Sycamore Creek Loop

Fountain Hills, Arizona (Maricopa County)

Last Updated: 07/07/2021
4.2 / 5 ( 5 reviews )
Zoom in to see trails...
Nearby Trails
Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 3-3
Length: 14.91 miles
Highest Elevation: 2348 feet
Duration: About 3 hours
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Fountain Hills
Nearest Town w/ Services: Fountain Hills
Official Road Name: 1847-403-1849-3470-402
Management Agency: Tonto National Forest
District: Mesa District


Highlight: Sycamore Creek Loop
This route is a wonderful get away from the Phoenix congestion and is a VERY popular place for the locals. The area is comprised of many different trails connecting for an incredibly beautiful, yet challenging tour of the desert. The large Sycamore Wash has the challenging Widowmaker hill climb as well as sweeping panoramas of the Four Peaks Region in Tonto National Forest. The Sycamore Creek and Four Peaks region combined, create an incredible place to play at any time of the year. The region has many double and single track trails to explore for days. The trails in the area wind through sandy wash canyons, up steep hill climbs and over rock strewn mountain tops, all while being within an hours drive of the Phoenix valley. The entire area has limitless free camping, but please try to reduce your impact by using an existing campsite area. The area is popular for target shooting and can become crowded on holiday weekends. Please be very cautious when traveling the trails, all trails are TWO WAY and collisions do occur, resulting in deaths, please slow down!


Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
Stock SUV with High Clearance and 4 Low
The trail get's it's the highest rating from the loose gravel hill climbs and off-camber ledge roads. There are two "optional" obstacles that are not included in this rating, First is Widow Maker which often requires at least one locker, its name says everything, it's steep, loose and dangerous. The second obstacle is the rock climb at waypoint 15. It also can get underequipped and inexperienced drivers in serious trouble. You can choose not to do it by going downhill before it.

Technical Rating

Typically, more rock or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 12" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 12" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 24" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep.
Read more about our rating system

Community Consensus

Be the first to start building the community consensus! Leave a trail review below!


The Sycamore loop as it's presented here, can be challenging for stock vehicles and inexperienced drivers but is ideal for someone looking to advance their off road skills. There are a couple steep loose dirt hills, off-camber ridge trails and potential washouts along the route, so a steady hand & clear head are needed. This is NOT recommended for big full size trucks because of several high center and narrow sections, that do not have by-passes. There are a couple optional difficult trails along the route, like Widowmaker hill climb or maybe Squeeze Rock, if you're really up for a challenge. Remember to take plenty of water, a map or gps because it can get confusing with all the different washes and hills you'll be traversing. Cell service is sporadic and likely only possible at the highest of hills in the area. Be cautious while traveling in the narrow washes, traffic can be coming from the other direction at any time! NOTE: The permit is a motorcycle and ATV requirement only. Emergency Services Fountain Hills Fire Dept. 16831 E Saguaro Blvd, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268
Very heavy ohv traffic in the area be very cautious.


1. TRAILHEAD (0 mi)
Enter through large steel gates and cattle guard onto the gravel forest road 1847. Continue northeast along this road 1.5 miles to fr403.
2. FR1847 / Straight (0.7 mi)
Continue to the right, north on the main fr1847 until fr403. Left fr1847 is a lesser traveled side trail that leads to Sycamore wash, below Widowmaker.
3. Information Boards (1 mi)
National Forest, Mesa District information board for the OHV area. You can find a trail map, fire restriction levels, tips for the trail and other very useful information posted here. Please respect the area, tread lightly, and pack out what you pack in. Please respect the closed areas signs to help with restoration projects.
4. FR403 Left (1.5 mi)
Turn left at the bottom of the hill onto fr403, traveling west in the sandy wash for 2.4 miles. Shooting and camping area begins. Turning right on fr403 leads to a dead end.
5. FR1849 Large Wash (3.9 mi)
When entering down into the large Sycamore wash, turn left, traveling west for about a half mile until you come to the Widowmaker hill climb area. If you wish to begin the loop and not visit Widowmaker, turn right, traveling northeast in the wash along fr1849, skip to (WP7).
6. Widowmaker Hill Climb (4.5 mi)
Widowmaker Hill will be on the left after a 1/2 mile drive in a very bumpy wash. Please be cautious of nails around the fire pits as you are pulling up to the hill, pallet bon-fires! The hill has a couple different ways up, each has it's own challenge. It's responsible for a few fatal accidents, hence the name. There are dips and undercuts while climbing that cause problems for vehicles without lockers. PLEASE BE CAUTIOUS and do not exceed you or your vehicles limits. Once you reach the top you can return the same way, being cautious of uphill traffic or take a side trail back down to the bottom. Return back towards WP6 to begin the loop.
7. Begin Loop (5.1 mi)
To begin the loop, continue traveling northeast along fr1849, staying in the large wash, for 2.4 miles.
8. Stay Left in Wash / FR1851 Right (5.6 mi)
Stay in the main large wash to the left, traveling northeast for 1.9 miles more. (half the fr1849 sign was buried in sand). fr1851 to the right, leads to fr402 the Sugarloaf entrance and basically the end of the loop (WP18).
9. FR3470 Left (7.5 mi)
Turn left at the large rock formations heading northwest up in the sandy wash. Staying in the main wash to the right will bring you to the optional Squeeze Rock trail. This trail is very difficult and has high potential for body damage and engine flooding, if water is present. By continuing through Squeeze Rock, you meet up with the loop at fr1855 (WP16). Squeeze Rock POV
10. Quartz Hill (8.7 mi)
When approaching this hill, be careful to pick the correct line. The left side up the hill seems the safest and recommended to help maintain the integrity of the site. When climbing the hill stay to the right at the top of the quartz mound, to have access to the next descent. Descend down the steep backside into the next section that requires a steady hand. Once at the top, many use this as a vista point and the quartz is cool too. Parking can be tight.
11. FR3470 Left (9.2 mi)
Turn right, down hill then left at the bottom. There are a couple ways down and should be viewed before attempting. Turn left at the bottom in the sandy wash, traveling north on fr3470.
12. Hill Climb (9.7 mi)
Right turn, northeast up a short hill climb leading to a ridgeline trail. There are two ways up the hill but both lead up the ridgeline trail.
13. Right Turn (10.4 mi)
Continue to the right at the Y intersection for vehicles with good articulation. The right can be difficult but with a good spotter can be easily navigated. Going left is an easy way around the slightly more difficult section and meets up around at the bottom of the hills.
14. Downhill Turn (10.5 mi)
Right turn down to rock out cropping. The main route and the recommended route, is the first right heading down the ridgeline to the rock out cropping below. Forward is an optional washed out, loose and difficult descent that must be viewed before descending. Be very careful because of loose rock, dirt and very deep ruts that cause many rollovers.
15. Rock Climb Obstacle (10.6 mi)
This spot has a few options. Staying to the left around the first large rock going down is the easiest route. Over to the right, by the rock out cropping's, is an optional rock climb step-up. Please refer to the video, pictures and use a spotter. This spot is often considered the lunch or break point for the loop. Continue down hill and to the right at the bottom, following the wash southeast. Please remember, two way traffic, so watch your speed and be aware.
16. FR1855 Begin (11.7 mi)
Continue in the wash south, traveling along fr1855 through the rocky, boulder and large tree strewn wash. Left on fr1855 will bring you north to fr160.
17. Camping Area (12.2 mi)
Continue across the creek to the dirt road leading to fr402 and fr1851. This area is very popular for camping and is also where Squeeze Rock trail exits. Camping in the area is free but please be responsible and pack out, what you pack in. Waste disposal is not provided, so plan accordingly.
18. FR402 - FR1851 (13 mi)
Continuing on east fr402 to the left will take you to the end of the loop, the Sugarloaf staging area and the exit to highway 87. Turning right, west on fr1851 will bring you back to fr1849 (WP8).
19. Sugarloaf Staging / Highway 87 (15.7 mi)
On the left, just before the gates and highway 87, is a large open staging area for airing up and final checks before hitting the road. If you continue across the highway, you'll be entering the Four Peaks region, for even more great off roading.

Directions to Trailhead

Starting Point: Mesa Hwy 87 and Hwy 202

Traveling from Mesa 22 miles northeast on highway 87, use exit 199, Bush Hwy. Turn left at the stop and cross over the highway to the large steel gate entrance, trailhead.


Camping in the area is primitive and is located along many of the entrance roads that lead to the trail head. There are no services or facilities in the primitive camping areas. Sycamore Wash area (fr1849) is the most popular for camping within the off road community and can be quite busy during the winter holiday seasons. fr403 has campsites along the route and are often used for target shooting. I do not recommend camping in this area. Waypoint 16 is a popular and scenic area to camp. There are no services or facilities in the area for campers. There is no running water in the area for campers. Please be aware of no burn periods throughout the year and always remember to completely extinguish your fire when leaving. Pack it in, pack it out! Hotels are very limited in Fountain Hills but Mesa is another 20 minutes down the road and has plenty of hotels to choose from.
Camping: Sycamore Creek Loop

Land Use Issues

It's evident in many areas that the locals have been target shooting here for decades. Annual clean-up events happen each year now but please pick up after yourself and more if you can, to help reduce the impact on the area. Only through volunteering are we able to keep the trails clean, identified and open for public use. Please help by joining us on an upcoming run or at any one of our great events. Follow the link for more information.

Trail Reviews (8)

Questions & Answers (1)

Q: I have a 2018 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk. Planning on installing a 2 inch lift and 225/65/17 K02s. Would my Renegade be capable enough for this trail? This would be my first time off roading.
–Glenn Hernandez (09/26/2018)
A: You should be okay, waypoints 11 & 12 will be the tough spots but with the new lift kit you should be okay. Please do not attempt Widow Maker. There are big holes and ruts that require big flex and lockers. Not a hill climb for beginners. Happy trails!
–Bobby Nelson (09/26/2018)

Writer Information

Bobby Nelson

Mapping Crew - Arizona

While living in the Midwest, I developed a passion for searching out new trails and hidden spots. That passion continues to this day in the beautiful southwestern United States. My wife and I are full-time RVers who travel from region to region exploring every nook and cranny we can find. While we're getting to know the locals, we gain insight into these areas, then passing on that knowledge onto our subscribers. We truly enjoy traversing long, beautiful back-country routes with epic campsites, but we equally enjoy pushing the limits on difficult rock crawling trails. Our rig was built to do everything and that's what we hope to share with our subscribers. Please visit our website to follow us and for opportunities to join us on our adventures. You can also view our vast video library on YouTube XPLOREMOR.
For individual use only, not to be shared.