8.8 miles
767 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash



nature trips




Directions from Flagstaff: Drive 40 miles south on Interstate 17. Leave the highway at the AZ 179 exit and turn east under the freeway. Drive about 9 miles on FR 618 to FR 215 and turn east about 3 miles to the Bullpen Ranch trailhead. Or turn east off FR 618 on FR 214 about 8 miles from the highway and turn east 4.7 miles to the Bald Hill Road. Follow this primitive road about 1 mile to a rock-pile cairn that marks the trailhead.

16 days ago

We did not do the Bull Head Ranch trailhead, but rather took the Bald Hill Road instead. This 1 mile long road ends at the trailhead, but I would caution that any vehicle without good suspension and/or clearance avoid driving this last mile. We were in a car, so we parked at the beginning of Bald Hill Road (also called FR 214A) and walked the mile to the trailhead

This trail is a killer. Especially getting down into the canyon, which I believe is called Copper Canyon. Very steep trail down with too few switchbacks and too many sandy spots to slip on.

Once you get to the bottom, seeing the trail is hit and miss since it's not maintained. But it's not possible to get lost since the canyon funnels you along the creek. If you are headed to the waterfalls (Maiden Falls and also Supai Falls), hike upstream.

The waterfalls are about 3 hours upstream, after rock scrambling, river wading, tree branch swatting, and inner tube floating. It is very slow going, so it's hard to gauge distances.

Do bring an inner tube in your backpack, so you can blow it up when you get to the impassable section (this section is maybe 100 feet of paddling). We sat on the inner tubes with our backpacks in our laps and paddled with our hands. Wasn't too bad, but the water is COLD!!

Also bring about 3 liters of water. And even then, I finished my water during the hike out of the canyon. And bring plenty of snacks, including electrolyte/salty snacks

You will get wet on this hike. Rock scrambling serves you to a point, but there will be times when you must wade in the water. Usually less than knee deep.

The most enjoyable way to do this hike in my opinion is to backpack partway into it and tent camp, and then finish the hike the next day. Otherwise you will be very sore for a couple days afterwards. There are a few "designated" campsites that others have used by the creek. I'd recommend using these so as not to create more vegetation disturbances/fire rings.

The bottom of the canyon and the creek are beautiful. Lots of trees, mostly shady, steep canyon walls, tons of butterflies, clear bubbling creek. But it takes quite a bit of effort to get down into it and is technical in rock scrambling for 3 hours before finally being rewarded with the waterfalls.

As long as you are prepared and know what to expect, you will have a great time! Not recommended for children or anyone with bad knees or poor stamina. Dogs would have a difficult time as well.

1 month ago

Would have given more stars but.......
If you follow the trail it is difficult, hot 100+, uncovered, and long stretches without water. At what appears to be the end of the trail, the way down to the creek is extremely unsafe (with a full pack) requiring navigation over a narrow ledge and 20ft drop.
If you follow the creek it is slow going and your battling loose rock, deep pools, bushwhacking through tons of poison ivy and spider webs, fallen wood and twigs which create trip hazards, and encounters with wildlife like snakes and spiders.
Next time I’ll check out the east entrance to the canyon and see if it is easier. The camping is great. Encountered many other people on the trail and deep in the canyon. I would do this again when the weather cools off. This would be a great hike 20-30 degrees cooler. Bring a fishing pole. Saw many large trout swimming in the deeper areas.

3 months ago

Best hike I’ve ever been on! Bring an inner tube ($2 at Walmart/ frys) to be able to float along the many pools of water. Beautiful!
Rope swing made for some fun. So amazing!

3 months ago

Wear hiking boots. Bring water hiking sandals and clothes to get wet in. We change into our water sandals when we get to the first crossing and keep them on until we are done and are back across to where we put them on . Dry feet and hiking boots are nice for the hike out after having wet feet all day. Creek is about knee to thigh high at the first crossing. Water is clear and refreshing. Many swimming holes along the whole trail. Remember, this area has flash floods. You may not be able to safely cross the creek during times of rain in the surrounding areas. The hike out is exposed after you leave the creek. Hot in the summer. We love this area. The more you explore the more you find to enjoy. Leave no trace.

4 months ago

Just went to Bullpen Swimming Hole

4 months ago

Absolutely gorgeous trail!! It offers it all! Goes from a desert drive, to a woods-y trailhead, and then the hike scenery is back and forth a few more times. Truly a unique place. Like previous reviews state, there are three different creek crossings within the first three miles. You can find a few campsites off the trail to the left after the third crossing, if you wish to stay a night or two. I would highly recommend bringing some camp/water shoes along with you, and having something accessible to dry your feet off with. I had a bandana and clipped on to the front of my pack to make my transition a bit more smooth, and it made a world of difference. It's hard to put dry socks on wet feet. Also, the first and second crossing are less than a tenth of a mile apart. If you are switching into camp shoes like I did, leave them on until after the second crossing. Trust me! I saw/heard a ton of lizards in the dry brush along the way, spotted a few small critters at camp, but no snakes or scorpions anywhere. Just be diligent and keep your eyes and ears open. Please practice Leave No Trace as well, and keep this hidden gem as beautiful and serene as it is now. Happy trails!

6 months ago

Beautiful area, ready for adventure.

7 months ago

Just went to Bullpen swimming hole

8 months ago

My husband and I celebrated our anniversary on this trail. We hiked, camped and enjoyed the creek all weekend. the trail is so worth the effort!

8 months ago

fantastic Trail we took it in the winter with no snow and our five year old and was able to do a great job the water wasn't very high and some boots were able to keep most of the stream Crossing dry for him. would definitely do again especially in the summer when it's warm enough to play in the Stream Crossings or in the Stream itself.

8 months ago

Beautiful hike, the creek was amazing & clear like the name, but there is a place into the hike where you can't cross the creek so it will cut the round trip hike to about 2 miles. Still very picturesque w/lots of red rock bolders...The drive getting to the Trailhead is difficult, a high clearance vehicle with rock type tires are highly recommended.

9 months ago

Amazing! Beautiful scenery.

9 months ago

Love this trail. Clear creek is wonderful and the cool stuff in the canyon makes me want to go again and again.

10 months ago

Words of caution if you intend to hike this trail:
The road in is in bad shape. Very dusty and bumpy with a wash area with very soft sand making it very difficult for non - high clearance vehicles to make it thru.
Once on the trail, high water levels prevented stream crossing so our hike was shortened considerably.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Went four + miles in and especially loved Chermside sections. Exposed sections are long in the beginning and after the third creek crossing, so be prepared if the forecast is in the mid-is and take plenty of water and sun protection. Going out, the trail dumps you in a field of river rock with no guidance, just a couple tenths of a mile before the second crossing. Bear left/upstream and you'll eventually see the trail. There is also an unmarked fork after the third crossing. The left fork dead ends at a campsite on the creek. The straighter option is correct. I wished the trail stayed closer to the creek after the third crossing. Saw a large rattlesnake that blocked the path just after the second crossing on the way back. Be careful.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

First backpacking trip. Beautiful trail. Loved crossing the creek 3x. Lots of rocks and boulders. Saw our first rattlesnake.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

I did this hike for the first time today with my kids they range from 19 all the way down to 7, It's beautiful, but mostly exposed to the sun. By the midway point coming back my little guy was tired and ready to be home but was able to make it just fine.

4 stars because as a previous poster said the trail kinda wandered off. I used the app to make sure we were on track, but the map ended before we actually got to the end of the trail so we had to find the rest of the trail on our own.

Monday, July 10, 2017

I really liked this hike would give it 5 stars but only giving it 4 cause part of the trail is not marked, so I ended up going off trail for a little while.

CAUTION: While hiking this Trail be aware of what is above you, while taking a short break on the trail heard something fall and hit the ground. I was expect to turn around and find a stick on the ground but instead found a large king or Gardner Snake about 6 in from my pack and about 2 feet away from me.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

West Clear Creek, from Bull Pen to the Tramway trailhead is always a spectacular hike.
Allow 3 full days to reach the Pine Tree and Sawgrass covered creekbed. Great fishing along the way with Indian ruins to visit as well. Accessible from Clints Well on the Mogollon Rim.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

This was a quick night out camping by the creek with a friend. The drive in is not pretty but when you get to the creek it's amazingly beautiful. We got there late and we weren't prepared to cross the creek (make sure you have sandals and quick dry shorts) so after crossing the creek a couple of times we decided to go back before it got too dark and settled in a camping site before the first crossing of the creek. The camping site was pretty nice but there were lots crawling bugs including spiders of all sizes and scorpions. I love this place and I can't wait to go back with my family and friends to backpack deeper into the canyon.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

You have to drive a ways on a dirt road to the trailhead. The trail ends at a beautiful creek spot. We passed a few people who said you can backpack further in and that it's even more beautiful!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

One of my favorite weekend backpacking destinations.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

this hike was unbelievably amazing!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

It is such a beautiful hike!!!! It is hot so dress light. the water is amazing!!! I cant wait to hike it again. It is a great place that looks like you are in Alabama not Arizona :)

Sunday, August 07, 2016

It's pretty tough, slower going and farther then I thought. pack light, you will need to push limits and that combined with spectacular scenery may cause feelings of ecstasy :)

Friday, July 29, 2016

No signs warning that the dirt road was so rough. took a fiat out there and made it to the end but it was scary. the water is brown as brown can be but its a beautiful trail and definitely one for spring time, it's just too hot in the summer for this one

Friday, June 10, 2016

The road to get to the trailhead West Clear Creek #17, following FR 216 all the way to Bull Pen Ranch, is extremely terrible. Definitely need a high clearance vehicle, unless one wants to drive less than 5mph for the next 4-5 miles on a regular passenger car. PLEASE don't disregard this at all. Most important thing is HOW to get there. That's the most valuable thing you need. Don't trust anyone that says to wing it on your regular car. Just not right.

Could not get to it because we ended up taking a mustang, so we decided to do another trail in the area. Still gave it 3 stars because the pictures are good and very nice area, but the road to get there is just as important. So stars were taken off for that.

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Can also read some of my other reviews on www.capturingaz.blogspot.com

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Well worth the time. Several creek crossings.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Awesome place to be introduced into backpacking.

Monday, April 25, 2016

I love this hike. So beautiful. We went the difficult way. We parked at the top of the canyon, at the Blodgett Basin Trailhead, and walked east along the road until we got to the West Clear Creak Wilderness trailhead off of FR 214, where we made our descent into the canyon. From there we hiked south and west along the creek until we reached the Blodgett Basin Trail, which took us up out of the canyon again. BEWARE: Blodgett Basin Trail is extremely difficult to find from the bottom; it is overgrown and apparently seldom used. Eventually we just had to start going up the side of the canyon where the trail should be until we found it.

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