The Black Canyon Trail (BCT) is recognized as a National Recreational Trail and meanders 78 miles from Carefree Highway (AZ74) north to about 8 miles north of Mayer. Trailwork is currently going on (as of December, 2010) to build new sections of trail and move sections off two-track roads to single tracks. Completion is targeted for 2012 aided by Federal Stimulus Money being available to hire professional trail builders. However much of the trail has been and is being built by volunteer hikers, mountain bikers and horsemen. In addition to the trail itself, there will be eight new trailheads of various sizes and facilities adding to the existing four.
The trail has a long history as it was used early on as a passage for native americans linking settlements and later by sheep herders moving between summer and winter pastures. Some sheephearders still use northern parts of the trail. An extensive history can be found on the BCT's website at http://www.bctaz.com/.
The various segments are described in a number of Hike Arizona hike descriptions. Links are given on this page as very few include "Black Canyon Trail" in the title.
This first segment of the BCT now starts at the Bob Bentley TH.
This segment is the southern most portion of the trail and goes from Carefree Highway (AZ74) in Phoenix adjacent to the AZ Fish & Game complex/Ben Avery Shooting Range complex to the developed Emery Henderson trailhead on New River Road. The later is an award winning facility and is a good place to begin or end the hike. The hike is pretty flat and easy traveling with typical desert vegetation. The trail is well marked with an easy to follow tread. However, I found it to be the least interesting segment of the Black Canyon Trail that I have hiked so far, but I wanted to do it so that I'd complete the entire southern section of the trail from Carefree Highway to Government Springs/Hidden Treasure Mine, about 53 miles.
This description is from south to north. The hike begins at a gate at the north end of the Carefree Highway trailhead parking. You'll hear the shooting at Ben Avery which seems quite close. It goes pretty much in a straight line for the first couple of miles passing through a gate at 1.88 miles (N33 50.533 W112 10.448) and immediately crossing a dirt road. Around this area you may hear shooting from another range north of Pioneer Village. At 2.7 miles (N33 51.168 W112 10.650) the trail crosses another dirt road and then descends into a wash. Turn right at the north side of the wash. At 2.78 miles you cross another wash where you need to follow cairns and a sign on the north bank to stay on the trail. At 4.11 you cross another gravel road. At about 4.6 miles you pass through a gate and cross New River Road, then pass through another gate at the Emery Henderson Trailhead. The total distance is 4.8 miles and 155' AEG.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
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.