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Willow Canyon - White Tanks, AZ

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Guide 82 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NW
3.2 of 5 by 19
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Distance One Way 1.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,233 feet
Elevation Gain 334 feet
Accumulated Gain 385 feet
Avg Time One Way 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 2.98
Interest Seasonal Waterfall
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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26  2019-05-20
Ford Canyon-Willows Canyon- Mesquite Loop
15  2019-02-24
Barry Goldwater Peak-Ford Cyn-Willow Spring
12  2019-02-02
Ford -Willow - Mesquite Loop
12  2019-02-02
Ford - Willow - Mesquite Loop & Waterfall
15  2018-03-25
Willow Ford Loop
1  2018-02-25
Willow - Mesquite Loop
5  2018-02-18
White Tanks Goat Camp to Willow Canyon
34  2017-12-08
Goat Camp - Willow / Mesquite Loop
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
Author LindaAnn
author avatar Guides 21
Routes 358
Photos 2,285
Trips 938 map ( 6,924 miles )
Age 39 Female Gender
Location Ahwatukee, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:15am - 6:33pm
Official Route
18 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
where there's a willow there's a way
by LindaAnn

Fairly easy trail in the heart of the White Tanks that can be incorporated into a loop hike. The highlight of the trail is Willow Spring.

To reach--Willow Canyon is not immediately accessible from a parking area. To get to the start of Willow Canyon Trail, start from Ramada/Area 7 at the end of Ramada Way, which is the next road past the popular Waterfall Trail. Take Mesquite Canyon Trail west for 1.80 miles (718' aeg) to the junction with Willow Canyon.

At the Mesquite/Willow junction--Turn right at the signed junction to get on Willow Canyon trail. The trail immediately crosses a dry wash, then heads uphill. The trail is in good shape, and will gain approx 200' in the first 0.40 miles.

At this point, the trail levels off, and is pleasant walking for the next mile. There is a wash in the bottom of the canyon below you which frequently holds water, and mule deer frequent the area.

At 1.40 miles, you will reach the Willow Spring area. There will be the rock ruins of an old cabin on the north side of the trail, and the ruins of an old corral on the south side--there is old wire fencing, rock walls, and a metal water tank full of branches. Turn left at the corral, go through the opening in the fence where a gate used to be, and follow the distinct use path a couple hundred feet over to the spring. There is always water here, although the waterfall only flows after heavy rain. This is a nice spot for a snack break in the shade. Once done, head back to the trail.

If you are not making this part of a loop hike, there's not much sense continuing west for the remaining 0.30 miles of the trail to the Ford Canyon Trail Junction. Heading back to the trailhead from the spring would make for a 5 mile (2.50 miles each way) out and back hike. If you do continue west to the Ford Canyon junction, the remaining 0.30 miles will gain about 150'.

Once at the Ford Canyon junction, you can turn right (north) to complete a very enjoyable loop of Ford Canyon & Waddell trails. Turning left (south) allows you to loop back around to Mesquite Canyon, or if you want to put in a lot of miles, a loop with Goat Camp.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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.

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

2019-03-04 LindaAnn
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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 27 deeper Triplog Reviews
Willow Canyon - White Tanks
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Willow Ford Loop
Adding to my list of all-time uniques, I made my first ever visit to White Tank Mountain Regional Park (the west side's very own South Mountain! :y: )

Quite a bit of diverse stuff out here, from very intriguing canyons to large swaths of drab boredom. I made good time which allowed me to hit up the Waterfall trail before the "no excuses" entrance gate closure at exactly 8pm. I feel that darkness is an excellent time to see this desert spectacle, especially when in it's naturally dry state.

Got to see all the 2018 wildflowers. Pretty sure it's prime peak right now.

I was pleasantly surprised on this trip, and it seems to have earned a return visit sometime.

* "substantial" as measured relative to the 2018 spring wildflower season.
Compared to a normal season somewhere between "none" and "isolated" ;)
Willow Canyon - White Tanks
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Ford Willow Loop
enjoyable hike in the white tanks with linda
this loop was plan b but turned out to be a good choice given weather conditions
haven't been out here in three years :o
waddell :next: ford canyon :next: willow canyon :next: mesquite
light rain for much of the hike, making the rocks in ford canyon a little slick
a few good pools of water in this section
a few mosquitos, too
chose willow canyon trail to check out the spring area
found a nasty pool with nothing flowing into it
finished the loop on mesquite
didn't quite hit double digits, so we drove over to hike a short loop that included ironwood trail as neither of us had done it
the sun was just starting to break out as we finished
good day for it if you don't mind a little rain
thanks for the idea and for driving, linda :)
nice to get back out that way
Willow Canyon - White Tanks
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This was my first time to the White Tanks and I must say I came away pretty impressed. I was looking for a little end of the week hike to take advantage of the cooler afternoon, blow off some week day steam and get the dogs some exercise. I was expecting something more on the lines of South Mountain, or the preserve and instead we got a rather pleasant hike with ample water, wildflowers, varied scenery and great trails.

Ford Canyon was a great trail to kick off my first experiences in the White Tanks. After only a few miles in, we started to encounter water in the bedrock of the canyon and this continued for most of the hike through Ford. The couple mile stretch along the bedrock through Ford proved to be kind of fun and the dogs were happy with the ample and sometimes deep pools of water. Jackie was "seeing" glphys everywhere and we examined a few of her leads, but they all turned out to be duds, until she did spot a faint set right in the creek bed. The flowers through Ford were great as well and only got better and more varied as we climbed out. We ran into a couple at about five miles in and they asked if we were staying a night out there, because they said they never ran into anyone out that far, which made me kind of chuckle, as we were only completing a nine mile loop and I certainly did not think we were in what would qualify as the White Tanks "backcountry."

From Ford, it was on to Willow Canyon, which was a nice little area as well. We stopped at the spring briefly for the pups and then continued on to the intersection with Mesquite. This portion of the hike ended up being gold, as we got to enjoy the vibrant yellow of the brittle brush mixed in with some nice lighting, big clouds and a great sunset. Head lamp time for most of Mesquite Trail, a pretty quick downhill and then a quick hike across the well manicured trail and wide path back to where we began our loop at Waddell Trailhead.

I don't know if I will start planning weekend hiking around the White Tanks, but this hike certainly exceeded my expectations and beats most of the urban hikes near town. In terms of desert hiking, the White Tanks probably represent some of the nicer classic desert hiking within an hour of Phoenix in my opinion and now is a great time to hit this area.

I would say substantial, but I have heard brittle brush does not count as wildflowers and I don't want to offend the wildflower guild...
Willow Canyon - White Tanks
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This is a great hike for dogs and Rowdy loved it.
We did run into two large groups early on and they only hike to the danger sign and turned back.
The weather was just perfect and Rowdy love the cloud cover and the cooler temps as I did as well. Once we started up the Ford Canyon we only seen one group of four hikers and that was it for the rest of the hike :y:.
There is water in pools on all three canyons but no running water.
The hike was pretty nice and pleasant but lacked wildlife along the way. At least until we hit Mesquite when I was surprise as two deer ran right in front of me and head down to the bottom of the canyon. I got a few pics and was hoping to see more and I did. As I was walking along the trail I looked up the mountain and was surprised. First there were three then four and then eight and the numbers grew.
Just a great hike on a great day and I need to get out here more often.
Willow Canyon - White Tanks
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Haven't been on Willow or Ford in a while so I decided to hit both. Pretty warm for the first mile, then the breeze finally kicked in. Wound up having perfect weather for the remainder of the hike.

Someone spray painted two arrows at the lower end of Ford, when you first enter the wash. You should be able to figure out where to go in that spot, but evidently some are having trouble. It would be nice if the park would put an extra marker there. Maybe then people would leave the paint at home. ](*,)
Willow Canyon - White Tanks
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Ford Mesquite Loop with Barry
My first trip to the White Tank Mountains Regional Park. I've heard many good things about it but haven't made it out that way until now. This was a very enjoyable loop. Excellent trails, beautiful scenery and a chance to soar with an eagle. Well, Bruce soars, I just try to keep up!

I got a ping from Bruce earlier in the week. We hadn't hiked together in a few moons, so I jumped at the chance. Bruce needed to be home early for a holiday party so I suggested this loop in the White Tanks, thinking that might get us done soon enough. Bruce suggested adding Barry Goldwater peak, an extra 5 miles and 1200 feet. Barry Goldwater is my oldest memory of presidential elections. At 7 years old, I was already into politics, urging my mother to vote for Barry. She voted for Johnson. We still have those same conversations (arguments?) today, but I digress.

I agreed to the side trip to BG because I needed the workout. Bruce kicked my :pk: up the hill (he called it "life coaching") whereupon we took a delightful break under a warm sun. The previous few miles had been uphill against a bone chilling wind that was doing its best to beat us back down. The break at the top under sunny skies with a wind break at our backs was simply wonderful.

We made good time on the way back. The excellent trails in this park allowed us to let gravity pull us down the mountain. Neither of us had spare batteries so we were also racing to get back before the Garmins died. I think we made it just in time. It was a cold and windy day in the White Tanks, for much of the route, anyway, but it was still a fun hike with great company. Good to see you again, Bruce!
Willow Canyon - White Tanks
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Ford Mesquite Loop with Barry
Took a white Tanks Newbie out for a sampling of the area.

Brisk Morning turned to cold late morning when we lost the sun and the wind picked up. Ford Canyon is still my favorite up there. I also enjoy the Willow Spring area, especially above the spring.

We headed out Goat Camp and then the cairned short cut up to Barry Goldwater Peak. We had some lunch up top. It looks like they're getting ready for some kind of construction up there. A large pallet filled with Concrete sits up top.

A Video tour of Barry Goldwater Peak = :next: ... zlX8

Not as many out as I expected to see. Great Hiking w/ Ray again.
Willow Canyon - White Tanks
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Mesquite-Willow-Ford Canyon Loop
Another late start but I decided to do it anyway. I got to the trailheads just before noon and I was the only at the official trailheads. It was still nice and cool for this hike and once I started up the Mesquite Trail it got busy.
I did not see any wildlife as there were to many noisy people out. However I did meet this young girl and her little dog up on Ford Canyon. And I am glad that we talked. Somehow she did not a clue what she was doing. She told me she was doing the Ford Canyon Loop and I told her that Ford Canyon is not a loop. When I met her I was about a quarter mile on Ford Canyon just off Willow Canyon.
She seemed to think she was a quarter from the parking lot and when I told her she was at least 4 1/2 miles from her car she almost started to cry. And she told me she was out of water and of course I gave her a bottle. And my bottles are all 1 liter. The first thing she did with it was give her dog water which made me feel good.
I did tell her that the hard part of her hike was over and the rest was down hill that seem to make her feel better.
I said goodbye and went on my way when I met two other women that were going the same way as the young girl and asked to look out for her and they said they would and they also had extra water.
The rest of the hike was quite as we did not see anyone else. The hike went smooth until I got to the old dam and the large boulders. I did ok with it but it really slowed me down.
It was dark when we got back to the car and Rowdy was ready to sleep on the drive home. It was such a beautiful day out the weather couldn't have been any better.
Willow Canyon - 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.
Willow Canyon - White Tanks
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Hiked up the Mesquite Canyon trail and took the Willow trail to the Ford Canyon junction. After a few minutes break went back the way that I came. I stopped to watch some javelinas down in the wash on Mesquite. That's the first time I've seen them on any of the White Tanks trails. Also stopped and watched a millipede on the trail for a minute or so.

Weather was perfect (at 5:30am) for a hike and I wanted to get some time on the trail with my backpack in preparation for an upcoming trip in Zion National Park. Beautiful day to be out.

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 Area 7 Trailhead
From the 303 & Olive go west on Olive 4.5 miles to the park entrance. Olive turns into White Tank Mountain Rd. Continue 2.1 miles, turn right and it's 250 feet to to the Mesquite/Ford Trailhead

You get a map when you pay your entrance fee so that should help you figure it out if you have any concerns.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 39.2 mi, 58 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 146 mi, 2 hours 38 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 153 mi, 2 hours 40 mins
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