The Best Hikes in Phoenix - Hassayampa BLM

83 Triplog Reviews in the Phoenix - Hassayampa BLM
Most recent of 41 deeper Triplog Reviews
11.48 mi • 1,466 ft aeg
 I occasionally search for hikes in the Wickenburg area, and always come up empty. This time, I found something promising: Sophie’s Flat. The system has four designated trails: Red Top Loop Trail A, plus connector trails B, C and D. Supposedly there is an E and F, but I couldn’t find them. 🤔

* The B & C trails in the attached GPS route were traced at the 20 ft. level using the map at Wickenburg Conservation Foundation as a guide.

My plan was to hike Trail A counter-clockwise to Red Top, Trail D to Dinosaur Wash, to Box Canyon, then back to Red Top, finishing the second half of Trail A.

Setting a theme for the day, Trail A crosses one small wash, travels the sandy bottom of Blue Tank Wash, crosses over a jeep trail on a spur, then drops into another large sandy wash. It was there I made my first of several wrong turns, onto Trail B. It’s easy to do with so many jeep & foot trails criss-crossing the area.

From the Red Top / Hill 3064 saddle, Trail D drops 250 ft. in a half mile to a very small wash. Near the bottom of the descent, the stegosaurus rock formation first comes into view, to your left, on the north ridge of Hill 3064. Trail D signs continue down the wash for ¼ mile to Dinosaur Wash.

For most of my day, I took each photograph twice, first with my iPhone SE, then with the Ricoh WG-6 pocket camera. That way I could compare the two while testing the Ricoh WG-6. The iPhone SE did much better on terrain, cactus, geology and object shots. Clearer, with better color balance. The Ricoh WG-6 took better zoom shots and, ironically closeups of flowers. Last week.

This week, there were no flowers: None. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Not even brittlebush, creosote or scorpionweed. I was surpised, considering we had a solid winter monsoon, Wickenburg seems to get more rain than Phoenix, and the temps were in the low 60s. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Dinosaur Wash had amazing geology! Sections of narrow pink congolmerate slot canyon alternating with wide & sandy sections with dark, lichen-splattered, granite. I was taking my time, oohing and aahing at the rocks, so I only made it halfway to Box Canyon by 1 p.m., three hours into my hike.

With a solid five miles back to he trailhead, I decided to bail. Back at the Red Top / Hill 3064 saddle, I found some shade and finished my lunch. I had Verizon 2-bar LTE, so I texted my wife to let her know I was on my way.

The second half of Trail A was more of the same and seemed to drag on forever. I questioned why the trail designer was so cruel, crossing all those washes, rather than routing down a spur more directly towards the trailhead. The trail even crossed Blue Tank Road twice, and Blue Tank Wash for a second time. I thought about thumbing down an OHV, but I needed to put the work in.

With no flowers to photograph, and slow me down, I made it back to Sophie’s Flat Trailhead at 3:44 p.m. After rehydrating, and debriefing my wife, we headed into Wickenburg for a date night dinner at El Ranchero. 🤗

Hike Video:
13.01 mi • 1,830 ft aeg
Hassayampa River Wilderness
 Driving in, the road took an interesting hard left into a wash that was still wet and torn from recent storms. I was questioning if I was on the correct road at this point, considering I've never been here before. GPS map and my position confirmed I was good and kept going. 4x4 was comforting to have with the soft wet sand. It got better the last half mile. Upon parking and getting out of the jeep, I was greated by a dog coming out of the ranch. Little did I know this guy was going to hang out with me the whole trip!
It was a short walk down to the river. Seeing how wide it was had me a bit concerned, I did not want to get very wet and have soaked boots since I planned on exploring the desert around this area. I found a shallow, but wide, enough area to cross. I stayed as much as I could on the side I made it to, knowing the trail's access would be here. About 2 miles downstream, through thick overgrown bushes and low hanging trees, I came to the Needle trail. I went back to the river to hang for a bit before climbing out. "Quickly" I found out about quick sand. I so happened to step on a spot that swallowed my whole right leg up to my inner thigh. Luckily a small tree was within reaching distance. I was able to slowly pull myself out, trying to not lose my boot. I can feel the vacuum pulling it off. Success, I was out, but now fully wet and muddy. Oh well, so much for staying dry.
I got on the Needle trail and headed up. Passing patches of wildflowers, this part of the trail was very colorful. It was an easy accent, though losing the trail was just as easy at each small ridge summit where cattle have trampled and soiled the grounds. I had to use GPS to confirm my route.
The trail ended at what I think was either the Roy Waits or Fools Canyon trail, regardless, I head South Westish on it down to a sandy wash. Cattle here too have marked it heavy. Soon the Slaughterhouse trail appeared.
At first this trail was tricky to navigate, as it completely dissapears and even with GPS you don't see it, it is more of a route heading up. When getting to the ridge, the views open up looking down into the river wilderness. The trail was easier to follow at this point. When I was down in its sandy bottom wash, there was interesting colors showing on the edges. Deep rusty reds, bright solid white and even teal blue dirt was exposed. I even saw a Gila Monster strolling down the wash. Being that was the first time seeing one in the wild made my day.
When I got back down to the river, I was feeling good. But the trek back up river soon wore that feeling out. The river was wide, so either it was walking in the water or in the overgrown brush on the sides. Being in the water wasn't bad, until it was deep and quick. The brush on the sides posed its difficulty with a labyrinth of impenetrable dead ends or thorny "wait a minute" shrubs. I left the canyon bottom a few times to see if the desert was better. Its wasn't. Thicker denser and thornier plants awaited along with surprise drops. So I went back down and just settled with the crossings, brush and river rocks. Reflecting back, it wasn't really that bad, it was just my feet were done with the wet, grit and rocks.
I made it back to the jeep, said goodbye to the amazing trail dog that hung with me the whole time and listened to the ranch goats nearby scream in their interesting way.
As I drove out, the road seemed much easier. I thought about what I explored and experienced. Even though some sections were tough, a lot was beautiful. I reminded myself, that was a wilderness. It sure was.
7.16 mi • 2,083 ft aeg
 Gorgeous day to get out of town and hike this. Noticeably easier on that south face when not 90 to 100, and it seemed easier going up than I remember. Birds are about the only wildlife I ever see or hear, here. This is no Saddle Mountain. Found the old summit container, don't know how I missed it last time. Either way, this is not a summit that attracts people.
7.16 mi • 2,083 ft aeg
 With the clear skies I was not about to just hike in the preserves in town today, and with limited time this was a great choice. The air around the valley is noticeably brown and filthy, but getting out past Tonopah it is much cleaner. On the summit looking east, some ranges like the Estrellas appeared to be poking up above the pollution.

Another nice hike on Big Horn. The old log is gone, replaced by one that has no older registers than Joe and John. I'm not sure why more people don't do this one, as access is pretty easy and it is a great desert summit. Stick to the Superstitions if you must, the desert is emptier for me!

I expected a breeze, I found it calm on the summit with only a light breeze on the slope. It was warm, but not hot. However, pushing 90 at this time of year is getting there. All in all, a fantastic hike and scramble for late November.
19.45 mi • 3,079 ft aeg
Cooper Trail - Seal Mtn - Hassayampa Loop
 I enjoy hiking and documenting old trails that get little use, in the hopes that maybe it'll draw interest and keep the trail tread alive. The Weaver Mountains and Hassayampa River Canyon Wilderness area is one that sees few visitors, other than than those from the Williams Dude Ranch. There is a lot of mining history in this area.

The temps were going to be perfect for this one. The filtered sunlight made it even better.

We were greeted by our past hiking buddy Lucky, at the TH and started on the Hassayampa River Trail, heading upstream.

We crossed the Hassayampa River, taking our shoes off, and headed up the Cooper Trail. There is zero info on this trail, other than the line on the BLM map at the Trailhead. It shows it ends in the middle of nowhere. I was able to trace the route for us to follow, using Route Manager's Sat. view.

This trail is a steady climb up from the Hassayampa River. It's easy to follow to the point it meets The Hole Trail. It appears the Dude Ranch uses it to this point. The fainter Cooper Trail takes a hard right here to head uphill, on it's way towards Seal Mountain. It's faint at times, but always there.

Pick your line to the peak of Seal Mountain. Great lunch time views for sure.

Seal Mountain summit Video :next: [ youtube video ]

Down a long ago used road we descended to Spring Creek and then into Cottonwood Creek. Cottonwood Creek was a smooth granite playground. Quite scenic for sure.

Finally in the Hassayampa River and on the home stretch... the final 10 miles.

We checked out some mining building ruins I saw on GE at the confluence of Cherry Creek, that were interesting.

The last destination for the day, was the large mining ruins just North of Buckskin Canyon. There was tons of large heavy equipment that was left behind on this one. Quite interesting to check this area out.

Good hiking with Lucky and Karl again.
We almost lost Joe to the quicksand.
It was actually a bit spooky.
19.19 mi • 3,136 ft aeg
Cooper Trail - Seal Mtn - Hassayampa Loop
 Bruce put together this loop and it had just about everything. Good trail, bad trail, off trail, cool summit, variety of wild flowers, scenic creek along Cottonwood and Hassaympa, and rounding out the list an impressive assortment of mining ruins. Starting from the Williams Ranch area with one of the ranch dogs named Lucky we hiked upstream along the Hassaympa to the turn off for Cooper Trail. We proceeded to gain about 2500 AEG on the climb up to the first objective Seal Mountain. We were surprised to see that Lucky was still with us and made it within 50 feet of the summit and waited for us to finish lunch.
After lunch we headed down the other side of Seal Mountain and picked up an old road which eventually led us toward Cottonwood Creek. Really surprised by the scenery in Cottonwood with nice rock slabs and plenty of water. Finally we hit the Hassayampa for the dreaded 9.5 mile walk back to the Williams Ranch to close out the loop. Although it is was very scenic along the Hassayampa I think we all agreed it was about 4 miles too long of river slogging than we wanted. However, Lucky seemed to really enjoy the walk and kept looking back at us wondering what the hold up was. All around nice temps all day and most important Joe made it out of the sink hole! [ photo ]
19.19 mi • 3,136 ft aeg
Cooper Trail - Seal Mtn - Hassayampa Loop
 Bruce put together this loop and was determined to get 'er done. His selling points leaned heavy on weather and tree "cover". This Weaver Mountain hike lies in the outer bounds of the Bradshaw Mountains. It's perplexing why this range filled with history is rarely visited by avid hikers close to Phoenix. Their willingness to travel to other states and continents before exploring their backyard seems out of character for an explorer.

Our boy Lucky greeted us at the trailhead. He is one of the dogs from the Williams ( dude ) Ranch. He hiked with us two years ago on another big hike so we were happy to see him.

Cooper Trail
Like all trails out yonder here, nothing is signed. It's rolling hill hiking on a trail that starts out good with a few hiccups then fades to rarely used. The largest mix of wildflowers I recall lured us on. Bruce had Seal Mountain as on off trail destination. A matrix of ground cover from the wet winter made the bottom portion easier stabilizing the steep ascent. The top is large jumbled black rocks. Lucky patiently waited for us 50-100 feet below.

From Seal Mtn we hiked down to a rarely if ever used dirt road that took us by a tank. Then soon into Cottonwood Creek which had a nice flow along with a quarter mile of tree cover! The advertised tree cover gave way to granite, some pink, and a narrow twisting canyon.

9.5 miles of the return hike is along the Hassayampa River. We've done 1.5 miles on this river in his nearby hit single Treasure - Hole - Roy Waits - Slaughterhouse loop. Which is the reasonable limit of river sloshing. A mining camp with lots of equipment near the tail end was the saving grace spirit lifter in my opinion.

A good memorable hike. Wildflowers galore, Seal Mtn, Cottonwood Creek and the mining area were true highlights. Hiking along the Hassayampa River is nice for a mile. The weather was phenomenal as promised!

scorpionweed, poppies, cream cups, desert trumpet, flat top buckwheat, desert mariposa, brittlebush, banana yucca, new mexico thistle, microseris, lupine, desert globemallow, desert rock daisy, arizona penstemon, indian paintbrush, white ratany, claret cup cactus, strawberry hedgehog, fiddleneck, Dichelostemma capitatum, cliff fendlerbush, rattlesnake weed, london rocket, desert tobacco, chia, canaigre
6.9 mi • 2,087 ft aeg
 What we have here is a winner. Just don't bring neophytes out here thinking this is typical off trail. Vegetation is sparse on the flat approach.

Heading up it gets your attention. We were a little off the posted Official Route. Then purposely tackled a fun looking 40 foot wall above a slanting tumble of several more hundred feet. It had a little more bite than anticipated. Climbing up over the edge I mentioned to jj we'd just climbed up the edge of the earth. It was borderline thin scree to the edge. Just a few feet away on top it was tough to figure where we came up.

Enjoyed the rest of the hike up. The views are impressive and far reaching. Lots of cholla. It said hello. Then it screamed. I finally got the respect memo.

I was excited about how this hike turned out until... until Saddle Mountain put the needle on the record and played anything you can do I can do better.
6.9 mi • 2,087 ft aeg
 Last week while out at the KOFA's I got to eyeing some of Arizona's western Peaks. Big Horn, Saddle Mountain, Eagle Tails, and Woolsey all jumped out. In talking to some of the folks they said Big Horn and Saddle could be done in the same day. So, I hit up Joe to see if he would like to join me. Joe hadn't done them either so this was perfect.

Our first stop of the day was Big Horn. A nice long approach across the desert floor and then up, up, up! We took a little more adventurous route which was fun and made the trip up more exciting. Afterwards we took a safer, more straight forward route back down.

Cool hike with great views!
7.16 mi • 2,083 ft aeg
 Probably just as well that a KOFA trip got postponed, as it was pretty hot out here, and the air wasn't as clean as I hoped it would be. That south slope is rather warm, requiring at least 4 liters for our slow pace. I was reminded of how tough this is, Scott felt he would never do it again, we had some encounters with Cholla, and then we got back right after sunset. Good times.

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