Today I discovered how gorgeous Kellner Canyon Picnic Area is when the creek is flowing. I had been hesitant to return to this part of Tonto National Forest after the ravaging wildfires of 2017, so it was with some trepidation that I visited today and found myself delightfully surprised. The idyllic setting was cool, the plants smelled good, the large sycamore and Arizona white oak trees were healthy, and the birdsong was punctuated by the roaring waterfalls and flowing stream made possible by our recent rains. While evidence of the fire is still dramatic, time has begun to heal this area and the brush fire opened up beautiful views not seen when the manzanita crowded the hillside.
I hiked with a friend and our dogs, and I’m not sure who enjoyed the adventure more: canines or humans. We explored along the stream, took pictures, and stopped to listen to the water forcefully rush down the canyon. I thought the almost 90-year-old Civilian Conservation Corp stone steps and walls were interesting and was grateful for the vault toilet available at the site.
The Kellner Canyon Picnic area (AKA: Kellner Group Site) is managed by the U.S. Forest Service and there was evidence of fire recovery work in progress when we visited with crews camping nearby as they worked to rebuild cattle fencing. This site is located only minutes from Globe at the base of the Pinal Mountains and you can drive on paved roads for most of the trip — an important detail if traveling after recent rains and concerned about getting stuck in the mud. Camping is allowed, there are five picnic units with tables and grills, and one group fire ring. If you wish to reserve the group site, contact the U.S. forest Service by visiting the Globe Ranger Office (928-402-6200, 7680 S. Six Shooter Canyon Rd., Globe) or using the USFS online reservation service (www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/tonto/recreation/camping).
I would recommend you visit now while the creek is running to really soak up the beauty of the area. Kellner Canyon Group Site is one of the many things I love about our Globe/Miami/San Carlos area.
To get there: Go 1.8 miles on Ice House Canyon then turn right onto Kellner Canyon and go about 2.4 miles. Look for a sign indicating the Kellner Group Area, park your car here, and walk about 1 mile up a slight, but steady incline until the dirt road ends at the picnic area.
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