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Waterfall Trail - White Tanks, AZ

Guide 169 Triplogs  0 Topics
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Difficulty 1 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,506 feet
Elevation Gain 251 feet
Accumulated Gain 251 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 3.26
Interest Seasonal Waterfall
Backpack No
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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3  2019-11-29 friendofThunderg
3  2019-02-02 The_Eagle
12  2019-02-02
Ford - Willow - Mesquite Loop & Waterfall
15  2018-03-25
Willow Ford Loop
1  2016-01-05 MikeS
46  2015-09-12
Black Rock Long Loop Connected to Waterfall
9  2015-09-02 WanderingDad
20  2015-03-02
Black Rock Long Loop - White Tanks
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 242
Routes 836
Photos 12,083
Trips 4,883 map ( 24,926 miles )
Age 51 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, Oct, Nov → 10 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  5:38am - 7:35pm
Official Route
3 Alternative

Desert Gusher
by joebartels

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Here's a small jewel very close to the valley. The trail starts out ridiculously wide and turns into nothing. Folks of all ages will be seen heading out on this trail. Seemed odd as I saw two families pushing strollers. Mid way into the trail where it narrows I passed several strollers stashed alongside the trail. There's nothing wrong with that I just got a good chuckle.

It's best to tackle this easy to moderate trail after a good rain. If it poured the night before head on out. A rare early morning shower would be best. The trail skirts the creek then turns into an easy scramble near the waterfall. Choose your steps wisely or you'll get a little wet. Personally I'd put on the Tevas and slosh right through it. Be careful as the wet rocks are slippery. After a mild to average rain some small pools get about knee deep. It's not necessary to get wet, but you may not get as close to the falls. The falls curve around a bend to the right. The falls are multi tiered. Sometimes it's only possible to see the top section if you risk a shallow wade.
- 2/98 joe

Three years later I return to the scene. With nearly an inch of rain in the last ten hours I was pumped. It was raining and under fifty degrees. Surprisingly the trailhead parking area was not packed. I'm not usually one to deliberately go out into the rain. Knowing the desert brightens up in the rain gave me a reason to head on out. Although I don't photograph it well, it's quite a site. The trail proved to be way easier than I had previously remembered. It's easy to see why this trail gets hikers of all ages in large quantities. I must have been blind on my first journey not seeing the petroglyphs. Several rocks are covered in plain site. Keep in mind there's a lot of unauthentic markings. I was beyond stunned to find out the creek was bone dry. I couldn't figure it out. It had been raining since midnight at home near Chandler/Ahwatukee. The trail seemed thoroughly soaked too. I still can't figure it out. The ravine above that feeds the falls is a couple miles long according to the 3D maps. I can't imagine how the falls were so powerful on my first visit. This rain must have been more of a soaker.

Nevertheless, it was a good trip. Like the lower Four Peaks and Superstition Wilderness areas, rain really brings the desert to life. In addition I checked out the Mesquite Trail. In the past year I've gained more of an interest in mapping. The White Tanks viewed from valley mountain peaks appears to be a single north/south ridge. In reality it's several parallel east/west ridges including countless tiny peaks. Not perfect ridges and canyons but still an interesting twist on my previous thoughts.

Signs all over remind you to stay on the trail. There used to be a connecting trail to the Mesquite Trail. It's history. I chatted with six or seven small groups. Everybody had a previous waterfall story. I always get a kick out of these kind of stories!

although I prefer a hike after a heavy rain, I should forewarn of possible flash flooding

Climbing on or near the falls is extremely dangerous, several deaths have resulted in the past

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2001-01-27 joebartels
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  • 2019 White Tank Trails Map
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    2019 White Tank Trails Map
  • 2019 White Tanks Closeup Map
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    2019 White Tanks Closeup Map
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.

Permit $$
Maricopa Regional Parks - Fees more info

$7 per vehicle,$85 annual or trade your first born for the life pass

$2 walk, bike or horse ride into park

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
12/09/07 Zuiu simplifies: Take the I-10 west out of Phoenix to the 101 Loop Freeway. Go north on the 101 to Olive Blvd. Take a left and head west 13.5 miles to the White Tanks park entrance. Continue into the park on White Tank Mountain Road. Passing the information center at about 1.2 miles. Continue on to Waterfall Road.
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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