Hiking and Camping

Cibecue Falls Hiking Guide

Overview

Cibecue Falls is a short hike to a waterfall located in Salt River Canyon on the Fort Apache Reservation in Arizona. The route requires you to wade through Cibecue Creek, which flows all year. Depending on when you go, the water can be waist deep or higher.

To reach the falls, you must boulder hop up a narrow drainage with no definitive trail. As a result, this adventure is considered a non-technical form of canyoneering.

Note: Pick up a copy of Canyoneering Arizona for more information on Cibecue Falls.

Quick Facts

  • Distance: 4 miles out and back
  • Hike Time: 3 hours
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 220 feet
  • Fee: Day use permit is required.
  • Dogs: Yes
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Description

Cibecue Falls is a photogenic waterfall set in a beautiful canyon formed by Cibecue Creek. The hike begins at the confluence of Cibecue Creek and the Salt River, about four miles from where U.S. 60 crosses the Salt River.

To reach the trailhead, take a dirt road that follows westward along the Salt River. You will need a high clearance vehicle to cross Cibecue Creek. 4WD is helpful, but not necessary. Once you have crossed, turn right into a parking lot.

This is where the hike begins. It is also a great place to camp or picnic. In my opinion, it is preferable to First and Second Campgrounds, which tend to be overfilled with river rafters.

At the start, there is a foot path that meanders along the banks of Cibecue Creek. Before long, you come to your first stream crossing. The frequency of crossings increases throughout the hike, until you are in the water most of the time.

Cibecue Falls is a great hike for dogs and kids who are strong swimmers. Make sure to exercise extreme caution if the water is high. During storm activity, the canyon is prone to flash floods and is not a safe place to be.

Location

The hike begins at an unofficial trailhead in Salt River Canyon, just after the dirt road crosses Cibecue Creek. It is situated within the boundaries of Fort Apache Reservation in Arizona.

Get Directions

Map

Tips

  • Water: Abundant. Before you drink water from this canyon, make sure to treat it.
  • Best Time to Travel: March through October.
  • Safety: Check flash flood warnings and know the forecast before you go.

Photos

Cibecue Falls
Cliffs of Salt River Canyon at sunset
Salt River Canyon at night
Apache Falls, located further upstream on the Salt River
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