Box Canyon Trail (Wickenburg)
It’s a short trail, but provides access to one of Arizona’s more unique features. Box Canyon of the Hassayampa in Wickenburg allows riders to traverse up a dry and sandy river bottom, then find themselves in a narrow and wet river channel just a few miles later. There is so much water that during certain times of the year, this trail isn’t passable.
Where to go:
From the I-10 & Loop 101 Junction in the West Valley, head west on I-10 for 9 miles. Continue north onto Loop 303 and follow it for 14 miles. Proceed NW onto US-60 towards Wickenburg. Follow this for 28 miles. Once in Wickenburg, stay right through the first round about. Continue straight through the 2nd roundabout. Turn right onto Rincon Road. Follow Rincon Road for 3.4 miles as it crosses the Hassayampa several times and passes several residential areas. Staging area will be off to the right as the road splits and goes north.
From the staging area (the second left turn as you come in), head north. The trail immediately begins to drop into the Hassayampa. Stay right as all trails dump into the dry Hassayampa River bottom. Head north, following the best line. The river bottom will turn to the right. At 1.2 miles, it will make a sharp left turn. Off to the right at 1.5 miles is a small side canyon that provides an additional place to explore. We found it blocked with debris when we were there.
At 1.7 miles, the Hassayampa makes a right turn to head nearly due east. Off to the left at this point is a shady pull off which also has a small foot trail which heads north. Also at this point is where the water usually begins. From here on out, expect water on the trail. Continue east as the river walls get progressively narrower and the river bottom gets wetter. Try and look ahead to pick your best line to avoid deep puddles. A small trail leaves to the left at 2.2 miles and connects back to the staging area. At 2.6 miles, there will be a large stream gauge on the left side of the river – used to measure river flow during flash flood events. We made it to about 2.7 miles before we decided to turn around. This is the deepest and narrow stretch of “the box”. Since we were on ATV’s and didn’t feel like getting wet and/or stuck, we turned around. The water was about 1.5 feet deep and covered the entire width of the trail.
Capable vehicles can continue through the narrowest (and most scenic) sections an additional 0.3 miles before the trail ends at a large, sandy bank on the north side of the river at 3.0 miles. From this large sandy area, you can proceed north along 2 small dirt trails that connect to a wider, more traveled road. Proceed west on this road and stay left on main roads to return to the staging area. No unlicensed OHV’s are allowed on this section. It is easiest to return to the staging area via the route you came.
Notes & Trail Ratings:
This is a very short trail. If you do the whole section through Box Canyon and back to the staging area, it is only 6 miles roundtrip. Allow for 1-2 hours to complete the trail, more if you explore the numerous side canyons and roads along the route. From a technical aspect, this trail is unique. It begins with a rocky descent into the river bottom and is followed by a mix of deep sand and rocky sections of river bottom. When the trail has water on it and passes through the narrow section, it becomes very thick and soupy – almost like quicksand. Use caution with heavy vehicles. Travel in a group of 2 or more vehicles to reduce the chances of getting stuck in the mud. Don’t attempt a water crossing unless you’re sure you can make it through – the narrow sections don’t have a ton of lines to pick. We’ve rated the trail a ‘4’ out of ‘10’ because of the more variable sections at the end. Depending on the water level, you can make it through this whole trail no problem. In the event there is a lot of water, proceed with caution and turn back if you’re not sure you can make it. Avoid this area when rain or monsoons are forecast. Vehicles attempting this trail should have 4WD, good clearance, and a good amount of power.