Mesquite Canyon Loop
ElevationAscent: 1,543' 470 m
Descent: -1,542' -470 m
High: 2,912' 888 m
Low: 1,539' 469 m
GradeAvg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 19% (11°)
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“An out-and-back loop that rewards you with some beautiful views of the White Tank Mountains and West Phoenix.”— John Parker
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).
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Land Manager: Maricopa County Parks