Adjacent to rapidly expanding communities, the 70,900-acre Agua Fria National Monument is approximately 40 miles north of central Phoenix. The area is located on a high mesa semi-desert grassland, cut by the canyon of the Agua Fria River and other ribbons of valuable riparian forest, contributing to an outstanding biological resource. The diversity of vegetative communities, topographic features, and a dormant volcano decorates the landscape with a big rocky, basaltic plateau. The Agua Fria river canyon cuts through this plateau exposing precambrian rock along the canyon walls. Elevations range from 2,150 feet above sea level along the Agua Fria Canyon to about 4,600 feet in the northern hills. This expansive mosaic of semi-desert area, cut by ribbons of valuable riparian forest, offers one of the most significant systems of prehistoric sites in the American Southwest. In addition to the rich record of human history, the monument contains outstanding biological resources. The area is the home to coyotes, bobcats, antelope, mule deer, javelina, a variety of small mammals and songbirds. Eagles and other raptors may also be seen. Native fish such as the longfin dace, the Gila mountain sucker, the Gila chub, and the speckled dace, exist in the Agua Fria River and its tributaries.
Favorite hike of 2016. Completed in May- wouldn't want to try it in hot summer. Visited unexcavated pueblo ruins, found petroglyphs and plenty of potsherds. Never saw another soul and most recent entry in the logbook was from the day before. Went well beyond the marked trail and the views were well worth it. Definitely recommend 4x4 vehicle to get well out into the park- 'primitive' road may be too generous a description lol
Happy (the dog) and I love, love, LOVE this trail, probably our favorite in all of Arizona. We seldom see any people, those we do run across occasionally are totally cool with Happy off leash. It's an easy sand walk on the trail, but if you do want some good up-and-down exercise, you can crawl all over the rocks in the gorgeous river canyon. Don't be surprised if you hike all morning and your tracking devices show you walked a half-mile and burned 17 calories, your standard phone GPS will likely drop out halfway up the trail. If a point is, leave your devices at home, and look up!! This is one fabulous walk, enjoy it!
Access to the Agua Fria River is via the Badger Springs trailhead; however, once you hit the river, there is no longer any maintained trail. Instead, you will just continue southward through the canyon. Depending on the time of year and the amount of recent rainfall, the river could be little more than a trickle, or it could be waist-deep. There will be a significant amount of bouldering, and you'll need to watch out for thorn bushes and cacti. Wearing long pants to help avoid being stuck. You will need to cross the river multiple times due to obstructions. At Perry Tank Canyon, you may turn off the Agua Fria and continue east before turning around and exiting the way you came. If you see a large dilapidated pipe along the Agua Fria River, that's a water intake pipe from the abandoned Richinbar Mine. There is a separate trail along the plateau to reach the mine.
Did the hike to the trails end and then bushwhacked on down the river for another 3/4 of a mile till I hit heavy brush along the banks. A lot of the scenic area is just beginning beyond the end of the trail. It requires some bouldering but is well worth it. Their were several small cascades and nice rock formations past the end of the trail. Nice hike, just to short.
Nice hike. I went in October with my dog. It is a beautiful hike but there are terrible bushes that shed horrible spiney burrs that were stuck all over him. they burrow deep in the fur, hard to remove if you don't catch them right away. Very muddy water but he loved it. I will do it again but not with the dog. Not worth the burrs.
Great hiking area, not far off I17 so easy to get to. Got to the parking lot in my car. about a mile down to where it forks off, at the fork there are petroglyphs to the left. We hiked along the river bed going to the right and came across some small water holes (I'm guessing its much better in the spring), a snake that even though I came within 2 feet of was not interested in us and a skunk (luckily he ran off). I think there might be more water if we had of gone to the left on the fork but have to explore that another day. Temps were still good when we got done around 10:30 AM, seems to be around 10 degrees cooler than Phoenix. Beautiful area!
A must do hike and it's right off of I-17. We have driven past this a bunch of times and never would imagine the beauty that is on this trail. Cold water, waterfalls and petroglyphs along with the desert backdrop make this a fantastic place. It's an easy hike. The only tough part is Boulder hopping should you choose to do so, and it's not bad at all.
Probably one of the least visited National Monument hikes in the country! There is a nondescript BLM sign near the parking area, but otherwise nothing you'd expect of a NM, fees, etc. except beautiful scenery and some archaeology. You descend down a wash into the Agua Fria canyon, which is a beautiful granite boulder playground; right as you get to the bottom, look to the rocks on your left for some petroglyphs. The NM was designated to protect ancient Native American settlement sites above the cliffs, but these are not easily accessible, nor stabilized/reconstructed... it is best to leave them as they are until scientific surveying and excavation are complete. (If you want to experience that kind of stuff, visit Montezuma Well or Tuzigoot right up in the Verde Valley.)
At the terminus of the trail, where it meets the Agua Fria River, there's an amazing panel of petroglyphs to your left. From there, you can continue south or east along the Agua Fria. Depending on the water level, you can make it pretty far along the river, but there will be some boulder-hopping involved. There are quite a few other petroglyph sites within the Agua Fria National Monument, as well as the ruins of Native American buildings. I found a great map and description of the various archeological sites at the link I've attached below. Remember: Archeological sites are fragile, and you shouldn't touch, disturb, or take anything from the site. http://www.archaeologysouthwest.org/pdf/perry_mesa_overview_scott_wood.pdf