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Pacheta Falls

Pacheta Falls is located just downstream of the confluence of Ess Creek and Pacheta Creek. A short distance from the junction of the two creeks, Pacheta Creek tumbles 131 ft. into a canyon lined with sheer cliff walls, and continues on its journey to the Black River.

The scenery enroute to to the falls is spectacular. The trail from the main road follows Pacheta Creek for 1.5 miles downstream before reaching the falls. Enroute, the trail passes through a Ponderosa Pine forest interspersed with Douglas Fir, and crosses several meadows.

There are at least two routes to Pacheta Falls: a short route through the forest off the end of an old logging road (good luck finding this); or a 3.0 mile roundtrip hike from the main road. The hike from the main road follows the stream downriver. If you choose to follow the stream, the route is pretty flat, and you should start your hike on the right (West) side of the stream. The trail is faint and in some places non-existent, but as long as you stick to the creek you should not get lost. (Assuming you are actually following Pacheta Creek.) Just prior to reaching the falls, you should be able to hear the roar of the water. If you have not already done so, cross over to the east side of the stream prior to reaching the falls, or you will end up on some pretty rough cliffs. You should cross the stream any place you like after Ess Creek joins Pacheta Creek in a broad meadow.

The falls are very picturesque, with lovely greenery and tumbled rocks. They are viewed from above, from viewpoints just down from where the stream falls off into a canyon about two miles north of the Black River. You would need climbing gear and technical rock climbing experience to descend into the canyon to the base of the falls. Caution should be exercised near the falls, since there are no handrails to help you if you take a tumble. Children should be kept close and away from any cliff edges at all times.

Note: This is high, wild, rugged country. Finding the trailhead could be a challenge. Pacheta Creek is not marked on the road, so make sure you have accurate, up-to-date maps and directions. The Falls are not marked, and the trailhead is not marked, nor even visible from the road. All of this helps to ensure the pristine condition of the falls, so please take care with how you treat the area.

This is high country, with an elevation of approximately 7,300 ft. During the summer monsoon, and at other times, afternoon thunderstorms can be frequent. Hikers should be prepared for conditions. The author and his family got thoroughly soaked by one such storm while hiking (running) back to the car.

The falls are located in a remote section of the White Mountain Apache Reservation. Since the falls are not marked on many maps, finding it required a combination of three maps. There is a long drive on primitive roads. A passenger car can make it back to the trailhead, but not if the road condition deteriorates further. Special Permits are required and must be obtained in advance from the White Mountain Apache Tribe. You can buy these at the Hon-dah Outdoor & Ski Shop, and other approved locations in Arizona. Directions, maps, and route finding skills are strongly recommended.


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