Backway to Crown King

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4.8/5 (46 reviews)
Crown King, Arizona (Yavapai County)
Last Updated: 03/18/2023
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Trail Information


Altitude Category Icon Altitude
Camping Category Icon Camping
Desert Category Icon Desert
Forest Category Icon Forest
Iconic Category Icon Iconic
Overland Category Icon Overland
Rock Category Icon Rock
Scenic Category Icon Scenic

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.

Trail Reviews

4.8/5 (47)
Visited: 11/24/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Harder

Waypoint 26 is no longer optional. The bypass is blocked by an abandoned truck with no wheels, forcing you to take the waterfall.
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Visited: 11/18/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Overall, a fun but long trail. Always heavy traffic. It's accurately rated as difficult. There is no bypass at the waterfall anymore due to an abandoned truck blocking the bypass.
Rated 5/5
Visited: 11/10/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Harder

Was excellent adventure trip with whole family in the Jeep. Though for some it was little stressful through the narrow steep paths and the creek, tried most of the difficult obstacle with Jeep Rubicon. We knew about the car over the edge at the 22 point on the edge from pdf before we started, but between the point 19 and this car over the edge there were 2 white Sedan's on each side of a steep incline with what seems as bullet holes. Anyone know what it is are there any news anywhere about it anywhere? Couldn't find anything on the web yet. It seems like recent incident and not rusted yet. We some how ended up going further north and had to come down to Crown king took almost 7 hours total
Rated 5/5
Visited: 09/30/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

A great trail with lots of fun obstacles and challenging terrain. Most of the obstacles have a bypass, however a truck is blocking the bypass at Way point 26. When we went, this caused a massive backup as some vehicles could not get up the waterfall and there is no way to turn around.
Visited: 09/19/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

At the waterfall obstacle at Waypoint 26, a red pickup has slid off the side of the obstacle into the creek and is now blocking any possible bypass through the creek bed. The pickup has been vandalized and may be abandoned. Hopefully someone can recover it. FWIW, my short wheelbase vehicle wouldn't go straight over the obstacle until I wedged my passenger tire in the crack in the middle of the obstacle. That might help if anyone has trouble getting over this.

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