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Butcher Jones Trail Professional Review and Guide
"Barnhardt Trail takes you on a scenic tour into the heart of Mazatzal Wilderness, offering thrilling views into deep gorges, up rugged mountains, and across picturesque hills. Rocky cliffs and spectacular waterfalls accentuate an already dramatic landscape."
--Charles Liu, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Phoenix (Menasha Ridge Press).
The trail guide says there is a kiosk to pay for parking...When we got to the park we discovered signs that say you have to have a Tonto Pass for parking OR turn around and drive 11 miles back to the Chevron gas station at Fort McDowell to purchase one. Being the responsible citizens that we are - we made the trek back to the gas station where the attendant told us it had been a long time since there was a kiosk because it kept getting ripped off...the attendant said they had tried hiring people to collect the parking fees but they too had gotten ripped off and badly beaten for their efforts!! We drove back the to the trailhead and would have to agree that this was not one of the nicer areas (very run down and dirty) that we had hiked evidenced by the empty tampon applicator I found in the grass by my truck door when I opened it...In general the people who were at the Saguaro Lake beach fishing or swimming were not very clean, and usually inebriated...I will not hike this one again! The dock is closed and in disrepair and the hike is very narrow in some places with 50-100 feet drop offs into the lake..It was overgrown and the only view worth taking in was at the end in Burro Cove where you can see clear lake waters and a great view of the Four Peaks. After this we turned around and headed back to the trail head where we were able to see a few water turtles!
This was an easy hike. Hardly any elevation gain and clearly marked. When I went it was around 110 degrees, but a quick dip in the lake at the end of the trail cooled me and my friend off quite effectively.
My adventure racing partner and I rode the Butcher Jones Trail as part of a land navigation practice session. The trail is overgrown in sections. This required dismounting and pushing our bikes through the brush. There were sections of pleasant single track that offered nice views of the surrounding area and lake, but there were also several sketchy sections that were narrow and had exposures that dropped off to the lake 50 to 100 feet below.
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