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Brown's Canyon Saddle - Harquahala, AZ

no permit
35 1 2
Guide 1 Triplog  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Southwest > Parker
4 of 5 by 1
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Shuttle 12 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,157 feet
Elevation Gain 900 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,500 feet
Avg Time Hiking 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 17
Interest Off Trail Hiking
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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35  2013-02-28 kingsnake
Author kingsnake
author avatar Guides 83
Routes 182
Photos 7,946
Trips 637 map ( 5,893 miles )
Age 57 Male Gender
Location Sunnyslope, PHX
Historical Weather
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Preferred   Feb, Jan, Dec, Mar → 7 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:21am - 6:30pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
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Named place Nearby
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Prospecting Brown's1
by kingsnake

There's a number of different ways to approach Browns Canyon from the south, along Hwy 60. There's at least three major jeep trails:
33.828432, -113.183839
33.81492, -113.18062
33.803973, -113.185899

As seen on this map I started on Microwave Relay Rd at 33.800086, -113.18864. The trails split, and join, and eventually converge maybe a mile below Brown's Canyon Dam. 4x4 recommended. If you have the vehicle, the further up you feel comfortable driving, the more time you have to explore Brown's Canyon Wash. Otherwise, from Microwave Relay Rd, it is about a four mile hike to the dam. You don't need a GPS route -- I did not have one -- simply aim for the saddle west of Hill 4489 (the large mountain immediately west of Eagle Eye Rd). If you decide to go cross country, that is not a problem, as the ground is ankle-breaker and thigh-stabber free. The vegetation is mostly creosote and White Bursage, with a few brittlebrush.

About a half mile south of the dam, Brown's Canyon Wash begins tightening up. There's a lot of pools, and around everyone of them are copius piles of poo, mostly of the bovine variety. Drink only after heavy filtration, and even then only if you are desperate. As you work your way north, you will need to negotiate many boulders and rocky out-croppings, both below and above the dam. The dam itself is a small butressed wall of concrete. In dry times, a trickle of water from an underground stream will seep under it.

A half mile northwest of the dam, just before Brown's Canyon proper, is a small triangular plateau that has the largest, greenest, most beautiful ocotillo you could ever hope to lay eyes on. There's a spring near the plateau, though I did not find it.

Somewhere between a quarter and half mile past the plateau, if you look north, up the west slope of Hill 4489, you will see an absolutely amazing field of thousands of saguaro. Somewhere in that stretch, you need to begin bushwhacking your way up to the saddle. It will be much slower going than the first four miles of the hike, not only due to slope, but multiple wash crossings, numerous 2-3 foot rocks that need to be stepped up/around, and more palo verde, catsclaw and cactus than you can shake a hiking stick at. It will be slow going. Because I was hiking without a GPS route, I veered east of the saddle, about 200 feet higher up. From 3000 feet, I could easily see Gladden and the APS substation.

From your high point, work your way north to the prospects, where you can pick up a jeep trail that four miles later will deposit you at the substation. There is a multi-acre corral about halfway between the prospects and the substation. From the corral north to Hwy 60, the road is easily travelled by a city car. If your shuttle driver parks at the corral you will save time for exploring / cut time off your hike.

In summary, Brown's Canyon is well worth the time you spend in it!

Note: The 'official' route is really just a guideline. Regardless of whether you do the hike south-to-north (as I did) or north-to-south, all you need to do is aim for the saddle.

Check out the Official Route and Triplog.

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

2013-03-01 kingsnake
    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 Review
    Brown's Canyon Saddle - Harquahala
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This is the first, and probably easiest, of several hikes I have planned in the so far mostly HAZ-unexplored Harquahala Mountains. I'd been over the route so many times, in both satellite and topo view, that when I arrived at the TH at the intersection of Eagle Eye Rd and Microwave Relay Rd, and discovered I had forgot to load a route in my GPS, it was no big deal. :roll: I simply aimed for the saddle west of Hill 4489. (Beside, I had a paper copy of the topo route.) You would have to try very hard to get lost on this hike. Despite the direction being obvious, there is a lot to see there, and it is well worth your time.

    I tried following a jeep trail and wash northeast, but after a few steps tired of sandy wash walking. I went about 50 feet up to a spur between two washes, and followed that for several miles instead. The ground was so free of obstacles -- ankle breakers or thigh stabbers -- that it was like walking on a road, except easier and faster. The only vegetation was scattered creosote, white bursage and a few brittlebrush. About 3.5 miles in, I hooked up with the jeep trail I had meant to be on all along. A half mile after that, I descended into Browns Canyon Wash.

    The two miles I travelled of Browns Canyon Wash were the highlight of the hike. Lots of boulders and rocky outcroppings. The wash bottom had sandy areas and many pools. There was more cow flop around the pools than you would think bovinely possible. :sk: Just south of Browns Canyon proper, north of the dam and near the spring, I found a small triangular plateau with an absolutely stunning population of ocotillo. :o Never did find the spring. Found some *very* fresh cow flop, and figuring it could not be more than a few minutes old, gave a moo. I actually got a reply. I found the cows, but they kept walking away from me. I had to give up my pursuit when they laid a minefield in my path.

    Looking up from Browns Canyon, the west slope of Hill 4489 was covered with more saguaro then you ever laid eyes on. :o There's a lot of washes running off the west slope, so while I knew in general where I was, and where I had to go, I was not sure of the specifics. (Red is my intended route; blue my actual route: ) Turned out I began my ascent towards the saddle about a half mile east of where I intended.

    Unlike the first three miles, both the south and north slope of the saddle were choked with palo verde, catsclaw, 2-3 feet diameter rocks for stepping over or around, and every kind of cactus you could imagine: barrel, hedgehog, ocotillo, saguaro and, of course, cholla. It was slow going. And I missed the saddle, going further up the slope than I intended. From the highpoint, a little over 3000 feet, I could easily see the APS substation, where I was headed, and the RV park at Gladden.

    From the highpoint, I took the path of least resistance down, eventually hooking up with the jeep trail below the prospects I had been aiming for. From there it was a simple matter of quick-timing the last couple of miles to the APS substation.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    From Phoenix, north on I-17 to Carefree Highway. West to Hwy 60, continuing west through Wickenburg to Aguila. South on Eagle Eye Rd for 10.3 miles, just past first crossing of Tiger Wash, to Microwave Relay Rd. If you don't have a non-hiking shuttle driver, you will need to position a pick up vehicle at the APS substation, west of Aguila, near Gladden, before proceeding south on Eagle Eye Rd.
    page created by joebartels on Mar 01 2013 12:32 pm
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