by Stewart Aitchison & Bruce Grubbs (Falcon Guides)
A delightful hike along one of Arizona’s best desert riparian areas. There is no established trail through Aravaipa Canyon; you simply follow the stream. Stream wading with numerous crossings (up to knee deep) and hiking through dense riparian brush can slow travel time. It takes a strong hiker about 10 hours to hike the length of the canyon. Topographic maps are handy for keeping track of your progress. The lack of an established trail does not detract from the popularity of this hike. Thousand-foot cliffs rise above a green ribbon of rich riparian habitat found along the 11-mile segment of Aravaipa Creek that flows through the wilderness.
More than 200 species of birds live among the shady cottonwoods and willows growing along the perennial waters of Aravaipa Creek. During late spring and summer, birders can expect yellow-billed cuckoos, vermilion flycatchers, northern beardless-tyrannulets, yellow warblers, yellow-breasted chats, and summer tanagers. Two federally listed threatened fish, spikedace and loach minnow, can be found in the creek. There are an additional five species of native fish, which makes Aravaipa Creek one of the best native fisheries remaining in Arizona. The stream has been recommended for designation as a National Wild and Scenic River. Permit: There is a hiking fee, and a permit in advance is required.
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