Pumphouse Wash

Pumphouse Wash

Pumphouse Wash

Up Oak Creek Canyon, all the way up, at the bottom of the switchbacks, is a small curved bridge. Under that bridge is Pumphouse Wash. You can park on the side of the road south of the bridge. From the parking area you need to go to the right side of the bridge and take the little trail down to the rock wash bottom. Then turn around and say goodbye to the only piece of trail you will see on this hike. This one is all boulder hopping.

This hike is also all about timing. There are only so many days in a year Pumphouse is even navigable. If there is water present in pools, then more often than not you will have to go through the pools to continue. In fact, trying to go around them is very steep, destructive to the soil and rarely works. These pools are also exceedingly cold. You will need some form of water shoe to keep from injuring your feet in rocky terrain you can’t see.

This is a very tight canyon. It is not advisable to hike this canyon if Monsoon Rains are in the forecast. To be caught in a flash flood here could be a disaster at best.

Be smart. Plan ahead. Check the weather before going. There are not many ‘surprise’ storms in Arizona. A good time to go is after a long stretch of dry weather with more dry weather in the forecast. Take heart, there’s lots of dry weather in Arizona.

OK. With all essential warnings out of the way we can move on to the hike. This is a narrow canyon and because of that there is no soil and not much for gravel beds in the wash bottom. The going can be slow and is much more work on the body than the average trail, so know your limitations.

At about the 1/4 mile mark is the first potential pool. The rock is vertical on both sides. If there is no water here then you may not have to wade any other pools. If there is water then count on going through a couple more. In fact if you put on your water shoes here then keep them on as the next pool is only a hundred yards or so away. After that second pool the canyon opens up a little and it’s safe to put the boots back on for awhile.

Like many other narrower canyons the views change and grow more awesome around every bend. The rock formations are amazing to where it makes no sense to put the camera away. After about 3/4 mile the wash has an interesting feature. The water runs through a crack about 3 feet wide and over ten feet deep. There is not enough physical space to contain the water during flood stage which is evident by the groves cut into the bedrock at 12 to 13 feet above the pool bottom.

Narrow Channel

Narrow Channel


Unfortunately I did not get much farther than this on that last hike. But I do have this one scheduled for a re-do, and will post as a featured hike this spring. Stay Tuned!