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Mesquite Trail - White Tanks, AZ

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Guide 213 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NW
3.1 of 5 by 42
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,600 feet
Elevation Gain 1,394 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.65
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26  2019-05-20
Ford Canyon-Willows Canyon- Mesquite Loop
15  2019-02-24
Barry Goldwater Peak-Ford Cyn-Willow Spring
12  2019-02-02
Ford - Willow - Mesquite Loop & Waterfall
14  2018-12-15
Mesquite Canyon - Waddell - Ford Canyon Loop
9  2018-11-23
Mesquite Canyon - Waddell - Ford Canyon Loop
15  2018-03-25
Willow Ford Loop
5  2018-02-18
White Tanks Goat Camp to Willow Canyon
4  2017-12-23
Barry Goldwater Peak via Mesquite Canyon
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 8
Author joebartels
author avatar Guides 213
Routes 824
Photos 10,825
Trips 4,256 map ( 21,429 miles )
Age 49 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Nov, Dec → 9 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:15am - 6:34pm
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26 Alternative
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Named place Nearby
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Subtle Canyon
by joebartels

2008-04-27 update by RGandSGP: There have been significant changes to the Mesquite Trail (MQ) since Joe Bartels writeup in 2001. The Mesquite Trail starts at the horse staging area. This is located on the East side of White Tank Mountain Road at the junction of WTM Road and Waterfall Canyon Road. This is NOT the normal departure point for hiking the MQ trail. The usual starting point for hiking the MQ trail is at Ramada No.7, which is located at the end of Ramada Way, which in turn is just about 100 yards past the Waterfall Trailhead on Waterfall Canyon Road. Starting at the Ramada No.7 TH it is about 0.9 mi. until you reach the point Joe calls the Goat Camp Junction. That trail (Goat Camp) is now closed and has been for the 5 plus years weve been hiking the MQ trail. The MQ trail angles at that point to the right and continues on until 1.8 miles from the TH. At this point you are at the junction of the MQ trail and the Willow Canyon (WL) trail. Continuing on the MQ trail you will experience a totally new section of the MQ trail. The final portion of the new trail was opened on or about the 1st of April 2008. From the TH of the MQ trail up to the end of the MQ trail is 4.2 miles, as noted on the trail markers. The elevation change from the TH to the high point of the trail is approx. 1375 feet. The end of the MQ trail is at the newly relocated intersection of the Goat Camp, the Mesquite and Ford Canyon trails.An invigorating approx. 8.4 mi (depending on whose GPS you are quoting) hike would be to loop around from the MQ trail to the Ford trail (approx. 0.9 mi of it) and then back down the WL trail joining up with the MQ trail and back down to to your car at the Ramada No.7 TH.

Hike: A nice stroll through the desert makes up the beginning of this trail. Check out the views to the right (north) going in. Gently working it's way into the canyon, the trail makes a subtle ascent. The trail gives way in sections to very small boulders. A little further than a mile into the trail comes Goat Camp junction. According to map, Mesquite Springs is on the left a short distance up the Goat Camp Trail. As of this writing I haven't personally seen the springs. From the junction go right and up the hill to stay on the Mesquite Trail. The trail continues over a small saddle. Now heading deeper into the White Tanks, peace is easy to find. Continue on to the Ford Canyon junction. About a quarter mile before the junction comes Willow Springs. It's a short venture off the trail, but very easy to figure out. A small waterfall stands behind a good size swimming hole. Looks to be mighty refreshing for ninety degree weather. I opted to stay out in January! Also appeared to be a little stagnant. I'd recommend waiting for a good rain to was it out a bit. I'm not sure how far Willow Springs lies beyond the falls. Since off trail travel isn't allowed, I guess I'll never know either.

You have three options from the Ford Canyon Junction. The easiest would be to head straight back on the way you came for a 5.2 total mile adventure. I recommend turning right (north) and following the Ford Canyon Trail back to your car. This is a 7.7 mile loop total distance and took me about five hours. If you do this loop in this direction, please note: When the Ford Canyon Trail goes into the streambed. You need to travel east and down the wash. It's about a mile ( I think ) of non-trail travel over sections of smooth white granite. There's a very distinctive sign leading you back onto the trail. Okay, your third option would be turn left (south) and follow the Goat Camp Trail back to your car. I haven't done this yet. It's on the list. It's about a 10.2 mile loop. One downer is you have to follow about 2 miles of park road at the end. I'll be doing a bicycle shuttle myself when I do it.

Now the real! I was lost on a counter clockwise loop hike starting at Waddell / Ford Canyon. Instead of coming out to the Mesquite Trailhead I ended up midway in the Waddell Trail. In all honesty it was a little disturbing (scary). Some minor down climbing was necessary, but not too bad. The scary part was looking ahead. The creek dropped without notice. I'm talking ten to forty foot drops, not the kind of bad steps you want to take. The smooth white granite was beautiful. That wasn't the problem. I just wasn't sure if I could backtrack if needed. Especially considering I was fairly tired and it was like six miles back to where I started. Then the sun seemed to be in the wrong place. I started doubting everything, including common sense. I had to be heading in the right direction. It wasn't like I made any 180 degree turns. On top of it all, I kept getting phone calls from employees. Then finally, I spotted the mountain that overlooks the Waddell Trail.

I debated including the photos below. Do not hike/scramble here! It's against park rules to venture off the trail. On the same token, it would be nice if the trail was defined enough so this didn't happen. Once again, this happened running the trail in the opposite direction. I started at Ford Canyon and did a backwards loop. You shouldn't have any problems if you start at the Mesquite Trailhead and go clockwise.

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2001-01-27 joebartels
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One-Way Notice
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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 of 46 deeper Triplog Reviews
Mesquite Trail - White Tanks
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Willow Ford Loop
Adding to my list of all-time uniques, I made my first ever visit to White Tank Mountain Regional Park (the west side's very own South Mountain! :y: )

Quite a bit of diverse stuff out here, from very intriguing canyons to large swaths of drab boredom. I made good time which allowed me to hit up the Waterfall trail before the "no excuses" entrance gate closure at exactly 8pm. I feel that darkness is an excellent time to see this desert spectacle, especially when in it's naturally dry state.

Got to see all the 2018 wildflowers. Pretty sure it's prime peak right now.

I was pleasantly surprised on this trip, and it seems to have earned a return visit sometime.

* "substantial" as measured relative to the 2018 spring wildflower season.
Compared to a normal season somewhere between "none" and "isolated" ;)
Mesquite Trail - White Tanks
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This is a combination of the Ford Canyon Trail and Mesquite Trail in the Whitetanks Mountain Park. I hiked the trail counterclockwise going out on Ford Canyon trail then returning via the Mesquite trail. I have to say I was quite surprised by the trail. I thought it would be a straight-forward mountain loop of moderate difficulty, but turned out to be much more challenging with the boulder hoping and step inclines along Ford Canyon. Turned into a very nice hike. One other thing I noticed is for the most part the park visitors don't travel out on the trails very far. Maybe about 2-ish miles or so. After that, it was pretty much solitude out on the trail. Nice.
Mesquite Trail - White Tanks
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Ford Willow Loop
enjoyable hike in the white tanks with linda
this loop was plan b but turned out to be a good choice given weather conditions
haven't been out here in three years :o
waddell :next: ford canyon :next: willow canyon :next: mesquite
light rain for much of the hike, making the rocks in ford canyon a little slick
a few good pools of water in this section
a few mosquitos, too
chose willow canyon trail to check out the spring area
found a nasty pool with nothing flowing into it
finished the loop on mesquite
didn't quite hit double digits, so we drove over to hike a short loop that included ironwood trail as neither of us had done it
the sun was just starting to break out as we finished
good day for it if you don't mind a little rain
thanks for the idea and for driving, linda :)
nice to get back out that way
Mesquite Trail - White Tanks
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This was my first time to the White Tanks and I must say I came away pretty impressed. I was looking for a little end of the week hike to take advantage of the cooler afternoon, blow off some week day steam and get the dogs some exercise. I was expecting something more on the lines of South Mountain, or the preserve and instead we got a rather pleasant hike with ample water, wildflowers, varied scenery and great trails.

Ford Canyon was a great trail to kick off my first experiences in the White Tanks. After only a few miles in, we started to encounter water in the bedrock of the canyon and this continued for most of the hike through Ford. The couple mile stretch along the bedrock through Ford proved to be kind of fun and the dogs were happy with the ample and sometimes deep pools of water. Jackie was "seeing" glphys everywhere and we examined a few of her leads, but they all turned out to be duds, until she did spot a faint set right in the creek bed. The flowers through Ford were great as well and only got better and more varied as we climbed out. We ran into a couple at about five miles in and they asked if we were staying a night out there, because they said they never ran into anyone out that far, which made me kind of chuckle, as we were only completing a nine mile loop and I certainly did not think we were in what would qualify as the White Tanks "backcountry."

From Ford, it was on to Willow Canyon, which was a nice little area as well. We stopped at the spring briefly for the pups and then continued on to the intersection with Mesquite. This portion of the hike ended up being gold, as we got to enjoy the vibrant yellow of the brittle brush mixed in with some nice lighting, big clouds and a great sunset. Head lamp time for most of Mesquite Trail, a pretty quick downhill and then a quick hike across the well manicured trail and wide path back to where we began our loop at Waddell Trailhead.

I don't know if I will start planning weekend hiking around the White Tanks, but this hike certainly exceeded my expectations and beats most of the urban hikes near town. In terms of desert hiking, the White Tanks probably represent some of the nicer classic desert hiking within an hour of Phoenix in my opinion and now is a great time to hit this area.

I would say substantial, but I have heard brittle brush does not count as wildflowers and I don't want to offend the wildflower guild...
Mesquite Trail - White Tanks
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Sometimes you can't sleepy and borrow your sisters car to go somewhere pretty.
Parked in number 7 and headed up Mesquite Cyn trail pretty quick.
Saw a familiar junction and ended up bagging Barry Goldwater, I'm okay with that.
Went "down the other side" ran into 3 big puppies off leash so I went back the way I came to avoid the owners who I assume weren't far behind.
Back to Goat Camp jct then up Ford to make a loop out of it, came upon Waddell and opted to take that back to the parking lot.

Well. That was fun. Lots of birds out, redtails, a bat in the parking lot when I got there. Saw some fat quails, are they even supposed to be out when it's this cold?

Which by the way today was surprisingly warm. For January...

Fun loop, think I miss a trail connection in my links but forgot what it was
Mesquite Trail - White Tanks
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This is a great hike for dogs and Rowdy loved it.
We did run into two large groups early on and they only hike to the danger sign and turned back.
The weather was just perfect and Rowdy love the cloud cover and the cooler temps as I did as well. Once we started up the Ford Canyon we only seen one group of four hikers and that was it for the rest of the hike :y:.
There is water in pools on all three canyons but no running water.
The hike was pretty nice and pleasant but lacked wildlife along the way. At least until we hit Mesquite when I was surprise as two deer ran right in front of me and head down to the bottom of the canyon. I got a few pics and was hoping to see more and I did. As I was walking along the trail I looked up the mountain and was surprised. First there were three then four and then eight and the numbers grew.
Just a great hike on a great day and I need to get out here more often.
Mesquite Trail - White Tanks
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Rick says lets go for a Hike ---- OK where ?? He says I'm thinking White Tanks Wednesday --- oh my !!! :o Must mean only one thing in that area to draw him over to that part of the Valley ---- :-k Firewood, he lives in AJ so they have no burning restrictions. Lindaagm gave me the tip and Widowmaker the route so I was ok with this idea :y: I think this is a go back area this fall and take Roger and Rick and do the big loop including Goat Camp :DANCE: Roger was all huddled up in his room due to heavy rain and lighting today, told him we were hiking over in White Tanks and was dry and Hot .. not knowing he asked if it was just hot or exciting hot ---- Well we just had a Cowgirl pass us ( see Rick's TL ) I told him Excitingly Hot, [-X made going up Ford seem a little easier :sorrry: I enjoyed the White Tanks and will be worth going back, enough variety of Trails to satisfy any level of experience !!
Mesquite Trail - White Tanks
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Ford Mesquite Loop with Barry
My first trip to the White Tank Mountains Regional Park. I've heard many good things about it but haven't made it out that way until now. This was a very enjoyable loop. Excellent trails, beautiful scenery and a chance to soar with an eagle. Well, Bruce soars, I just try to keep up!

I got a ping from Bruce earlier in the week. We hadn't hiked together in a few moons, so I jumped at the chance. Bruce needed to be home early for a holiday party so I suggested this loop in the White Tanks, thinking that might get us done soon enough. Bruce suggested adding Barry Goldwater peak, an extra 5 miles and 1200 feet. Barry Goldwater is my oldest memory of presidential elections. At 7 years old, I was already into politics, urging my mother to vote for Barry. She voted for Johnson. We still have those same conversations (arguments?) today, but I digress.

I agreed to the side trip to BG because I needed the workout. Bruce kicked my :pk: up the hill (he called it "life coaching") whereupon we took a delightful break under a warm sun. The previous few miles had been uphill against a bone chilling wind that was doing its best to beat us back down. The break at the top under sunny skies with a wind break at our backs was simply wonderful.

We made good time on the way back. The excellent trails in this park allowed us to let gravity pull us down the mountain. Neither of us had spare batteries so we were also racing to get back before the Garmins died. I think we made it just in time. It was a cold and windy day in the White Tanks, for much of the route, anyway, but it was still a fun hike with great company. Good to see you again, Bruce!
Mesquite Trail - White Tanks
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Ford Mesquite Loop with Barry
Took a white Tanks Newbie out for a sampling of the area.

Brisk Morning turned to cold late morning when we lost the sun and the wind picked up. Ford Canyon is still my favorite up there. I also enjoy the Willow Spring area, especially above the spring.

We headed out Goat Camp and then the cairned short cut up to Barry Goldwater Peak. We had some lunch up top. It looks like they're getting ready for some kind of construction up there. A large pallet filled with Concrete sits up top.

A Video tour of Barry Goldwater Peak = :next: ... zlX8

Not as many out as I expected to see. Great Hiking w/ Ray again.
Mesquite Trail - White Tanks
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Mesquite-Willow-Ford Canyon Loop
Another late start but I decided to do it anyway. I got to the trailheads just before noon and I was the only at the official trailheads. It was still nice and cool for this hike and once I started up the Mesquite Trail it got busy.
I did not see any wildlife as there were to many noisy people out. However I did meet this young girl and her little dog up on Ford Canyon. And I am glad that we talked. Somehow she did not a clue what she was doing. She told me she was doing the Ford Canyon Loop and I told her that Ford Canyon is not a loop. When I met her I was about a quarter mile on Ford Canyon just off Willow Canyon.
She seemed to think she was a quarter from the parking lot and when I told her she was at least 4 1/2 miles from her car she almost started to cry. And she told me she was out of water and of course I gave her a bottle. And my bottles are all 1 liter. The first thing she did with it was give her dog water which made me feel good.
I did tell her that the hard part of her hike was over and the rest was down hill that seem to make her feel better.
I said goodbye and went on my way when I met two other women that were going the same way as the young girl and asked to look out for her and they said they would and they also had extra water.
The rest of the hike was quite as we did not see anyone else. The hike went smooth until I got to the old dam and the large boulders. I did ok with it but it really slowed me down.
It was dark when we got back to the car and Rowdy was ready to sleep on the drive home. It was such a beautiful day out the weather couldn't have been any better.

Permit $$
Maricopa Regional Parks - Fees more info

$7 per vehicle,$85 annual or trade your first born for the life pass

$2 walk, bike or horse ride into park

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
101 Loop to Park Take the I-10 west out of Phoenix to the 101 Loop Freeway. Go north on the 101 to Olive Blvd. Take a left and head west 13.5 miles to the White Tanks park entrance.

I-10 to Park To get to the White Tanks Park from downtown (PHX) is to stay on I-10 to Cotton Lane. Then go North 7 miles to Olive Ave, there is a stop sign and a Fertazone plant on the NW corner. Take a left (west) to the park. By going this you miss the new stop lights and the added stop signs on Olive.

(may be outdated, for now get directions at the information center) Continue into the park on White Tank Mountain Road. Passing the information center at about 1.2 miles. Continue on to Waterfall Road. Pass the Waterfall Trailhead. Pass the playground. Pass the Mesquite / Waddell Trailhead. Be on the lookout for a small parking area for the Waddell Trail to your left. If you come back out to White Tank Mountain Road you need to backtrack.
3 pack - loud whistle
go prepared
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