register help

Spring Valley Trail, AZ

no permit
166 29 0
Guide 29 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NW
3.3 of 5 by 8
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,880 feet
Elevation Gain 200 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5
Backpack Yes
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
10  2017-12-23
Spring Valley - Garfias - Governors Peak Loop
18  2017-12-23
Spring Valley - Garfias - Governors Peak Loop
6  2017-01-20
Garfias-Hell-Gov Peak Loop
13  2016-05-09 MountainMatt
8  2013-07-20
Governors Peak
9  2013-07-20
Governors Peak
15  2013-03-02
Garfias-Hell-Gov Peak Loop
17  2013-03-02
Garfias-Hell-Gov Peak Loop
Page 1,  2,  3
Author JoelHazelton
author avatar Guides 16
Routes 10
Photos 967
Trips 406 map ( 1,971 miles )
Age 33 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Jan, Feb, Mar, Nov → 7 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:14am - 6:33pm
7 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Cairns, cairns, everywhere!
by JoelHazelton

This is an easy trail near Lake Pleasant with some decent scenery and relative solitude. Oddly, the trail never actually reaches Spring Valley (as shown on my map), or is really even that close to it, but it still has its perks. I would recommend this trip for a family with kids or as a starting point for other trips into this wilderness. The trail ends at the bottom Garfias Wash, which travels pretty deep into the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

The hike begins about 100 feet from the parking area down Castle Hot Springs rd. Basically, as soon as the creekbed is easily accessible from the road, hop on in. Once you're down there, look around for a gigantic cairn in the middle of the wide swath. Head towards this cairn, and keep your eye out for another and a sign on the other side of the creek. This sign marks the wilderness boundary, and the trailhead and register are about 15 feet farther.

From the trailhead, the trail immediately climbs about 80 feet (at most) and then turns you sharply left. After this point, the trail becomes a cairn-fest. Earlier this year, the American Hiking Society did some serious maintenance on this trail. The maintenance is much appreciated and made my outing much more pleasant, but man, they went a little overboard with the cairns. If you happen to get lost on this trail now, you shouldn't be venturing anywhere outside of your house. This trail is CAIRNED! In addition, the American Hiking Society dug several runoff channels and built steps in the steep sections. Anyway, after about a half mile the trail meets up with power lines. Sweet! These unwanted trail companions don't veer away for about another half mile, but after that you're good for the duration of the hike. The trail continues dipping in and out of washes for the next mile or so, all the way gradually moving closer to peak 2904. Eventually you reach the base of peak 2904 and begin switchbacks to the bottom of Garfias Wash. The trail maintenance ends once the switchbacks begin, but it's still very easy to follow. At the bottom of the wash a large boulder topped with a cairn marks the end of the trail. Don't stop here though... I followed Garfias Wash upstream for about a mile before I stopped and went through my normal "time to turn around" procedure (snack, shade, read whatever novel I brought along). On the way back through Garfias Wash, make sure to keep your eye out for the cairn that marks the trail, because it's very easy to pass unnoticed. The hike out of the wash is nice, because up until this point, the trail hasn't offered much of a workout. Return the way you came.

Another option would be to turn left into Garfias Wash, hike the wash down to Castle Creek, and hike Castle Creek back up to your car. This looks feasible and would make for a pretty decent loop, although I've certainly never tried it.

I will likely return to this trail, but only to explore farther up Garfias Wash and deeper into the wilderness.

Check out the Triplogs.

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

2007-11-08 JoelHazelton
    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
    Spring Valley Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Spring Valley - Garfias - Governors Peak Loop
    Pre dawn start with temps in the 30's and dead batteries in the head lamp. The cell phone sufficed for the first 20 minutes until daylight.

    We warmed up with the uphill on the Spring Valley Trail with the sun rising. This is a real nice trail to take with the sun rising over Lake Pleasant.

    Dropping into Garfias Wash, we seemed to loose about 10 degrees of temperature. This is an easy wash walk with interesting geology. Some may not like the need to empty the sand out of your shoes occasionally (like BoeJartels)

    We got to an area that we practiced Safety First and Joe waited, while I scoped out a bit farther towards Hell Canyon.

    Back to pick up Joe and headed up the unnamed side canyon we'd been in a few times before. I remembered there being one area of concern for our Safety First campaign. Slow and steady and we made our way up the 12' dry fall. Oops, forgot about the second one. The best we could do on this one, was safety second. With a bit of time and patience, 20'er negotiated.

    The climb to Governors Peak from our angle was steep but straightforward. Great views for lunch. First lunch I can remember where we could see the end of the hike and truck, some 3 miles away.

    Governors Peak 360
    [ youtube video ]

    Great day in Hell.

    No Burros sighted, we were brayed twice.

    Spring Valley Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Spring Valley - Garfias - Governors Peak Loop
    Here's a little loop Bruce wrote six years ago. That one ended on a sour note with a private property scolding. We hiked a bonafide legal version with Ben four years ago. This nearby gem felt like a good fit for a tight holiday schedule. If you enjoy moderately challenging off trail adventures & live near the Valley you might enjoy exploring.

    Spring Valley Trail
    The morning light through this desert jungle never disappoints. Per usual I asked myself why I've neglected more visits.

    Garfias Wash
    Under 3 miles in take a right off trail into Garfias. If it rubs you the wrong way turn back pdq because 5 miles of sand and gravel is looking to scold your feet. 6 miles in on a short out-n-back towards Horse Creek we found slow running water and a good twenty foot diameter pool capped with half inch thick ice. The first two hours of our hike were cold and it's been cold recently in the valley... still seemed unexpected.

    I took a break at the pool while Bruce scrambled up creek. Autumn auditioned technicolor magic on a willow and cottonwood. Along with a trickling creek and the warmth of the sun after a chilly start was a real treat.

    Unnamed Creek
    Not sure if this one is named. We take it NW out of Garfias to the SW side of Governors Peak. There are 2 areas to scramble. No biggie for most. It was just in my range with lots of help from Bruce. I get by fine and adapt on most things one handed. Crumbly rock scrambles without corrective-balance race nightmares through the mind at warp speed.

    Governors Peak
    The western approach is semi steep and semi loose. Nothing horrible, going up is less prone to accidents and a trail gets you down the South. We lunched with a curious bee Bruce dubbed George. Excellent internet kept lunch social.

    Great little adventure-hike near the valley with exotic terrain, a smorgasbord of cacti and a hint of water.

    Consumed 38 oz water

    2 days to Christmas, Autumn keeps on giving. Cottonwoods, Willows & Tamarisk looking nice
    Spring Valley Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Garfias-Hell-Gov Peak Loop
    After waiting like five hours for Ben to make an appearance and bless us with his presence we got underway.* Bruce and I did this loop two years ago. This time we managed to stay on public property. There are some very nice views, twists and peaks out in Hells Gate. Almost eerie that we didn't see another hiker. Just one camper sleeping in or out hunting.

    The best part about hiking with the eaglet is watching him grin ear to ear when I say things to the eagle he's probably wanted to say a few times :sl:

    * slight exaggeration

    Blue Dicks, Desert Anemone, Wild Heliotrope, Wiry Lotus and a few others I forget... sparse

    Poppies in medium patches.
    Spring Valley Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Garfias-Hell-Gov Peak Loop
    Variation of a hike we did almost 2 years ago. This one was legal, staying off the private property that was not marked in the direction we came from. My son Ben joined us this time.

    A chilly morning on the Spring Valley trail. We took this down to the Garfias Wash, which was even chillier in the shade.

    We added Hell Canyon and threw in a little loop around a mound in a wash. We had a cool little little 30' down climb in the wash. Hell Canyon is a pretty little area, and worth the side trip.

    From here it was back to an unnamed canyon to connect to an old trail. Next a steep climb to the top of Governors Peak. Vast 360 views from up here, including a view into the closed down Castle Hot Springs Resort

    Video ==>

    It was more or less all downhill from here back to the car.

    An enjoyable day. Temps got real warm (Relativly Speaking) in the early afternoon.

    Patches of poppies and others
    Spring Valley Trail
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Hiked today with friend Marcus, Judy and Java. The highlights were the cairns and burro sighting. Love the way the burros hiss at you letting you know 'hey I see you!'. Would have been fun to watch the teens build these very large cairns trying to outdo each other. We all really enjoyed this hike. My GPS gave us the mileage and AEG to the wash bottom and back. No other hikers on the trail today.
    Spring Valley Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    At first, I could not locate the gigantic cairn. Its located at the 10 o'clock position when you are looking West across the wash. This hike has lots of cool geologic features. For example, there is a ton of lichen covered rock and conglomerate rock to see. Saw 3 mule deer as well.
    Spring Valley Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Hells Gate Lost Loop
    Living in far NW Phoenix, The Hells Canyon Wilderness is as close as it gets to getting away from the City for me.

    According to the BLM, there are 7 trails in this wilderness area. Spring Valley, Burro Flats, and Garfias Wash, I've heard of. Bell, Hellgate, Hermit, and Horse Creek, I have not. Starting at 4 different Trailheads.

    I was taking a crap shoot on this one, wanting to do a loop through the wilderness, seeing as much as possible, scouting for future trips. I traced a route starting at the Castle Creek TH, down the Spring Trail, to the Garfias Wash, West to an unnamed wash, north to a Pack Trail on the TOPO, and into Crater Canyon for the return.

    I really enjoyed this trek. The Spring Trail was in nice shape, and Garfias wash was an easy and interesting hike. In western Crater Canyon, we got to see the ruins of an old two story stone building and Little Hells Gate (Both later found to be on Private Property), and then had a wild time climbing on, around, and under large boulders on our way out traveling east.

    We got to one point in a slot canyon, that we pondered on for awhile. Do we go back and climb up and around... Or, swim in water, that more than likely had ice on it a week earlier. We protected the electronics, wallets, etc and made the 50yard swim. It took a good 15 minutes for my voice to return to normal.

    Turning out of Crater Canyon, into Castle Creek we shortly came upon what I thought to be the deserted, well manicured, Castle Hot Springs Resort. Waiting for us there was a slightly upset lady, informing us that we were on private property. Looking behind us. there were in fact 10 or so No Trespassing signs across the wash. Those were the only signs we saw all day. Joe posted this in his triplog, and I might as well post it here also, to keep others from potentially wandering onto Private Property like we did. ... 10159,1337

    It was a great day in the Hells Canyon Wilderness
    Spring Valley Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Hells Gate Lost Loop
    Bruce invited me to Hell so naturally I had to check it out. With good intentions and loaded GPS routes we headed in to do a moderate Wilderness loop. During our three hour tour the weather started getting rough and the tiny ship was lost. Due to canyon walls the GPS reception blows and we unknowingly ended up on private property. Not a fence nor a single sign to forewarn the honest neither. After the coldest swim in my life, must have been forty something we thought we were back on track. Only to be greeted by an angry property owner asking us if there was not enough signs to let us know we were on private property. I thought it was a joke until I looked directly behind me and saw a line of signs across the wash. Sheesh ameesha after a lecture we were spared our lives... I can understand the frustration. However we were carrying BLM government issued maps. I'd challenge any land owner or BLM agent to navigate with the issued maps.

    Otherwise a beautiful day and gorgeous country were apparently your only hopes of a glimpse are to be born a cow... c'est la vie! Just beware and stay within the red line.

    Wildflowers were tiny and difficult to see in the few areas where present.
    Spring Valley Trail
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    CCV Group hike with Karen, Colleen, Sarah and Emily. Not too Many wild fowers yet, but lots and lots of green. We did this as an in and out totaling a little over 4 miles. You can do it as a shuttle if you combine it with the Garfias Wash Trailhead. I would loved to have done a little more hiking into the canyon, but think it would have been too much for Sarah and Emily. The shuttle would total about 9 miles, mostly through the Garfias Canyon. The Spring Valley Trail has gorgeous views of the foothills of the Bradshaws, Pleasant Lake and the rugged volcanic terrain around the Hells Canyon Wilderness area. The official Spring Valley Trail ends at a drainage into the Gafias Canyon, but the trail continues to The Garfias Wash Trailhead. I'll have to go back and check it out some winter day. Will write a full summary for the Spring Valley Trail sometime in the future when I have sufficient GPS data to do so. Great Day, Great Partners, Great Hike! Will post pictures a little later.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    Take the Carefree Highway (sr 74) west to the Lake Pleasant exit, Castle Hot Springs Rd. Turn north on Castle Hot Springs Rd. and drive 9 miles (bypassing the three Lake Pleasant exits you'll pass on your right) until the road drops into Castle Creek. The next mile will be in the creekbed, but as long as it is dry, it is passable with a sedan (my Sentra made it). After a mile, the road will cross a cattle guard. Immediately after the cattle guard, on the left, is the parking area and trailhead. Just be careful driving through the creekbed, as people in big trucks will be blowing past you going 50 just because they can, and they probably won't see you until they're about to slam into you head on. I know this first hand :)

    2011-10-30 burntlizard From the TH and looking across the wash(West) the Gigantic cairn is at the 10 o'clock position(Southwesterly)
    $17 3L Hydration Bladder
    help comment issue

    end of page marker