Box Canyon Trail
On this trail, take a scenic drive through some of Arizona’s unique box canyons north of the Gila River. At times, the canyon wall extends hundreds of feet up above the trail only wide enough for a single vehicle. Box Canyon Trail also connects you to numerous other popular trails in the area including: Ajax/Woodpecker Mine, Martinez Mine, and the Coke Ovens Trail.
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Permits: A State Trust Land Permit is required for this trail. Permits cost $15/individual or $20 for two people and are good for 1 year. Get permits here.
Where to go:
From the I-10/I-17 interchange in central Phoenix, head south on I-17. After 6 miles, merge onto I-10 east. Follow I-10 for 5 miles and then merge onto the US-60 towards Mesa/Globe. Follow US-60 for 40 miles to AZ-79. Take exit 212 toward Florence/Tucson and follow AZ-79 south for 14 miles. Turn left onto Price Road just after railroad tracks. Follow Price Road/Price Station Road east for 2.4 miles. Stay left and after 200 feet, turn right. Continue along the road for 2.9 miles where it will follow along the railroad tracks before crossing over them. After crossing continue east along Price road for an additional 4.3 miles. Box Canyon Trail begins where Box Canyon Road leaves the railroad tracks at approximately 33° 5'47.77"N, 111°13'57.99"W. Staging is available here or 1 mile up the road.
The wide graded road heads north from the railroad tracks and through a normally dry wash. After 1.0 mile, you’ll pass good staging and camping spots on both sides of the road. At 1.3 miles, the trail enters a wash and follows it until 2.0 miles when it returns to hard packed road. Another good camping spot is off to the right at 2.4 miles. The trail returns to the wash bottom as you approach Box Canyon. If it isn’t clear, most of this trail follows a normally dry wash and Box Canyon, with tight narrow walls isn’t a place to be caught in a flash flood. Use extreme caution if attempting this trail after a recent rain or if rain is in the forecast.
At 3.5 miles, the trail enters the steep sided walls of Box Canyon. For the next mile and a half the trail creeps through the bottom of Box Canyon. Conditions will vary in this part but expect mostly sand with occasional rock obstacles to navigate over. Be careful around the blind turns as the extremely narrow trail makes it hard to pass at all along this stretch. This stretch is particularly fun and scenic as the rock walls jut straight up from the creek bottom provides a unique Arizona off-road experience. Just after 5.0 miles, the trail quickly leaves the tight-walled canyon can continues in the wash. Stay to the left at 5.4 miles where Martinez Mine trail and the Coke Ovens trail goes to the right (consider taking these trails to extend your day). Continue north in the wash bottom ignoring other trails that leave the wash until 6.5 miles. Off to the left is an old collapsed building rumored to be a stage depot. The remnants are just out of the wash and off to the left and make a good spot to take a break.
When you’re done at the stage depot, continue north in the wash bottom. Ignore the numerous side trails that leave the wash bottom. Stay left at 7.1 miles where another wash, and a bypass for one obstacle ahead leave to the right. Stay right at 7.4 miles where the wash forks again. The wash narrows and you come to a difficult rock step at 7.6 miles. By stacking rocks, most high clearance 4x4’s can make it up this small ledge no problem. Staying to the left seems to be the easiest line. If you really don’t want to attempt this, stay right on dirt roads back at 7.1 miles and follow those as the climb to the end of the trail. If you attempt the obstacle, continue in the wash bottom as it heads north. At 8.2 miles, you’ll leave the wash and come to a small dirt clearing. On both sides at this point are what’s left of the Sunset Mine. It is a neat place to check out but not much remains other than tailings and mining roads. The trail continues on dirt roads winding north. At 9.9 miles, you’ll drop down to a major trail junction – continue downhill and to the left across a wash to a ‘T’. At this junction, going right begins the trail to Ajax and Woodpecker Mines (moderate) with an optional (difficult) loop. Going left will take you north to Reymert Mine and provide you access to US-60. At this point, either head back the way you came or connect several other trails in the area to extend your day.
Notes & Trail Ratings:
Overall, Box Canyon Trail is a fun trail to begin a weekend of exploring. It is 18 miles from the Gila River up to the junction at Ajax Mine/Reymert Mine. If you do those 18 miles, plan on 3-4 hours. Plan on a full day if you take other trails in the area. View our Google Earth Tracks to see how all the trails in this region connect. This trail is rated a ‘5’ because of some of the narrow rocky sections in Box Canyon itself and the rock ledge north of Box Canyon. Most of the other trail are easy wash bottoms or hard-packed dirt roads. Vehicles should have high clearance and 4WD for the rocky bits. Great area for all kinds of OHV’s. Make sure to carry a stand land trust permit.