I have been all over the southwest camping, trout bumming, and vagabonding my way across the red rocks, painted deserts, arches, blue-green lakes and stunning canyons. The canyons oh my the canyons, they are without a doubt some of my fondest memories. Being pushed to explore every bend and nook has caused me to hike further and longer than I ever have in my life, the thrill of not knowing what coming around the next bend. That is the experience you will have on the Cibecue Creek Trail on the White Mountain Apache Tribe reservation. This trial is not easy to find, and it does require a day use fee as well as a permit to be on the tribal lands, however all of this is worth it for an experience you will NEVER forget.
It is easy to miss some of the most beautiful sights in the world. Canyons being among them. They seem like something that would not be easy to miss, considering they are large gorges dug out by creeks or rivers. Often times canyons are masked by mountains and you quite literally have to stumble upon them if you are unaware of where they are. When a park Ranger with the National Park Service was stationed at Big Horn Canyon National Recreation area he had the same experience soldiers had that first came to that region, they did not even known the canyon was there until they finally road up on it and saw it for themselves. That is what happens unfortunately often for those that do not put in their research or ask the right questions. They miss out on seeing something spectacular. Most people go to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon, and rightfully so, however Cibecue Creek Trail offers something both Big Horn Canyon and the Grand Canyon cannot, a chance to explore it all up close and personal with a kiss from a pristine waterfall.
Finding the trail can be a bit of a trick. When you secure your permits it would be a good idea to ask as many questions as you can regarding the location of the trail. You can find it on your own with these directions but you would REALLY be better off asking people there. There is no signage and it is off the beaten path. This of course coupled with the frees make this trail less traveled than most. That is something else you will not get at the bigger canyons and parks. Simply put tens of thousands of people visit the Grand Canyon every day, and it feels like that when you are there. The Cibecue Creek Trail however offers a more one-on-one experience and a more peaceful and secluded experience. Travel just 40 miles past the small town of Globe, Arizona. You will come to a pink bridge, yes you read that correctly a pink bridge. Once you past that bridge there will be a dirt road on your left. It is a single lane dirt road with a few pullouts to let people move over to oncoming traffic. So drive slow. Once you cross the creek turn right and the trail will be right there for you! The trail-head is not marked, there may still be an upside down bathroom, an old Ramada and a sign telling you all the things you are not allowed to do on the trail.
So what you can and cannot do. This is something worth noting and they are very serious about this. The signs, permits, and books about the area all specifically state that there is simply NO swimming in the tribal waters. Period. There is also no fishing and no camping along the creek or on the trail. Your permit is good for 24 hours however that does not include an overnight stay. Be sure you respect the regulations and rules. After all you are a guest on tribal lands. This sounds like a lot of negative things and a lot of hassle but rest assured it is well worth all of it.
The twisting, turning, winding canyon trail has you cross-crossing back and forth over the creek. While you cannot swim you can tread across the creek. So do expect to get a little bit wet while traversing the trail. Of course the entire time you are going to be pushed to go further and further by every unknown twist and turn ahead. Opening up a new and unexplored part will drive you on and eventually you will end up at the Cibecue falls. A site to behold. Words escape even the most skilled writer when trying to describe these aqua blue-green falls that cascade down to a pristine and highly off-limits “Swimming Hole”. A cruel joke but a beautiful one non-the less.
If you think words cannot describe this, wait until you take some pictures. They may paint 1,000 words but nothing will compare to what you are seeing with your own two eyes. When you get home to show off the pictures from your trip on social media to friends and family they will become insanely jealous of you and your experience, however for you the picture will not have captured what you have seen enough. The words too will escape you and you will be forced to bring these people back with you to see it for themselves. Only so they too can share in your experience fully and see the true splendor that is the Cibecue Creek Trail.
The Cibecue Creek Trail a hidden gem among thousands at the White Mountain Apache tribe. Do not miss out on an opportunity to experience the southwest as a true canyoneer, a true Southwest explorer. Tread where very few have gone before and remember, leave only your footprints!