Apache Maid Trail – Waldroup Canyon – Wet Beaver Canyon Loop

The adventure: A backcountry trek that requires route finding, boulder hopping and bushwhacking, and offers up water filled narrows, spring fed swimming holes, rope swings and cliff jumps for the daring. There are also at least 2 ruin sites hidden along the western walls of Wet Beaver Canyon.
Location: Verde Valley, AZ
Length: 21.7 miles (3 days)
Know before you go: The majority of the mandatory swims on this hike are in the bottom half of Wet Beaver Canyon, so plan most of a day to cover that 3.5 miles.
Getting there: From Flagstaff drive south on I-17 and take exit 298 for Sedona. Turn left on FS 618 and drive eat 2.0 miles, then turn left onto FS 618A, which is signed for Beaver Creek Work Center, and immediately park at the trailhead.
The hike: Head North on the Bell Trail #13 for 2.5 miles to the 2nd T intersection which is the Apache Maid Trail #15. You’ll retrace your steps from this intersection back to your car at the end of your trip. Turn left and climb to the mesa top on #15 to a sign that says further travel is not recommended. From this point on, #15 is a backcountry route marked with occasional wire bails filled with the abundant basalt ballast rocks or weathered 4×4 posts with the number 15 near the top. They’re hard to miss so if you go long without seeing a bail or post you’ve lost the route and should double back. You’re basically paralleling Wet Beaver canyon but it’s best to do this part of the hike using a GPS.
After about 11.5 miles of hiking, trail #15 will pass through a cattle guard on a dirty road. Leave the trail and head east through the tall pines of Waldroup Park. Enter the shallow top of Waldrop Canyon at a National Forest Wilderness sign just East of Waldroup Place Tank where the drainage begins. Descending Waldroup Canyon requires seven short class 5 downclimbs, mostly on juggy and grippy basalt. Those inexperienced in climbing with a pack will want a 20′ rope to lower there pack down to a partner. You’ll join Wet Beaver Creek just above the Coconino sandstone layer where things get interesting, that’s why you didn’t walk Apache Maid #15 to it’s end and then enter Wet Beaver from the very top, though you could if you were looking for extra miles. For now it’s a dry wash so head 1 mile down canyon to where springs begin to fill the canyon bottom. Filter your water here, then head back up canyon to camp on the accumulated sand and gravel, or sling a hammock up, just watch out for rising water. The next day, descend Wet Beaver by boulder hopping, backstroking with your pack on and wading, until you get to one of the last swimming holes, cliff jumpers heaven, recognizable by a 2×4-wrunged rope ladder tied to a wayward juniper on the west side. Camp near here at your own risk (camping is not permitted in the Wet Beaver Wilderness) but you’re probably pretty darn tired from today and despite the restrictive regulative campsites and people using them abound. The next day, jump, climb and sun yourself on the rocks till your hearts content, then continue a few minutes down canyon and climb out to the west on orange sandstone to find the Weir Trail running parallel to Beaver Creek. Follow this South, rejoining #13 and then shortly after coming to the T intersection where you left #13 on #15 two days before. Retrace your steps to the trailhead passing the White Mesa Trail along the way, then head to Montezuma’s Castle and Verde Hot Springs, both just with of here.
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