Verde River Trail

Carefree, Arizona

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This unique trail follows the Verde River for most of its length. This long trail follows the Verde River for much of its length and was built to move sheep from summer pastures high on the Mogollon Rim to winter grazing in the desert north of Phoenix. It’s an all–downhill shuttle hike if you start from the north end at the Twin Buttes Trailhead. The Verde River is a federally designated Wild River, and the segment followed by this hike is entirely within the Mazatzal Wilderness. The river is home to a population of endangered desert bald eagles. The trail fords the river in two places, which is easily done at low water; at high water you can use the aptly named Highwater Trail to avoid both fords. The final crossing at the Sheep Bridge Trailhead is bridged. You’ll also have to cross the East Verde River at its mouth; this is easy at low water but may be impossible during spring snowmelt or after a major storm.

Verde River Trail Professional Review and Guide

"This unique trail follows the Verde River for most of its length.

This long trail follows the Verde River for much of its length and was built to move sheep from summer pastures high on the Mogollon Rim to winter grazing in the desert north of Phoenix. It’s an all–downhill shuttle hike if you start from the north end at the Twin Buttes Trailhead. The Verde River is a federally designated Wild River, and the segment followed by this hike is entirely within the Mazatzal Wilderness. The river is home to a population of endangered desert bald eagles. The trail fords the river in two places, which is easily done at low water; at high water you can use the aptly named Highwater Trail to avoid both fords. The final crossing at the Sheep Bridge Trailhead is bridged. You’ll also have to cross the East Verde River at its mouth; this is easy at low water but may be impossible during spring snowmelt or after a major storm."

Activity Type: Backpacking, Hiking
Nearby City: Carefree
Distance: 28.3
Elevation Gain: 3,800 feet
Trail Type: Shuttle
Skill Level: Difficult
Duration: Backpack
Season: Best October to March
Trailhead Elevation: 6,000 feet
Top Elevation: 6,000 feet
Local Contacts: Cave Creek Ranger District, Tonto National Forest
Local Maps: USGS Cane Springs Mountain, Verde Hot Springs, Wet Bottom Mesa, Chalk Mountain; USDAFS Mazatzal Wilderness, Tonto National Forest map
Driving Directions: Directions to Verde River Trail

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May 2018