Big Horn Mountain Trail
Ride through remote desert in between two wilderness areas as you pass near the prominent Big Horn Peak. Along the way you’ll pass old windmills and earthen dams used by ranchers.
Where to go:
Take I-10 west from the West Valley 53 miles to exit 81, Salome Rd. Turn right and follow Salome Rd. for 9.5 miles and turn right onto Eagle Eye Rd. After 3.8 miles turn right onto marked Road 9349 (shown as Big Horn Road on some maps). The road immediately turns to dirt. Staging is available just ahead on the right.
Begin by heading east along Big Horn Road. At 0.4 miles, continue south of a corral and turn left. As you ride the small, lightly used trail, you cross many washes including one at 1.3 miles. Bear right at 2.1 miles (left leads to Little Horn Rd. which is even less traveled). Cross another small wash at 2.4 miles. Bear right onto the more traveled road at 3.1 miles. Cross another wash at 4.3 miles and observe signs, you are in the Big Horn Mountain Wilderness area (stay on trail).
Continue straight at 5.3 miles. Off to the right at 5.6 miles is a large windmill and corral, a neat place to stop and take a break and a picture. The windmill when we were there six years ago was pumping water out of the ground, today, it is not. The trail is now recognized as Aguila Rd, no longer Big Horn Rd. Drive over a small, man-made dam at 8.7 miles. Within the next few miles, you enter into the Hummingbird Springs Wilderness Area. Stay left at 9.4 miles where the trail to the right dead ends close to Big Horn Peak. Zigzag through a wash at 12.4 miles where the trail gets rougher.
At 12.8 miles, stay left into a wash where another dam/water catchment sits just south. The trail leaves the wash to the right and then climbs an eroded hill. We found this to be the toughest point on the trail and the only time we used 4-wheel drive. Stay right onto Wickenburg Rd. at 13.1 miles where trail splits. At 13.5 miles, you’ll cross a wide wash and then make a sharp right turn to head south. Cross another large wash at 15.2 miles. Continue to the left of a corral and windmill at 15.9 miles and exit the wilderness areas at 19.0 miles. Pass through a gate and cross the CAP at 21.7 miles. Finally, you’ll arrive at a junction at I-10 at 24.0 miles. The easiest access to I-10 is to turn left, then turn right to cross under I-10 at 24.2 miles. Continue to the left and past a large volcanic hill before ending at Indian School Road at 25.4 miles. Continue a few miles east to Tonopah where you can get back on the freeway. If you want to ride this trail on ATV’s or other vehicles that need to be staged, it may be best to turn around at the wilderness boundary back at 19.0 miles (if riding west to east) or ride this trail in reverse (east to west).
Notes & Trail Ratings:
The entire trail is 25 miles one-way from Eagle Eye Road to just south of I-10. Allow about 2-3 hours to do the trail one-way. You may choose to do less riding if you have staged and need to turn around somewhere along the trail (we first rode this trail about 6 years ago on ATV's and turned around just before the 2nd dam around 12 miles). The trail is lightly used and is quite narrow in places. We've rated the trail a ‘3’ out of '10' because some washed out parts require careful wheel placement. High clearance required, 4-wheel drive helpful in a few spots. Prepare for remote travel and go with another person to minimize your chances of being stranded. At some parts of the trail, crypto biotic crust was growing on the side of the trail which takes decades to form. Overall, this is a very scenic trip in a surprisingly remote region west of Phoenix and has a nice piece of ranching history to check out.