A Spectacular, Canyoneering Adventure to a Colossal Waterfall Oasis: Cibeque Canyon, Globe, Arizona

Having lived in Phoenix now for quite a few years, I find I am frequently asked the same question, just how do you deal with the excessive heat living in Arizona during the summer months? And generally respond by saying that if it weren’t for swimming pools and air conditioning, I wouldn’t be here! Its true, but as with anything, the summer heat is just something that you get used to after awhile because Arizona is so much more than heat and hot temperatures. Being such a vast and diverse state and region, and if you’re like myself, and you love nature, the outdoors, travel and adventure, we are very fortunate because Arizona is still able to offer many pristine wilderness areas and gorgeous rock canyons that are literally just a short distance from the Phoenix metro area where you can enjoy beautiful scenery, escape the heat and cool off. So if you’re up for a new, intermediate level canyoneering adventure to a very majestic, remote wilderness area with gorgeous canyon scenery leading to up to a spectacular, colossal waterfall oasis, then I highly recommend you check out the Cibeque Canyon Hike, in the Salt River Canyon Wilderness, Globe, Arizona!

It was early on a Saturday morning in mid-June that I met up with the TLC Hiking Club, led and organized by Eric Kinneman, in east Mesa, and after everyone arrived, we received a quick briefing from Eric of the day’s adventure ahead, then by 6:30 am, we got into our vehicles and were ready to set off on US Hwy 60 east. After about 1 hour’s drive, we arrived in the town of Globe, then made a left onto US 60-Hwy 77, North, for roughly another 25 miles until we reached the top of the Upper Salt River Canyon. There at the top and looking off to the distance and down below, I was again completely astounded at just how gorgeous, and breathtaking the view of the Upper Salt River Canyon was! Wow!

From the highway with the Upper Salt River down below, we continued to make our way down the steep hill and after crossing over the bridge, we immediately made a left onto an all dirt road, which was the same location where I had been earlier in the year to do a one day white water rafting trip on the Upper Salt River. So I had already heard of Cibeque Canyon and was very excited to be returning again as I knew this was going to be a very scenic and gorgeous canyoneering hike!

We turned and drove down this very narrow, all dirt mountain road where 4wd’s and HCV’s were recommended but not required, and stayed right, following along the river’s edge for only about 4 miles until after crossing Cibeque Creek itself, which luckily had been dry that day, we made a right turn into a large, open parking area and the trailhead for Cibeque Canyon. Note that prior to attending this hike, we were advised by Eric Kinneman that due to the fact that Cibeque Canyon is located on ancient Native American tribal grounds, in the Upper Salt River Canyon Wilderness, which is strictly protected, it was required by the White Mountain Apache Tribe Indian Reservation to purchase a day use, Black/Salt River permit, for $15, in advance, which you can do either online, the easiest, or also at any Sportsman’s Warehouse Store in Phoenix. So before we began the day’s hike, we all confirmed we had our permits and that they were readily available and accessible should we be stopped and asked to show proof by tribal authorities.

After everyone had arrived at the trailhead, we got packed up and and after a quick group photo, it was by 9:30am (a later arrival than planned due to an extended stop in Globe and a also tire blow out along the way) that we were ready to start our day’s hiking adventure into Cibeque Canyon! Eric began the hike by leading us from the parking area down into the bottom of Cibeque Canyon and into Cibeque Creek. At roughly about 3000 feet in elevation, Cibeque Creek winds through the bottom of Cibeque Canyon, and with only a little bushwacking, we made our way down on the left side of the creek, first following a small path for maybe about ¼ mile until the path faded out, then it was up and over the rocks and boulders and into the water, which on this mid-June day was pretty low level, overall not being more than knee high level in its deepest places. Note that it is highly advisable to wear water sandals or river shoes for this hike as you will be in and out of water for the rest of your journey. As we continued our boulder hopping, canyoneering adventure, criss crossing back and forth through the refreshing water of Cibeque Creek, I briefly took a moment to look up at the surrounding scenery, in this very quiet wilderness canyon, and was amazed. It was just simply breath taking, as I knew it was going to be!

Our journey continued into the now narrowing Cibeque Canyon, still boulder hopping, and wading from one crystal clear pool to another, following the gently winding, twisting stream from one side to the other, taking one careful step before the other, up and over many slippery, large rocks and boulders in the creek’s bottom until roughly only about 1 ½ miles later, we veered to the left for one last time and I caught sight of Eric Kinneman and the rest of our group members who were ahead of me and I looked up and was in complete shock and awe. I couldn’t believe my eyes, because there right before me, was a giant, gushing, 80 foot, pounding waterfall! Wow! It was incredible and absolutely spectacular, a truly amazing sight to see. I found it really unbelievable that something as incredibly amazing as this was nestled and hidden away in this remote wilderness canyon and still unknown to most people. Wow, absolutely astounding! And, an incredible experience that I will not soon forget!

We had such a great time together there at the falls with the entire group together day, taking lot’s of photos, as well as a lot of great video of some of the members doing some cliff jumping, including Eric Kinneman himself doing his famous and very daring back flip off the cliff’s rock ledge! Wow! So much fun and such great comaradery between friends that everyone of us I’m sure will remember this hike always. However, after better than an hour, it was soon time to start making our way back again, so we quickly packed back up and retraced our journey back through the winding, twisting, Cibeque Creek, and arrived back at the trailhead again, completing our day’s 3.2 mile RT canyoneering adventure in Cibeque Canyon by about 12 pm, and an estimated 2.5 hours total RT hiking time.

In sum, what an amazing experience and an awesome adventure! A really great hike that once again was expertly researched, planned and organized by Eric Kinneman himself, and unbelievable was only 2 hours away from Phoenix too! So if you’re up for a gorgeous, highly scenic, off the beaten path, remote wilderness hike, and a moderate, relatively short distance, canyoneering experience to an incredible, colossal, and awe-inspiring, 80 foot waterfall oasis, be sure to check out the Cibeque Canyon Hike, in the pristine Salt River Canyon Wilderness, Globe, AZ!

Source by Laura Halik



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