Backway to Crown King

4.8/5 (37 reviews)
Crown King, Arizona (Yavapai County)
Last Updated: 03/18/2023

Trail Information



Located northwest of Lake Pleasant and traversing through three different life zones and multiple biomes, Backway to Crown King is a thrilling off-road adventure that offers a unique perspective on Arizona's rugged and beautiful landscape. This extremely popular 4-wheel drive trail is known for its challenging terrain, steep inclines, and narrow shelf roads. Obstacles, mines, and great views await as you climb from the Sonora Desert into the Prescott National Forest.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

Backway to Crown King is a point-to-point off-road trail ascending 5,000 vertical feet over a 25-mile trek. The trail begins as an easy, hard-packed dirt road following along the northern borders of the Lake Pleasant Regional Park. As you trek through the open desert landscape, you'll pass through several secluded residential areas.

After turning onto the Crown King Trail at Waypoint 7, drivers begin to encounter rocky and bumpy sections, with several steep grades and multiple optional obstacles to test vehicle limitations on. The trail continues to make its way up the Bradshaw Foothills providing breathtaking views of nearby mountains and valleys. Drivers will pass through the Transition Life Zone and encounter fields of scrub brush and juniper trees.

At Waypoint 20, the road becomes a true 4-wheel drive trail with boulder-filled creek crossings, narrow shelf roads, steep rocky ledge climbs, and blind corners. Difficulty varies yearly based on road maintenance, weather, and use. Many obstacles along the way can damage any vehicle.

As you climb into the Ponderosa Pine forest, winter snow can make travel impassable. The road once again levels off and becomes an easy, hard-packed dirt road as your journey ends near the old mining town of Crown King.

Expect this trail to be an all-day affair, as it can take 3-5 hours to complete just the Backway portion. The return back to town can take an additional couple of hours.

During heavy snowfall, this trail could become impassable in higher elevations of the trail.

The trail is extremely busy on weekends.

Trail Reviews

4.8/5 (38)
Rated 5/5
Visited: 05/06/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

This trail is a great scenic trail. None of the obstacles are too difficult as long as you take your time with tire placement. I have a Wrangler with a 2.5 inch lift and 37" tires. The waterfall obstacles did give some Chevy Colorado's a little trouble because the base of the obstacle is extremely dug out. Otherwise, this trail is just fun and will take a good portion of the day as it is very busy.
Visited: 04/01/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

My 1st comment is: after reading most of the previous trail reviews in preparation to do this trail, it is obvious the trail condition is constantly changing with use and weather. Also, all opinions as to how easy the trail is (in the reviews) are subject to your vehicle capability, and the drivers experience. Note: Beware of the donkey's on the road on the way in, there are a lot of them. Camped the night before at the BLM camp ground at Waypoint 2, Nice large area. Started at 7am on the trail, Trail guide/waypoints are spot on, The first half of the trail is very scenic, a real joy to drive. The main hang-up was passing areas starting at waypoint 26 are far and few between, for a group of any size, on coming traffic was a real problem, backing up a half mile on these roads is no joke. We spent most of the 8 hours it took us to do the trail finding spots to back up to and let oncoming traffic pass. 2nd was rescuing vehicles stuck at the obstacles at waypoints 26, 27 and 28, (driving experience and vehicle capability) being the main cause. After waypoint 28 you start the switch backs up to the top, I don't remember exactly, I believe it's about 5 miles of switch backs shelf hill with very few pull off/ passing areas. We were lucky, we were leading the pack, as we got closer to the top we passed 4 vehicles coming down and there were at least 10 vehicles a ways behind us, (you can see the jam up at in my photos far below at the fore mentioned waypoints/ obstacles. I would not recommend this trail on weekends or holidays, the less traffic the better. The lower scenic area and the optional obstacles (are quite serious obstacles) were my favorite parts. Stopped at the restaurant in Crown King for Dinner, then pressed on to Turkey Creek Trail to camp for the night. Over all, a good day, 4-wheeling can be event full, but worth it, enjoy it while you can, (Learn for the more experienced, share with the Less).
Official Crew
Rated 4/5
Visited: 03/18/2023

Just a quick run as far as Waypoint 7. Recent rains haven't done much damage. The desert is really green right now. Feral donkeys along the road.
Official Crew
Rated 5/5
Visited: 03/10/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Did this trail (2nd time) on the 10th for a work event. There was about 7 jeeps, couple UTVs and a lifted Lexus SUV. Everyone had a great time. The waterfall was definitely more challenging than before due to weather and other vehicles digging out the dirt. I think 4 of us made it over that obstacle, others took the bypass or tried a few times and then took the bypass. There was snow at the top in crown king and the creek was flowing pretty good.
This trail guide's difficulty was changed on 03/02/2023

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