Hiking Cibecue Falls- Everything you need to know

Cibecue Falls

Are you ready for a taste of Arizona paradise? If so, let me introduce to you to Cibecue Falls.

This picturesque waterfall is a must-do for your hiking bucket-list. You’ll drive deep into a beautiful canyon and hike 3 miles along a crystal clear creek. Once the creek dead ends you’ll be spoiled with one of the most impressive waterfalls in the state.

Perfect for dogs and the kiddos, this hike is one the whole family can enjoy!

In this post I’ve included permit information, trail details, and a gear list for a successful and fun adventure to Cibecue Falls!

Cibecue Falls Hike Stats

Distance | 3.0 miles
Difficulty | Moderate
Type | Out & Back
Elevation Gain | 620 feet
Location | Whiteriver, AZ
Trailhead | Cibecue Falls Trailhead
Dogs Allowed | Yes, leashed
Fees | $45 permit required per person

Cibecue Falls Permits & Regulations

Since we’re recreating on tribal land there are permits required and certain regulations we must follow. Below I’ve included all the information to help you arrive to Cibecue Falls prepared!

permits

First thing first- you must have a permit to enter this area at any given time. The land is part of the White Mountain Apache Tribe and all rules and regulations set by them should be respected.

Permits usually can be purchased on their website for $30 per person. You’ll have to print it off and take it with you. However, the past couple years they haven’t allowed permit purchases to go through for whatever reason. Luckily, if their website is still not accepting purchases, you have another option!

You can snag a permit in person from Sportsman Warehouse in Mesa for $45 per person. You can purchase it at any time and have them print the date you plan on using it!

You have to show your permit before you can enter the area to a marked trooper who sits at the turnoff- so don’t forget it!

regulations

The White Mountain Apache Tribe has regulations they’d like us to follow while hiking Cibecue Falls. This includes:

  • No camping
  • No swimming
  • No fishing
  • Dogs must be leashed

The no swimming part is a difficult one to get over. But the hike does require you to wade through some pools of water and cross the creek several times so you’re still able to get wet and cool off. I think they just don’t want us swimming at the falls!

It is important we follow their wishes otherwise they may restrict access to their land. Don’t be the person who ruins it for others!

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Road to Cibecue Falls

How To Get To Cibecue Falls Trailhead

Cibecue Falls is located roughly 135 miles North East from Phoenix. You’ll take highway 60 which leads you through a small mining city named Globe. The turn off to the trailhead is between Globe and Show Low. You’ll turn left (if coming from Phoenix) onto Primitive Road.

Here you’ll most likely pass an officer sitting in his truck waiting to check for your permits. If you don’t have permits he will send you away.

If you do have your permits he will let you continue 4 miles down the dirt road to Cibecue Falls Trailhead.

Road to Cibecue Falls

Talk about a real nail biter!

This dirt road is a one lane road that follows along a very steep cliff edge. If roads like this make you nervous I suggest having someone else drive while you distract your mind with a book or game on your phone.

That is exactly what I had to do while my husband drove us through the canyon! The drive is absolutely stunning but you have to be careful of oncoming cars as well as the bumps and rocks in the road.

Once you near the trailhead you’ll have to drive over the creek. The parking lot is just across the creek and to the right of the road.

Depending on the water level and flow you should be able to cross it just fine in a truck or SUV. I would not suggest attempting this in a sedan or van. Instead, you can park off the side of the road just before the creek crossing and walk to the trailhead.

When we visited it was mid May and we drove our Dodge Ram. The water was maybe 6-8″ deep and we crossed no problem without 4WD.

Cibecue Falls Trailhead

Hiking To Cibecue Falls

From the parking lot it is very straight forward where the trailhead begins- right in-between the two wooden signs!

You’ll immediately drop down to the creek and begin hiking alongside it. The path is narrow so you pretty much have to hike single file the entire way.

It is almost impossible to get lost here because all you have to do is follow the creek upstream until it dead ends at Cibecue Falls!

Hiking to Cibecue Falls

Along the way the trail crosses the creek several times which requires you to get your feet wet. For this reason you’ll want to be hiking in your waterproof shoes! Chances are it will be hot out so it should feel refreshing.

I wore my favorite Chaco’s and my husband hiked in his Crocs. Some of the rocks are slippery so I’d suggest something with more grip than not.

The trail is mostly sand so your feet will get sandy/muddy from going back and forth between the creek and trail. If you bring your dog just be aware that once the sand bakes in the sun for a couple hours it becomes too hot for their paws- bring dog boots!

Hiking to Cibecue Falls

As you hike towards Cibecue Falls the canyon walls slowly begin to grow taller and close in around you. The rock walls provide some relief from the sun as well as stunning views. This is how you know you are getting close!

Depending on the time of year you visit the water level could vary. In May it didn’t get any deeper than knee deep for me (I’m 5’5″), and that was only in two spots. The majority of the creek was ankle to calve deep.

Monty wore his life vest because we weren’t sure what the water level would be like. He loves water but doesn’t actually like to swim. Not being able to touch the bottom makes him nervous so we kept it on him for his confidence. Apparently I didn’t teach him how to swim well enough when he was a puppy 😆

Hiking to Cibecue Falls

At times the waterfall and creek can be tainted a muddy brown. This happens after recent heavy rains or monsoons. It is fine- it’ll just look like chocolate water! However you never want to be in the canyon during such weather so always check the forecast before visiting.

We got lucky and were spoiled with clear blue water!

Once you dead end at Cibecue Falls there should be some sand bars exposed for you to sit down and relax for a bit. The water is very deep at the base of the waterfall due to the flow of the falls. Remember no swimming is permitted here, no matter how tempting it may be.

Whenever you get your fill of views you’ll just hike downstream, returning the way you came.

Cibecue Falls

Cibecue Falls Hiking Gear List

While the hike to Cibecue Falls isn’t too difficult I still think it is important to arrive prepared. This area is very remote so it is always better to air on the side of caution. Below I’ve listed some important gear for both you and your furry companion if you have one!

  • Waterproof hiking shoes

Since you’ll be hiking in the creek at times it would be best to have waterproof shoes like Chaco’s. I personally prefer pairs without the toe strap because it gets painful and annoying if going downhill.

  • Reliable backpack

Any normal backpack will do, however I find it easier and more comfortable to scramble with the proper fitting hiking pack that doesn’t throw me off balance.

  • Water reservoir

To keep your hands free and stay hydrated along the way I always suggest having a water reservoir in your pack. Trust me, it is a game changer!

  • Sun protection

It is still the desert! Sunscreen is a must and you should also consider sunglasses and a hat for more protection.

  • Medical kit

You should always have a medical kit in your pack, but especially so in remote areas like this.

  • Snacks

Hiking can bring on the appetite so don’t forget your salty and protein filled snacks. Rise Bars are my favorite protein bars to bring along on hikes!

gear for dogs

  • Dog boots

The sandy trail does get too hot for dog paws. Having a pair of dog boots on hand just incase is always a good idea!

Sure the trail is near a creek, but I still like to have on a water dish hand because you never know. And yes, I still brought along 1L of water on the hike for Monty!

Using a dog harness is just better than a collar in my opinion. You have better control and aren’t pulling on the neck. If your dog is scared of deep water or doesn’t know how to swim, use a life vest that also doubles as a harness!

  • Hands free leash

Keep your hands free by using a hands free leash! It makes all the difference while traversing through water and over rocks.

We’re expected to pack out what we pack in, dog doo-doo included!

Camping Near Cibecue Falls

Camping at Cibecue Falls is not permitted, however there are 2 campgrounds not far from the trailhead that offer primitive style camping. These are located off Primitive Road and you’ll pass right by them on the way.

When I visited I didn’t see anyone camping. So either they are unpopular or they’re closed. Best thing to do is to try and get ahold of the White Mountain Apache Tribe to ask for the status and any additional required permits. Or ask the attendant you purchase your hiking permits from at Sportsman Warehouse!

Final Thoughts On Cibecue Falls

It is a real bummer you can’t swim at Cibecue Falls, however this area is just too beautiful to pass up even with the price of the permits. Although the road in made me extremely nervous I still enjoyed the fact that reaching the trailhead was an adventure in itself.

Hiking in the creek was enjoyable especially since it helped keep us cool. But I think Monty loved it even more than we did!

If you visit I’d pack a lunch and plan on taking your time to enjoy the canyon along the way. The sites are breathtaking and you can really feel a sense of peace here.

As always, please be considerate of the environment so we can keep enjoying it and remember to leave no trace.

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I’d love to hear from you!

Are you adding Cibecue Falls to your bucket list? Or have you hiked to the falls before? Share in the comments below!

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