Old Black Canyon Highway

3.3/5 (4 reviews)
Black Canyon City, Arizona (Maricopa County)
Last Updated: 01/07/2023
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Trail Information


Before Arizona became a state, a stagecoach ran from Prescott's booming metropolis to the tiny hamlet of Phoenix along a rough and bumpy trail through the eastern foothills of the rugged and wild Bradshaw Mountains. The stage ran twice a week, and the trip took a day and a half. Stagecoach service ended in 1917 as motorized vehicles became more common in the 48th state. The section of the road north of Phoenix became known as the Black Canyon Highway. By the 1970s, Interstate 17 replaced most of the Black Canyon Highway. Today some paved and a few unpaved sections of both the stagecoach road and the Old Black Canyon Highway still exist. This trail is a segment of the original stagecoach road. Passing through a pristine Sonoran Desert landscape with hillside forests of stately saguaros and impressive views of the Bradshaw and New River Mountains, Old Black Canyon Road provides a time capsule escape into historic Arizona. While the driving won't be as bumpy as in stagecoach days, the extremely narrow shelf roads, hairpin switchbacks, and steep climbs and descents will generate some white knuckle steering wheel grips, contrasting vividly with the occasional glimpses of traffic zipping smoothly along Interstate 17. The trail lies almost exclusively in the 11,500 acres BLM administered Table Mesa Recreation Area, a popular destination on weekends. So pack a lunch, air down, and take a trip through Arizona's history on the Old Black Canyon Highway. Stop by historic Rock Springs afterward and reward yourself with a slice of their famous pies. You will have earned it!

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

Trail Reviews

3.3/5 (4 reviews)
Status: Permanently Closed
Rated 3/5
Visited: 04/11/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

This trail is now privately owned and closed from rock springs to just north of Table Mesa junction. It’s used by a rental company and they own the land now. There is a trail on the East side of I-17 they suggest using instead.
Status: Open
Rated 4/5
Visited: 02/05/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Ran this from south to north; drove Little Pan Mine Rd to Indian Fort and over to Old Black Canyon Hwy. Trail traffic was a bit ridiculous with the UTV rentals rolling heavy today....use caution on blind hills and turns; most quad/utv renters don't have much experience off-roading and don't know trail etiquette. Trail conditions are as previously described. It would probably be a much better ride during the week when traffic is not so heavy. My 2dr JK had no issues with trail width/turning/going over hills. Our 4dr Bronco had a few times the width was tight but still manageable, without using Trail Turn Assist.
Status: Open
Rated 3/5
Visited: 05/26/2019

This was a good trail for Jeeps and other vehicles with short wheel base. As states by Tek, there are a lot of switchbacks and very narrow trails. You can access the trail from the top or bottom, just check out all the BLM tails in the area.
Status: Open
Visited: 03/23/2019

I had a good time running this trail in a stock Wrangler Unlimited. Take the authors advice, this is really best for narrow trucks, and the shorter the wheelbase the better. There are lots of switchbacks and narrow areas where it will be hard to pass. There was a decent amount of UTV traffic on the weekend so be careful. This trail opens up to several more in the area, which will provide more opportunities for scenic views and fun times.
Trail Review: Old Black Canyon Highway - Tek

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