Christopher Creek Canyon 3C-II
Total Trip Length: 2.15 mi
Technical: rappels, down climbs
Number of Raps: 5
Longest Rap: ~ 40’
Total Ascent: ~ 872'
Water: Mandatory Swim
Vehicle: Passenger car
There are two possible approaches to the canyon from the parking area (34.3174, -111.06248). First option: Walk along HWY 260 for ~.45 miles to the Christopher Mountain Trailhead (34.31356, -111.05586). Head south on the Box Canyon Trail to the bottom of the canyon; this is the starting point (34.30866, -111.05708). Second option: At the end of the road where the gate is, cross the cattle guard. Once you cross the cattle guard head in a ESE direction thorough sparse pine trees for ~.5 miles where you will intersect with the Box Canyon Trail. Follow the trail south for ~.32 miles (distance will vary depending on where you intersect the trail) to the bottom of the canyon; this is the starting point (34.30866, -111.05708).
The upper section of the canyon consists of multiple mandatory swims, natural water slides, optional cliff jumps, and small down climbs. This section of the canyon will vary depending on water level. Rap 1: ~20' rappel from a pinch point on canyon left to stay in the water course or ~25' rappel on canyon right which will allow you to stay out of the water. Rap 2: ~12' from tree anchor down water course, or traverse left on canyon edge to a bolted 40' rappel into a pool, or down climb canyon right. Rap 3: ~25' rappel into deep pool or down climb on canyon right. Rap 4: ~35 rappel from bolts down a water fall into a deep pool. Rap 5: ~20 rappel down a waterfall into an alcove of a deep pool. Raps 2-5 are all able to be jumped. Please make sure to check depth first.
Continue ~645' downstream from the last rappel and the exit will be on the right side of the canyon (34.31145, -111.06472). Just before the exit there will be a pinch point that opens into a pool. Once across the pool stay to the right and look for a large boulder (see beta photos) the trail will go to the right of the boulder. When the trail looks like it is going to go uphill stay left along the canyon edge and the trail will pick up again and drop you into another wash/canyon. Follow this canyon upstream until you get to a pool with a waterfall. From here head NNE up the hill back to the parking area.
After swimming across the pool of the 3rd rappel on the right there will be an escape route out of the canyon (34.31137, -111.06211). The escape route will require easy down climbs, some bush whacking, and route finding.
The water in this canyon is cold year around. A wetsuit is highly recommended. We found the escape route because a member of our group didn't have a wetsuit and was too cold to continue on.
From the intersection of HWY 87 and HWY 260 in Payson head east 0n HWY 260 for ~17.8 miles towards Show Low. On the ride hand side will be a short paved road with a gate (34.3174, -111.06248). Park along this road.