General Cook National Recreation Trail
Camp Verde, Arizona (Yavapai) Technical Rating: 1-3
Last Updated: 07-22-2016
Bloody Basin, Copper Road - Mayer
Prescott National Forest
General Cook National Recreation Trail Highlights
General Cook National Recreation Trail (FR 136) is part of the Verde Trails system - developed with the help of the Arizona State Parks OHV Recreation Fund - as a multi-use road not just for all kinds of motorized vehicles, but also for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. Most of the connecting trails are only meant for ATVs and smaller vehicles, hikers and horseback riders making this a multi-use dirt road roughly parallel to I-17 from Camp Verde at the North to FR 732 / Highway 169 at the south. This is also a popular place for hunting and has a good number of dispersed primitive camping spots.
Technical rating: (1-3) Easy
Dirt road. Rutted, washes, or gulches. Water crossings up to 6" depth. Passable mud. Grades up to 10 degrees. Small rocks or holes. 4WD recommended but 2WD possible under good conditions and with adequate ground clearance and skill. No width problems for any normal vehicle. Vehicle passing spots frequently available if less than two vehicles wide.
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Directions to Trailhead
From the north you'll enter the trail near the Copper Canyon Trailhead - a hiking and ATV trail found in the southwest part of Camp Verde. Take Highway 260 from I-17 heading east. Turn right onto Oasis Rd. where you'll head down a hill then turn right onto FR 136; just look for the Copper Canyon Trailhead signs. The Copper Canyon Trailhead staging area is only open for daytime use, but can be bypassed.
From the south you'll start at I-17 exit 287 (Dewey-Humboldt / Highway 169) which connects you to FR 732 (also marked on some maps as 68D). From FR 732 (which also heads to Squaw Peak, but not the one in Phoenix) you can access a number of dirt roads and ATV trails including FR 136 which is on the left less then a mile east of the freeway.
Most of the road is suitable for almost any kind of high-clearance vehicles, but there are a few areas that may require four-wheel drive or some kind of traction control. Also, be on the lookout for pedestrians, horseback riders, and smaller vehicles. This is a multi-use area, so be courteous to others on the trails. You'll also likely run into the occasional hunter, and there are also a few ranches and some livestock throughout the area, so be sure to close the gates behind you.
1: Northeast Trailhead (0.0mi)
This northeastern trailhead that connects with Oasis Rd, is basically a paved road that has been allowed to degrade to a gravel road.
2: Shooting Area (0.3mi)
Shortly west of the northeastern trailhead, despite the sign that says to stay out of the Yavapai County materials, you might find some people getting in some target practice.
3: Copper Canyon Trailhead (0.9mi)
This is a great location for a BBQ lunch with picnic tables and charcoal grills. It also provides a vault toilet, maps, and other information about the area. You can also access the ATV or smaller vehicle, hiking and horseback trail here. This staging area is only open for day-time use, but is off to the side of the main road, so it can easily be bypassed.
4: Camping and Staging (1.5mi)
If you want a more primitive home base to explore the area from, you are in luck, as this is the spot for you. It also provides access to the multi-use ATV or smaller trail.
5: Trail Junction (1.7mi)
Here you'll find another spot to stop and do anything from camping to staging your ATV, horses or just park to go take a hike.
7: Motorcycle Trail Intersection (2.6mi)
Continue around the curve staying on the main road. Their's a trail off to the side, and while the more norther portion of this side trail certainly is wide enough for a full sized vehicle to drive down, it soon narrows and is officially designated as a Motorcycle only trail. There's also some hot springs hidden away south of this area.
8: Cattle Coral (2.9mi)
More evidence of the ranching that has been going on in this area for some time.
9: Rough Patch (3.2mi)
The road can get a little rough in a few spots, like in this miniature rock garden.. There's also a side trail here for smaller motorized vehicles and non-motorized modes of transport.
10: Cattle Guard West (3.9mi)
Watch out for the cows! Not that I've ever seen more then a few along this trail at a time.
11: Creek Wash (4.1mi)
You'll cross Copper Creek a few times along this off-road trail. This particular crossing is probably the longest, wettest, and most scenic of them all, but don't worry, it's not very deep. It also tends to dry up in the summer time, but it's typical to at least find a few muddy spots along this trail.
12: Inscription Rock (4.2mi)
A big rock sits here, that has the appearance of being cut smoothly in half, giving it the perfect surface for people to inscribe upon.
13: Copper Cayon Camping (4.9mi)
There's a great camping spot here right alongside Copper Canyon Wash.
14: East Gate (5.0mi)
Continue straight ahead through the gate. The gate is free to be opened, but be sure to close it behind you so the cows don't get out. I had to use some rocks to prop the gate open while I drove through it. Fortunately there were already some well positioned for this task.
15: Middle Washs (5.4mi)
There's a few dry washes in this area. The one pictured is one of the more pronounced one's. Still it's nothing difficult to drive through; however, this likely is not a good place to be during a flash flood, or if heavy rains are occurring up-stream.
17: Rough hill (5.6mi)
This hill is the most challenging part of the trail. It's not particularly difficult, but caution is warranted as it is a skinny and winding shelf road with loose rocks and sharp prickly pares on both sides of the trail. Low gears and four-wheel drive is recommended.
18: Western Wash (6.1mi)
This is the biggest wash on the west end of the trail. The hills in this area are also the steepest and narrowest of the entire off-road trail, but still, as you can see, not too difficult; especially if you have a 4x4 vehicle.
Between here and 9603J is the highest elevation along the trail.
21: 9603J Intersection (6.4mi)
At this intersection, stay to the right as you continue to head west. South will take you to FR 732 faster if you need to head out a little early, and past the Grassy Mountain Windmill.
22: Grassy Mountain Windmill (6.6mi)
If you decide to exit a little early, and head south on 9603J to 732, just a little ways south of the intersection with 136 you can find a windmill next to a fenced in area. The windmill is in front of Grassy Mountain, thus it's name of Grassy Mountain Windmill.
23: Intersection to Dead End (6.9mi)
Continue straight at this intersection. Turning off down the alternate road will lead to a dead end, but may provide a more secluded camping spot.
24: Small Washes (7.0mi)
A few relatively small, but sharp angled washes can be found here. These shouldn't be anything too difficult as long as you are in a high clearance vehicle with decent approach and departure angles.
25: Bates Windmill (7.5mi)
This is Bates Windmill. You'll also notice some tire tracks off to the right as you continue southwest along the trail. These tire tracks however are not listed on the forest maps. From what you can see from satellite photos, they seem to lead back to another staging area along FR 732, but they also lead into a section of General Cook National Recreation Trail that is designated only for non-motorized travel, so it's probably best to continue straight ahead down FR 136.
26: FR 136 & 732 / 169 Intersection (7.8mi)
This is the Southwest end of FR 136 that leads to the beginning of the motorized portion of General Cook National Recreation Trail. It connects to FR 732 less then a mile west of I-17's exit with Highway 169.
There's also a camping spot right next to this intersection that could accommodate a half dozen or so vehicles.
The signs in the area say not to travel on the roads when wet.
For more information you can contact:
Road Conditions, Department of Public Safety, 888-411-7623
Camping and Lodging
There are dispersed camping spots all along this overland off-road trail, except within the Copper Canyon Trailhead area. For more details contact:
Prescott National Forest, Verde Ranger District, 928-567-4121
You may also be interested in the local hotel (which is right next door to the National Parks Service Building):
Cliff Castle Casino Hotel, 555 Middle Verde Road, Camp Verde, 928-567-7950
Questions & AnswersNo questions have been submitted.
Offroaded on 07-22-2016
Conditions: Partially Cloudy
Low Temperature: 60° F
High Temperature: 94° F
The trail was fairly dry for most of the run, but still had some unavoidable mud. Some of it was obviously from the recent rain storms, while others are part of Copper Creek runoff. Some parts of the trail are slightly more eroded and if allowed to continue will likely make for some more challenging four-wheel drive off-road fun; especially on the big hill that is getting looser and rockier.
I also had to move a few Prickly Pare Cacti out of the way to avoid driving over them. They seem to line the side of the skinny long hill, leaving you with not choice but to go over the larger of the loose rocks.
Splashing through the water and mud was lots of fun, but spraying it out of the fenders and wheel wells was not.