Kelly Canyon is a pleasant hike or mountain bike ride through one of Northern Arizona's unique canyon environments. Dry, upland pine forest gives way to lush greenery as you descend, taking you into an entirely different world. Enjoy the bounty of oaks, elms, ferns, spring wildflowers, and other lush flora that you may never expect to find in Arizona. This is a cool, secluded retreat from the heat, and the best time to go is late spring/early summer when the wildflowers are in bloom.
The easy trail winds through the bottom of the shallow canyon, which has no technical descents or year-round water. After about 3.5 miles, Kelly Canyon joins Pumphouse Wash in a picturesque mini-gorge of white sandstone. Here you will find permanent pools surrounded by rushes and wild irises, and a larger gorge that cuts deeper into the plateau on its way to Oak Creek Canyon.
If you set shuttle at the bottom of the switchbacks on Highway 89A, you can continue 7 miles through the spectacular lost world of sculpted sandstone that is Pumphouse Wash. The easier option, however, is to turn around and backtrack up Kelly Canyon to your car. To minimize hiking, set a car shuttle on Forest Road 237 where it crosses Pumphouse Wash, though this road is rough and 4x4 is recommended. To access this road from Kelly Canyon, turn right (upstream) after joining Pumphouse and walk about a half mile more.