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Table Mesa TH to Black Canyon City TH - BCT, AZ
mini location map2018-01-06
60 by photographer avatarMudhole
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Table Mesa TH to Black Canyon City TH - BCT, AZ 
Table Mesa TH to Black Canyon City TH - BCT, AZ
Hiking13.61 Miles 1,904 AEG
Hiking13.61 Miles   8 Hrs      1.70 mph
1,904 ft AEG10 LBS Pack
1st trip
My second northbound section of the Black Canyon Trail was a solo one-day trip from Table Mesa Trailhead to the Black Canyon City Trailhead just behind Rock Springs, AZ. A friend of mine helped me shuttle my truck to the end, and he drove me back to Table Mesa Trailhead and asked me again "what the hell are you doing out here besides hiking?" I didn't really have a solid answer for someone who doesn't understand why we do this kind of stuff.

The morning weather was comfortable enough at my 8:30am start for shorts and a light shirt, which is always a good thing because I hate hiking in long pants unless it's going to be cold all day. Compared to the sections south of Table Mesa, the desert here feels more remote and has much more vegetation and terrain change. With 4 liters on my back for the day, I got moving.

Within only about 2 miles, you come across the first of 2 crossings of the Agua Fria River. This first crossing is less dramatic than the second one because the canyon is much shallower here. The river was just a 5 foot wide nearly stagnant trickle this time of year because of how dry our winter has been, but the interesting part was how the river disappeared under the gravel riverbed in a 100' section and re-emerges in pools right on the west bank where the trail resumes to the northwest. I sat on a rock on the west bank to take in the scenery and get some pictures.

Moving on, the trail conditions are excellent for the next 3-4 miles. Smooth single-track makes for fast travel, and the little ups-and-downs through the drainages are smooth.

Huge saguaros. Clusters of broken-up white quartz. Jeeps playing in the canyons below. Javelina. A family of burros. Moderate ups and downs through scenic ridges and drainages. This part of the trail had it all. In this section, I saw a little of everything as I approached the drop down into the Agua Fria River canyon again for the 2nd (and last) crossing of this part of the BCT. I had a bit of a sprained foot through this entire area, but the cool weather and the constantly changing views helped to ease the pain. I came around one ridge and had my first views of Black Canyon City and also the river canyon below. Only about 4 miles left to go.

Once I reached the river, I just had to sit there and soak it all in again. The water was very low but it was flowing clear. This was a massive piece of the riverbed compared to the first crossing earlier in the day. It's amazing how different they were considering that the crossings were less than 10 miles apart. Completely different geology in each.

Not only would this have been a great spot to refill on water, but it's a place that I could see myself coming back to explore and overnight camp in (I'll have to check local regs to see if that's allowed here). With shade, water and long views both up and down this canyon, I'd be happy to get lost back in this section for a few days just walking along the river.

Well, the daydreaming ended and I hooked back up with the trail after an annoying walk across cobblestone river rocks, fine gravel, and horrible footing in deep sand. The debris field that I literally had to walk over to get to the water crossing must have easily been 15' higher than the current water level. This river can move some serious gallons per minute in the Spring when the snowmelt is racing through here. I'd love to hike down here from Black Canyon City and watch the sheer power of this river at its peak, but from the safety of the ridge above.

I ground out the last couple of miles and got to the parking lot where my truck awaited. There are nice pit toilets and water (considered non-potable so bring your filter or water treatment), and it's a quick drive around some private lots and you're at the Rock Springs Cafe, famous for their pie (so they claim). Instead of my original plan to stop here for a late lunch, I headed home to put my feet up. I can't wait for the next section of the BCT.
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir

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