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West Clear Creek: Tramway_Maxwell Loop

Trying to keep balanced while wading West Clear creek
Hiking up the Maxwell trail
Elevation plot: Tramway_maxwell loop
map: Tramway_maxwell loop
West Clear creek
Doggies swimming in West Clear creek
Hiking down the Tramway trail
West Clear Creek: Tramway_Maxwell Loop


How to Get There
This hike is located near Clint's Well, AZ.

To get to the trailhead: from the Phoenix area, take HWY-87 North toward Payson. Go through the towns of Payson, Pine, and Strawberry while staying on HWY-87. About fifteen miles after Strawberry, take Lake Mary Road (also known as FH-3) North past Clint's Well and towards Happy Jack. Ten miles after passing Clint's Well, take FR81 West (signed for West Clear creek). On FR81, drive 3.1 miles to a fork. Turn right at this fork marked for the Tramway trail. Go 1.1 miles and stay right at the fork marked 'trail'. Go 1.1 more miles and stay left at the fork. After 0.5 miles, stay left at the fork. After another 0.7 miles, there is a fork with the left signed for "Maxwell Trail". Park here to start the loop.

High clearance vehicles are recommended for this road, as it is quite rutted.
Clints Well
Mogollon Rim

Hike details

6.30 [Miles] Total
Hike Distance- Details
The loop described is 6.3 miles round trip. A bike shuttle works well here if you don't want to walk along forest roads for 4 miles.
3.50 [Hours]
It took us 3.5 hours of hiking to make this loop. The travel time through the canyon is slow.
Elevation Change
1,400 Total gain/loss [Feet]
Elevation Loss
700 Total Elevation Loss[Feet]
Elevation Gain
700 Total Elevation Gain [Feet]
Elevation Details
about 700 ft loss walking into the canyon and 700 ft gain again walking out of the canyon on Maxwell Trail.
Hike Trail Type
Special Features


Best Season
  • June
  • July
  • August
Worst Season
  • January
  • February
  • December
Season Details
Date Hike completed
July 09, 2016


Solitude Details
Along the Tramway trail we only saw one other party. As you get close to the Maxwell Trail, expect to run into about 5-10 people. This is a good hike to find solitude.


Difficulty Rating
Moderately Strenuous
difficulty detail
30 yr old Recommendation: West clear creek is a very lovely place and worth hiking through. This hike is rated Moderately Strenuous because of the bushwhacking and wading in West Clear creek. Of course, that's the fun bit too!


Be Aware of
route finding, walking through water, bushwhacking, scrambling, flash flood danger.

Loop hike through West Clear Creek on the Mogollon Rim in Arizona.

From the parking area, start on the right fork which is FR693. There was a sign for this but it had fallen over. Walking along this flat, forested road is a nice warm up to the fun ahead. After 0.4miles of hiking, stay right at the fork (JCT_1R on the map). After 0.8 miles of total hiking, go straight at the intersection (JCT_2ST on the map). After 1.3 miles of total hiking, stay left at the fork (JCT_3L on the map). Finally, 1.5 miles from the car, stay left at this fork signed for FR9293N. It's another 0.2 miles to the signed trailhead for the Tramway trail. This trail is steep as it drops into West Clear creek and there is some scrambling involved, but nothing too scary. The views of the canyon are impressive. From the top of the rim to the bottom is 0.7 miles and about 750 ft of elevation loss. At the bottom you'll end up at West Clear creek. Turn left here (heading upstream).

While making your way upstream, sometimes you'll be walking on a faint trail. Other times you'll be bushwhacking. Still other times the easiest progress is walking in the creek, which can sometimes be as deep as your waist. It is slow going, but very enjoyable and the water keeps you from getting too hot during the summer. Long pants (for the bushwhacking) and a hiking stick (for walking in the creek) are very helpful in this section.

You'll enjoy walking along the bottom of West Clear creek for about 0.8 miles before you see the Maxwell trail wind up the pine trees on your left. It would not be difficult to walk by this trail, so keep a sharp eye out for the trail as you walk upstream. Luckily, there will most likely be some other people at this point that hiked down the Maxwell Trail that can point you in the right direction. After walking up 0.6 miles and 700 ft on the Maxwell Trail, you arrive at the Maxwell Trail road (FR81E). 2.1 miles of hiking along this flat road (after 1.6 miles, stay left at JCT_5L on the map) will take you back to where you parked your car.


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