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Big Bug TH to Farm Rd BCT, AZ

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Guide 5 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Prescott > Prescott S
Rated
2.7
2.7 of 5 by 3
 
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Statistics
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,022 feet
Elevation Gain 200 feet
Accumulated Gain 400 feet
Avg Time One Way 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.33
Interest Historic & Seasonal Creek
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21  2018-10-20
BCT: Big Bug TH to Russian Well and Beyond
topohiker
13  2018-05-19
Big Bug TH to Russian Well - BCT
topohiker
50  2018-03-10 Mudhole
31  2017-03-03
BCT Day 1
rcorfman
13  2016-05-28 mt98dew
Author mt98dew
author avatar Guides 16
Routes 19
Photos 398
Trips 1,439 map ( 8,542 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix,Az
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Apr, Feb
Sun  6:12am - 6:36pm
Official Route
 
2 Alternative
 
Water
No Bugging Out
by mt98dew

Overview
This description is a slight overlap and a continuation of the fantastic description that MWhiteman did on the previous segment of the Black Canyon Trail. This trail is an old sheep herding trail utilized years ago by ranchers. For hiking purposes, it starts off from the Carefree Highway (74) down in the valley and then travels north parelling the I-17 highway and as of this writing extends 6 miles north of the 69. Based on an April 6 2014 article on AZCentral.com the long term goal is to have the BCT extend all the way to Williams! How cool would that be. From HAZ's perspective this would be the 13th segment of this trail. Over the last couple of years they have created a new trailhead, Big Bug TH, which is where my hike started from.


Hike
The hike starts off from the Big Bug Trailhead, which is on the south side of highway 69. When you step through the gate you are on the Black Canyon Trail (BCT). If you make a right you'll see a rock cairn and a trail that will take you toward Antelope Rd. But to do the newest segment of the BCT head straight. There will be an old corral to the right and a wire fence to the left. Within .1 miles you'll round a slope and see the tunnel that will take under the freeway. As you go through the tunnel you'll notice multiple mud like nests along the upper portions of the tunnel. When I went through the tunnel at 5am the birds were still emerging from their nests so the tunnel and the exit was full of birds. It's remarkable how many birds can fit into those small, confining nests! After exiting the tunnel follow the trail that parallels the wash. You will immediately go through another gate and then do a gradual climb that will take you toward Old Sycamore Rd. (.85 miles). This is where the BCT use to end and where the 12th leg of the BCT description concludes. As you look to the north there is a relatively nearby, lone mountain that will stand out, and be visible for most of this hike. This is Copper Mountain. The BCT stays to the west of it, but other websites indicate that a Copper Mountain Loop Trail is being constructed and that this loop trail will tie into the BCT. As of this description this had not happened yet.

By crossing the road and going about 100 yards down the trail you will be brought to another gate. This gate has a sign posted on it stating "Big Bug Trailhead". Initially, I took this to mean that I would be doing a trail called "Big Bug". Not the case. All the signs thereafter, refer to this trail as the BCT, so Big Bug simply helps identify where you are (approximately) on the BCT. For about the next 2 miles the trail is easy to follow. It is a clear, well defined single track with no confusing side trails to mislead. From the gate, it is a nice winding, gradual decent to reach another gate. This should be about 1.7 miles into the hike. .3 miles later you'll cross a sandy wash with BCT signs. From here, the trail remains relatively flat for the next few miles following the contours of low lying hills heading in a north northeast direction. At 2.5 miles cross a dirt road that is signed with BCT trail signs. At this point the trail begins to become a little less well define. It is still evident, but not as heavily used. It is around the 3.0 mark that cairns start to appear and you need be weary of false, misleading game trails. I tried to reinforce some of the cairns for future hikers. During this time the trail is traversing the side of hills, never directly ascending/descending them but using switchbacks to gain and lose elevation. Most cairns appear at these switchbacks to help redirect the direction you are going. (Much of this is a designed trail with hikers and bikers in mind). You'll know you are on the right track if, at around the 3.65 mile mark, you crest a hill and see a windmill off to the west. From here the trail heads north and a little west as it descends toward another wash. At 3.75 there is going to be a split in the trail. One heads north, dropping immediately into a wash. The other west, paralleling the wash for a time before crossing it. Follow the track heading west, you'll soon see a large cairn to reassure you that you are on the correct trail. After crossing the wash the trail turns north and begins a steady climb. At 4.92 you'll reach a road and a green rancher's gate. Below and to the east you'll see a large ranch that (I assume) this gate belongs to. On the other side of the gate there is a BCT sign and the trail heading off to the east side of the road.

I was more interested in mileage than I was in elevation as I recorded information for this description, but I believe this gate crossing was the high high point of the hike. By going through the gate the trail leaves the road and will begin to descend to the valley below. In a short time the trail will cross another, more rugged road. Head east down the slope and you'll see the BCT sign and the trail heading off the road. The trail continues to head downward heading in northwardly direction. As you descend you'll move past the massive ranch to the east and get a better view it's surroundings. At this point I also started to encounter other trails, most likely created by the live stock of the ranch. At 5.95 miles the trail crosses a wash with a small flowing stream. At the time of this writing the streamed was easily crossed without getting wet. The trail heads through a small grove of trees (providing the only real shade that you'll encounter on the hike) and then start to climb the north bank of the wash. The trail starts to head in a northeastwardly direction paralleling a dry wash that feeds into the just departed streambed. Be very wary of bovine created trails. There are several well defined trails, better than the BCT, that could very easily mislead. If you don't see a cairn on the track you are following periodically, there is a good chance you have gotten off trail. A good example was 6.25 miles into the hike. The BCT trail heads out of the wash, but the better defined bovine trail remains in the wash. From this point the trail continues to climb among so low lying hills for another .75 until it crosses a decent looking dirt road at the 7.0 mile mark. This was my turning around point. There are BCT markers on both sides of the road and the trail continues on to the north and east. How much further does the trail continue?? The road where the trail crosses looks drivable so if one could figure out how to get back there this might be a good staging point for the next leg of the trail. Not sure what ft road this is, hence the witty name "farm road."

Water Sources
There are no water sources at this trailhead.

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.

2016-06-28 mt98dew

    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 Triplog Review
    Big Bug TH to Farm Rd BCT
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    I finally got around to finishing up the Black Canyon Trail this weekend. I only had the last ~7.2 miles to go, and was trying to figure out logistics to stage a car at the northern end. Based on seeing gates on satellite imagery along the Old Sycamore Road route by the ranch to the east of this section, I opted to just go solo and hike this as an in-and-out.

    A 7:30am start worked out great. Clouds and afternoon rain in the forecast made for some great 60 degree hiking temps. Parked at Big Bug TH, I took the tunnel under Hwy 69 and was on my way north. Past a few houses and over a ridge, the trail opens up and starts to feel more remote again. Overgrazed desert dominates the first 2 miles or so, and then things get moving. With no climbs higher than 300' in elevation gain, this section is an easy rollercoaster through easy drainages and short climbs.

    At the 6 mile mark, I reached the Agua Fria for the last time. I was pleased to see the water running through this canyon with a 5' wide stream of clear water with algae clinging to the banks and bottom. I had 4 liters of water with me already, but I brought the Sawyer just in case. I guzzled an extra half liter at this spot because I had plenty to spare. I would be done with this last section of the BCT in the next 1.5 miles, so I was only 3 miles away from topping off if I needed to. As things played out, I had more than enough water already with me.

    The trail was still signed very well through most of this section, except for about the last mile. The trail gets extremely faint and there are some criss-crossing cattle trails, but the large cairns let you know you're on the right path. If you don't see a cairn every 500 yards in this mile, check your maps.

    At the northern terminus, it's pretty uneventful. No fancy BCT signage other than the usual Carsonite signs at the farm road. I did see another Carsonite on the north side of the road, and a very visible trail with similar quality headed further north. I know the MBA site shows riders going another 2.8 miles or so further north to another road system, but I was just here to finish the "official" BCT (according to the current BCT Coalition site maps at the time). My plan is to continue from here and cross-country on old trails all the way to Dewey-Humboldt. At this point, I've walked from my house in North Phoenix to 7 miles past Mayer, so why not just keep going another 11 miles and connect to another AZ town?

    I liked this section. While not my favorite of the BCT, it was quiet and easy. I only saw 3 mountain bikers, otherwise I had the entire area to myself. On my return back, I was drizzled on by a light rain the entire way. Not even enough to break out the rain jacket, actually. The sky looked intimidating, but it wasn't until I got back to my truck that it started coming down in sheets. Perfect timing. 14.7 miles total round-trip

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Phoenix take I-17 to highway 69. Take the 69 about 4 miles, just past mile marker 266 be ready to turn left onto a gravel entry. At this time there is no signage for this TH, but there is a bathroom facility that you'll be able to see the roof of as you turn in. There is enough parking for 20+ cars.
    page created by mt98dew on Jun 28 2016 2:45 pm
    3 pack - loud whistle
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