Explore the most popular trails in Hells Canyon Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

A scenic portion of the Hieroglyphic Mountain Range, this area is home to numerous peaks, mostly over 3,000 feet, encircling and isolating Burro Flats from the rest of the world. Hells Canyon is further isolated by private land on its southern, eastern, and northern sides. The most prominent of the peaks are Garfias Mountain at 3,381 feet and Hellgate Mountain at 3,339 feet. Several cliffs on the mountains attract climbers, and the canyons make for relatively easy hiking. Most of this Wilderness is covered by Sonoran Desert vegetation: saguaro, paloverde, barrel cactus, ocotillo, and desert grasses. Easily accessible, primitive camping sites are plentiful.

great scenic drive. can do road in a car. no 4x4 needed.

off road driving
1 month ago

great trail very pretty, two wheel drive the whole way, however be careful of monsoon season, half the road towards lake pleasant goes through washes. took us three hours from our house in Avondale and back. it was super fun, highly recommend it.

hiking
no shade
2 months ago

Thankfully I had my AllTrails app because it is easy to get off trail. The trail is fairly level with promises of elevation gain later. Views from the top are gorgeous and well worth the mileage it takes to get to them. Bring plenty of water/snacks since there's not much shade and you'll be out there awhile. Be sure you have a way to keep on trail since there are a lot other of paths from the donkeys - we were super grateful for the cairns. Yes, we saw wild donkeys too!

Fun trail.. lights bumps in a few spots but other then that, very smooth. Well kept up road. Saw some wildlife. No 4x4 needed. Did this in a 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

off road driving
5 months ago

Great road and great scenery. This was accessible by most cars. Nothing hard in this run. Most of the road had just been scraped so it was relativity smooth.

off road driving
6 months ago

1st time taking out our new Jeep. Perfect trail! Easy! Beautiful scenery!

hiking
7 months ago

The entire time i was on this 9 mile loop never saw any other hikers. Very green with several meadows of wild flowers. Went counter clockwise and lost the return trail after 1.4 miles. I then went cross country to pickup the trail i came in on. Lots of mountain scenery as well. Even ran into pools of running water.

The entire time i was on this 9 mile loop never saw any other hikers. Very green with several meadows of wild flowers. Went counter clockwise and lost the return trail after 1.4 miles, from the junction. I then went cross country to pickup the trail i came in on. The reason was because of only two hours of daylight left. Lots of mountain scenery as well. Even ran into pools of running water. I would never hike a spotty trail like this without a paper USGS map and a compass. Also enough extra supplies plus food and water to spend a night if became lost, vs risking injury coming out at night even with a headlamp.

on Walkin' Jim Trail

hiking
7 months ago

I hiked the Walkin' Jim Trail loop today with my dog Mica. I have been coming out to Cottonwood Creek in the winter for about 10 years now, and just last weekend found out the Walkin Jim Trail was a loop; talked to a guy in the parking lot who told me so. Of course there are not any hiking trail signs in the parking lot, so it is hard to even know it is an official trail. So, this weekend was clear and the high was only going to be 70 degrees, so it sounded like a good day to hike the 8.3 mile loop. It took us about 3.25 hours to complete the loop; with just a few stops to take pictures, drink water, and eat some nuts. The area was green and spotted with wildflowers from winter rains, with some water in the washes, which Mica needed. We hiked in the clockwise direction (went left from parking lot), which is more physically strenuous in the first quarter, then if going in the counterclockwise direction. The first quarter has a lot of ups and downs until you get to a bedrock seep, then the gradient eases up a little bit. This bedrock seep use to be more cienega-like, with bunch grasses and nearby mesquites and riparian trees. But all of that disappeared, likely because of ungulate grazing and the drought. Maybe a quarter mile past that bedrock seep is another one. In the second quarter of the trail (same direction), there is a hidden small cave-alcove just off the trail. I just happened on the spot a few years ago, and went to it again today. Also in the second quarter, the trail meets Little Jim trail, which you can take if you want a shorter loop. And the trail also crosses the Spring Valley jeep trail; which thankfully is not used much. About midway through the hike, is the junction of Big Jim and Walkin Jim trails; there are some great views of the mountains to the west. In the third quarter, there are good views, and at one point the trail goes partly around a red rock knoll, which has lots of lichen growing on it. Approaching the fourth quarter, you cross a wash, go up hill, and then go through a gate (or under it) in a barb wire fence. After that, the fourth quarter of the trail is very easy hiking, and easy to follow. The trail in this section is mostly on the bench to the north of Cottonwood Creek. Note that within the first half of the trail (if hiking in clockwise direction), a lot of forbs have grown over the trail, which can make it a bit hard to follow. So, pay attention to the natural trail depression, and the numerous cairns along the way. Even if you do temporarily get off the trail, you can just back track a few feet, and find it again. Overall the trail is moderate for physical exertion.

It is a long walk to the peak but very worth while. The second half of the trip is more scenic because it is among the taller mountains. Reminds me very much of the scenery in the more popular Superstition Wilderness on the east side of Phoenix. You will likely have the entire trail to yourself. Thank goodness for the GPS and red trail line on all trails. I got confused on the climb down and had a panicky feeling that I would be falling off the edge in the dark but fortunately the app pointed me back to the trail. The view into Hell's Canyon Wilderness is dramatic. I shared the peak with circling vultures and speedy swifts but nobody for miles. Be sure to let someone know where you are hiking because it is unlikely that help will just wander by. Watch and listen for wild Donkeys and deer.

hiking
7 months ago

Amazing views and talk about not a sole in sight, wow. Finding the trail at times took a few looks but with the app it made it fairly easy to tell when you wondered. Will do this one again

off road driving
7 months ago

We drove the entire loop on Castle Hot Springs Road with no problems. Road conditions were mostly good, some areas slightly washed out from the recent rains. River beds, creek beds, and washes still had some water running across the road, but it was shallow and we were able to cross with no problems. We have a Jeep but didn't need to put it in four wheel drive at all. It's a nice drive, a lot of interesting sights to see. We even saw a group of wild horses with one burro hanging out with them!. If you're looking for an easy drive, I highly recommend this trail.

off road driving
8 months ago

Road construction on the western part of the drive. Otherwise it is a nice drive with lots of well graded roads. Some areas are prone to flash flooding.

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
8 months ago

My legs are sore. Fun hike. Didn't see anyone else out there but birds and burros. Take Walkin Jim Trail to Big Jim Trail. Big Jim trail is the out and back trail to the peak that connects with the Walkin Jim Loop. The trail pretty much vanishes once you get close to the peak but its alright...just go up! The view of Lake Pleasant at the top is well worth it in my opinion. I would recommend it.

hiking
off trail
over grown
washed out
8 months ago

This trail had some great views of desert life but was very hard to follow. There were cairns to mark the trail but they were everywhere so it was hard to determine which trail to follow. Also, you had to climb under a barbed wire fence in order to get in. We think time would be better spent at some other trails around the Lake Pleasant and Phoenix area.

hiking
8 months ago

No trailhead signs to mark beginning and end of trail off of Castle Hot Springs Rd. Pay attention to cairns, it is easy to lose the trail. Tacked 8.7 miles in 3 hour 30 minutes.

off road driving
8 months ago

Fantastic drive! Road is well groomed and easily travelable by most vehicles. The last review said the road was closed about 3 miles in, but we were able to travel the entire route from the East side of the 74 to Morristown. When we reached Castle Hot Springs we were amazed at the progress of the resort and can’t wait for it to be finished so we can check it out a bit closer. https://www.castlehotsprings.com

on Walkin' Jim Trail

hiking
no shade
rocky
8 months ago

Went there today and if traveling westbound on trail from Lake Pleasant to Morristown the trail is closed at the Hot Castle Springs Hotel. All vehicles had to turn around so it was about a 3 mile ride. Anyone know if this will open again or is it now closed with the opening of the hotel?

hiking
9 months ago

Hiked this yesterday, Jan 9. Nice trail, fair amount of loose rock. Agree with previous reviews in that it's necessary to watch for cairns because the trail has not seen a lot of use, at least by humans. Plenty of evidence of burros. Fantastic saguaro forest - huge ones in the creek beds. Some hunting activities - shotgun for quail and archers are hunting javalina, but none once we were back on the trail a ways. The beauty of this trail is that after the first 200 yards you are totally alone in the desert. I am amazed how little traffic this area gets from hikers, but they may be discouraged by the usual excess of motorized nuisances. Intend to return and continue on to the mountain summit, but abundant water will be required. Anticipating a 6 to 7 hour hike on that one.

Awesome scenic drive, would really like to hike or bike it. It would be an easy hike. Good gravel/sand road for mountain or trail bike, not road bikes. Many photo opps of rough terrain, cliffs and rock formations of many colors, highly recommended during golden hours. Good opp to see multiple groups of wild burros. Yes, it’s Easy to drive with a 2 wheel vehicle with some decent clearance IF ITS DRY! Many washes to cross, and a few places the wash is a good part of the road. We travelled in direction from Mt Pleasant to Morristown. Enjoy, it’s like a whole different world back there.

on Walkin' Jim Trail

hiking
Monday, October 08, 2018

This definitely does deserve a hard rating just for the fact of finding the trail. Having the map was VERY helpful. Nice quite hike close to Peoria though.

off road driving
Saturday, September 29, 2018

Extremely easy off roading, unless you have a lowered sedan you’ll be 100% fine. Great views although the trails pretty long.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Really beautiful drive. Drove it in a 2WD Kia Sportage with no problem whatsoever. Not busy at all today (Friday).

hiking
Monday, August 27, 2018

This trail is moderate in terms of effort, difficult in terms of route-finding. It's VERY easy to get off trail and begin wandering around. Adding to the challenge, there seem to be a few different ranch type properties scattered around in this backcountry, as evidenced by the livestock fencing and gates. Don't be surprised if you see packs of donkeys and horses roaming around.

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