register help

Burro Flats Loop, AZ

no permit
114 17 2
Guide 17 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NW
2.8 of 5 by 11
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Loop 6.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,878 feet
Elevation Gain -436 feet
Accumulated Gain 788 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 10.64
Backpack Yes
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
18  2019-01-19
Garfias - Horse Creek - Burro Flat Loop
17  2019-01-19
Garfias - Horse Creek - Burro Flat Loop
18  2019-01-19
Garfias - Horse Creek - Burro Flat Loop
11  2018-02-11 ThirstyLizard
15  2017-03-25 Nightstalker
15  2015-01-24
Peak 3465 Hiero Mtns - Morgan City Wash Loop
15  2013-10-05 Nightstalker
8  2011-10-29 NatureKopelli
Page 1,  2
Author Barrett
author avatar Guides 14
Routes 9
Photos 1,311
Trips 283 map ( 1,483 miles )
Age 55 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Mar, Nov, Feb, Jan → 7 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:18am - 6:25pm
6 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
silence and burros
by Barrett

Burro Flats, tucked away neatly in the Hells Canyon Wilderness area northwest of Lake Pleasant, has the feel of being much farther from civilization than it really is. Rugged peaks and few visitors make for a great Sonoran Desert experience in this part of the Hieroglyphic Mountains.

I decided to park at the Burro Spring Trailhead and walk north along the road up to the Horse Creek Trailhead, making a clockwise loop of both trails. No one had signed the trail register for all 5 months of last summer. Only a dozen or so had been here since. Other than quite a bit of cowpatties on the trail, the area is pristine. 30 minutes and 1.5 mi. later, I was at Horse Spring. With plenty of shade and beautiful white stone, the pools contain about 500-1000 gallons of crystal clear water. I kick back in some comfortable seating and have a snack. After some pictures I decided to explore a cave opening visible directly south of the spring up the slope. 15 minutes of scrambling and I am standing at it's opening. Although it's mouth is quite large, perhaps 30 feet wide and 15 feet tall, the depth is only 15 feet or so. It would made a decent shelter from both rain and sun. I head back down to the trail at the springs edge and continue southeast towards Burro Spring into the Burro Flats proper. Along the way I see a Burro watching me from the other side of the wash, I stop and return the stare, adding a few of my best Burro impersonations. These he eventually returns as well, and I am quite pleased. I continue on, only to hear is even more hysterical bray echo from the canyon walls. This is a great place. I pass two campsite fire rings, one still smoldering from the night before. Both are free of litter and command nice views of the area. I appreciate their taste in campsites but not their carelessness. I urinate on the coals to the best of my ability and continue on to Burro Spring. This takes about 45 minutes, covering approximately 1.9 miles on easy terrain.

Though I was pleased to find a great grotto formed by an elephant size boulder lodged overhead, I did not see evidence of a spring. This would be a good destination to escape summer sun, as the seating is quite comfortable. From there, I headed west along the trail another 1.95 miles to the Burro Springs trailhead. This took about 50 minutes and was not as pretty as the Horse Creek Trail.

This 6.4 mile loop can be done in as little as 2 hours, but this secluded valley could keep you busy for a week, the 4 main peaks that dominate the skyline all appear to be non-technical, the one directly south of Burro is exceptionally dramatic (3465').

Check out the Triplogs.

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

2004-02-16 Barrett
    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
    Burro Flats Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Peak 3465 Hiero Mtns - Morgan City Wash Loop
    Still dark, the day started off to a brisk and breezy 35 degrees. We covered the 4 miles to the "Big Jim Trail", quickly to warm up. From here you climb +2200' to the summit in less than 2 miles. This is the first time since the end of 2010, that I've done this hike. Back then, there was no defined trail from the end of the "Big Jim Trail" to the top. This has been getting noticeable traffic and has been flagged in spots.

    The view from the top is still one of the best in the area. It took a while to re-find the 1902 inscription, but Joe spotted it.

    The next person up, should bring a new summit container and log pad. The past records are getting trashed. It was too fragile to take out of the jar.

    We picked a route down the backside that was slow going, but not too bad. We luckily ran into the "Burro Flats Loop Trail", saving us some brush fighting. We bailed on target two for the day and set our sites for the Morgan City Wash. The 4.5 miles in the wash drug on, but were easy miles.

    On the way we stopped at the Bog Ranch area, right off the wash. This area is a disgrace with all the shot up stuff and shell casings everywhere.

    We got out of the wash at Tule Spring and started the cross-country burro trail trek to meet up with the "Walking Jim Trail" and the truck.

    Another fine day in the Hieroglyphic Mountains, with still some unfinished business.
    Burro Flats Loop
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Peak 3465 Hiero Mtns - Morgan City Wash Loop
    Returned after a short sampler of Cottonwood Creek in 2007. A healthy forest of saguaros offers photogenic sun events on the horizon. Peak 3465 steals the show protected by waves of black jumbled rock on the ascent. Gnarly lichen accents demand your attention. Distant views are pleasing. My favorite being the Sierra Estrella range standing proud in the sonoran sea of wannabee peaks.

    A large balance of this loop was nice yet forgettable after Peak 3465. We stumbled upon old jeep trails that now look to be cattle fairways. Anti cairnopelli would be no match for a few of the route guidance markers along the way. We only witnessed signs of cattle. The patties now in a styrofoam consistency may indicate winter absence?

    We saw two burros and heard another pack out of sight. Two inch disintegrating hay bundles throughout with concentrated piles on occasion suggests a large presence.

    Finishing up on the southern Walkin' Jim Loop offered the most stunning views of the day. Lake Pleasant sings on the horizon. Panoramic views sweep through downtown Phoenix with its tiny skyscrapers offering wow scalism.
    Burro Flats Loop
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    I was a little hesitant after reading some of the previous posts be we decided to make the trek anyway. The trailheads were well marked and easy to find. We took the Morgan City Wash (4WD) from Carefree Highway all the way up to the trailheads and then went out and around Castle Hot Springs Road after we were done.
    I have gps tracks for both if anyone is interested.
    My wife and I, our four kids and dog all made the trek. We started at the Horse Spring trailhead and went clockwise around to the Burro Springs Trailhead. We backpacked in and planned to stay one night. We got a late start and chose the first flat spot we found about a half mile past horse spring to camp.
    I marked several other possible campsites on the gps map. The best one in my opinion is on a saddle with great views of the surrounding peaks and canyons.
    Horse Spring had some pretty murky puddles of water near an overturned water trough.
    Burro Spring had some very small water holes but i guess they were more from the recent rain than the spring. I didn't see any sign of the actual spring but this would be a great area to picnic. Lots of trees and rock overhangs created very cool, shady areas.
    We also found a good-sized water pool below the treed area in the SE corner of the loop.
    Any water would definitely need filtered before drinking.
    The trail was clear in areas and disappeared in others. Given the shape of the canyons, you just had to keep on course and would usually find the trail again. We used a gps also.
    This area is magnificent. I've been on the OHV trails around the area a lot without ever realizing how beautiful this wilderness area is. This area seems to be a grazing area for cows and though we didn't see any they left their mark EVERYWHERE.
    Overall a very good trip though.
    Burro Flats Loop
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Hell's Canyon Wilderness

    OK, I was conflicted by the generally “negative” triplogs verses my curiosity to explore what is for me one of those “blackhole” areas on the map. Throw in a little bit of history with the landmark 1896 Castle Hot Springs Resort (see ... rings.html ), frequent wild burro sightings, and a drive that’s included in a couple of my 4WD/Offroad guides – that tipped the balance in favour of satisfying my curiosity…

    Took the day off work to create a 5-day Thanksgiving Weekend and headed out in the F-150 with Lynn and Skippy armed with the HAZ Hike Description for Burro Flats Loop. As we turn onto Castle Hot Springs Road you can’t help but notice the absence of traffic (in fact our only vehicle encounter was at about mile 20 when a yellow Toyota FJ passed in the opposite direction).

    Nice views of Lake Pleasant (not a single boat in sight). Burro encounters in Garfias Wash and Castle Creek. An alien encounter with seemingly abandoned, yet immaculately manicured grounds of Castle Hot Springs Resort. Some curiously humble little working mines.

    With some effort and a roll-of-the-dice, we found the Garfias Wash TH. Al_HikesAZ’s tip proved helpful;

    “Bitter Creek crosses Castle Hot Springs Road about 7 miles beyond the Resort. Just past this point, head south on Cedar Basin Road. You will need 4WD for this stretch. About 2 miles south on Cedar Basin Road you will reach Garfias Wash and the parking area.”

    We left the F-150 at the side of the road because there was no convincing evidence that this was the track to the TH – no signage, no recent tire tread marks in the dirt, in fact road grading had built up a bit of a barrier at the side of the road. The 2 mile trek to Garfias Wash TH was easy enough.

    Back on the road we stopped at Picacho Wash. My GPS showed this as a 4WD trail following the wash. We followed the multiple tire tracks in the wash heading towards Cross F Spring. Was this the path towards Burro Flats TH? Nope! Appears we were on the 4WD path that takes you to the Burro Flats TH [N33deg 55.9980min W112deg 24.9540min] when we were at Garfias Wash TH [N33deg 57.3535min W112deg 25.4269min]… :wrt:

    End verdict? Curiosity satisfied, probably not on any list for a redux though… Posted GPS track for Castle Hot Spings Road showing access to Garfias Wash TH. Appears that you continue further south along this same 4WD track to reach the Burro Flat TH. See

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To Burro Flats Trailhead
    Route to Garfias/Horse/Burro Trailheads
    From Phoenix head north on I-17 to the Carefree Highway (SR74)

    Two routes are possible, the first preferable for those not in a hurry and driving vehicles with no 4wd and medium clearance. Follow 17 north from Phoenix to the Carefree Highway, head west to Castle Hot Springs Road, take this north approximately 9.7 miles, then left for another 7 miles, during which you will pass the old Castle Hot Springs Resort, an amazing piece of history currently off limits and under reconstruction. The road will stop at a T intersection, turn left ( west ) to continue on Castle Hot Springs Road for another 5.8 miles to unimproved road on your left ( south ). There should be some signage with land usage rules. Take this south for another 2.5 to access the Horse Spring trailhead, then about .8 miles to the Burro Spring Trailhead.

    The second route requires higher ground clearance and possibly 4wd, depending on tire size and tread. It should not be attempted during heavy rains in the area. Instead of turning off Carefree Highway on to Castle Hot Springs road, continue west another 1.3 miles , then turn right and reset your odometer. Head north on the asphalt road leading to the Morgan City Wash, 1.1 miles further. Turn left and head northwest in the bottom of the wash, following the main drainage upward. Ignore the turnoff for #10 to the left after 4.5 miles, continuing on to 5.6 miles to a cattle gate. Pass through and follow the wash until mile 7.7, where you will see a windmill and water tank on your right, immediately after, turn up out of the wash to the right and head northeast. At mile 9.1 you should see a metal trailhead log podium for Burro Springs on your right.

    Both ways require topos for accurate navigation, GPS is helpfull but not necassary.

    Detailed route from 1-17 for car route:
    1) Take the AZ-74 exit 223 to Wickenburg - go 0.4 mi
    2) Continue on W Carefree Hwy toward Wickenburg - go 1.9 mi
    3) Continue on AZ-74 - go 2.1 mi
    4) Continue on W AZ-74 - go 2.4 mi
    5) Continue on N Lake Pleasant Rd - go 2.7 mi
    6) Continue on AZ-74 - go 2.4 mi
    7) Turn right at Castle Hot Springs Rd - go 8.0 mi
    8) Bear left at N Castle Hot Springs Rd - go 1.6 mi
    9) Continue toward N Castle Hot Springs Rd - go 0.4 mi
    10) Continue on N Castle Hot Springs Rd - go 4.7 mi
    11) Turn left at Castle Hot Springs Rd - go 0.9 mi
    12) Turn left at N Castle Hot Springs Rd - go 7.9 mi
    13) Arrive at 33.933300, -112.415900 (Trailhead)
    Please note: The road is frequently closed due to flooding since the creek bed is the road for a section.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) - 80.0 mi, 2 hours 17 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) - 185 mi, 3 hours 57 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) - 164 mi, 3 hours 26 mins
    help comment issue

    end of page marker