Tuesday, October 3, 2017

MARICOPA TRAIL : Anthem-Lake Pleasant

Anthem-Lake Pleasant
An easy-to-access way to sample the northern section of the Valley-circumnavigating Maricopa Trail begins at the Agua Fria trailhead near Lake Pleasant. This easy segment runs through open desert and washes with terrific water-themed views. The route roughly parallels Carefree Highway for 9.3 miles then turns north to share dirt with the Black Canyon Trail.
Near Deadman Wash, the trail heads east, passing under Interstate 17 to connect with the Anthem community.  Near the lake, the path scoots around and above the Beardsley and Waddell canals, Camp Dryer Diversion Dam and the massive wall of Carl Pleasant Dam.
The route can be a bit confusing at the beginning.  To stay on track, go east (right) on the dirt path for 0.1 mile to where it comes out on the access road. 
From here, continue hiking on the road, cross the canal bridge and look for a Maricopa Trail sign on the right where the road curves to the north at 0.2 mile from the trailhead. From this point on, the route is marked with signs and cairns where it gets sketchy in washes.  In addition to the reservoir features, the trail also passes through an ironwood-lined gully, and crosses a flat plain of creosote and cholla before encountering a RV park near 87th Avenue. 
As the trail moves east, the sound of gunfire from Ben Avery Shooting Range heralds the approach to Interstate 17 and a traipse into the Anthem where you can continue to Cave Creek Regional Park and Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area.
LENGTH: 16.2 miles one way to Anthem
Option: 2.7 miles to 87th Ave
Option: 3.7 to New River Road
Option: 9.3 miles to Black Canyon Trail
Option: 11.5 to I-17
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 1100' - 1737'
From Phoenix travel north on Interstate 17 to Carefree Highway/State Route 74 exit 223. Drive 9 miles west (toward Wickenburg) to Beardsley CSR, turn right, go 0.1 mile and make a U-turn to the trailhead parking area.

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