Fall Colors · River/Creek · Swimming
This rugged canyon route is a great hike for those who want a little more adventure than the West Fork Oak Creek Trail
can provide. The way will require a bit of route finding and some off-trail travel, but is sure to be a memorable trip!
Need to Know
This trail can be enjoyed as a through trip for the truly adventurous, or even a family friendly adventure when taken in reverse from the West Fork Oak Creek Trail
. Just continue as far as you can through the water until you get tired, then turn around and hike back the way you came. It is even better as an overnighter, just remember to be at least six miles from the parking area. You cannot get lost in this canyon. Watch out for flash floods and be prepared for everything to get completely wet.
This is a through-hike of West Fork from FR 231 to the main West Fork Oak Creek Trail
, and most should consider this a one-way route. Leaving one car at the start and one at the trailhead for the West Fork Oak Creek Trail
will enable you to enjoy this route without having to retrace your steps to get back to the starting point.
The route begins at a small bridge on FR 231. There used to be a small sign on FR 231 stating "West Fork" but this was not there in June 2018. Once on the trail, there is a large Forest Service sign letting you know you are in the correct canyon. This route is only for the truly adventurous but it is totally worth the effort. Begin by boulder hopping from FR 231 down the canyon until it reaches the main West Fork Canyon. From there, be prepared for narrow passages along the river bottom with plenty of river crossings and 4-5 swims (some over your head) depending on the time of year and the water levels. You can either trek through the water or bushwhack along the reeds and brush on the side.
For the last six miles, the Red Rock narrows creating sheer cliffs, subway tunnels and other amazing rock shapes. Don't be so concerned about the burning in your legs that you forget to look up and enjoy the scenery. The last six miles moving toward the main West Fork Trail are much easier and a welcome relief after a long day of hiking.
Shared By: Steven Richardson