The Sonoran Desert National Monument contains more than 487,000 acres of Sonoran Desert landscape. The Sonoran Desert is the most biologically diverse of the North American deserts, and the monument exemplifies this desert setting. The most striking aspect of the plant community within the monument is the extensive saguaro cactus forest. The monument contains three distinct mountain ranges, the Maricopa, Sand Tank and Table Top Mountains, as well as the Booth and White Hills, all separated by wide valleys. The monument is also home to three congressionally designated wilderness areas, many significant archaeological and historic sites, and remnants of several important historic trails.

hiking
3 months ago

As with most reviews, the weather conditions play a huge role. I went in March 2018, on a Monday when most people were working, and it was sunny and 68F when I started at 1030am. It was 72F when I finished 3 hours later.

Before you can hike this trail you must first get there. If you’re coming from the North (I-10) do NOT let google take you on the dirt road right at the landfill. If you do, you better plan on 30-45 minute longer drive and you better have a 4wd high clearance vehicle. I made it in an AWD SUV, but I was lucky the tires did not puncture and certainly the under carriage took a beating. Instead, continue driving south on 85 for another 6-7 miles and take a left across the divided highway there. It’s the 2nd left turn past the landfill. Google should get you to the trailhead from there. Much shorter and much much easier on your vehicle.

As for the hike itself, I thought it was pleasant. Certainly easy enough, pretty flat, and really neat walking through the desert surrounded by jagged hills and saguaro cacti. And I was pretty much alone. There were 2 vehicles car camping, but I was the only vehicle in the 11 spaces for day hikers. There’s a toilet at the parking lot and the trail was fairly well marked by cairns and bordered with deadwood. There didn’t appear to be an obvious end so I turned around at about the 4.5 mile mark. Somewhere around the 3.5 mi mark the trail turned into a wash so just follow the wash and rock cairns. Coming from the east coast I thought it was really cool walking among a saguaro “forest”. It wasn’t as dense as a forest (nor I’ve been told as dense as the saguaros in Saguaro National Park), but for me it was dense enough. The views were sweeping and unhindered so it was wide open. Couple that with solitude and perfect hiking weather and I rated it pretty high. There is no shade or water, so bring plenty of both , and sunscreen of course. I recorded the hike and uploaded some photos, but I don’t see them yet so hopefully they show up eventually, especially since there aren’t any yet for this particular trail.

A largely flat trail that is remote and quiet. The trailhead is directly off I-8 at approximately 136 mile marker at a single building on the south side of the highway. There is no off ramp so use caution when entering and exiting the trailhead. Parking is available just past the information board, which usually contains maps of the area.

The trail starts out with a lots of ups and downs as you cross small washes. As you make that first right onto 8020, you enter a grove of saguaro cactuses. Later on after you turn onto 8017, there is a steep hill entering the wash. You stay in the wash until it opens wide, then you turn onto 8014. As you follow 8019, after when you pass through the valley, the trail is not marked but look for an opening on the left to stay on 8019, otherwise you will follow the wash to nowhere. When 8019 dead ends at 8018, another wash, go about 4.9-5.0 miles, look for a small unmarked trail going from left to right, that is 8012, and go right.

As a result of extreme summer temperatures, activities are best pursued from late October through mid-April. Drinking water is not available, so visitors are reminded to bring plenty of their own water. Vehicles should be in good working order, have a full fuel tank of gas and full size spare tires. Cellular phones do not work in many areas of the national monument. The main access routes and washes are prone to heavy seasonal rains and flash floods. Check with the monument office for current conditions. This is a remote area, recreational opportunities are primitive and access roads are not maintained. No water or trash collection is provided.

Border Concerns

Be aware that the southern part of the monument is a corridor for drug and human smugglers. Be alert for illegal activities and law enforcement operations.

Great equestrian trail

backpacking
Thursday, May 25, 2017

Did a short 2 nighter. Started at the staging area off of Hwy238. Hiked 1.2 miles north to a small camping site for the evening. Started the hike northbound to the a Butterfield Stage Trail for an out and back. Was out for about 8 hours before returning to the camp to discover our food and water supplies had been raided. Settled for the overnighter, packed up the remaining gear and headed back to the staging area. Filed that under "Been there, Done that".

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

great hike to enjoy nature

off road driving
Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Sadly still closed, but rumours abound that work may take place to open it again.

off road driving
Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Closed to OHV's, gated and posted.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Good day hike no water bring plenty you will need it it's a good workout cause a long part of this hike is in sand but it's almost always that you will be alone on the trail we love this one

Sunday, February 21, 2016

great

hiking
Saturday, February 20, 2016

Excellent experience. Nice flat hike. No cars, no other hiker - absolutely nobody. The only thing I heard were some birds and my foot steps. Great for desert/wilderness photography. Will visit again.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Same route as Butterfield Trail Route. It has been closed since 2008 but I understand that a serious effort is being made to re-open the route soon. I have driven a short section of this route before determining learning that is was closed. This route is mostly flat two track roads, but, it's historical value far exceeds the scenery or 4x4ing. Butterfield Stage Route runs thru terrain where I grew up in Texas. This is one of the few sections with potential public access by 4x4.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

I understand that an effort is being made to get it opened soon. By Arizona OHV Assn, off top of my head so don't hold me to that

off road driving
Monday, December 05, 2011

Even though the sign was written in 2008 that says the trail will be closed for 2 to 3 years for Off Road Driving the trails are still closed today. 12/04/2011

hiking
2 months ago

Saturday, February 20, 2016