Bull Pen- West Clear Creek


Bull Pen-West Clear Creek Trail #17 / Blodgett Basin Trail #31

Trailhead: Bullpen Campground

Length: 12.7 miles roundtrip

Difficulty: Moderate

West Clear Creek is the longest drainage on the Mogollon Rim, and extends east for 30 sinuous miles from the Camp Verde area. Nearly 2,000 feet deep in places, this canyon system is an absolute delight to explore, it features not only rugged beauty but an interesting array of flora and fauna life.

Directions to Trailhead:

From Camp Verde, go east 5 miles on AZ 260 to FR 618. Turn north on FR 618 and drive 2.3 miles to FR 215. Go 4 miles east on FR 215 to the Bull Pen dispersed camping area. Park here!  As of this posting, there is no parking fee, although having a few bucks would not be a bad idea.

Description:

I have been on the West Clear Creek Trail # 17 several times, and one thing is for sure, it never disappoints.  It provides a great way to experience the terrain of the Verde Valley.  Starting from the trail head at bullpen campground, the Trail follows a very wide maintained path.  Some older trail guides describe the trail going around "private property". That has changed -- the state bought the land and now you walk right across it. About .4 miles in you will see an old cabin that used to have cactus growing from the roof.  It was a pretty neat landmark, but the roof has recently collapsed.

After traveling .8 miles, you will come to the first of four creek crossings. The water is usually pretty cold and at least knee deep.  This is why you man want to bring along some flip flops or water shoes.  After you cross, you follow the cairns as you walk through a rock area. The second crossing is easy to miss.  But you should cross back rather quickly.

The trail wanders though a nice riparian area on the north side of the creek until at about 2.5 miles you cross back to the south side. The trail is a bit overgrown in this area.  It's another 2.5 miles up the south side to the final creek crossing. This one is very tricky. Very deep holes are everywhere.  Although info like this can change after the next flood.  After the final crossing, there are no good areas to camp, so if you plan on doing so, pick a spot before this point.

After the final river crossing the trail pulls away from the water for approximately 1.2 miles. Now the fun begins! Over the next 1.7 miles, the trail climbs 1800 feet, which is a pretty substantial rise. It is long and up hill with no breaks and very little shade, Just when you think you've reached the top the trail drops down across a wash and starts climbing again. It takes a long time (approximately 3 hrs) to accomplish this 1.7 mile stretch. When you finally reach the end of West Clear Creek #17 at FR 214A, you'll be more than ready to treat yourself to a break.

Now follow 214A 1.5 miles W to FR 214. Turn left of FR 214 and go downhill approximately 1 mile to the Blodgett Basin Trail #31. Blodgett Basin Trail climbs around a hill and then drops down into Blodgett Basin. This trail is very overgrown in the middle but has many cairns. It finally switchbacks down to the Bull Pen camping area where your beloved vehicle awaits you.

Hiking in Arizona is always an adventure.  Make sure you are prepared with lots of water, proper clothing and sunscreen, and be sure to watch for snakes!

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