★★★☆☆ Moderate / Phoenix Area:
Wade in a gentle creek, or relax on a wide stone beach, outside Black Canyon City. Just a mile-and-a-half off the ever-bustling I-17 highway, the Black Canyon Trail splashes across a bend in the cool Aqua Fria River. Lucky for us, this scenic water crossing, at the foot of a tall canyon, is easily accessible via the short & sweet Rock Springs Spur Trail.
TRAILHEAD: South Warner Road, black canyon city • DIFFICULTY: MODERATE • DISTANCE: 1.4 MILEs (2.8 Miles RT) • APPROX. TIME: 1.5-2 HOURS • ELEVATION GAIN: 232 FEET (17 STORIES) • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 420-476 • BEST TIME OF YEAR: OCT. – APRIL • PETS: YES • KID FRIENDLY: yes • FACILITIES: YES (no water) • FEES: none
When you feel like escaping Phoenix, but don’t want to go too far, the Rock Springs Spur Trail to Aqua Fria River, is a pretty sweet option. Tucked into the hills behind Black Canyon City, this short access trail quickly departs civilization and enters the endlessly rolling crests and canyons of the Bradshaw Mountains.
At only 0.8-miles long, the pretty, Saguaro lined Rock Springs Spur Trail quickly ends at a T-intersection with the Black Canyon Trail. To hike to the Aqua Fria River crossing, turn left onto the BCT and head south.
If you’re feeling ambitious, and want to hike further, cross the creek to get back onto the Black Canyon Trail. Hike 2.5 miles further up the surrounding hillsides, on this well defined and moderately inclined trail, to find incredible views over the twisting river.
One mile further, and the trail crests and begins its southward journey towards New River. If you’re unfamiliar with the BCT, it is a 62-mile trail stretching from Prescott (in the north) to New River (in the south). Its extreme length and perpetually winding trail make it hyper-popular with mountain bikers, who spread out along the length of the trail.
The 120-mile long Aqua Fria (Cold Water) River starts north of Prescott, winds south through the Bradshaw Mountains, and reaches its final destination as a cool dip in Lake Pleasant.
Click here to download a trail map. The Rock Springs Spur Trail starts at the Black Canyon City Trailhead.
Directions: From I-17 (about 27 miles north of Phoenix) take exit 242 west, to Black Canyon City. Turn right / north onto Old Black Canyon Highway and drive 0.6 miles to South Warner Road. Turn left onto South Warner Road and continue approximately 0.5 miles to the Black Canyon City Trailhead parking lot on the right side of the road.