This trail is part of the White Tank Mountains Regional Park and is the perfect run for someone looking for well-maintained trails, moderate elevation change, and rewarding views. Using the Mesquite Canyon Trail
, Willow Canyon Trail
, and Ford Canyon Trail
, it offers an out-and-back loop that traverses canyons, crosses dry creek beds, winds around desert mountains and overlooks the western Phoenix area.
There are many places on the trails where loose rock and uneven ground will slow you down a bit and provide some tripping hazards.
This run begins at parking lot #7 at the end of Ramada Way. There are several covered picnic tables, drinking fountains, and some very clean restrooms. The parking lot can fill up quickly during high season (October through May) so come early if you want to be certain of available parking.
Leaving the trailhead, you are faced with a mild incline as you make your way up the canyon on a wide, fairly even trail. The incline begins to increase as you hit a few switchbacks and then wind your way up the side of the mountain. This is where your heart starts pumping and you get a good workout. You'll climb for a little less than a mile until you reach a nice lookout spot with a good view of western Phoenix. From here the trail levels out a bit and you traverse the hillside and get some nice scenic views of the canyon. There are some bumpy areas on the trail with rocks to step over, but it is very well-maintained singletrack that isn’t very difficult.
The trail takes you to the bottom of Mesquite Canyon where you take a right at the Willow Canyon Trail
intersection and cross a dry creek bed. Willow Canyon Trail
starts off with a moderate incline as you head up and over the hills on a trail that has some loose rock and gravel. It offers some nice views of the desert landscape and can be somewhat secluded. It soon levels out as you wind along the canyon and drop down into the dry creek. This is a wonderful place to rest, have a snack and even take a short nap on one of the large, smooth rocks in the canyon.
After leaving the creek, the trail slowly climbs into the vast, rolling hills where the trail ends at Ford Canyon Trail
. A left on Ford Canyon Trail
takes you back across the creek and up a steady incline that gives you a view of the radio towers on the peaks above. After reaching the intersection of Ford Canyon Trail
, Mesquite Canyon Trail
and Goat Camp Trail
, follow Mesquite Canyon Trail
which continues up the side of the hill for a final push to the top. Once it starts leveling off, you can rest assured that it’s pretty much all downhill from here.
Winding down Mesquite Canyon Trail
gives you some beautiful views of the mountains and the Phoenix Valley. The trail has some loose rock and a few obstacles, but it’s a pleasant downhill trot until you pass the Willow Canyon Trail
intersection at the bottom of the dry creek. At this point, you’re heading down the same trail you came up on. Some beautiful views reward you as you descend back to the parking lot.
Overall, this is a mildly challenging run with very clearly marked, well maintained trails. It is a “must do” if you want to get up in to the mountains and out of the crowded areas of the park. It can be a bit secluded the farther out you go so bring adequate water, food and a cell phone (service is available the entire trail).
A variety of desert plants and cacti are plentiful. Watch for mule deer, squirrels, rabbits and birds. Be careful as you run since there are quite a few rattlesnakes out there!