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The Best Hikes in Hassayampa River Canyon Wilderness

73 Triplog Reviews in the Hassayampa River Canyon Wilderness
Most recent of 26 deeper Triplog Reviews
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.
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!

Wildflowers
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, blue dicks, cliff fendlerbush, rattlesnake weed, london rocket, desert tobacco, chia, canaigre
11.28 mi • 3,272 ft aeg
The Needle - HRC Wilderness
Oh what to say about this one other than this may have been the craziest thing I've ever done and I'm blessed to be back on safe solid ground. :lol:
With the HRC only being 45 miles from my house I'm mad at myself that this is my first time visiting this awesome area!
I'm not sure what the talk was about taking a car on Constellation road but I'd certainly never do that if you care about your sedan because you may not only lose some car parts as Bruce said but you may also slip of the edge in a few areas as I could feel my 4WD drive working in many sections of that winding road, a car would make it safely to the first initial Williams Ranch Sign but further is at your own risk.
Anyway I parked my trusty QX4 on Gold Bar Mine rd just around the first major bend and decent parking area, so it tacked on 3/4ths of mile but no problem since it was only 7am and I felt great!
My friend Brandon and I started the hike out in our jackets and beanies as the the strong winds and crisp moring air was certainly a cold mix but we were soon stripping layers once the sun rose and I'm pretty sure I was in a t-shirt by the time we reached Needle Point Overlook.
This really would be a primetime backpacking spot if it wasn't for the all the cow feces just like Joel described in his description, It's a bummer the area is so over ran by cattle but those beefcakes sure do a good job at upkeeping trail maintenance as it was easy travel throughout the whole day on the trails which was new for me.
Upon hitting the Yampa I only spotted a couple stagnant pools of water but downstream from our crossing there certainly appears to be more water indicated by the healthy vegetation.
I easily located the side wash that transfers to the unmarked "Needle Trail" on the opposite side of the river and near its entrance is where we took a break in the cool shaded sand and also made a water and jacket cache for our return.
I seriously loved traveling on the trails throughout the day as they were certainly well groomed by those cattle and very easy to follow which always gives a strong sense of confidence especially for what was about to take place next.
We took a break near the eastern side of The Needle close to where Bruce took his deceptive photo of the monolith...
Looking up at The Needle from this spot gives many promising and almost "easy" looking summit routes and gave me so much excitement that once we began our off trail ascent I actually started whistling and hollering with enthusiasm but that was soon to be quickly shut up.
Upon hitting the once promising eastern base I soon realized it was not going to be that way, the spot that from below that looked beyond easy was in reality a very exposed narrow gap that consisted of some of the most eroded and loosest rock I've ever encountered. As a matter of fact the whole Needle itself basically could be compared to a stale old crumbling cookie that is literally slowly falling apart day by day, I've truly never seen such dangerous rock to climb, I'll post videos to show what I'm talking about.
First video shows poor quality of the hand and footholds near the southeastern face.
youtu.be/TxYJEEfSAPk
Second video shows a 200+lbs rock that I would have stepped on as it crumbles down to earth on the once promising eastern face.
youtu.be/WObFlFHhaMU

Maybe a legend like JJ or Bob P could have easily made it up without second thought but I don't have balls of steel and the horrible rock condition in combination with the risk, exposure and remote location made me think twice about going for it just yet.
I found another promising way up on the northwest side where there is a lone tree and small gap but again we were meet with even more crumbly rock and exposure. It was so weird because there are numerous areas that at first glance look so easy and doable but once you actually start to get into the moves you soon realize there is just no way up those paths due to the awkward pitch and poor quality of the rock, I've climbed other formations in similar exposure and difficulty just fine but the eroded condition of this rock is like nothing I've ever seen.
My friend took refuge under the shade and by the tree on the NW side while I examined the remaining circumference of The Needle looking for a weak point, the whole true south side is sheer vertical cliff wall so that wasn't an option but it was the southeastern face that gave a sign of hope!
I saw 3 different spots on that face that looked doable but once again when I began to start climbing all my foot and handholds crumbled from under me. It was at that point I started to realize I may not get on top of The Needle and became a bit disappointed but at no way was I ready to truly give up. I made my back back to the western side of the Needle where my friend was patiently waiting, I discussed the options to him and he decided to check out the southeastern face with me and give it look.
With the confidence of my buddy nearby I decided to fully go for it up the crumbly 20ft chimney chute but I had yet another foothold crumble and violently sent me back down to earth.
After we were literallty about to call it quits and friend was packing up his bag I'd decided to go for it one last time and sure enough I did it!
Going up the chimney I had to make some very risky moves that were well out of my comfort zone but once I got up that section it was a short scramble to the true summit and I was there!
It was almost surreal standing atop this impressive geological feature especially considering I almost gave up moments before, although I really wasn't able to relax and enjoy myself because of the fact I was truly fearful of being able to safely get down as it appeared much harder to go down the chimney than it was to come up :scared: a hikers worst nightmare and a position I had promised myself I'd never put myself in!
Since it was leap of faith to get up there and kind of a last chance move I did not have a backpack with me or anything on me which was a true bummer because there was no summit register up there just small pile of rocks. I prepared for that and brought a freshly taped summit jar with a new pad and pencil but it was 30 feet below me in my bag and I was already of course on the summit. My friend who is usually the crazy one decided to stay down below as he did not feel comfortable making the risky moves required to ascend the summit so I tried having him throw me my empty water bottle with the pad and pencil inside but that just resulted in many failed throw attempts and my favorite water bottle broken shattered in the end.
I almost forget to mention that near the entrance of the chimney was a hornets nest of some sort as there were 6 or 7 of some of the physically largest hornets I've ever seen and I must have pissed them off because my friend was stung multiple times and was in a battle with them down below the whole time I was on the summit.
I didn't stay long on top as I was so focused on getting down but I did make time to say my thanks and soak in the unique 360° views as it certainly was spectacular!
Like I was saying there was no register but instead a small pile of rocks on top as if maybe there was a register but perhaps those that made it up prior were just like me and didn't have a backpack or somebody just took it which I can't imagine because just getting up here requires a certain amount of respect for the land.
I had to leave my mark on this place in some way so I checked my pockets and all I had was my cellphone, chapstick, remote key and a lighter so I decided to leave my lighter underneath the pile of rocks so that the next brave person to summit will find a bright pink BIC lighter since that's my favorite color of course.
I was fortunately able to make my way down the crumbly chimney but it literally took every ounce of energy and strength in my body to cling on for dear life as one false move could have resulted in serious injury. I was literally so relieved to touch solid ground after I got down that im pretty sure I almost kissed the dirt! :sweat:
After that the mission was accomplished I was so content so I cracked my would've been summit beer as we made our way back down to the nicely groomed unamed trail. The rest of the hike back was warm and uneventful as my friend and I both were already feeling a little bit of fatigue, he somehow didn't even sleep a single hour the night before and showed up at my house at 4:30am in the morning, dudes a machine! While hiking back up the Overlook trail I kept thinking of how nice it would be to backpack in this seldom traveled area because there is so much to explore in this wilderness and I'll definitely be back this upcoming spring when the Yampa is flowing.
It was truly a great day and humbling experience out in the HRC, I don't think I'll ever do it again but I sure am glad to say I successfully summited "The Needle". : rambo :

Foliage
Decent color in the Hassayampa River bed but nothing extravagant.
4 mi • 300 ft aeg
I finally had time while driving past the Preserve to stop and take a wander. Usually, I'm hell-bent for one place or another, but today the cottonwoods were calling and I listened. Glad I did, too - what a delightful little hike!

It only took me an hour and a half to wander all of the trails, but I can see how you could stay much longer - especially if you were taking the time to snap photos and ID birds. For me, it was just a nice stretch of the legs on a long car trip. The trails are all very easy to follow, well marked and for the most part nearly flat. I climbed up to the high point and had to laugh at the "it gets steep here" warning. Ample benches for sitting and tons of shade would make this place pleasant even in warmer months.

I'm amazed at how early the cottonwoods are budding out this year. It shouldn't be surprising given the warm weather, but I thought they'd be smarter than that. We all know that there'll be a cold snap around Easter...

Wildflowers
Lots of green that will turn into flowers soon!
0.5 mi • 0 ft aeg
Decided to try this place out for the 1st of 24 trips this year. Me and some friends did a new years resolution to do 2 overnight trips a month for 2016. This was a great spot to kick it off!
We parked at the BLM register, looks like someone broke down the large sign denoting the wilderness area. :( We introduced ourselves to the 3 ranch dogs as soon as we exited the vehicle. One stayed up top by the ranch house and spoke his excitement the whole time. We got here way later than we would have liked, and only got to hike about a half mile upstream before the sun went down. The dogs were following us and chilled at our camp, coming and going as they pleased. The river was flowing pretty good, and I was temped to get in even though it was mid January. We camped on a nice sandbank above the flood line. It rained all week before we came, and luckily we got clear skies all night. One of the ranch dogs stayed with us all night and slept next to my sleeping bag :zzz: . Those dogs were so cool. We filtered or boiled the muddy river water and did not get sick. Tasted like the Verde! We left about noon the next day because of rain.
This would be an awesome area to do a 2 or 3 night stay, especially during summer after a big rain.
19.2 mi • 3,240 ft aeg
Treasure - Jesus - Fools Canyon Loop
Fools Canyon and Hassayampa Creek were the highlights of the trip and Joe planned a great loop to maximize seeing both canyons. It threatened rain early on so I put my pack fly on and that seemed to keep the rain at bay. Nine miles in we had lunch at Fools Canyon and then headed down canyon where we scrambled over some cool granite rock sections. After crossing a few more canyons we finished up on the Hassayampa Creek which was really the main attraction. Made it back to vehicle as the sprinkles were starting to pick up...lucky to avoid the rain all day :D
19.2 mi • 3,240 ft aeg
Treasure - Jesus - Fools Canyon Loop
Almost a repeat of the hike Bruce and I did a month ago. A couple extra miles with a slightly larger loop. I'm not exactly sure of the trail names. Think we continued on Jesus Canyon Trail? Karl wanted to hit up an oasis looking area just up creek of Jesus Spring. It was bomb diggity albeit short lived.

Continued up to the crossroads junction of trails in a subtle valley then headed to Fools Canyon. Witnessed two of the nicest Sugar Sumac trees I've ever seen. In the Superstitions they hug the ground. Here, nice tall picturesque specimens with walking clearance underneath.

Fools Canyon has a few granite gems. One of granite areas had nice basalt accents. The monster Palo Verde Bruce and I saw in Slaughterhouse was in full bloom. Enough blooms to keep a million bees happy for a week.

Bruce's off trail canyon is still a good option and Hassayampa is obviously the main attraction. Our good k9 buddy that followed us for 14 miles greeted us at the trailhead with several other cousins. He came right through the pack and we said our hellos. No tag along today, the cowboys yipped 'em back. Overcast, cool & breezy with mean sprinkles on occasion.

Wildflowers
Not blooming but Desert Trumpet owns many hill sides. Compared to a month ago it is developing blue splotches consistently on most plants. Not sure if it common.

Buckhorn Cholla is busting out all over. Ocotillos have dropped their leaves yet still flaunting red blooms. A few of the sparsely populated Palo Verde are going banana yellow nuts.
16.72 mi • 3,096 ft aeg
Hassayampa River Canyon Wilderness Loop
Fast Facts
:next: The word Hassayampa is an old Indian word that means “the river that flows upside down.” All tributaries on the west side of the Bradshaws flow into the Hassayampa.
:next: This is one one of Arizona's longer rivers running just over 100 miles before dumping into the Gila River.
:next: The Hassayampa River Canyon Wilderness was created in 1990.

Caveat:
Trail locations and names were derived from a document provided to me from the BLM. These names do not necessarily agree with the sign at the trailhead at Williams Ranch.

The drive on Constellation Road was in much nicer condition this time, then the last time I was on it the end of 2014. There would probably be no problem getting a sedan all the way to the Trailhead a Williams Ranch.

The Hike:
We started our hike before 7am and were greeted by the Ranch Dogs. Three to four of them. After calls from the ranch, all but one returned. Lucky for us we got the nice one (I think Joe wanted to take him home) and the best hiker of the bunch. You could tell he'd been on the trails before.

Across the flowing Hassayampa we found a trail on the opposite side that took us right to the Treasure Canyon TH

Treasure Canyon Trail is 2 miles and 600' of AEG to get to the Hole Trail. The trail is thin is spots requiring a track to stay on trail. Nothing too thick, but I was glad I had long pants on to begin. I'm assuming the Canyon we traversed, to the east, was Treasure Canyon (Unnamed on Topo), but we found none.

Hole Trail is on an old jeep road, and climbs very steeply coming out of Jesus Canyon for 2 miles. There's some big views from up here. Flowers were substantial in pockets with a wide variety, accented by brittlebush.

Roy Waits Trail was a last minute decision. I'm glad we decided to give it a try. Pretty well defined and great views all the way down. Second favorite trail on the day

A half mile stint on the Fools Canyon Trail and we jumped on the Slaughterhouse Canyon Trail. Use your GPS track to determine the real trail from the cow paths on the west side. Once you crest and start the drop, you get some great views to the east.

Joe, Route Scout and myself took a short lunch at the Hassayampa, before heading up the Williams Trail, to an unnamed canyon, and forcing Route Scout to turn around at a 30' climb up a dry fall. Thinking he'd turn around and go back to the ranch, he rejoined us a 1/2 mile later, after finding a way around

Needle Trail was next and another decent climb out of the canyon. This was probably my favorite trail on the day. We once again lost Route Scout on this trail, this time to the horsemen and their fellow dogs from the ranch.

Once in the Hassayampa River, it was time to forget about trying to stay dry on the crossings, and just walk through the water. The water was quite refreshing

I really enjoyed checking out these new trails....and there more out there.

Hassayampa River :next: https://youtube.com ... 5rQc

Wildflowers
Substantial to extreme in spots.
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