Dark Canyon Backpacking Help

JBPHXAZ

Member
Joined
Apr 2, 2018
Messages
21
Hi Everyone,
I was hoping someone might be able to offer some help on info on backpacking Dark Canyon. I am not familiar with it, and am still doing some research. We are planning a 4 day(ish) hike the week of March 16. We are looking to do a loop which this looks to be. Here are some of the questions I have:
- Starting trailhead looks to be at Woodenshoe Canyon? Is the road accessible to a Ford F150 4x4? Or is there a better place to start from that is accessible by vehicle?
- What trails actually make up this loop? (I'll be grabbing a map resource, but hoping to get the general names of the trails.)
- There looks to be water (generally) along this route in March?
- It doesn't look like a permit is needed? (I'll call the Wilderness office to check on that.)
- Any input on how strenuous this loop might be, i.e. rope needed, cliff exposure, high pour offs, etc.

Thanks as always for any input you can provide.

John
 

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ZLmtns

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Mar 4, 2018
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I don't like your chance of getting to the upper end of Dark Canyon in mid March. The roads are at 8000 feet which means a lot of snow. My experience with Dark Canyon is at the lower end accessed from the Sundance Trail . Even there you might find ice at that time of year. Given the possibility of crazy March weather I would plan something close to paved roads. Good luck for whatever you do. :)
 

JBPHXAZ

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Joined
Apr 2, 2018
Messages
21
@ZLmtns - thanks. I kind of wondered if that could be an issue. Thanks for confirming that it could be! I think I need to find another alternative for us.
 

canadug

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Nov 26, 2015
Messages
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Have a plan B for sure. WE have been down that way a couple of times in March. Once it was perfect weather the other wet, muddy, and scary once you get off any paved road.
 

fossana

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Jan 11, 2018
Messages
444
From experience, if you take the FR 88 (Elk Mountain) way in, the backside of Bears Ears down past the Woodenshoe turn-off is shady and holds snow/mud longer than sunnier aspects. It can get pretty sketchy. If you approach from the Elk Ridge Road side, it's lower elevation and drier but there still may be some mud/snow as you approach the Woodenshoe turn-off.

You might also consider something like Grand Gulch instead, which you can access directly from a paved road if needed. It's definitely worth visiting.
 

JBPHXAZ

Member
Joined
Apr 2, 2018
Messages
21
From experience, if you take the FR 88 (Elk Mountain) way in, the backside of Bears Ears down past the Woodenshoe turn-off is shady and holds snow/mud longer than sunnier aspects. It can get pretty sketchy. If you approach from the Elk Ridge Road side, it's lower elevation and drier but there still may be some mud/snow as you approach the Woodenshoe turn-off.

You might also consider something like Grand Gulch instead, which you can access directly from a paved road if needed. It's definitely worth visiting.
@fossana - Thanks for the input. Actually after seeing some of the other responses, I opted against Dark Canyon (for the time being), and am on the same page with you. I actually secured a permit yesterday for Grand Gulch. Will be my first time, so looking forward to it. Planning to start at Kane Gulch and exiting at Bullet. Thanks again.

John
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Mar 1, 2015
Messages
183
That's a solid choice! Make sure to visit the green mask site
 

gnwatts

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May 19, 2012
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1,699
Having a couple more days would be nice, lot's to see.
 

ZLmtns

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Mar 4, 2018
Messages
83
Something to keep you interested in Dark Canyon. Great swimming holes in MAY. This one is below Youngs Canyon.
PICT0036.JPG
 

JBPHXAZ

Member
Joined
Apr 2, 2018
Messages
21
HAHAHA! Great picture. Definitely has my interest for sometime down the road. Will have to twist someone’s arm to get out their on a trip at some point. Good stuff. Thanks!
 

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