Adam and Amy joined us for one last adventure before heading to Zion – down Palisade Canyon to the intersection with Spencer Canyon and back up to the Spencer Campground. I did this hike (in the other direction) in August of 2004 (pictures here), both canyons are drier than they were then (summer rains?).
The start and end of this hike are far enough apart that a shuttle between the two trailheads is prudent – a car shuttle would work, but for this adventure we left a bike at the Spencer campground and the car at the Palisade trailhead.
We started on the Palisade Trail and took it to an obvious side trail on the right that leads into the bottom of the canyon. The canyon is beautiful and fairly mellow for a few miles – there is water in the canyon and plenty of wildlife (my favorites were the Painted Redstart and Caddisfly Larvae). Palisade Canyon has only one serious obstacle – just before the junction with Spencer Canyon there is a set of falls. The first falls present the biggest obstacle – with very careful scrambling you can work around the exposed left side (this scramble recieves very little traffic so there is plenty of loose mossy rock and unstable dirt – be careful!). The first falls could be rappelled easily with natural anchors. After the first falls the remaining obstacles can be bypassed by looking for solutions in and around bottom of the canyon.
The junction with the rockier and narrower Spencer Canyon would be hard to miss. Not too far up canyon from the junction there is a beautiful spillover with a pool above – the water is cool and this is a great spot to stop and relax. Above the pools the scrambling continues – most obstacles can be bypassed on the sides of the canyon if needed. After bypassing a section of canyon on the right we decided to exit the canyon and head up a steep ridge to the Spencer Campground to end our adventure. Map.
Update! 2007-10-28 – This hike explores the upper section of Palisades Canyon – for good information and great pictures of the lower section of Palisades canyon take a look in Arizona Technical Canyoneering.