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Mule Deer Trail - White Tanks, AZ

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Guide 41 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NW
2.4 of 5 by 9
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 3.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,426 feet
Elevation Gain 141 feet
Accumulated Gain 251 feet
Avg Time One Way 1-2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 4.14
Backpack No
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20  2019-03-28 RowdyandMe
18  2018-11-12
Ford Canyon-Goat Camp
5  2018-02-18
White Tanks Goat Camp to Willow Canyon
10  2018-02-10
Mule Deer to South to Mule Deer (from Area 4)
59  2017-12-28
MT - Guadalupe to Trilby
34  2017-12-08
Goat Camp - Willow / Mesquite Loop
7  2017-02-17
First MTB Ride
18  2017-01-14
White Tanks
Page 1,  2
Author PatrickL
author avatar Guides 7
Routes 61
Photos 1,394
Trips 395 map ( 1,867 miles )
Age 28 Male Gender
Location Buckeye, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Jan, Dec, Nov
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:15am - 6:34pm
Official Route
16 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Aptly named
by PatrickL

Looking for a good walk in the White Tanks? Sick of the crowds that the Waterfall Trail brings? Don't feel like heading miles into the mountains? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to give Mule Deer a shot.

What separates this trail from the other low-lying trails in the park, is that it doesn't parallel a road, and that's one noise avoided. While the trail does cross the park's main road at one point, the majority of it is away from the hustle and bustle of waterfall traffic.

Beginning at the north end of the trail, you'll do a bit of an unnecessary b-line and then pass a spur trail heading to Area 4's group picnic area. This is where much of the climbing is done. It's a measly and gradual 96ft that heads around a small hill. Soon after, you'll meet up with the Bajada Trail.

Should you choose to continue along Mule Deer, you'll pass along some horse stables on your left (east). The rest of the trail is a mild meander at the foot of the White Tank Mountains. After crossing the main road, you'll wrap around and meet up with the South Trail. Return the 3.3 miles you came, or begin the rest of your loop, whatever that may be - there are plenty of options.

Just before crossing the main road, there is a spur trail heading to the Nature Center (it's well signed - you can't miss it). This might be a worthwhile side-trip if you have kids, or just want to pay a visit and see some interesting stuff.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2011-03-17 PatrickL
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    PDF Trails Map
  • PDF Trails Map
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    PDF Trails Map

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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 of 16 deeper Triplog Reviews
Mule Deer Trail - White Tanks
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White Tanks
Hit the trial with my youngest daughter for the first time. She loved it....well for about the first .5 mile. Then she was asleep for the rest of the ride. But that's ok. The trails were in great condition. There was very little traffic.

Started on South Trail. Then hit Goat Camp. From Goat Camp, I jumped on Bajada leading to Mule Deer which brought us back to the trail head. Beautiful day!
Mule Deer Trail - White Tanks
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Another gorgeous day in the White Tank Mountains. Last week I did Ford Canyon down Willows so today it was Goat Camp down Mesquite. And of course I did both hikes from the exact same parking spot.

I met a few hikers early on but they all had the same plan of turning around before ascending the mountain. So the mountain belonged to Rowdy and me yes me. At about the 6 mile point we stopped and had lunch. I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and Rowdy had a roasted chicken breast boneless by the way.

After lunch we continued on our way. Heading down Mesquite we got to see more Mule deer than we had seen last week.
It was a beautiful day out and nice and peaceful.
Mule Deer Trail - White Tanks
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Maricopa Trail - Mule Deer
Went for an easy morning ride that turned out to be much more difficult. I allotted an hour to ride, to limit heat exposure. Well I didn't make it. (Well I clearly made it, but not to an hour:) ) The plan was to take Mule Deer up to connect to Maricopa Trail, and to ride that to Bell and back. This was the plan before my self-imposed time limit, so I just wanted to see how far I could get before having to turn back.

The first 20 min was fine and I was keeping a solid pace, but the heat was noticeable. With a sustained bpm floating 160+, it sure felt a lot hotter, even if it was just myself. Mule Deer is a regular for me but this was my first on the MT, which had some sections of compacted singletrack heading north I was looking to dive deeper into. So a few minutes earlier than expected I pulled over for some shade and a salty snack. As soon as I dismount I see rather large coyote just staring me down from 10yds away. At first I almost mistook it for a grey wolf given its size. I heeded its advice and took a few minutes more before heading back.

Heading back was slow going, simply cuz I couldn't cool myself down and was timid about getting my mercury any higher. I stopped everytime I could feel the bpms raise, which is pretty often when you're biking. There were some longer downhills on the return that allowed me to coast, albeit at a much slower pace than usual. Needless to say I won't be biking in the Valley much at all this summer unless I can roll out of bed earlier on the weekends, but I do feel justified about sitting in the AC all day :)
Mule Deer Trail - White Tanks
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Mule - Goat Camp - Bajada Loop
Mental cleanse on a Friday morning that was mild enough for me to get out in the late morning without cooking. It was a jog/hike and carved up the loop for the mild terrain, although the trails were sandier/less compacted than anticipated. Turned around at Black Canyon but would like to take Goat Camp up further into the cut next time.

Unexpected perk of getting out there during the week - Ranger Ricky was feeding her pet desert tortoise. I'd been looking for one in the wild, and this gets me a step closer. It proved it's worth as a desert tortoise when I learned it's favorite food is Cilantro.

Btw, water's available at the Goat Camp trailhead.
Mule Deer Trail - White Tanks
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Well it was a nice cool morning so I decided on getting a early start. I hit the trail around 11:30am and I was the only car at the trailhead. Just one of the advantages of a early start.
The last time I tried this hike I got extremely sick and had to turn back. I knew then I would have to come back and finish this hike and today was the day :y: .
The hike started out pretty slow as there really wasn't much to see. The best part of the hike was going down Willow Canyon which I almost didn't do. You know one of those last second changes I saw a sign that said one mile so why not as I knew it would connect with Mesquite further down. I not sure what we came upon but it might have been a old homestead. It really was in a great spot with a waterfall when it rains and some really nice shaded areas around it :app: .
As we got closer to where Mesquite connects to the road we did get to see four deer and they didn't seem to mind us being there. It was a really nice hike and I had to make so changes at the end as I really did not like the way the Haz Map had the hike finish.
Mule Deer Trail - White Tanks
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Bajada - Goat Camp - wash/service road - Barry - Mesquite - first half of Waterfall Trail - south half of Black Rock - Mule Deer - Bajada

Headed up the wash just before mile 5 on GC for the first time - I think I'll stick to the Jeep trail on the ridge.
Last entry in the summit log(s) was from 10/28.
Saw a group of deer along the Jeep trail. They headed into Slick Rock Canyon. The myriad of game trails on satellite imagery suggest they like to hang out around there. It's on the list/was considered today, but... :-k
Good weather, hardly anyone on the trails (except Waterfall, of course), good day. Might even skip the ibuprofen tonight.
Longest hike of the year so far.
Mule Deer Trail - White Tanks
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White Tank Loop
Bajada - Mule Deer - Mesquite - Waddell - Ford - Willow - Mesquite - Goat Camp - Bajada

Nice and cool out all day. People were everywhere, except for Goat Camp (probably because it was late). I kept a solid pace throughout, and generally only stopped for a handful of pictures and yielding. At the spur trail for Barry Goldwater Peak, I had a sit for about 10 minutes to eat some crackers. My energy was running mega low thanks to not bringing enough food. I would have been in better shape if it wasn't for my impromptu swing around Willow and the upper section of Mesquite.

I decided to go up Ford simply because I can't remember the last time I did. If I had to do a loop of this sort again on my own accord, it'll definitely be clockwise. The constant up of counter isn't so much strenuous as much as it is a nuisance. I'd rather get it all taken care of in the first 3 miles of Goat Camp.

Parking the car near the end of Goat Camp worked out beautifully. It's nice to get the flat sections of Mule Deer, Mesquite, and Waddell out of the way first so you don't have to have that death-march when you're tired.

So long, 2012! 411.49 miles :y:
Mule Deer Trail - White Tanks
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White Tank's Loop
Started on a dark, cool, clear morning in the Valley. The guy at the park entrance said I was his first customer on the day.

It'd been awhile since I'd been out to the White Tanks, and it sure felt good to not have to drive at least a couple of hours to get out of the heat to hike.

Ford Canyon is one of my favorites in the park, so I started my big loop there. I enjoy both Willow and Mesquite, so I did some off trail to the top of Willow Spring and then included the upper portions of Willow then Mesquite. Now on Goat Camp on my way to Barry Goldwater Peak, I kept my eyes open for any signs. None. I followed a wash to the road that goes to Barry Goldwater peak. I sat and enjoyed the views while I ate my lunch. I actually got a bit cold up there.

My least favorite part of this hike was the steep, rough, uneven downhill portion of Goat Camp Trail. I'd forgotten how bad that portion of the track is.

My goals were simple for the day:
1) Get to a spot where I could see Willow Spring from above - Check
2) Get to the top of Barry Goldwater Peak - Check
3) Hike the part Of the Goat Camp Trail that I hadn't done before - Check
4) Put together a loop in for some good exercise - Check
5) See a Goat on Goat Camp Trail - Nope....
Mule Deer Trail - White Tanks
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White Tank Loop
Started at area 9, and took Ford to Mule Deer to Bajada to Goat Camp and then back on Ford.
Chose to take Bajada instead of following Mule to South as that part can really drag on sometimes. I don't touch Bajada very often, so it was a decent change of scenery.

Pretty typical day with the exception of a loud whirring sound that made me jump pretty well. I immediately started looking around because it sounded so much like a firework had been launched, but there was nothing. I don't think it was a gunshot, either. Maybe a fly broke the sound barrier... Maybe I'm starting to crack...

Goat Camp has a handful of poppies sprouting up. I saw about 10 or 15 along a mile stretch. I think that qualifies as "isolated" as there is no option for "very isolated."
Mule Deer Trail - White Tanks
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White Tank Loop w/Peaks
This is the first of a few 20ish mile hikes I have lined up for the year. Hoping to eventually work my way up to the San Bernardino Peak Divide Trail. What better place to start?

Mule Deer - Uneventful. Tried to keep a quick pace as I started two hours later than I wanted to. Didn't know how long the day was going to be, but I wanted to stay on the safe side.
South Trail - Saw some recently eaten prickly pear pads. Otherwise, it was another uneventful mile.
Goat Camp - Despite the weight on my back, I whizzed through this section. From the junction with the South Trail to the second mile marker had to of been a personal best.
Peak 4018 - Not a soul up there. Signed the notepad with 1-23-11 as the date. :doh: A little chilly heading down the ridge. Warmed up a little more once I started moving again along Goat Camp.
Barry Goldwater Peak - The jeep road was a little difficult this time around. The service road was by far the most grueling part of the day. Quiet at the peak. Even the machinery was on the down low. Hung out up top for a while, refueled with lunch, and started the remaining however many miles. It was mostly easy terrain and a very gradual decline (except for that last climb into Ford) so it was an enjoyable stroll.
Ford Canyon - Pretty much all of the tanks in the wash have a good amount of water in them. Hopefully there will be a little more if it rains tonight. Back to uneventful walking when I was out of the wash. Ran out of water (I started with a tad more than a gallon) with about a mile and a half to go.

Only saw 10 people all day. No flowers, but it's still incredibly green. Really cool to look back at the peaks and visible sections of trail that I had been on earlier in the day. Excellent hike!

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
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. Follow main road for about 2.1 miles and turn right onto Wildlife Way (if you hit Waterfall Canyon Rd, you just missed it). Follow road to a lone tree on the right (the road circles it). Trail begins on the south side of tree.

doug h adds... With the growth in the west valley a faster way to get to the White Tanks Park from down town (PHX) is to stay on I-10 to Cotton Lane. Then go North 7 miles to Olive Ave., there is a stop sign and a Fertazone plant on the NW corner. Take a left (west) to the park. By going this you miss the new stop lights and the added stop signs on Olive. This is only a sugestion, I know the parks department has you going out Olive from the 101 loop.
page created by PatrickL on Mar 17 2011 9:12 pm
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