New River Canyon

4.7/5 (28 reviews)
New River, Arizona (Maricopa County)
Last Updated: 01/24/2022
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Trail Information

Highlights

When you think of rugged off-road trails, you typically conjure up images of a trail in a land far away and not right near a major metro area such as just Phoenix, Arizona. New River is rugged and will have you feeling like you are in a remote part of the world rather than a quick drive from the Valley of the Sun. Stretching over 19 miles long across the New River Mountains and Mesa, you will feel enveloped inside the mountains and surrounded by saguaro and other cacti of the area. On a good day, you can cross the New River several times when it is flowing.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

FR 41 is a 19-mile trail that very loosely follows the New River from I-17 to FR 24 through the Tonto National Forest. The road begins as West Table Mesa Road on the west side before turning into FR41, New River. It can be driven from either east to west or west to east as mapped here. Technical obstacles at Waypoint 21 and 23 will require your attention. The obstacle at Waypoint 23 does have a bypass forming around it, but there is no guarantee that it will remain the "easier" option after any given rain. Overall, the trail is very rough and requires driving over loose rocks, boulders, and deep ruts throughout the entirety of the trail. Hill climbs, and descents are also a regular occurrence along the trail. On top of all that, anticipate washouts that can happen after any rain. This trail will push the limits of a stock SUV. Better suited for pure off-road vehicles such as the Wrangler, Tacoma, 4 Runner, Bronco, with a mild lift. River Flow The New River can be trickling or raging depending on the season and the weather. Always double-check the weather before adventuring in the desert. Using Gaia GPS, you can check flow rates through the USGS Streamflow layer. Alternatively, you can find streamflow directly from the government here.
Heavy side-by-side traffic on the weekends and flash flooding during weather events, in addition to mud forming when wet.

Trail Reviews

4.7/5 (29 reviews)
Open
Rated 4/5
Visited: 11/19/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Easier

At the start of the trail, there was a large dirt parking lot of trucks and trailers for side-by-sides, but the trail was quiet. There was no water flowing. I would rate this trail a 4. The final obstacle would be a 6-8, but it has a bypass. Enjoyable ride so close to the city! Stopped for lunch in Cave Creek at one of our old favorites El Encanto.
Trail Review: New River Canyon - Ken Broermann
Trail Review: New River Canyon - Ken Broermann
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Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 11/19/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Easier

We rode this "backwards" (East to West) yesterday so if the rockslide at Waypoint 23 was too gnarly we could turn around and go back. I have a built Gladiator and my buddy has a built 4Runner and even though we're confident both would have made it we opted to take the bypass that's formed down in the wash. The other washouts require attention, but they're packed down enough right now that the boulders aren't moving so that's easier. Overall, this trail is much more fun and technical than it was the last time I ran it back in February of 2021. We'll see what happens with the winter rains and summer monsoons in the future Waypoint 23 definitely makes it a 6, but the rest of the trail is more of a solid 4 than a 5 right now
2300
Open
Rated 4/5
Visited: 11/12/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Fun trail. It does take a while to get through it and can be quite dusty at the beginning and end when you can pick up the speed a bit. Definitely some harder spots but which could be more challenging had there been water flowing. We did run across a recent rollover of a 4-door Wrangler. There were a couple of sheriff vehicles there and 2 helicopters. Be safe out there.
Trail Review: New River Canyon - James
Trail Review: New River Canyon - James
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300
Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 09/24/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Easier

Good trail, some fun spots, good views. In one spot I can see anyone on 35s or smaller wanting to take the bypass. The washed out area listed would be very tight for a full size truck in its current condition. Otherwise, anyone on 32s+ who drives safely and uses the bypasses available should be able to complete our
Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 07/03/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Drove this trail today with a group of 5 Broncos. The rock obstacles are daunting but we all made it through with zero issues. No water running at this time. Great run took about 4 hours from the trail head to Cave Creek. Highly recommend, but make sure you have decent clearance.

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