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

Very nice hike along a well defined, easy to follow, rocky trail that has a steady incline all the way to the fence gate. This first portion of the trail makes for a nice workout trail. Once past the gate (see pictures), make sure to turn left and follow the small footpath to continue up to the ruins. The path gets a little more difficult to follow at this point, but not bad. There are a few cairns to help with direction, and the app helps too. Long pants and sturdy shoes are probably a good idea on this portion of the trail. Of course, once you reach the ruins, please be respectful of the fact that this is a fragile and irreplaceable piece of history. The last piece of advice is to make sure to bring a capable vehicle with appropriate tires if planning to drive to this trailhead.

no shade
over grown
1 month ago

I do a lot of hiking in the Arizona desert and I'm no stranger to long, tough hikes but this particular trail was the most difficult, confusing and overall least enjoyable I've done here. I don't normally leave reviews, but in this case I think it's important to share my experience so you're prepared if you choose to do this trail. I set out for a 1 night overnight with a hiking partner who is also very experienced and we're both very used to hiking in AZ summer weather. Our gear weighed about 35-40lb for each of us, including the 7.5 liters of water we each carried - which should have been plenty for the 7 mile hike in to the goal campsite referenced on this trail description. You cross the first wash at about 1/2 mile in and we easily lost the trail at this first wash. After checking the map and GPS a few times and backtracking, we never did find any sign of a trail coming out on the other side of the wash, but we scrambled up a hillside and rejoined the trail after a few hundred yards. After this, you can follow a very narrow trail with occasional cairns for a while, but it's still easy to miss. At our first break 2 miles in we had already lost and regained the trail several times, added some mileage because of this and we were at 1hr 30min total hiking time. Figuring it would get better, we continued on and spent the next few hours checking the GPS every few hundred yards to try and stay on trail. Cairns were few and far between at times and each dry creek/wash crossing was pretty difficult to decide if we should be seeing a trail on the other side or just follow the wash for a bit. There are a TON of chollas that make it slow going to carefully pick your way around them and we stopped several times to pull chunks of needles out of our ankles. Average pace was about 36 minutes per mile - almost double what we typically hike because of trail conditions and we drank WAY more water than expected, leaving us with no choice once we reached the camp area but to continue on to the river to filter water. In September at least there was no sign of the creek close to the camp spot to filter water - just a small stagnant pool that did not feel safe even with filtering. We bushwacked our way through an overgrown thicket to try and continue following the Verde River trail on to the river and approximately 1.5 miles and another hour later we finally reached a point where we could hear the river but couldn't see or get to it. The banks are really overgrown with tall reeds for at least a quarter mile so we eventually just pushed our way through them, took off our shoes and waded out into the refreshing water. Up side to the hike, this area was beautiful. Highly recommend ignoring the overgrown "great camp area" at mile 7 and just push on to the river to find a spot to camp. We unfortunately didn't do that. We had dropped our packs at the camp area and planned to make it back there after we filtered water from the river since the trail was so overgrown, unmarked and slow going. The last quarter mile of trail down to the river bed was very steep and slippery and it got too dark to feel comfortable making it back up that hill safely, so we ended up spending the night at the bottom with minimal survival gear (just rain jackets, emergency blanket, headlamps, snacks and fortunately plenty of water) until first light when we could hike back to our full packs. We never saw any other people the whole time so it's very private, but overall both the hike in and the hike out took us almost double the time it should have for that distance. Personally there are much better trails in the area that are much more scenic and safe so we won't be doing this one again, but if you do go please be overly prepared and be careful!

No shade on the way up which makes it a challenge. Very interesting ruins to explore. I just read online that they’re actually not Spanish, but rather Native American built around 1400. Note that you have to do a bit of rock scrambling to get to the actual ruins which are beyond where the AllTrails trail map ends.

5 months ago

I took my 10 year old son who has been backpacking with me since he was 6. Road is loooooong to get to sheep bridge via AF monument. Great parking and nice start to the hike over sheep bridge. Trail can be hard to keep over some of the larger washes. Not sure about the “great campsite” at the end. We didn’t get on the trail until afternoon and when we camped it was almost dark. We may have pushed too far past the campsite that people talk about. Anyway, we logged 9.6 miles to our camp spot. We only had that one night and since it took us a long time to get out there, we got up and just hiked back. We were able to follow a wash down to the verde about mid day on the way back to pump some water and cool off. It was a nice trip. We never saw a single person. We also got to see tarantula’s, and a big rattler (5 feet long and fat as a radiator hose).

My fifth visit over 5 years, this was the easiest due to following the WELL-ESTABLISHED trail from the gate on Forest Road 406.

Awesome hike. Took us 4 hours to do including time to enjoy the views exploring the ruins and taking a snack/rest break. Took my dog she did great on the rock climbing at the top.

This was a great hike. It was a beautiful drive to get there-I don't recommend driving a wimpy car, though, as parts of the road are pretty rough, including loose gravel and lots of holes, etc. The hike itself is really diverse and beautiful, starts easy and then builds up to steeper inclines with rocky terrain. Must have hiking footwear. We saw three people coming down when we were on our way up and that was all. After going through the gate at the top, you can continue to follow the trail down, but we kept eyeing the mesa and really wanted to try to get up on top of it, so we found a very narrow path and followed it. It got super steep and we had to help each other in parts because it was very loose ground and steep-nearly straight up. We had to walk along the edge until we found a part that we could climb without equipment. Once on top of the mesa, it was exhilarating! Awesome! The top of the world! We could see forever! Getting down was a bit of a challenge, but we found sturdy enough walking sticks to help us with that. We never did continue all the way to the ruins, but getting on top of that mesa was the best! We will have to try to find the ruins next time!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Really fun trail; lots of exposure and cacti. Great campsite at the end.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

This hike was difficult and slow due to the elevation gain on the trail. Hiking the road prior to getting to the beginning of the trail is tedious (mainly up hill going in, but downhill on the return). Once on the trail, the scenery is interesting, and after getting to the summit the views of the wilderness are amazing. The trail was often difficult to follow, and we never made it to Bull Spring due to running out of time and water. We took 5 liters of water, which was just enough for the distance we travelled. Not much shade, and came across rattlesnakes and Bee Hives on the trail. The wildflowers were amazing throughout the trail. This trail is very isolated and you are unlikely to see anyone else. In addition to your map, a GPS is recommended.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

on Verde River Trail

Monday, February 28, 2011