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Ocotillo Loop Trail

Now that the “dog days of summer” are nearly over, its time to locate your backpack and boots and get ready for some Desert Trekking. This is a hike that Dennis Orr and I made last March before the weather turned hot. While Ocotillo Loop[1] is not as spectacular as other treks [2], it offers two advantages: It’s in our “back yard” for us living in Wickenburg; and the trail head is easily accessible without the need of a 4-wheel drive vehicle.

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Cemetery Wash (2001 Photo)

The Route: First, download and print the PDF map file [3] to help make sense of following routing instructions. Take Ocotillo Drive (misspelled Ocotilla on some signs) south from Wickenburg Way (Highway 60) between Charley’s Steak House and Squash Blossom Nursery for one mile (near the end), turn left and park. This is the trailhead and near the location leaving Cemetery Wash that completes the loop. Follow the 4-wheel road that veers to the right then enters Cemetery Wash, WP2. Continue east down the wash where it’s joined by a “feeder” wash from the south immediately west of Turtle Back hill, WP3. Go south on the “feeder” wash, passing by a fire pit, WP4, after which the wash narrows, WP5, and passes through a gate, WP6. Stay in and continue west in the wash, WP7, to a trail, WP9. This is but one of many horse trails through out the area used mostly by riders from Los Cab and our own Web Master Maria Langer. Continue on the trail that crosses a 4-wheel road, WP10, then passes through a second gate, WP11. Notice a USG survey monument nearby. Continue on the trail which drops into another “feeder” wash, WP12. Follow this wash north where it joins Cemetery Wash, WP13, then up hill on 232 Ave and east on County Line road to Ocotillo Drive ending back at the trailhead. Be sure to close the gates.

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Pinnacle Rock between WP4 & WP5

Distance and Time: The route is 3.2 miles long and will take around 1 ½ hours to complete.

Difficulty: There are a couple of minor dikes in the washes and take care transversing the steep slippery portions of the trail. There are no exposures unless you go off-trail and climb some of the small pinnacles.

Features: Washes with picturesque rock formations, small caves and desert scenery. With favorable seasonal rains, Cemetery and the “feeder” washes become awash with a profusion of flowers as shown in the first photo taken March 2001. You may experience a feeling of isolation along the route yet realize the nearness of urban Wickenburg.

Equipment: Standard fare for desert trekking which includes water, camera, hiking boots and first aid kit with tweezers for cactus thorn removal(s). While not necessary for this journey, a GPS unit is recommended to help find the way especially if not familiar with the territory.

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Wash between WP12 & WP13

Caution: Always be on the outlook for snakes. Don’t step or place your hands where you can’t see and be vigilant when entering any of the caves where they may have denned.

[1] This is another one of the trails presented in Desert Hiking, Out Wickenburg Way by Dana W. Burden, Library of Congress Control Number 2004095910, that is available in a number of shops in Downtown Wickenburg, including the Old Livery Mercantile, which also sells the book online.

[2] See other Desert Trekking articles appearing on this web site.

[3] Download the PDF Map File and GPX file of waypoints and tracking data to view the route. A utility program, GPSbable, can be downloaded from http://www.gpsbabel.org which converts waypoints, tracks and routes from one format to another, whether that format is a common mapping format like Delorme, Streets and Trips or even a serial or USB upload or download to a GPS receiver such as those from Garmin and Magellan.

Last 5 posts by Lee Pearson

3 comments to Ocotillo Loop Trail

  • Lee Pearson

    Rich,

    Thanks for the correction.

    Lee

  • The slot canyon not far from the end of Ocotillo as described here is a great place for a hike or horseback ride. This time of year, some of the brush may be a bit overgrown, but in the winter months, the brush is cut back and maintained a bit by Rancho de los Caballeros wranglers. I saw my first gila monster in the wild in this canyon and used to see an owl quite regularly on early morning rides. Also lots of interesting lichen on some of the rock walls. Great hike, Lee. Thanks for sharing it!