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Willow Springs Canyon to Bagley Tank, AZ

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Guide 32 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Mesa NE
2.9 of 5 by 10
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 7.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,081 feet
Elevation Gain -209 feet
Accumulated Gain 588 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3.5
Kokopelli Seeds 10.34
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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12  2019-03-19
Willow Spring Basin Meander
10  2017-01-14
Peak 2669 from Apache Gap TH
12  2014-11-02 trekkin_gecko
19  2014-11-02 AZLumberjack
74  2014-11-02
Jack's Back 2014
6  2013-01-26 jochal
10  2013-01-09 AZLumberjack
30  2012-12-29
Goldfield arches
Page 1,  2,  3
Author OhOh7
author avatar Guides 15
Routes 2
Photos 1,591
Trips 81 map ( 435 miles )
Age 83 Male Gender
Location Gold Canyon, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:31pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Easy & Scenic
by OhOh7

From SR88 hike through upper Willow Springs Canyon following an old jeep road over to Bagley Tank. Return by the same route or make up your own off trail loop back to the trailhead.

I wondered what was north of the Apache Trail having driven by many times. I looked up the Goldfield Mountains on the computer and found a great deal of information about the area. For example there are very few actual trails and only some jeep trails to follow. Most of the great scenery is off trail. There are many natural arches in the area but all have to be reached by off trail hikes. I selected the Willow Springs Trailhead. As a reference point, Needle Vista viewpoint is on the south side of the highway. The trailhead is not marked but it's a clear pulloff area just before mile marker 204.

A locked iron fence blocks the road from vehicle use (maybe by permission but we are hikers) and once through it the jeep trail winds down into the Canyon to Willow Springs Well that looks to be quite deep with a cement frame around it. Our objective was Bagley Tank which is roughly 3.5 miles from the highway. We found some caves, pipe lashings, cement troughs and lots of evidence of years ago cattle areas.There also were many "waterholes" with lots of water. The dogs loved that. Much of the roadbed is sand and it makes for difficult walking. You pass some nice meadows and a grave with a beautiful cross. We wondered who and what and how. Once we left the creek bed-road bed we began to climb slightly more northerly toward the Bagley Tank. Once we arrived we were quite amazed at all the work that had once gone into that water catch. Some of my photos show how big a catch basin it is and how the berms have been built up around it with inlet and outlet trenches. So this is a "tank" out here! Interesting.

The terrain up and back is quite beautiful and really quite different from the stark, jagged Superstition range nearby. Even the color is varied in the cliffs and surface rocks. We went beyond the Bagley tank a few hundred yards and had a great lunch in a canyon. Although a bit rocky in places this is a fairly easy hike (except for the sand sections like walking on a beach). It opened me up to the Goldfield Mountains. Now I've arranged to go see some of the arches in the area. Over 10 have been identified but all are off trail.

It was a good day. A bit windy, however the temperatures were great! There was 4 of us and 2 dogs. Great fun for me as I did not have the fear of heavy steep climbing. Now I've discovered a new area nearby my home with some interesting terrain.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2004-12-20 OhOh7
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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 Triplog Reviews
Willow Springs Canyon to Bagley Tank
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Peak 2669 from Apache Gap TH
The goal today was to check out the area past Bagley Tank, and at the same time climb up peak 2669 to check out the views. The climb up past Bagley Tank was pretty straight forward, a little steep and loose but not too bad. At the top was a nice little valley area with a nice view of Saguaro Lake. From there we made the trek over to peak 2669 where the views were even better. Had lunch at a neat rock outcropping we passed on the way to the peak. On the return we took a slightly different route back down to Bagley Tank and also changed it up on the approach back to the TH. Although there were threats of rain we only saw a few sprinkles and some lighting out east.

Although sore this morning the knee held up good during the off trail hiking.

Saw no others the entire day.
Willow Springs Canyon to Bagley Tank
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Jack's Back 2014
Kelly and I finally made our decision to cancel our Sedona double due to weather concerns. If I'm going to climb two mountains, I prefer near excellent conditions. So we scrambled to do this year's "Jack's Back" :DANCE: hike with the hopes of getting out in the Goldfields. And then we bugged Kathy to come join us and even Karl came. kingsnake couldn't make it; hopefully he'll make the last "Jack's Back" hike next fall.
It was a bit of a gloomy day weather-wise but we were all glad to be out; especially in a new area. I picked up K&K and we me the others at the designated parking area across from where we would start our hike. I am not sure how this trip log got so long for a 10 mile hike :sorrry:

And off we went soon sliding into the wash of Willow Springs Canyon. We all seemed to instantly like the area with the mixture of flora and rock and views of which the most prominent in front was Gonzales Needle (a historic landmark named after a grand nephew of the Peralta family. Gonzales Needle marks the northern limit of the Goldfield Mining District.) Off to our right it was fun to see the Little Four Peaks too.

Soon we would encounter the first of several troughs this day and then we would hike thru a section with beautiful non-native fountain grass; it's always so pretty and was on each side of us. Next we would pass what we assumed was a long narrow trough that once had a sign above it. We then saw the first of several trail sign 12 markers (Trail 12 is also FR12, didn't know that at the time).

Our first stop would be the caves which we checked out; it's quite an extensive system. Fortunately there was little to no trash around most of the area. We continued down the drainage and around the corner we encountered metate holes and another trough. This trough had quite a bit of water in it. A little further we found the community grinding center with at least two dozen metate holes below the west wall. You can also see the old pipe hung from it.

Next was the narrows section. Actually there were a couple of these. We came to this one area where the others had gingerly gotten down and decided surely it was easier to go up and around so Kathy and I decided to do some 'sploring. We went up (adding to our AEG ;)) only to discover we couldn't get down where we thot. So we had to contour this rather difficult landscape until we could find a place to get down and join the others. Well now that our little adventure was over we could move on to an area where we encountered yet another trough. This one was completely devoid of water and had dried mud at its bottom.

We continued on in the wash for about another 10 minutes; saw a place to come up and out but continued for a bit and decided to climb up and out the hard way. Now mind you, this was totally unnecessary but of course we didn't know that at the time (Kelly and Kathy went back to the easy walk up). Not sure why we opted out of the creek bed :-k . BUT it turned out to be quite the nice adventure as once we started going UP the road the views were terrific BUT then it started getting a lot steeper and pretty soon we were at what you might call a cul de sac. So as long as were up here, Karl climbed up Peak 2348 or Karl's Peak :D as it has now been designated. We got cool pics of him on top.

Once he was down we realized we should have made a left at the drainage that was draining to the Willow Creek Canyon we had left 1/2 hour previous. No big deal as we would get a little AEG for this one. And the views were superb. So back down the hill we went, caught the drainage and headed west back to Willow Springs Canyon. In this little drainage we came to a cool pour over cut into the landscape. This little drainage had lots of cool flora too. And to be truthful, you should just stay in the canyon but what's the fun in that.

Once out our mission continued as we headed down the canyon. We came upon a tree that had some sort of puffy flora growing up through it. We have no idea what it is of course. Reminded me a bit of Cliff Rose but it wasn't that. We passed by some interesting walls along the canyon and then veered slightly right back onto Trail 12 that we had been on and off of a couple times. None of us realized there was a trail number. We continued north on the road bed that was fairly wide but somewhat rocky. We passed by one of the most incredible Christmas cholla clusters I have ever seen.

The clouds were breaking up pretty seriously by this point providing a different view of the landscape we had been seeing :) including views to the NW of Dome Mountain. Once Karl locked his GPS onto Bagley Tank, he would update us as to our progress while HAZTrks would let us know how far we had come along with other statistics (you can hear her in the video even... by the way, I would prefer a male voice; can I get that changed or have it as an option? ;))

Finally we made our destination, Bagley Tank (END movieing). It was really pretty and was showing off its reflections. We went to the other side to have our lunch in the shade. It was a great place for lunch with lots of green grass on the berm below our feet. About 1/2 hour later it was up and at 'em to hit the trail back straight this time. After spotting a gila monster (I didn't see it) and trying to coax it into view with no luck, we continued including up a hill that provided a great photo op to the Superstition Ridgeline. We were getting views of the whole Ridgeline off and on during the day.

I showed Kathy the big bunch of Christmas Cholla I had seen earlier (the others were ahead) and then we passed back thru the remnants of a Chain Cholla forest. Heading more in a southernly direction now, the sand got a little deeper along the way. We were seeing the landscape with the sun rather than the filtered light of the morning. We hit the narrows and that one section Kathy and I had avoided this AM. It was a little tricky getting up it but we made it. There were some big pools of water here as well but they were hidden within the rock.

We got closer to the cave section which is the only shade along this route. We stopped just for a moment to enjoy it and look at the caves once again before completing our hike. The others ahead of us, Kathy and I at the back. We hit the parking lot and cracked open our beer. Kelly gave us the good news about the Cardinals :) . We observed a fellow reading his book over on the sidewalk in like the only place where there was no view. And then he started stretching :o or whatever that was. And as the HP drove by we hid our beer not knowing the rules of drinking in the parking lot.

Yep it was 2 o'clock and we had another hike in the books in a fun area with the most delightful people :y: . I took WAY too many pics but I like to do that when a group of us gets together, and after all "Jack's Back!"

Unfortunately, I had slipped my movie mode into AVCHD so the quality isn't nearly as good though I just read there shouldn't be any difference between that and mp4 HD. So now I'll have to run a comparison and see.

Video 1 to the caves - [ youtube video ]
Video 2 to Karl's Hill - [ youtube video ]
Video 3 pending upload to youtube tonite 11/4/2014 after dinner and finally some Picacho Pecan Pie Brown Ale 6.0% - Pecan Pie in a glass! at the Arizona Wilderness Brewery
11-5-14 wow is that beer awesome! now to Video 3 link from Karl's Hill to Bagley Tank - [ youtube video ]
Willow Springs Canyon to Bagley Tank
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-*-*-* :y: 3rd Annual "Jack's Back" Hike :y: -*-*-*

This was the third year that Tibber, myself and other randomly selected HAZ hikers get together and have a welcome back to Arizona hike shortly after my return to the valley. Angela selects the best day for the event and I select the hike location.

This year we were honored to have Kelly (trekkin gecko), Kathy (slowandsteady) and Karl (BiFrost) accompany us on a short tour of the Goldfield Mountains just off the Apache Trail. The area was quite new to all and I have been out here a few times and enjoyed the scenery and challenges presented. We met at the parking lot of the Weavers Needle Overlook on mile marker 204 along the Apache Trail at 0800.

The day was overcast with large clouds floating in the Arizona blue sky and the possibility of rain was in the forecast but the temps were perfect for a desert hike. Once geared up we crossed the highway and descended into Willow Spring Wash at the point where Government Well once provided a plentiful supply of water for travelers along the Apache Trail.

The winding wash is easy walking although loose sand persists and the tread marks of ATV's and Jeeps are embedded in the wash. A brilliantly collored red rock lines the bottom and both sides of the wash as we proceeded down towards higher cliffs and a narrow canyon. Once into the narrows the tire marks disappear, indicating that the Jeeps & ATV's cannot proceed further so now we have the creek bed all to ourselves.

As we round a bend, the cliffs on the South side present us with a view of several alcoves high above the floor of the canyon. The caves are well known to the locals and sometimes they are used as a temporary home by transients passing through. Today the caves were unoccupied and we were able to climb up and explore the several openings. Some of the caves are interconnected so it's possible to check most of them out once entering the most accessible one.

Now we continue through the narrow slots following an old steel pipe that has been attached to the stone cliffs alongside the wash. The pipe was part of a gravity feed system that kept concrete tanks further down the wash full of water for the livestock that were raised in the lush green canyons. Briefly the canyon widens out and we're able to locate dozens of Matate's along the base of hollowed out cliffs alongside the wash, an indication that this was once a popular area for Arizona's early inhabitants.

Beyond the Metate's, the color of the rock changes dramatically from bright red to white, a softer stone that has been carved into very narrow slots and deep enough to still hold water. It was along this stretch that we had to do some down-climbing on the slippery face of the rocks, trying not to slip and fall into one of those deep cold water pools. Kelly and Karl enjoyed the brief challenge :worthy: while the rest of us looked for alternative routes past the hazard.

As the wash widens, the Jeep tracks again appear in the sandy creek bed but all remains quiet and we continue on down to a turnoff that should take us to Bagley Tank. OOPS, my bad, I left the wash too early :oops: and the jeep trail we followed took us up to a dead end below an unnamed peak (Altitude 2348) so we took a short break while we studied the GPS to find out where I went wrong. During this break, Karl took the opportunity to summit the peak and presented us with the traditional "Wendy". So from now on, this is known as Karl's Peak :y:

Back down in the wash, we continued on until we came upon the next Jeep trail leading out of the creek bed, a marker indicated that this was trail #12 and the GPS showed that we were on the right trail this time. It was a little more than a mile hike until we came upon the Bagley Tank. The last time I was here, there was only a token amount of muddy water in the tank, but today it was full up to the grass line and the water sparkled in the late morning sunlight.

We found ample amounts of green grass and shade to sit in while we had a casual lunch break and talked about the sights and scenery all around us. The trip back to the parking lot was uneventful with the exception of spotting a Gila Monster that quickly (yes quickly) scurried under a nearby Prickly Pear Cactus before any of us could take it's picture. Once back at our vehicles we quickly removed our packs, shed our hot shoes and broke out some cool refreshments to salute the interesting hike through the Goldfield Mountains :y:

Thanks Angela for putting this one together, it was a pleasure to meet and hike with Kathy and Karl for the first time and it's always a pleasure to hit the trails with Kelly.

Very little signs of Autumn.
Willow Springs Canyon to Bagley Tank
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we put together a last minute "jack's back" hike after some other plans got postponed
the guest of honor suggested this hike in the goldfields
i've never been out here at all and enjoyed this intro
went down the canyon/wash to bagley tank with some exploration around the caves and one wrong turn that became a good climb up to a nice viewpoint
karl bagged a small peak while we were there
back on track, made it to the tank, which had quite a bit of water in it
took a snack break in the grass on the other side
our return followed the official track
high points:
-the caves
-the narrow parts of the canyon, one of which required a little scramble
-old junk, cement catchments and some pipes
-views of the goldfields and supes
-a gila monster! second one i've seen - no picture
good catching up with everyone
perfect weather
fun to see some new territory
looking forward to further exploration in the goldfields
thanks y'all - nice day :)
Willow Springs Canyon to Bagley Tank
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Went on an ATV trip with Howard (azwhitewing) and Tom down Willow Springs Canyon. Last year I hiked the wash for 5 miles and this time I wanted to see a little more of the area.

We parked at the locked gate (we have the combination) and entered the trail system following it down to the dry wash. After a brief tour upstream to the narrow canyon we headed downstream to where the canyon narrows again and we couldn't proceed farther. From there we hiked on down a bit further, enjoying the views of the canyon.

Then we retraced our tracks until we joined the trail to Bagley Tank. The day was cool but bright and the trail was moderately challenging but fun. We got to the tank and found water still at the bottom of the pit and lots of wildlife tracks in the mud. We walked around the tank for a while then got back on the quads and headed back to the parking lot.

Had a fun day back there and there's still a couple of trails that we didn't travel. So that must mean that we have to return.
Willow Springs Canyon to Bagley Tank
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Had an interesting outing this morning. I selected Willow Springs Canyon because I wanted to check out the ATV trails for future use. I hiked this area last year and it's an interesting area to hike but it can get messy from some inconsiderate off road enthusiasts that frequent the trails.

Today's hike took me down the (now)dry wash through the narrow canyon where there are some natural caves along the Western face of the cliffs. As I climbed up to investigate further, I noticed a lot of trash below the caves and as I got closer, I found what appears to be living quarters within the shallow openings. Needless to say, I didn't spend much time looking further.

I continued on down the creek until I decided to leave the wash and head up into the hills to see what lurked over the next rise. I did manage to find a quiet, shaded pool with a thin covering of ice :o Oh well, it's bound to happen. Then up on the hillside, I spied something that looked out of place next to a dark (possible) cave entrance. I zoomed in as close as I could and snapped the shot knowing that I could check it out in more depth on the computer. Ya gotta see photos 3 & 4, I still don't know what's on the rocks, but it looks like a pair of eyes looking back at me from inside the cave :scared:

I found another narrow canyon and hiked it until I came upon a horse trail that was leading back towards the parking lot. As I was leaving the area, I was impressed with the formations that were along the trails and although I could see the traffic on the Apache Trail now, it felt as though I was still deep within the wilderness.

Another quick getaway with some interesting views and fun hiking. OK, now I gotta go back there with the ATV and check it out further :)
Willow Springs Canyon to Bagley Tank
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Fauna: 8 Mule deer, Squirrels, Chippies, Hummers, Vulture, Hawk, and one iddy bitty baby Tortoise.
Flora: Desert Marigold, Prickly Pear in bloom, Chuparosa.
Good day to be out on the trail. This hike won't make top fav's but that is mainly due to most of the hike being on a jeep road. The area is supposed to be Motorized vehicles by permit only. They must be giving out permits like candy. I would probably put it at 9 different Jeep type or Trucks throughout this hike.
We made good time getting to Bagley Tank. But no water. The sign at the trail head said no target shooting so it came as shock to see that the tank itself was being used by a group of 5 or six guys as gun range. We made sure they knew we were in the area and that we were heading further up the Canyon towards Saguaro lake and they indicated that they wouldn't shoot that direction.
So we headed up the Canyon had an early lunch at 11 with the soothing sounds of gunfire echoing down the Canyon. Since the hike was much easier than we expected decided to try and reach Saguaro lake, bushwacking wasn't a big deal, two hiking sticks were enough move catclaw out of the way without harming it or us. We got a visual on the lake but called it quits when we reached a 15 foot drop. I think I found a work around via the high ground but from my vantage point I couldn't see water anywhere close and it looked like more drops to come. Headed back. Saw the tiniest baby Tortoise I've ever seen perhaps first year. His shell seemed pimply with little hairs, shell probably not fully developed. We left him continuing down the canyon towards the lake, hopefully he can figure his own way around that 15 foot drop.
Willow Springs Canyon to Bagley Tank
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Four of us did this as a combination "4-wheeling/hiking" trip. We took Dan's Suzuki 3.6 miles down the jeep trail, parked it, and hiked the remainder (about 3 more miles) down to the lake (actually to the cat-tail marsh at the lake edge). Except for the sandy creek bottom, this is an easy hike with excellent canyon scenery. We spotted a couple of interesting side canyons for future bush-wacking expeditions. Spotted several ponds with stranded minnows and some dried crayfish on the sandy creek bottom. Some of these were a half-mile from the marsh, indicating quite a bit higher water levels in the recent past.
Willow Springs Canyon to Bagley Tank
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I also hiked this sweet canyon all the way to the river/lake. I parked at the TH off of AZ88, but next time if I didn't have a high clearance vehicle I'd probably just park at the Needle Vista parking and hit the wash a little further up. When you first enter that wash, make sure to take a right. Taking a left just leads up a side canyon and a deadend of a road. The first part of this hike is kinna bland, you get better views if you get up out of the wash a bit, or you can just hike faster until you reach the better stuff. The final three miles to the lake are very scenic, windy, and with some small narrows. Once you reach the water, you can't really see the lake unless you hike up the sidewalls a bit. There's a marshy patch and loads of reeds impeding your path to the lake and you'd need sandles, swimsuit, and maybe a kayak if you wanted to get to the actual lake and not just some marsh on a side canyon of the main Salt River/Saguaro Lake. :?
Willow Springs Canyon to Bagley Tank
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WiI did not have very long for a hike today, so chose this one. It is an easy to get to hike and relatively easy to do (i.e., with out-of-towners) and incredibly beautiful this year.

I would say that once you are at a point on the jeep trail where it starts to go left up the mountain take a right and bushwack towards the northwest. Today, in January, '05, there is a lot of water from the rains, so you can basically follow a stream towards the northwest and not get lost. There are plenty of large mountains around to keep track of where you are. I chose to bushwack to the northwest to get on the other side of the mountains and get away from the traffic sounds of Apache Trail. It really is spectacular in the Goldfield mountains right now, b/c no one is back in there.

Permit $$

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To Willow the arbitrary/unofficial Trailhead
Apache trail Northeast from Idaho Road in Apache Junction. About 10 miles northeast to highway marker 204. Just before the marker turn left into parking area. A reference point is the Needle Vista viewpoint on the south of the highway. The trailhead is not marked but is a clear pulloff area just before the 204 sign.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 42.5 mi - about 48 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 136 mi - 2 hours 14 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 186 mi - 3 hours 2 mins
(Trailhead is generic)
3 pack - loud whistle
safety first
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