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Margies Cove Trail, AZ

no permit
346 44 2
Guide 44 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix SW
3.1 of 5 by 15
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,118 feet
Elevation Gain 859 feet
Accumulated Gain 875 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 10.92
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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8  2019-03-02
North Maricopa Mountains Loop
10  2019-03-02
North Maricopa Mountains Loop
15  2019-03-02
North Maricopa Mountains Loop
15  2019-03-02
North Maricopa Mountains Loop
13  2019-03-02
North Maricopa Mountains Loop
19  2019-01-05 ThirstyLizard
6  2017-04-01 LindaAnn
5  2017-04-01 Tortoise_Hiker
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:15am - 6:34pm
Official Route
5 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

Motorized access to the east trailhead is currently not permitted, most likely due to smuggling activity. The trail itself is open and may be accessed from Margie's Cove Western Trailhead.

Margies Cove Trail is a nearly level, 9-mile route through the heart of the 63,200-acre North Maricopa Mountains Wilderness. The North Maricopa Mountains are a jumble of long ridges and isolated peaks separated by extensive, saguaro-studded bajadas and wide desert washes. Cholla, ocotillo, prickly pear, paloverde, ironwood, and Mexican jumping bean complement the thick stands of saguaro to form classic Sonoran Desert vistas. Commonly seen wildlife include desert mule deer, javelina, desert bighorn sheep, coyote, desert tortoise, and numerous varieties of lizards and birds.

Margies Cove Trail follows a combination of former vehicle tracks and wide, unmarked desert washes. No trail signage or directional markers are available along the route; therefore, this trail is recommended only for experienced hikers skilled in reading topographic maps. Margies Cove Trail intersects the northern terminus of the Brittlebush Trail in the interior of the North Maricopa Mountains Wilderness.

Margies Cove West Trailhead includes day-use parking for ten vehicles, three campsites with picnic tables and steel fire rings, a vault toilet, and informational signage. Margies Cove East Trailhead has day-use parking for five vehicles and informational signage.

Margies Cove Trail is not mapped; however, the route is depicted on the USGS 7.5-minute topographic maps "Butterfield Pass, Ariz." and "Cotton Center SE, Ariz." The remainder of the North Maricopa Mountains Wilderness is depicted on USGS 7.5- minute topographic maps "Margies Peak, Ariz.," and Mobile NW, Ariz."

  • Margies Cove Trail receives the greatest use from October through April. At other times, the trail is little used. Always tell a friend or relative where you are going and when you plan to return.

  • Drinking water is not provided at Margies Cove West or Margies Cove East trailheads, so bring plenty.
  • The North Maricopa Mountains are prone to heavy rains and flash floods. Do not attempt to cross flooded washes.
  • You may encounter rattlesnakes or other poisonous creatures; watch for them and be careful where you put your hands and feet. Do not harass reptiles most bites result from people playing with, collecting or attempting to kill them.
  • Fires are not allowed in the North Maricopa Mountains Wilderness.


Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot
  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
    area related
    100 Classic Hikes - 2007

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 Reviews
Margies Cove Trail
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Margies Cove and 2358
A Venture into Alston's Playground.
This Plan B turned out to be an A.

Driving Note. The immediate turn to the left after you turn off 85, on to Woods Road, and cross the Cow Catcher, is not obvious. We ended up going straight and making the first left on another forest road. This worked out just fine.

This is a nice area that is currently made much nicer by the abundance of Flora. It's a Poppy Paradise Right now.

We decided that Cove made no sense (no ships were seen), so we've named it Margie's Basin.
Checking at home with Webster (Never liked that show),
Cove =
a level area sheltered by hills or mountains

A couple miles into the hike, the poppies started popping. We lost Karl for extended periods as he wandered in the patches.

The goal on this one became, get to the top of the steepish looking Peak 2358, while seeing who could go in full Tibber mode the longest. Karl's battery died first... He wins.

It was a steep climb to the top of 2358, but man was it worth it. There is probably only a 20 sqft area up there, but it was a perfect perch. The views all around were great. What a vantage point. There are plenty of peaks in this area for people to explore.

Video :next: [ youtube video ]

I think our route down was slightly better than the one up. We retreated to the Truck in time for Joe to enjoy his Grapefruit Surprise!

A great day to new spots gentlemen!
Thanks for driving Karl

Poppies, Poppies, Poppies..
Lupine, Desert Chicory, The Brittle bush is about a week or so away.
Margies Cove Trail
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We didn't have enough "daylight" for my second planned hike. Aka they didn't want to do it. Nobody turns down a hike due to an hour of twilight :lol:

Understandable, the first hike was good but didn't leave us begging for more. Utilizing an app I found called Route Scout we queried the nearby options and agreed on Margie's Cove.

2pm, a little tired, the hottest part of the day... we were off like a herd of unimpressive turtles. The thought of an eight plus mile hike with nearly no elevation change was coming across as torture. I was eyeing Sheep Mountain Peak 2126 looming above. However I knew nobody was gonna bite as it was straight up from the parking area. A little further Karl suggested a distant peak and the hike started to have meaning. My feet went from anchors back to a mode of transportation.

Two miles in poppies started kicking hard. Karl and Bruce were taking photos for Tibber Productions. For good reason too, it just kept getting better as we approached our peak.

Ascending 2358 directly from the north worked well. Views were outstanding with or without wildflowers. Rainbow Valley on the backside of the Estrella range looked incredible wedged behind Sheep and Maricopa mountains.

The peak is steep and rewarding in itself. It is an outstanding perch for the area too. A great peak with poppies to boot. U2 may still be lost but we found what we were looking for.

poppies gone wild!
Margies Cove Trail
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Hiked from west trailhead to where the trail becomes a wash and heads up into the mountains, about 3 miles in, then turned around. The trail is very well maintained and cairned and I had no trouble following it up. Took a wrong turn on the way back and lost the trail for a while, but just kept heading in the right direction and scanning for cairns till I found it again. After the first mile or so the trail is not level but climbs gradually. I had total solitude on an overcast Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. This spot is much more beautiful and interesting than descriptions make it seem, glad I finally made it out there. The west trailhead has an outhouse and three sweet camp sites.
Margies Cove Trail
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Sheep Mtn - Maricopa's
Jay wanted to go explore the Maricopa's and I'd never been down there so it sounded like a plan for the day. The drive to the trailhead was an adventure in itself. I got my vehicle to just about a mile of the trailhead before we hit a drop into a sandy wash that I just didn't have the clearance for. I had already heard the sweet sounds of the bottom of my truck scraping its entirety over a rock so I decided to 9L it and park off the road-- we would just add a couple miles to the day :)

Margie's Cove trail is about as flat as it gets so we made good time. Our plan was to head off trail and hit the Sheep Mtn ridge's high point at 2,495. Then we would traverse the ridge north and then east to knock off two more significant peaks. We had mapped out a couple possible routes up to 2,495 and decided on the steeper of our two possible drainages once we got closer. It actually turned out to be a good route to access the ridgeline. The boulders were big and stable with very minimal bushwacking.

Higher on the ridge is another story-- everything is loose and even the mightiest rocks crumble under almost no real strain. The going was slow and it became very obvious that we were not going complete our original plan. We decided we would only hit 2,495 and come back down. We scouted possible exit routes along our way.

We made it to the summit. Its a pretty sweet view and definitely worth the effort. Its a killer lunch spot. There is a summit register that hadn't been signed since March 2011 (by our very own sbkelley). There was also some Desert-boonie and BobP action in there.

We had a couple ideas for our exit but settled on dropping down directly east. It was steep in spots but not so bad. It was a good day.
Margies Cove Trail
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Another trek down in the Maricopas. Started from the trailhead and wanted to hit up a peak. Of course all the peaks down here have no trails so Scott, Tanya, and I love that aspect. Hiked on the trail for about 3.5 miles and diverted off towards peak 2358'. She offered great views and a great scramble towards the top. We enjoyed a rare clear day as the windy day blew all the smog out of the Phoenix area. For some reason I just cannot get enough of this area, close to home and off trail, got to love it.
Margies Cove Trail
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Well this was quite the hiking day. Started off doing Margies Peak in the morning. Parking right in front of her off the road and heading straight up the southern wash. Awesome views from the top, the Gila Bend Mts. looked as rugged as ever and the rest of the Maricopa Mts. got me in the mood for hitting another peak. Got down and back to the Jeep and headed over to the Margies Cove trail. Started from the TH and hiked 2.3 miles until diverting off the trail and towards the wash heading up Peak 2495. Traversing the desert floor offered some unique views today as the sun was blocked by the clouds and a different feeling was offered than hiking it in the sun. Made my way to the summit of Peak 2495 which was named Sheep Mtn. in the register. Not many visit the summit so it was nice to reach this small rugged peak. Made my way back down to the desert floor and back to the trail where I hiked back as the sun came out and shed a new view to the area. Guess I have to come back now and hit some more of these smaller rugged peaks in the Maricopas. Love it.

Margies Peak was 2.91 miles total and Margies Cove Trail to Peak 2495 and back was 8.02 miles. Again, what a great day.
Margies Cove Trail
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This trail ended up being our 2nd choice when we decided to visit the Sonoran Desert National Monument. Wanted to hike Table Top Mountain, but discovered in transit that pets are not allowed so that the desert bighorn sheep herd may be protected! Oh well, had Buster our springer spaniel with us and needed a quick alternative - so Margie's Cove Trail became the destination!

From Maricopa Road (Hwy 238), exited on the Butterfield Stage Route. Interesting historic sites along the way including some rock art, the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, and the Mormon Camp Trail.

After about 30 minutes following the 4WD trail, we branched east to the Margie's Cove Trailhead. Maps and a trail log are available at the trailhead.

The trail itself is relatively easy, following the wash along the valley. Only a slight elevation gain of about 500 ft is encountered along the 9 mile length. Trail is an excellent example of a saguaro forest within an hour's drive of the city.
Margies Cove Trail
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This area provides some great scenery and isolation for being close to the valley. The roads leading in are for high clearance 4x4's only. I didn't find myself using 4x4 on the day I was there, but if it were after a good rain you'd be safe to have it.

Because of the nature of this hike there are not many options for a loop. Your best bet is to park a vehicle at each end or do an out and back. Unfortunately due to the remote location of the trailheads this is not an easy task. Plan plenty of time for arranging your shuttle. I found the road off of 85 to be easily missed (we missed it). But later I discovered that it's just South of an old ranch on the East side of the road. If you are heading South on 85 and pass Woods road then you've gone to far. If you are heading to the Margies East trailhead (like we ended up doing) there are two points to turn in off HW238. At MM10 (for Brittlebush access) is the first road and at MM17 (for Margies East access) is the second.

In any case, on the day I was there we took MM10 and then Butterfield Pass to get to Margies East trailhead. This was the longest possible way, but the 4x4 trip was rewarding. Along the Butterfield Pass trail there are some historical markers of interest. When we finally got to the Margies East trailhead it was getting late so we only went about 2 miles in. There were some hills with boulders that we climbed up and they provided excellent views of the surrounding area. It was fun to walk in a forest of cactus and ever cooler to see it all from atop one of the boulder hills (try it and you'll know why). I'm sure there is much more beauty to be seen along the rest of the trail.

Overall, I was very impressed with the upkeep of this area. HWY238 is very nice, the 4x4 roads were well maintaied, and in general the area was clean and beautiful. Hopefully we can elect more presidents and congressmen that appreciate such areas and designate them as National Monuments ad wilderness.

Have fun!

Permit $$

Map Drive
High Clearance possible when dry

To hike
To access Margies Cove West Trailhead, drive Arizona Highway 85 to Woods Road (just south of mile post 134) and turn east. At the cattleguard/dirt road, follow the brown TRAIL signs on the left, which guide you west, then north, along the Hwy 85 fenceline, then east 3.8 miles to Route 8001C; turn right, drive south 1.2 miles to the trailhead. A high-clearance, two-wheel- drive vehicle is suitable for this road.
$17 3L Hydration Bladder
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