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Munds Canyon - Coconino National Forest

Summary: You've likely driven over Munds Canyon numerous times since it passes right beneath I-17 before draining into Oak Creek Canyon to the west. The hike is nonstop rock hopping on basalt boulders through somewhat uninteresting canyon.
Directions: From Phoenix, take I-17 north to exit 322 for Munds Park. Turn right (east) off the exit ramp and drive a few tenths of a mile past the gas station on the right. Take the first right onto South Navajo Road which skirts a golf course on the right. Drive another few tenths of a mile to just before where the road enters the golf course and becomes a golf cart path and park in a dirt spot on the left just across from the waste water treatment plant.
Road Conditions: Passenger Car
Navigation: Easy, just follow the drainage
Length: As long as you want, it took the author 6 hours
Date Hiked: August 2004
Weather Conditions: Warm and humid
Required Skills:
Hike Description: From the parking spot, circle the fence that surrounds the waste water treatment plant on the left heading towards the two bridges of I-17 that span Munds Canyon. The path is brushy at first, but becomes less so as you enter the drainage. Start rock hopping and soon the canyon bends right, leaving the highway noise behind you. Jumping from rock to rock you'll hit occasional patches of canyon grape and willows which you'll have to push your way through, but these become less frequent the further down canyon you go. There are several pools of standing water in the canyon, but you should be able to keep your feet dry by climbing around on one side or the other. After about an hour of quick hiking I came to a short section of pseudo narrows in the basalt layer. About a half an hour later, a small layer of brownish conglomerate rock appears and another half hour after that (remember I was walking fast) the Coconino Sandstone appears. The boulders underfoot become somewhat larger as you pass between the sandstone walls and the two short sections of pseudo narrows in this section. The second one (just past the slimy pool in the photo below) features a somewhat tricky climb if you're trying to keep your feet dry like I was. Around the corner the red Supai layer makes it's appearance and the walking becomes a bit quicker. The canyon rounds a few corners then becomes very wide as it makes its way towards Oak Creek Canyon. The lower end of Munds Canyon supposedly resides on private land, though I did not see any evidence of signs or fences indicating that hikers weren't welcome. Best to check with the landowner if you are planning to hike all the way through. Otherwise, when ready, turn around and return the way you came.
Rating (1-5 stars):
One problem I have with guide books like the one below is that they describe hikes without qualifying whether the trips are any good. This hike is not so good. Yes, a bad day hiking is better than a good day at work, however, there are simply better hikes out there. The author walked briskly for 3 hours down canyon well into the Supai Sandstone until the canyon became very wide. He turned around for a total hike time of 6 hours.
Books: Canyoneering Arizona - Tyler Williams
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
The pseudo basalt narrows. Coconino Sandstone.
Slimy pool. The pseudo
sandstone narrows.
Supai and basalt
Zen garden scene.