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Group Hike Scheduled for Upper Hassayampa River Wilderness

Lee Pearson and I are scheduling a hike in the upper Hassayampa River Canyon Wilderness Area on Saturday May 17th. The hike distance will be 2.7 miles from Williams Ranch to Buckskin Canyon, with the return leg following the same route.

This is a uniquely beautiful riparian habitat and mid-May promises another great show of flowers along the river banks. The migratory birds will be nesting in the river willows and there are always abundant signs of four-footed critters on this stretch of the river.

We hiked this area on April 12th to check out river conditions and spring growth. The river was still flowing at a level that required frequent crossing and a few long passages in water. However, by mid-May, the river flow will have returned to a seasonal norm that promises easy hiking conditions (See Figure 1).

Upper Hassayampa in April
Figure 1, Upper Hassayampa in April

As shown above, stretches of the river are flowing from bank to bank as of mid-April. Notice also that the river willows are still in the process of leafing out. By mid-May these stretches will be deeply shaded and the banks will be covered with river grass and countless flowers. Figure 2 shows the typical stream flow in mid-May.

Typical River Flow in May
Figure 2, Typical River Flow in May

This is a relatively easy hike, with a gain of only 90 feet in elevation between Williams Ranch and Buckskin Canyon. If you would like to join us on May 17th, please understand that you will occasionally be trekking through water. Your hiking shoes should have stiff soles to keep your feet comfortable on the river rocks. Also, this is a wilderness area hike. No motor vehicles are permitted beyond the trailhead.

If interested in joining our hike, please drop me a note at the following email address:
allan.hall@mindspring.com. I will get in touch with you individually to work out a schedule, meeting place, and other safety and logistical details.

There are no restrictions on the number of hikers since the trailhead parking area will accommodate a number of vehicles. You do not require 4WD, although high clearance is beneficial on the route to the river.

Last 5 posts by Allan Hall

12 comments to Group Hike Scheduled for Upper Hassayampa River Wilderness

  • pipelineaudio

    I tried to get up there to look around in my Toyota Corolla (yeah, yeah I know, I’m trying to get a jeep right now 🙂 )

    My GPS software doesn’t include too much of Constellation road, though it does have topo info. When I got near the Black Rock Trailhead, it seemed I could take a right down a two track through a wash or turn left up a hill where it said “road no longer maintained”. Am I supposed to take a left here? And will my corolla make it?

  • Allan Hall

    Hello Pipeline:
    You might want to check an earlier article by Lee Pearson and me titled “Hiking in the Upper Hassayampa River” from June 2007. Just click on my name in the author’s column and keep scrolling down until you find it.

    There is a section in the article that provides a hiking map and useful GPS coordinates. Even if you do not have a GPS unit, here is a simple way to reach the hiking destination at the end of Constellation Road:

    1. Drive on Constellation Road from the Rodeo Grounds until you come to the fork of Blue Tank Road and Constellation Road. You will pass from pavement onto dirt, but continue until you see the sign for Blue Tank Road.
    2. At this point you will remain on Constellation Road (stay to the right) and drive approximately 13.8 miles.
    3. This drive will take you past the JV Bar Ranch and through King Solomon Gulch, where you will climb the mountain.
    4. After cresting at the top, you will pass the Unida Mine Group/Bloo Nellie Mine on your left as you descend down Constellation Road. Remain on Constellation!
    5. The road will take you past the Monte Cristo Mine on your right, and then will come to the Gold Bar Mine on your left. The Monte Cristo and Gold Bar mines have mining shaft “head frames” that are unmistakable from any distance.
    6. After reaching the Gold Bar, you will be descending down the mountain. The road will take you into O’Brien Gulch. Continue following the road through the gulch. It will deliver you to the BLM parking area, just short of the Williams Ranch.

    Although you will pass the turnoff to Black Rock Mine when you cross Slim Jim Creek (beyond the Monte Cristo Mine), the Black Rock Trailhead doesn’t really come into play.

    You should (with prudent driving speed) be able to reach the trailhead in your vehicle. Just be patient and watch your odometer! Remember – 13.8 miles from Blue Tank Road to the BLM Trailhead and Williams Ranch.

  • pipelineaudio

    Awesome, thank you! Got out there yesterday.

    Sayers Station was unreal, seeing water come right out of a cave. We saw some bats too.

    The Monte Cristo mine was really neat as well.

    Past the Monte Cristo a ways there was a ghost town on the left that looked very developed. I couldnt find it on my map.

    The Williams were very nice and pointed us to a small part in the trail which was grassy and shaded. We saw tadpoles, herons, some sort of plubber birds, Clark’s Spiny Lizards (I think), tons of zebra tails and marbled whiptails, a sonoran whipsnake and a western patchnosed snake.

  • Allan Hall

    Pipeline:
    The area left (almost due north) of the Monte Cristo mine is the abandoned settlement of the Black Rock mine. It is well worth the effort to visit if you are interested in mining and pioneer settlements. Otherwise, you may have seen the Gold Bar/O’Brien mine (also to your left) as you began to descend into O’Brien Gulch.

    I am glad that you stopped by to say “hello” at the Williams Ranch. They are terrific folks. Also, I’m glad to know that you saw some Great Blue Heron. On our last hike upriver, we saw a few tracks, but no birds. That is good news.
    Best regards,

  • Allan Hall

    To the hikers planning to join us on the upper Hassayampa River Wilderness Area hike on May 17th:

    We will assemble at the Rodeo Grounds on Constellation Road and depart from there at 7:00 A.M. The long range forecast calls for typically clear skies and a high temperature (at this elevation) of somewhere between 90 – 93 degrees.

    With an early start, we will complete the hike between 1:00 – 2:00 P.M., ensuring that we are back at our vehicles before the maximum temperature is reached.

    As with any hike, bring an adequate supply of water and an energy snack.

    I will contact each of you individually via email as the week progrresses.

  • pipelineaudio

    How did this go? Is there going to be a follow up article with pics?

  • Allan Hall

    Hello Pipeline:
    There were six hikers for this trek and we completed the roundtrip in five hours. That means we returned to the trailhead at 1:00 PM, ahead of the high temperature for the day.

    As anticipated, the river flow had dropped, but the Hassayampa is still flowing higher than May of last year. You certainly won’t hear any complaints from me about that! However, possibly because of the (still) higher than normal flow, the flowers along the river’s edge were only just beginning to pop up, so we were still ahead of the spectacular blooming season by one or two weeks. The Penstemon were just beginning to bloom and I saw only two small “Gooding’s Verbena” and a few varieties of the snapdragon family.

    Regarding a new article with photos, let me check with others to see what we can put together. If we had hit the bloom season just right we would have had dozens of new photos to post.

    Footnote: Three of us hiked the ATOS Loop trail again this past Thursday.
    River flow at the junction of Slim Jim Creek was still abundant for this time of year.
    Best regards…

  • Kasera

    I am a new resident of Wickenburg. I love to hike and would very much like to know about future hikes. It will be a great way for me to get to know the area and fellow hikers.

  • Allan Hall

    Hello Kasera:
    Welcome to Wickenburg and thanks for your interest in the web site and hiking! There is always room at the trailhead for anyone who wants to experience (on foot) the rugged beauty that surrounds our area.

    If you have not already done so, I recommend that you examine the books on local hiking opportunities, mining and pioneer history that are available locally. In particular, the book by Dana Burden titled “Desert Hiking – Out Wickenburg Way” will lead you to many trails. As you may have already discovered, there are several articles on area hiking posted on this web site as well.

    Since we are now entering the “hot” season, the organized group hikes drop off; but that does not mean that a few hardy souls aren’t still out there. For myself, I invest some of my time by seeking out old, more remote trails that can be fully examined when the temperature drops again in the fall. These outings generally entail 4WD into the remote areas and short-distance hikes to confirm the existence of pack trails and old mining roads.

    We (the web site) will continue to post group hike announcements when the cooler temps return in the fall. In the meantime, if you would like to get a bit more information about trails, please post a note to the web master with your email address. She will forward it to me and I can contact you directly.
    Best regards, Allan

  • Hi Allan,

    Are there any hiking groups in the Wickenburg area? I recently moved here from Flagstaff…for the winter only.

    Thanks, Karen
    someintime@hotmail.com

  • Allan Hall

    Hello Karen,
    Sorry the delay in responding to you.
    As far as I know, there are no formally organized hiking groups in Wickenburg, but you might try checking with the Chamber of Commerce just to be certain. (They will undoubtedly try to sell you one of their books on hiking.)

    I am guessing that you are seeking local hikers who know the trails and would welcome you on one of their treks. It is probably accurate to say there is an informal network of seasonal and year-around hikers who call Wickenburg home, and have built up quite a list of interesting hikes. If that is the case, drop the webmaster a note and ask her to forward your email address to me.

    We ocassionally post notices (such as the one you responded to) about group hikes, and welcome anyone.

    If you have questions about a specific hike area that you plan to do solo, one of us will be able to give you reliable trail information and safety recommendations.
    Best regards,
    Allan