Illusions Canyon, AZ
Location: Arizona, Secret Mountain Wilderness
Rating: 3B-III R
Longest Rappel: 100'
Illusions Canyon is a very scenic trip through the Secret Mountain Wilderness area and down to the West Fork of Oak Creek that contains several potholes that can vary drastically in depth with the season. We started our trip out early in the morning, leaving camp with a 100' and a 120' rope, pothole escape gear, and all the typical parts and pieces. We hiked out of camp with gear in tow down a fairly steep entry hill and quickly made our way to the first rappel. Once we completed the first pull, hiking was fairly open with lots of thick brush, downed logs, and some small pools of water. Soon we reached the heart of the technical section where it was one great feature after another, many short rappels, and some great down climbs in a fairly condensed area. It is in this area where at low water you could find yourself using buddy boost or other preferred methods to escape potholes. Use caution in this canyon and go with a good knowledgeable group familiar and capable of potentially deep pothole escape. On a recent trip back to the final pothole we were able to measure its depth to be approximately 15 feet deep and although full while we were there, reports from a few weeks prior mentioned the waterline being 7 feet below the lip, be prepared to negotiate the exit. Shortly after the last large rappel into the pothole, the canyon opens up. This is a great place to remove wetsuits, get a bite to eat, and organize in general before pushing on. If you have parked at call of the canyon the traditional exit calls for a bit of boulder hopping and bush whacking until you soon find yourself at the final rappel that will drop you into a shallow pool where all technical gear can be removed. Following the canyon out a bit further and just around the corner you will hit the West Fork where it is an easy 4.3 miles back to your vehicle at the Call of the Canyon parking lot. This is a great exit and will let you experience a portion of the west fork that people from all over come to hike. If you have parked up top exclusively, you will be exiting via the sneak route. Immediately after exiting the pothole rappel of Illusions keep your eyes open and approximately 120' (40 yards) down on canyon right you will encounter a drainage on canyon right with some downed logs that indicate the exit point. Working your way up this drainage can present several options along the way, choosing the path of least resistance to work your way to the top is recommended. Reaching the top of the drainage, walk the upper section and negotiate a hill to the west to reach the vehicle parked earlier.