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The Best Hikes of Maricopa Trail

231 Triplog Reviews in the Maricopa Trail
Most recent of 61 deeper Triplog Reviews
5.46 mi • 274 ft aeg
Thunderstorms predicted until at least mid-day. Decided to make the trip out west anyway. Didn't look too bad at north end of White Tanks. Black at the south end. Torn whether to bail, start from the library on Olive Ave., or follow my plan: Bike 5.5 miles up to the library, turn on my GoPro, then head back, continuing on to the Culvers on Verrado Way @ I-10.

Stuck to plan.

Light rain for about 10 minutes mid-way to library. But I was sucking wind. Slippery rocks did not help. Bit off more than I could chew, considering I hadn't really biked in well over a month.

Got to library, decided to bail.

Wildflowers
Only one species -- golden crownbeard? -- but that one fairly often.
6.6 mi • 425 ft aeg
Maricopa Trail - I-17 to Bob Bentley
Started at 7am. Cool (43 degrees) and breezy again, just like yesterday. I'm actually getting smart...was able to park near the midway point of my intended hike. That way I can go both directions. Still doubling my mileage, but this seemed to work better. I suspected this would be a pretty dull stretch of the Maricopa Trail, and I wasn't far off. I hiked first from Pioneer Rd to I-17. There was an area that looked fire-damaged. A lot of rocks and cactus in this section.

Hiked back to the starting point and followed the MT west. Very, very flat, rocky and lots of staghorn cholla. And wind. Steady 15 mph breeze, which kept the temp from warming. Thought I'd lose my hat several times. This section follows the northern edge of the Ben Avery Range, and I could hear shots nearby. Best to heed the warning signs.

After .8 mile, the trail turns south and follows the western edge of the range. Very straight, rocky, flat and more staghorn cholla. The breeze kept things interesting. I followed the trail to the junction with the Bob Bentley trail.

Kind of glad I knocked out this part of the MT. Pretty nondescript, and I only saw one other person at a distance. I have a feeling other sections on the west side are similar to this...it's just walking, without many great views.

Wildflowers
Globe chamomile and grass on the east side, staghorn cholla on the west side.
10 mi • 902 ft aeg
The weather was cooler than usual for late May so we decided to trek from Spur Cross over to CC regional. Toughest part was the car shuttle that morning.. :) Anyways, started from Spur Cross and completed most of the elevation gain within the first 3-4 miles... very gradual. Next, headed over to CC regional... passed by the trail that leads up to Elephant mtn on the way. We saw 2 other people in Spur that morning.. don't think the connecting trail is heavily used maybe by mtn bikes on the weekends. Anyways, finished at the Go John trail and then drove back to Spur to retrieve a car. Nice hike in terms of distance, scenery and solitude and a little bit of gain along the way.
0 mi • 0 ft aeg
The original forecast was for a high of 85. It was a few degrees warmer than that, but we were done by 11:30am, so we stayed out of the 91 that eventually hit. I saw a sign for the Maricopa Trail at the Granite Reef rec area a few months ago and checked it online. It basically follows the canals after a very short trail through the trees. This is likely the last weekend before the consistent 100 degree days hit, so I wanted to take the family out for a hike. My wife had some students to teach, so we wanted to keep it close by and easy. This fit the bill for a family hike. We were still able to get the mileage up a little bit and push the kids' limits. Dmitri's foot was really bothering him the last two miles but he made it through. His shoes only last 2 or 3 months before he outgrows them, and I buy them a half size too big. He's only 2 sizes smaller than me now.

The views of Red Mountain are the best thing about this hike. Not much to see really. this looks like it's used mostly by bicyclers. Seeing the infrastructure up close is still kind of cool and worth something. Interesting to see the spot where all the water from the Salt River is diverted into the canal that tries to quench metro Phoenix's mighty thirst. The water looks very calm, but when you look closer, it's really moving fast.

Finished after just over 3 hours and stopped for lunch.
13.3 mi • 1,768 ft aeg
Sunday morning hike with Chris. We did a last minute decision to do a shuttle, parking one car at the Bartlett Dam Rd and the other the Bronco TH. Got started around 7am. Temps were still cool. Actually had some high clouds for a short time, which made it very nice. For the first 4 miles, the trail kept close to the same elevation with some ups and downs as the trail worked its way along the contours of the hillside. There was a neat bridge around the 3 mile mark, with a surprisingly deep chasm. Views were nice, but would have been better if not for the powerlines which were our constant companion for the first four miles. The trail throughout was broad in width, being at about 4 ft wide. The first 4 miles that followed the powerlines seemed to be as much a powerline service road as a trail. At. About 4 miles, the trail started to switchback into the hills, leaving the powerlines behind. At about the 5.5 mile mark we reached the saddle with some very rewarding views to the south. We were pretty close to the summit off to the south. We didn't summit, but as we were walking away from the peak I would look back and think that we were awfully close to the top not to have tagged it :( . However, from the saddle it was an awesome look and a different perspective of the McDowell Mountains and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. From here, there was a steep descent for the next mile, with surprisingly soft soil. I had just said to Chris that I couldn't imagine trying to ride a bike on this, when lo-and-behold what do see, but 5 bikers coming up the mountain. We noticed that all of them ended up pushing their bikes up to the top. Chris, who was dealing with a bad knee, probably struggled with this descent more than any other part of the trail, but he gimped through it gamely enough. From this point, we still had some gradual climbing and descending to do dealing primarily with the Blue Wash and one of its tributaries. This was probably a 2-3 mile stretch, and in my opinion, one the nicer parts of the hike. The desert foliage and the surrounding vista offered great views. I also noticed that there were several user tails in this area that might be worth exploring. :D Unfortunately, the last part of the hike ended like we started....under powerlines. The last mile was a fairly straight stretch with powerlines above and razed desert below. I noticed in a couple of areas along the hike, most notably here, that the BLM is razing all vegetation below the powerlines. I thought this might have something to do with trying to prevent summer fires, but all the unearthed foliage was left lying, drying where they bulldozed it, which I would think would make great kindling for any future fires. :? This made for a less than stellar finish to the hike, but overall this was a great hike. Saw a couple of good sized squirrels and a beautiful looking Gila monster. Thanks Chris for proposing this hike and making it happen.
13.3 mi • 2,040 ft aeg
The original plan for this hike was to start at the Bronco TH and do an out and back on the north half of this segment. As I was passing Bartlett Lake Rd, Brian was pulled over on the side of the road waiting for me and waved me down. He suggested that since we had two cars, we do a shuttle. I was a little hesitant because the last week my knee has been bothering me. It really wasn't going to be any longer, and the driving distance wasn't much, so I decided to go for it.

The first 3 miles or so is under power lines and parallels the road to 7springs, which is mostly rolling hills. Then the trail turns to the east and heads up a canyon towards the top of Kentuck Mt. The high point of this segment is at a saddle below the higher parts of the mountain. At the saddle there are very nice views to the south and east, including the Superstitions, Fountain Hills and Four Peaks.

The trail just past the saddle gets very steep, which slowed me down. My knee makes it easy to walk uphill, but downhills are causing a slight issue for me. After the trial leveled out, we were able to pick up some speed. We saw a group of about 6 bikers and then two groups of horse riders. After the level part, the trail took one more drop to a wash before a long climb back up to the power lines and one last slog for a mile and a half under them.

The southern half of this trail is definitely much nicer than the north half, although both ends have the power lines to deal with. The lighting also helped out alot.

Saw a gila monster along the lower level section, it hung out a while and let us take some pictures.


4.5 mi • 800 ft aeg
I was surprised at the water flow considering how dry it's been lately. I was expecting it to be absolutely dry. Met two friendly hikers at the falls, and could hear some target shooting way off in the distance coming from the Bartlett Dam Road area. Other than that I had the place to myself.

Also added a little mileage by hiking east up the Maricopa Trail a little ways from Camp Creek. It looks newly built and graded here :app:
7.09 mi • 1,503 ft aeg
First after school hike in 2018. Again this turned into a slog. I decided to go up the area I came down last time. I figured this would allow me to come down the easier part on the south summit. Pretty sure I stumbled upon a mountain lion rest area? A 12x9 foot area of all matted down grass with some scat in the corner. It was kind of freaky in a way that made it feel like I was being watched.
11.88 mi • 2,574 ft aeg
Goldfields Bulldog Ridge Loop
Drafted this loop hike to hike north down Bulldog Ridge. Pass Mountain Trail gave us a nice warm up (lots of trail runners) and the horse trails along the return gave us time to appreciate level ground :o I planned on cliffing out once along the ridge, where we would need to work our way around to continue, but actually we encountered 3 drops or walls we had to maneuver around. Those route adjustments along with the normal ridgeline scrambling required really wore on both of us.

Would I do this hike again, absolutely, just not too soon :)
58.15 mi • 5,714 ft aeg
BCT Yo-Yo No Go
My plan was to hike from my home, to the south end of the BCT, then hike the BCT to its north end at the Prescott NF boundary, turn around, and head home. The goal was four days out and three days back for a total of ~166 miles.

In preparation, I stashed a gallon of water and food resupply at the Big Bug trailhead, 2 gallons at the Glorianna TH, 2 gallons near the Table Mesa TH, 2 gallons at the Emery Henderson TH, and a gallon at the southern end off of Carefree Hwy. I also performed some trail maintenance trimming brush from the southern end of the BCT. It's not maintained and is overgrown and I wanted an easier time through there on my return which I expected to be in the dark.

Day 1 - Sunday, 15 miles
I left my house about 2pm and saw my neighbor unpacking from a trip along the Escalante Route, GCNP. We chatted for a minute before I continued. I took my trail access into the SE side Deem Hills Park, and got on the Circumference trail and followed it up to the saddle and then took the Basalt trail down to the other side of the Circumference trail and followed it to the NW of the park where I got on the Canal road to 51st Ave, crossed the bridge over the CAP, and continued on 51st to near the 303 where I diverted east a bit to cross under it. From there I headed to Gibson Tank, an old cattle corral and watering station that was fairly large. I think it was last worked in the mid 80s, so about 30 years ago. From there, I finished my walk NW to the Carefree Hwy and about 57th ave, where there is a locked gate just west of Carefree Hwy mile 28. A bit west of the gate is a wildlife crossing in the fence that I took, then I headed east on the dirt road until I turned north onto where I believe the BCT is supposed to start, there the Bob Bentley TH may one day be built. There are no trail markers until reaching the Maricopa Trail, (which aligns with the BCT about a mile north of Carefree Hwy and a bit west of 51st Ave, north to Pioneer Rd.), not long after that, the first BCT trail signs are seen.

It was getting dark where the BCT and MT part ways and there was thick brush to the west filled with birds making quite a racket. I stopped and listened to them for a few minutes. I was able to make it past the federal pen before turning my headlamp on. The only tricky part in the dark was crossing New River. Normally I'd look for trail signs across the way but wasn't able to in the dark, so I depended on some GPS tracks I had on my GPSr to pick the trail back up on the other side.

I made it to the Emery Henderson TH a bit past seven and found my cached water and set up camp under the north most ramada. Technically, there's no camping at the TH but I figured I'd be in and out without anyone knowing I was there with a minimalist footprint. There is a camp host there now too, something I haven't seen there for a few years.

Day 2 - Monday, 23 miles
I don't know when I got up, but there was a beautiful sunrise. I was on the trail about 7. The sky was overcast and temps were perfect for hiking through the morning. I took the west side of the Boy Scout loop and then enjoyed walking through a stand of giant saguaros along one of my favorite sections of the BCT. The sun came out and it started to warm as I headed up and over the hill into the Table Mesa area. I had took a short food and water break at my water cache in Table Mesa. When I reached the Little Pan Loop, I went right to the east side. It was getting warmer as I finished the loop and I was ready for a break by the time I reached Cottonwood Gulch, about 17 miles in.

From there, I knew I could make it to the Agua Fria before 5 so no night hiking today. This is the part of the trail I'm most familiar with too as I've done it several times. I passed the only crested saguaro I know of along the BCT. If you know of any others along the BCT please let me know. Most of this section is all up hill until the final descent to the Agua Fria. When I reached the descent, I decided to call home and check on some things before finishing, as I wasn't sure I'd have phone service by the river. I did, so it didn't matter but it was nice to relax for a few minutes before finishing up for the day.

I enjoyed the day's hike, but my legs were bothering me all day, I got a blister on my right heel which totally surprised me, and a mild case of chafe which I didn't notice until I stood up after my break at Cottonwood Gulch. Thank goodness for Body Glide to finish the hike with and medicated powder before bed.

Day 3 - Tuesday, 20 miles
I was slower getting out of camp this morning than yesterday even though I started earlier. Ugh. After about 2.5 miles, I reached the next Agua Fria river crossing and stopped for a few to clean up some. I didn't feel like cleaning last night and it was a bit chilly this morning. Plus, I was stopping for water anyway as there was no reason to carry extra water for the distance from camp to here. The past few years, there has been a large pool of water here but it seems to have got washed away since last spring. The river is always changing. Slate Creek was dry and then it was warm walking to Soap Creek. I felt like I was moving okay, but I was slow. Then from Soap Creek to Black Canyon Creek I was loosing muster and halfway up from Black Canyon Creek to Maggie Mine Road, I was really flagging and stopped in some small shade and drank a bunch and ate some. That helped a bit, but I was still dragging. By the time I reached the Glorianna TH, I was ready for another break and my water cache, especially so after walking through the scorched desert from a summer wildfire. At least the trail is in good shape.

I had about 10 miles left from Glorianna to General Springs, the next water and my day's target. It was looking like I'd finish in the dark. The trail continued in and out of the burn and I was not enjoying myself at all. the whole day I'd had little energy and was wanting off trail. When it took me well over an hour to hike 3 miles and all I wanted to do was lie down, I figured it was time to go home. I tried calling my family but no answers, so I sent a text to come get me and I turned around and headed back to Glorianna TH. My wife was there waiting for me and we headed down the hill and had dinner at Chileen's in Black Canyon City. Just so you know, it was Taco Tuesday with $1 tacos.

Aftermath
Not sure what my problem was. I think I'm getting a cold as my nose is getting stuffy. Perhaps it was that, perhaps not. This morning I went and picked up all my cached water and resupply. It was nice not walking today.

More water reports
I crossed the Agua Fria in three places: The north east end of Little Pan Loop, going south from BCC TH and going north from BCC TH. The BCT crosses it in five places (in addition to the three I mentioned, the SW end of Little Pan Loop [usually has water] and way north [normally dry]). There was flowing water at all three crossings I passed. The Agua Fria goes above and under ground many times on its length, so perhaps there should be a few Agua Fria water sources?
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