Trailhead: Chevelon Crossing
Length: 15 miles roundtrip
Managing Agency: Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
Directions to Trailhead:
There are at least two ways to get to Chevelon Crossing.
1) From Payson, drive east on SR 260 for 29 miles to FR 300 (Woods Canyon Lake turnoff). Follow FR 300 west and north for 8 miles. Turn right on FR 169 and follow it for 20 miles to FR 504. Turn Right on FR 504 and follow it 2 miles to the Chevelon Crossing Campground. All roads are passable in a sedan.
2) From Winslow, drive south on SR 99 for 38 miles to the Chevelon Crossing Campground. Passable in a sedan.
There are numerous other routes. Check out a forest map and pick the route that is best for you.
This trip follows perennial Chevelon Creek from Chevelon Crossing upstream for 7.5 miles to the Chevelon Lake Dam. There is no official trail and you will need good route finding skills. Many of the game and hiker made trails are overgrown and difficult to follow. There are some cairns to guide you, but not many. We found that our best progress averaged about 1.2 miles per hour.
From the campground follow the old jeep road down to the creek and cross it. Walk across the meadow and past the campsites in the trees just south of the meadow. After a quarter of a mile, the trail heads down toward the creek. We missed this turn when we hiked it. If you start to climb you have missed the turn and should backtrack. If you continue to climb you will reach a dead end with a stunning view of the creek and the canyon.
Once by the creek, the trail gets less distinct as you meander in and through, fields of rocks and dense foliage. In less than a tenth of a mile you will reach the first creek crossing. The creek at this point is only 10-15 feet wide.
Continue south on the west side of the creek for another tenth of a mile or so and then cross back. Once again on the east side, this section is a forest of young oak trees that is very pretty.
You will cross the creek twice more in the next quarter mile. After the last crossing (you should be on the east side of the creek, you will remain on that side for the next several miles.
At 1.2 miles, Chevelon Creek turns to the West. There are some beautiful meadows in this area and many fine campsites. A word of caution: We saw many huge fire ant mounds in the area -- select your site with caution. After leaving the meadows, the trail stays on the south side of Chevelon Creek which is quite wide (40-50 feet) and deep (5-? feet) at this point. The trail drops down next to the water and for quite some time you are walking right next to the water, At 1.6 miles you will encounter a rocky ledge that you will need to navigate across. At 1.75 miles you will reach Durfee Crossing. Several campsites are available here.
After Durfee Crossing, the creek turns south again and narrows. This section was quite overgrown, but by now we had learned what to look for in the trail. We continued up stream (remaining on the east side) until river mile 3.0 This is just before the power lines cross the canyon. At this point the trail crosses over to the west side of the creek. We did not explore any further due to an approaching monsoon storm.
If you go all the way to the dam, it is 7.5 miles one way. Keep your eyes open for beavers, they are common in the canyon and you will see many beaver dams along the way.
Return the way you came.
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