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Ben Avery Trail - Indian Spring Petroglyphs, AZ

Guide 32 Triplogs  1 Topic
  3.6 of 5 
no permit
517 32 1
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 6.68 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,595 feet
Elevation Gain 285 feet
Accumulated Gain 490 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 - 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.13
Backpack Yes
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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13  2021-01-16
Roam in the Eagletail Wilderness
13  2021-01-09 jillyonanadventu
30  2021-01-02
Eagletail Arches and Petroglyphs
20  2020-11-07
Ben Avery - Arches - Indian Spring Petroglyphs
27  2020-11-07
Ben Avery - Arches - Indian Spring Petroglyphs
12  2020-04-14 Jim_H
7  2020-03-29 jacobemerick
6  2020-01-25
Eagletail Mountains Wander
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author nrg_crisis
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 0 map ( 0 miles )
Age 60 Male Gender
Location Trenton, NJ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar → 8 AM
Seasons   Autumn
Sun  5:46am - 7:33pm
Official Route
1 Alternative

Easy, remote, fascinating!
by nrg_crisis

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What the Ben Avery Trail lacks in elevation gain, it more than makes up for in cultural and historical fascination. This trail is just about the antithesis of Camelback or Picacho: the hiking is easy, the crowds nonexistent, and the rewards are perhaps more for the soul than for the body. Bring maps, bring water, and bring a cell phone: this is an isolated area, aptly designated a Wilderness. Apart from the one rancher we passed on the road in, we saw nary a soul the entire day during our December visit.

The trail passes through the Wilderness fence and starts on an old Jeep trail with the Eagletail on your left, heading roughly south, for about a half-mile. It then descends into a wash, turns southwest, and follows that for a mile or so. The wash will narrow; when it starts to look impassably overgrown, the trail angles left and climbs out on to another old Jeep trail. After cresting a slight ridgeline and crossing in and out of several small washes, the trail merges into a reasonably large wash that approaches the trail from the right about 2.5 miles in. Stay in that wash, this time heading slightly downhill, for another mile and then look for a low, dark-volcanic mesa on your left where the wash turns sharply to the left. STOP THERE! Look up toward the top of the mesa on your left and see if you can pick out some of the hundreds of petroglyphs on the rocks and cliffs above. The petroglyphs are designated as a National Historic Site; they are likely the Hohokam people's work and are anywhere from 500 to 3500 years old, protected from the unwashed masses only by how remote the area is.

We stopped our hike on the trail there, too fascinated by the work of these early people to go on. But the trail does bend left (east) around the mesa, enters a small canyon, and continues for many more miles. This trail is a fascinating and low-stress trip back in time and through an almost unknown and unused wilderness. Highly recommended!

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2003-12-27 nrg_crisis
  • Basic Map Overview of Area Eagletail Peak Close-Up General Hike Map
    guide related
  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
    area related
    100 Classic Hikes - 2007
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.

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

To Courthouse Trailhead
From Phoenix:
- I-10 west to Exit 81; Salome Rd/Harquahala Valley Road...left
- Harq Valley Rd (it will jig to the right after the overpass) 5 miles to Centennial Rd/Courthouse Rd...right
- Courthouse Rd 7 miles to a junction...right fork along gas pipeline service road
- Pipeline road approximately 4 miles to unnamed road...left (you'll see a sign for the Eagletail Mountains Wilderness
- Unnamed road about 1.5 miles to the TH

Directions to trail: On I-10 west of Phoenix, take exit #81 and head south on Harquahala Valley Road. Turn right on to Courthouse Rock Road, a straight-as-an-arrow packed dirt road that heads directly toward the Eagletail, a.k.a. Courthouse Rock. After 8 miles, the packed dirt road ends at an Eagletail Wilderness sign. Angle right there on to a dirt/washboard gas pipeline road; take it slow and go easy on your axles. Three miles later, look for an Interior Department Wilderness sign on the left and turn left there, angling back toward the Eagletail. The road gets rougher and ends at an Eagletail Wilderness sign at the trailhead. Four-wheel drive and high clearance is strongly recommended but not absolutely required.

11/19/07 crawfrdb writes: From Phoenix, I-10 West about 60 miles to Exit 81. Turn left (south) onto harquahala valley road. Road will "dog leg" before proceeding due south. Go about five miles south to a cross road- see Courthouse road on the left, Centennial Road on your right. Turn right onto Centennial Road. Proceed SEVEN miles (some sources report five miles but the correct distance is SEVEN).

At approx seven miles, you will come to a fork in the road. This fork is an intersection of three roads- a right fork, a left fork and a left turn. You will see a BLM kiosk for the Eagle Tail Wilderness Area just ahead on the left fork, however, proceed on the right fork. The right fork is the long straight road along a high pressure natural gas distribution line.

Proceed past a small set of gas pipes on the right, and past/between two small fenced gas control areas about a mile or so later. Continue on this fork for four miles to a left turn- at this road, you will see a "Eagletail Wilderness Area" sign. Proceed approx. 1.5 miles to a trailhead with a typical bulletin board, parking lot and entrance through a fence. Courthouse rock and the Eagletail spires can be seen at this point as well.

Road conditions: As of this writing, a 4WD vehicle is not necessary to access this trailhead. If you are concerned about whether this trail can be accessed without a SUV or other high clearance vehicle, it is possible to access with a sedan or other lower clearance vehicle if you are willing to park a little further away from the trailhead and walk in. Specifically: Harquahala Valley Road going south is paved. Centenial Road is a hard packed, well graded dirt road and in great shape. After the left fork onto the gas pipeline road noted above, the road is not as graded but still fairly well packed dirt with a few short patches of soft, deep sand- keep your speed up going through them and you should be fine.

If you want to attempt this with a sedan, the last 1.5 miles on the road leading into the wilderness area is where you will want to keep an eye out for a place to park. The last half mile will definitely require high clearance. Merely proceed until the road ahead appears too much for your vehicle to handle and park.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 83.2 mi - about 1 hour 57 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 190mi - 3 hours 38 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 215mk - 4 hours 1 min
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
prehydrate & stay hydrated
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