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Hassayampa River Preserve, AZ

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Guide 26 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NW
3 of 5 by 9
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Difficulty 1 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Multi-Loop 2.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,240 feet
Elevation Gain 120 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 Hours
Kokopelli Seeds 3.1
Interest Perennial Creek
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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11  2019-08-03 rrshort
9  2017-03-05 NatureKopelli
2  2016-03-14 MountainMatt
22  2014-01-12 Randal_Schulhaus
4  2013-07-28 burntlizard
27  2013-04-14 outdoor_lover
5  2013-04-13 burntlizard
10  2012-06-16 burntlizard
Page 1,  2,  3
Author JoelHazelton
author avatar Guides 16
Routes 10
Photos 967
Trips 406 map ( 1,971 miles )
Age 33 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar → 7 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:15am - 6:35pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
This is the desert?
by JoelHazelton

I am truly surprised that I have not heard anything about the Hassayampa River Preserve on Hike Arizona yet. Coming from the west side of town, I believe it is the closest perennial water to where I live.

I left my apartment in north Phoenix around 4:20 AM and got out to the rest stop about 5 miles southeast of Wickenburg at 5:20 AM. Although the preserve opens at 7 AM during the summer (8 AM during other seasons) the river is accessible through a quick hop and some well worn footpaths from this rest stop. The sun had just begun to illuminate the monsoon clouds on this 75 degree morning in late July. The previous nights showers left the grass and foliage damp and the colors saturated. The purpose of this trip for me was photography, so I quickly waded through the narrow, gentle river to find a spot in the clear water to set up my tripod before the soft morning light was gone. Fallen logs produce small cascades on the river and make for some nice compositions. A roll of film and hour or two later I realize I did not bring any extra rolls, curse myself, and head off towards the preserve.

At 7:00 am sharp I arrive at the preserve and check in at the visitor center, where the lady working inside is clearly excited to meet somebody as young as myself enthusiastic enough to forego Friday night partying to wake up bright and early to enjoy the wilderness on a Saturday morning. She shares plenty of knowledge and history to me while I become ancy to explore before the clouds clear and the temperature rises. I finally walk out the door and begin my trek. I did most of the trails, although not all of them, but some are just sandy and rather uninteresting. The visitor center offers maps and a trail guide you can carry with you. I started with the river ramble trail, which takes off north from the visitor center. It spends most of it's length along a typically dry (and this trip was no exception) monsoon overflow drainage. It then crosses the river and you have the option of Lykes lookout which is a quarter mile huffer up to a lookout point with benches and a nice view of the river below. Next was the Lions trail which goes east from the visitor center, which crosses the river at a most spectacular spot. It was so beautiful and photogenic here that I was hitting myself for not bringing more film. At this point on the trail it leaves the river so I turned around and connected with the Palm Lake loop. Palm Lake was like nothing else I've ever seen. It was a swamp with spectacular birds everywhere and the constant grunt of bullfrogs. This is definitely the closest natural lake to Phoenix. Very odd though... This would be another good spot for photos. After Palm Lake I was finished, as my sweat was causing flies to be a constant bother. I returned the trail guide to the visitor center (if you borrow one for your hike don't steal it!) and started home for a much needed nap.

There is no off trail hiking allowed in the preserve. The Hassayampa runs underground throughout most of it's hundred mile course, but for a few miles, it's crystal clear waters emerge and then disappear again. The cost to enter he preserve is 5 dollars, but it is well worth it, at least once. There is obviously plenty of water in the creek, but just bring your own. A couple of liters is plenty, considering the length of the trails and minimal elevation gain.

Note: Dogs are not allowed unless they are service dogs.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2007-07-21 JoelHazelton
  • Hassayampa Preserve Trail Map
    guide related
    Hassayampa Preserve Trail Map
  • Hassayampa Bird Checklist Page 1
    guide related
    Hassayampa Bird Checklist Page 1
  • Hassayampa Bird Checklist Page 2
    guide related
    Hassayampa Bird Checklist Page 2
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Hassayampa River Preserve
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Hassayampa River Preserve January 2014 Trek
FitBit totals
10.76 miles total (3.70 @ HRP, 7.06 @ Joshua Forest)
520 AEG total (52 floors, 12 @ HRP, 40 @ JF)
423 images on 6D
089 images on 7D
059 images on rebel XT
013 images on iPhone 4S

Day started off with a detour into what was for me unexplored territory, the Hassayampa River Preserve. Had some time to kill before a rendezvous at the Wickenburg McDonalds to go explore Joshua Forest :next:

HAZ Hassayampa River Preserve hike description :next:
HRP Trail Map :next:
Sampled all the trails; Palm Lake Loop, Willow Walkway, Mesquite Meander, Lion Trail, and River Ramble.
I was surprised to learn that HRP is part of the Nature Conservancy :next: ... eserve.xml just like one of my favorite places in Arizona, Hart Prairie :next: ... eserve.xml
The Nature Conservancy acquired the site in 1986 and began rehabilitation from what originally was established as an 1880's ranch, then as an upscale resort circa 1930 that morphed into an RV site complete with full service concrete slabs. Let's just say the site volunteers are a fount of information!
I've heard from some of my birder friends that HRP is a primo bird watching spot. I can't comment too much since this was a mid-day visit - water birds were negligible save for a lone mallard in Palm Lake. HRP was definitely "hummingbird city" though.
I think I got my $5 worth visiting this little gem...

Photos to follow when I get the chance.

Sent from my iPad
Hassayampa River Preserve
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Impromptu birding trip. It was nice and muggy, the mosquitoes were thick and the birds were in abundance :y: It felt like South Texas and many migrant birds were in the area. For example, the Tropical Kingbird, Brown-Crested Flycatcher and the Roufous Hummingbird to name a few.

Good day!
Hassayampa River Preserve
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No foxes this time, just a snake not sure just what kind, just the kind that makes the Mrs. jump, and maybe me, but just a little. Snacked at the lake and watch the birds play around. Ate lunch and watch the carpenter bees battle to the death. Love visiting this place, it definitely has a special feel to it.
Hassayampa River Preserve
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I forgot to post this trip - I've been slammed at work. This was a great Sunday hike, and I finally met the "nearly" famous Outdoor Lover - even-though she was late to our rondevous point :zzz: She has been gracious to invite me on many group excursions, for which I am grateful - However, my schedule and fear of other humans :scared: has not allowed me to go. Perhaps this Summer!

The Spring migration was hopping and we saw many wonder species.
Hassayampa River Preserve
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Change of Pace. Decided to do a Photography Hike and have been wanting to hit this for awhile now. And of course, I decided to rope in fellow HAZer and resident Birder, burntlizard, since I know this is one of his haunts... :)

We met up at Carefree Highway after I overslept :o [-( and headed out. Checked in with the Office upon arrival, and you know, I had to ask, if they had any Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds that visited upon occasion...Their answer? Ruby-Throats are not in AZ, they only come as far west as East Texas... ;) That was fine, as the Annas showed off their beautiful Reddish Purple plumage for us in the Garden... :)

The weather was ideal as we headed out into the Preserve, spotting some awesome species of Birds. The skies were extremely blue yesterday, providing a great backdrop for some of our shots. The Birds were high in the canopies or embedded within the Mesquite, making good shots difficult, but it added to the challenge. Lots of colorful species inhabiting the Preserve right now and it was thoroughly enjoyable to see them. Climbed up on a small hill to overlook the Preserve as well. Great little loops through the Preserve with lots of Birds calling throughout.

We ended our Trip in the Garden. Talk about timing! Not only are the Migratory Birds hitting the Preserve right now, but the Preserve's Garden was in extreme Bloom! They certainly don't need the Hummingbird Feeders hanging from the Building right now. The hordes of mini helicopters were jousting for the best blooms...Wow!

Definitely need to work on my Photography skills when it comes to Birding, but it was fun, and always a nice learning curve. Nice little Trip!!! Thanks Lance. Really enjoyed the Tour and the conversation... : app :

Couldn't find the Water Report for the Hassayampa River. It's considered "Trickle to Light Flow" through the Preserve...

In the Garden. Isolated in the rest of the Preserve.
Hassayampa River Preserve
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A romp in the Preserve with my sweetheart. Great Birthday walk and beautiful Preserve! GREAT for Kids, can't wait to bring my daughter next time! Also will be donating a deceased scorpion I've had in my freezer...theirs is falling apart :D
Hassayampa River Preserve
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I've always wanted to visit this preserve, today was the day. I wanted to go much earlier, but my wife scheduled The Room Store to come and get our sofa for a repair :gun: , they arrived at 10:45 and I was on the road by 11:00.

With my windows down and RUSH in the CD player, I was like a ghost rider on my way to some solitude. This was an awesome area, funny I was the youngest person here, by at least 20 years ;) , I felt a bit out of place, and I could feel the stares and I heard whispering as I walked around :lol: Just kidding, the people were delightful.

I was thinking that the birds were all hiding, but eventually I found some areas with American Robins and others fussing about. I heard of Blue Jay's being seen yesterday, but I did not encounter any, the lady said early mornings are best for seeing them. I did see some water birds, a turtle and a cool hawk in a tree.

For me, it was all about being away....and enjoying time alone, this was my happy place.
Hassayampa River Preserve
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Decided to make this a half day excursion. Very nice relaxing walk and probably all we could manage after hiking to Flatiron yesterday. I think we hit every trail. Enjoyed a lot of quiet moments. Saw a few birds but our best fauna find was a very beautiful and not very shy Gray Fox. We watched as he ate the fruit from the palms. A good trip, at least once, your bound to learn something. I finally identified a plant I have been curious about, the Sacred Datura.
Hassayampa River Preserve
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Stopped here for an hour or so at the end of the day. The hike description and triplogs weren't exactly flattering, but I was pleasantly surprised with this tucked away preserve. Not enough time to bird-watch, but we did hit all the little trails. Mesquite Meander to Palm Lake loop to Willow Walkway to River Ramble to Lyke's Lookout. The trails close at 4:30pm, and we barely made it out by then. Light was nice at the end of the afternoon.

Foot tall (or higher) grasses lined the trails. The lake was lovely and some kind of mating ritual was going on with the ducks. A few turtles were sunning themselves. My husband saw a beautiful red bird (he thinks a vermillion flycatcher), but my pitiful camera could not zoom in far enough. I have five blurry red photos of something with wings. Tall non-native desert fan palms tower in a few areas. The Hassayampa river is only a few feet wide at its strongest flow point, but it sure is clear.

Permit $$
Special Use

$5 Entrance

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
From Phoenix drive west on Route 60 (Grand ave) for about 45 miles until you see signs for the Hassayampa river preserve, about 3 miles southeast of Wickenburg. If you've reached Wickenburg, you've gone too far. It is easier to spot coming from Wickenburg. The rest stop is about 2 miles south of the preserve.
3 pack - loud whistle
go prepared
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