Backway to Crown King

4.8/5 (34 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 (35)
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
Official Crew
Rated 5/5
Visited: 02/20/2023

Ran it before the latest snow storm and it had only been fully open for a few days according to the the folks in Crown King. It's wet and snowy after waypoint 26 in some spots, so just be cautious. Great trail though! Love all of the optional stuff in the first half. Definitely not a beginner trail though if you are attempting to travel the entire way. We found a stock toyota pickup high centered on the rock at waypoint 27, and he spent all night there waiting for help. They tried stacking a ton of rocks that never worked out for them. They were on street tires and came from the top down thinking they could make it. After getting them unstuck, they turned around and headed back up.
Rated 5/5
Visited: 11/11/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Harder

We ran the trail with 4 diverse vehicles; my Ranger, a stock Ranger Tremor, a stock, non-TRD 4-runner, and a JLUR on 35"s with a winch. The recent rains made the trail much more difficult. The Jeep and my Ranger made it unassisted with only minor body damage to my Ranger. The rock hump/ledge (picture of my buddies Ranger) after the waterfall required winching of his Ranger and the 4-Runner. The left turn 1000' so past that spot did the damage to my Ranger and required the winch line again for the other Ranger and the 4-Runner. We camped right before way-point 25, overnight temps were in the low 20's. much of the trail past way point 15 is more washed out than the pictures show.

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