| Home | Warning | Gear | Books | Photography | Hikes | Links | Flora & Fauna | Etiquette | About Me | What's New |


Devils Canyon

Summary: Devils Canyon is a technical canyon trip located east of the town of Superior, AZ near Oak Flat (a popular climbing area). The canyon involves route finding, hiking, climbing rappelling and swimming. To complete this hike you will need: harness, descending and ascending gear, webbing, dry bag, 3-4 ropes (we used 2x50' and 1x80') and a wet suit if attempting this hike during the colder months of the year. I describe the route entering via Hackberry Creek. According to Williams (reference below), it is also possible to enter from Rancho Rio Creek, but this will add several miles to your route (the author has not tried the approach).
Note: This Queen Creek area in which Devils Canyon is located is threatened with closure by the Resolution Copper Mine who have plans to extract copper ore located 7000 feet below the surface. Check out the Friends of Queen Creek for news, information and tips to take action.
Directions: From Phoenix, drive east on Highway 60 through the town of Superior. Continue east another 4 miles to the top of the hill and sign for Oak Flat Campground. Turn right onto the paved Magma Mine Road and head towards the campground which you will pass after 0.4 miles. Continue past the camp another 1.1 miles to a left branching dirt road which leads through a gate. The road is suitable for a high clearance vehicle for the first mile or so, then becomes a very rough 4-WD road, the last hill before the car park at Hackberry Creek being the most challenging. Park next to the windmill in a small valley at the bottom of the hill.
GPS Coordinates for the car parks:
Rancho Rio Creek: 495138mE, 3682750mN (route not described here)
Hackberry Creek: 496251mE, 3681763mN
Road Conditions: High Clearance Vehicle - if entering via Rancho Rio Creek
4-WD ONLY! - if entering via Hackberry Creek
Navigation: Moderate
Length: 6-8 hours
Date Hiked: January 2004 - most would prefer to do this hike when it's warmer!!
Weather Conditions: Sunny and cool
Required Skills: None
Hike Description: From the car park at the windmill, walk across the road and follow another jeep road east. After about 5 minutes leave the road on the right side and enter the stream bed of Hackberry Creek. The canyon is wide and scenic with some interesting rock formations lining the walls. The only obstacle you will face is one 25' drop off that you can descend by doing a fairly easy 10 foot down climb on the left side (note: directions in this report are given as though you were facing down stream), then following stepped rock to the bottom. Just before reaching the junction with Devils Canyon you'll pass by a large pool. Once in Devils Canyon, turn right and begin working your way down stream. The canyon is not as scenic as Hackberry and is somewhat overgrown making progress slow. About 1.5 miles of rock hopping down Devils Canyon will bring you to the Five Pools area and the purpose of the trip. At the Five Pools, the canyon narrows into a series of pour offs, each ending in a deep pool. If you're lucky, the stream will be flowing and each of these pour offs will have a nice waterfall. The first pour off has 2 glue in bolts on the left and a fixed hand line which will enable you to down climb a short distance to a ledge on the left of the pool below (or you could just jump). If you've managed to stay dry to this point, your only avenue to proceed is to do a short swim to the top of the next small pour off. This one can be descended by either climbing around on the left, or better yet, if water is flowing, slide on your butt down a slick rock slope just to the right of the water course into the pool below. Climb out of the pool and rig a short 20' rappel off the bolts on the left at the top of the drop (leave this rope in place, you may need it on the way back out) and swim the large pool beneath. The rest of the technical section can be bypassed at this point by climbing and scrambling around on the left (though the author did not take this route others in his party did). On the other side of the pool is the longest rappel of the trip (about 60 feet, we used an 80 foot rope which was plenty) into the largest plunge pool the author has ever seen. Your anchor points are two bolts on the left (there are also two old, crappy bolts on the right hand side, which you should ignore). After swimming the big pool you will find yourself standing at the top of another 40 foot drop. Climb down this drop on the left to a ledge (if the rock is slick, as it was when I was here, a small tree on the left can be used as an anchor for a hand line (~30ft of webbing or rope should do it). Work your way all the way to the left on the ledge below where you'll find several dissolution holes in the rock that can be used to thread webbing through as an anchor for a 30' rappel into the pool below (you'll need at least 50' of rope). You can either rappel directly into the water or stay to the left and climb around the pool on the side. The remainder of the Five Pools section can be descended without rope by climbing down on one side or the other. When ready you can return the way you came by either climbing back up all the ropes you left in place, or taking the bypass route around on the left (left side of the canyon when facing down stream) back up to the top of the big rappel, then either climb the rope up the 20' rappel or carefully route find around on canyon left. Retrace your steps the remaining way back up Devils Canyon and Hackberry Creek to your car.
Rating (1-5 stars):
The author and his wife completed this with a group of 6 others in 8 hours. We fixed ropes in place at all drops and returned by ascending the ropes. The trip was done on a cloudy day in January after several days of rain. All waterfalls were flowing nicely, making for great scenery.
Maps: A map of the hike can be found here - 587KB.
Books: Canyoneering Arizona - Tyler Williams
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.

Hackberry Creek approach.

Devils Canyon.

Hand line at the first falls. Rigging the first rappel. Rap #2 and big pool.
Looking back at Rap #2. Looking back up after Rap #3.