Opposite rim is seen in the distance; East Clear Creek is between
The hike down to the creek bed was no problem whatsoever. Switchbacks and shade aid in the 600-foot descent to the bottom. Here, the Arizona Trail crosses the creek (which was dry) and heads back up the other side. For this hike, we turned off the trail and followed the creek bed until we reached the point where reservoir water was backing up into the dry creek. Because this was as far as we could go without getting wet, we stopped here for lunch and waited on some of the slower members to catch up.
Stepping out of the forest and onto the creek bed
Along the dry East Clear Creek
Barely visible, a group of kayakers following the water to its end
We saw a group of kayakers round the bend. They asked how much further it was to the water's edge. We said, "You're there!" After twenty minutes or so of R&R, several of us were ready to head back. We retraced our steps along the creek bed to where it intersects the Arizona Trail. There is an official marker in place where the Arizona Trail begins its climb out of East Clear Creek, but it is much easier to look for the "unofficial" marker: a rock pyramid constructed a few feet in front of the trail post.
Rock pyramid signals the way back to the rim
The ascent is a pretty decent work out, but it's not brutal, provided you're in fairly decent shape. Again, switchbacks and shade make this 600-foot climb far more tolerable than climbs similar in elevation gain which may not offer these features. This particular hike turned out to be 8 miles long, but length will fluctuate, depending on the amount of water in the reservoir. At the time of this hike, the reservoir was about 50% full. Another option for this hike, which would allow you to precisely predetermine the length of your hike, would be to continue along the Arizona Trail across East Clear Creek, up the other side of the rim and back down to the second finger of the reservoir (and even beyond, depending on your conditioning).
After the hike we drove to the dam. Even at half-full, this is a really pretty view and a scene quite uncommon in Arizona. This was a nice finishing touch to a fine day of hiking with the Arizona Trailblazers.
Blue Ridge Dam (now called C. C. Cragin Dam)