How to get there: From the I-10/I-17 interchange in central Phoenix, head east on I-10 for 4 miles. Continue north onto AZ-51. After 15 miles, continue east onto Loop 101. After another 3 miles, take exit 34 for Scottsdale Road. Follow this north for 5 miles before turning right onto Jomax Road. After 2 miles, turn left onto Pima Road. After 6 miles, you’ll pass through Carefree and turn right onto Cave Creek Road. After 4 more miles, turn right onto Bartlett Dam/Service Road 205 and follow it for 3 miles until you cross a wide wash. Parking/trail is off to the right at 33°50'55.61"N 111°47'11.67"W.
The trail: From Service Road 205, head south along the wash. This should go without saying, but don’t attempt this trail if the wash is flowing or if rain is forecast that day. There isn’t really a permanent trail through this section, follow tire tracks as they head in a southeasterly direction. Don’t leave the wash although you can wind back and forth. After 4.6 miles of navigating the wash, you’ll begin turning to face due east. Try and stick to the main trunk of the wash and ignore any tight or dead-end paths that may branch off from the main trail.
After about 6 miles, you’ll notice the edges of the wash begin to narrow. From here on out, it is easier to navigate to the Verde River – simply keep following the wash downhill. The canyon continues to narrow and at times is only as wide as the wash. This is definitely not a place you want to be caught in a flash flood, hence the warning at the beginning. Along the wash, there are numerous roads that branch off and climb out of the wash, such as one at 8.2 miles off to the right. These trails provide a great side trip on the way back to further explore some different trails in the area. At 10.7 miles, after continuing to twist through the narrow canyon, you’ll reach the Verde River. Since we have done this trail, barricades have been added to prevent vehicles from crossing the Verde River. Take some time to walk around the area. It is a beautiful spot for lunch and to take some pictures. There is a neat rock formation of to the north known as Needle Rock. There is a way to get vehicles up on the cliff overlooking Needle Rock – there are some lightly traveled trails that leave the north side of the wash just before the ending which allow for more exploring.
Summary/Trail Ratings: This trail follows a stream channel for its entire length so it is either almost always easy or impassable. In dry weather, you’ll find sand the whole way which may require airing down for improved traction. The trail doesn’t have any difficult spots – it remains at a gentle downhill grade the entire 10.7 miles. In wet weather this trail can be fun but also challenging. It is easy to get stuck in wet sand so use caution if you attempt this trail after recent rain or when rain is forecast. The trail is rated a ‘2’ and the 21 miles to the Verde River and back can be completed in about 1-2 hours.
Status: Open | Trail Type: Out & back | Length: 21 miles roundtrip | Approx. Time: 1 to 2 hours
On this trail, ride 10 miles through sandy washes and narrow canyons to end at the Verde River below Bartlett Dam. Easily extend you day by having lunch at the Verde River and exploring the numerous other trails in the area.
Page last updated: 6/30/2015