Headwaters Trail Hiking in West Clear Creek Wilderness Area

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While there are many ways to access West Clear Creek Wilderness, adrenaline junkies opt for the insanely steep and difficult Headwaters Trail to get to cool water flowing at the base of towering cliffs and magnificent “hanging gardens.”

Getting There: From the junction of State Routes 87/260 in Payson, go north on SR 87 and reconnect with SR 260 north of Pine-Strawberry. Continue 3.1 miles on SR 260 to Forest Road 144, near milepost 249. Turn right (east), go 1.8 miles to FR 149, turn left (north) and continue to a three-way junction at FR 142. Go right onto FR 142 and drive 0.9 mile to FR 142E on the left (this is an easy-to-miss, unmarked road). If you reach FR 142F, you’ve gone too far. Go 2.7 miles on FR 142E to a large, unsigned parking area.

Length: 1 mile round trip (from the rim to the creek)

Rating: difficult

Kid Friendly: NO

Pet Friendly: NO

Elevation: 6,600-5,950 feet

Best Season: May-October


Photo credit Mare Czinar/PHOENIX


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