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Mesquite Willow Loop - White Tanks, AZ

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Guide 105 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NW
3.6 of 5 by 19
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 8.35 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,541 feet
Elevation Gain 1,388 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,550 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 16.1
Interest Seasonal Waterfall
Backpack No
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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13  2018-11-17 Yoder
15  2018-03-25
Willow Ford Loop
24  2015-12-31
Ford Canyon / Mesquite Canyon Loop
10  2014-11-23 winotron
10  2014-11-17
Barry Goldwater Peak via Mesquite Canyon
1  2014-09-28 mwiles
1  2014-04-13 erikshinn
8  2013-09-29
Barry Goldwater Peak via Mesquite Canyon
Page 1,  2,  3
Author bmaaske
author avatar Guides 2
Routes 1
Photos 79
Trips 4 map ( 27 miles )
Age 55 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Oct, Mar, Apr → 7 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:18am - 6:27pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Favorite summer morning hike
by bmaaske

As a west valley resident this is one of my favorite quick summer hikes because I can be done with this hike before 9am and it gets too hot. This hike has a sufficient amount of up and down to be a little challenging and the scenery is pretty good. Willow Spring flows year around, although it is typically barely a trickle into a puddle.

This loop starts on the Mesquite trail for about 4 miles, jumps on the Ford Canyon trail for about a mile, returns on the Willow Canyon trail for about 2 miles and then comes back on the Mesquite trail for 2 miles. The Mesquite portion of the trail is the most challenging, with a combination of large rocks and loose rocks.

The trails is fairly well maintained and well marked. Trail markers signifying MQ=Mesquite, WL=Willow, FD=Ford, GC=Goat Camp. You will cross all of these trails at some point. The signs are pretty clear, although the distances don't appear to be correct.

Hike: Start at the parking lot and head directly west to the well marked trailhead. You will cross junctions with several trailheads in the first 1/2 mile while still on fairly flat ground. After that you will begin a nice climb that continues for about 4 miles. After 2 miles you will reach the junction of the Mesquite & Willow Trails. You can go left for Mesquite or right for Willow. It doesn't matter since it's the same loop either way. I usually go left on Mesquite. Continuing on Mesquite for about another 2 miles until you reach the junction of the Mesquite, Goat Camp & Ford Canyon trails. Go right on Ford Canyon trail and continue on it for about .9 miles until you reach the junction of Ford Canyon & Willow Canyon trail. Go right on Willow and continue for 2 miles until you reach the junction with Mesquite again where you will go left and continue 2 miles back to the trailhead.

Willow Spring can be found shortly after getting on the Willow Canyon trail. You will begin descending and will notice a spot with a significant man-made rock wall/fence and a large galvanized steel watering trough. The trail heads left here but if you go right a very short distance you will reach the top of the canyon and the spring/puddle. I usually find this a good spot to take a break and have some breakfast.

White Tank Park is a great place to see desert wildflowers bloom in the springtime. A couple of years ago, after a wet winter, there were flowers chest high, as far as you could see.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2009-08-19 bmaaske
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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 21 deeper Triplog Reviews
Mesquite Willow Loop - White Tanks
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Another perfect hiking day in AZ, temp in the mid 50s, breezy and sunny. My daughter, Amy, and I hiked clockwise around the 8.5 mi loop. The Mesquite trail is well maintained and marked. The trail starts up pretty quickly after leaving the parking lot (at Ramada 7) and after climbing 1600’ in about 4 mi you reach the highest point on the trail. From that point it was mostly downhill on a portion of the Ford Canyon trail then Willow Canyon trail. Both the Ford Canyon and Willow Canyon trails are pretty rocky and not as well maintained as the Mesquite trail. The hike took about 3 hr 50 min, which included a 20 min lunch stop.
Mesquite Willow Loop - 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" ;)
Mesquite Willow Loop - White Tanks
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Great morning to do the loop. I introduced a friend recently moved from Minnesota to the White Tanks with this hike this morning and she was quite happy with the experience. Trail's was a little wet in places from last night's rain, but it was a perfect morning to hike. Continued winds made it a bit chilly in places...but that was sufficient motivation to stay moving and generate additional heat. This loop never does get old.
Mesquite Willow Loop - White Tanks
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My first trip to the White Tanks. My girlfriend and I did the Mesquite Willow Loop. Started around 11am and there were quite a few people at the trailhead. The drive in to the trailhead was nice. Kind of funny to see hot dog and kettle corn vendors in the park. The weather was just perfect today. Really windy. The warm sun and cool wind felt awesome.

The Mesquite Canyon trail is a nice steady climb. Not too rocky, and the grade is pretty mild. We turned left at the Mesquite/Willow junction to do the loop CW. All the mesquites in the wash around the junction were pretty cool. Some more mild climbing continuing on Mesquite. Good views down into the canyon. Just before we got to Ford Canyon there was an MCSO helicopter right above us... must have been looking for something/someone? Going down Ford Canyon was slightly rocky and the trail kind of disappeared when we got down to the wash. No real issue finding the trail on the other side though.

We made sure to check out the spring when we got on Willow Canyon. Glad we did, because it was an awesome little spot. There was more water than I expected. Definitely more than a puddle. Always love seeing water in the desert. We hung out there for a few minutes and continued back. The hike back was mostly downhill and pretty uneventful, but a nice stroll.

We saw maybe 25 people or so today, most of them in the first couple miles. Didn't see any wildlife unfortunately. There were nice views in all directions at different points in the hike. I'm not used to seeing the valley from the west side like this, so it was fun trying to identify all the other mountain ranges. Great hike!
Mesquite Willow Loop - White Tanks
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Today was one of those days that living in Arizona is great. Perfect temps, no wind, full moon to light the way for the first 20 minutes. Absolutely great day for a trail run. Felt a little rusty at the beginning but warmed up along the way. Went up Mesquite, then Willow and detoured onto the Ford Canyon Trail to add a little extra time and AEG. Stayed on Ford Canyon for about 10 minutes or so and intercepted the Mesquite Trail for the return trip. My new shoes had me feeling confident on the descent and flew down Mesquite.
Mesquite Willow Loop - White Tanks
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Got out this morning for a quick hike of this loop. Always a fun hike for us. I attached a picture of the flash flood damage on the back side of the loop where you briefly hike the Ford Canyon trail. It's impressive how much debris is in the wash after the storm a couple of weeks ago.
Mesquite Willow Loop - White Tanks
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Got out later than I wanted but the cooler weather held over from yesterday's storms made for some nice morning hiking. I ran parts of the trail in my efforts to explore trail running....and came to the conclusion that I need some different equipment to really give that a go.

My small day pack is just too big to carry comfortably while running and attempting to run in hiking boots was about as effective as sticking my feet in a couple of hams. The idea of trail running continues to fascinate me though.

I did learn one valuable lesson: The ground comes up at you much faster when you trip while trail running. Had a minor faceplant near the Mesquite trail's high point. Nothing hurt, just the quick look around hoping nobody was nearby to see it and then jumping back up all cool like I meant to do that.
Mesquite Willow Loop - White Tanks
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Was planning on going with a couple guys but they all dogged out at the last minute so ended up solo. Went up Mesquite and down Willow which is the opposite of what I normally do and did not really push it that hard as it was hot and I was solo. Once June hits you never see anyone past the Willow Mesquite junction as you would have to be crazy to do that in this heat (clearly I qualify).
Mesquite Willow Loop - White Tanks
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Weird day in White Tanks. I started out strong, hitting the first 2 miles hard. On the backside of the loop at about 3.5 miles, i hit a wall and I started feeling very fatigued, dizzy and light headed. I had to sit down for a while then slowly hiked the last 5 miles out. It has been a long week at work and I think my body was just worn down. I will have a better wek next week.
Mesquite Willow Loop - White Tanks
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I've been thinking about some hikes on the west side and decided to head over there today. I found a track from Gecko and thought it looked fun. Kyle was down so we made plans and headed out. The drive out from the east side took about an hour. It will be quicker after they complete the 303. We paid the entrance fee and were hiking soon after.

We headed up the Mequite Trail and made our way to Barry Goldwater Peak. From there we connected on the road to the Radio Summit. A sheriff helicopter flew over a couple of times. I was curious if they would come after us but I don't think they saw us. Anyways we hit the Radio Summit and headed down to the Goat Camp Trail. After that it we took Ford Canyon to the Willow Canyon Trail. I know this is a lot of trails! We continued on and reconnected onto Mequite and were back to the jeep soon after.

The White Tanks are a good drive for me. I'm glad we got a variety of trails. I doubt I ever hike over there again unless I'm in the area for something else. The trails are in good condition and the route to Barry G and down from the Radio Summit were both in good shape as well.

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
page created by bmaaske on Aug 19 2009 7:28 pm
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