Camp Verde, Arizona (Yavapai) Technical Rating: 1-4
Last Updated: 05-31-2016
General Cook National Recreation Trail
Bloody Basin, Copper Road - Mayer
Prescott National Forest
Verde Trails Highlights
The Verde Trails system was developed with the help of the Arizona State Parks OHV Recreation Fund within the Prescott National Forest as a multi-use area not just for all kinds of motorized vehicles, but also for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. It also includes both Copper and Boulder Canyons. Many of the trails are only meant for ATVs and smaller vehicles, but the area also includes many multi-use dirt roads; many suitable for any type of high clearance vehicle, but still with a good number of 4x4 trails. This is also a popular place for hunting during any of Arizona's Hunting seasons, so be sure to be courteous to others in the area.
Technical rating: (1-4) Easy
Rutted and/or rocky road. No shelves but rocks to 9". Water crossings usually less than hub deep. Passable mud. Grades moderate, up to 15 degrees. Side hill moderate up to 15 degrees. 4WD under most conditions. No width problems, vehicle passing spots frequently available if less than two vehicles wide.
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Directions to Trailhead
There are many places this large general off-road area can be accessed from, but the one closest to it's namesake is that of the Copper Canyon Trailhead, 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 sign. This is also the north end of General Cook National Recreation Trail. The main staging area is only open for daytime use.
Another option is just east of I-17 off exit 287 (Dewey-Humboldt / Highway 169) which connects you to FR 732 (also marked on some maps as 68D). While technically not in the Verde Valley, from 732 you can access a few dirt roads including the before mentioned General Cook NRT that heads into the valley. 732 also heads to Squaw Peak (not the one in Phoenix) and connects to other off-road trails that can take you all the way to the southeast border of Prescott National Forest; such as heading south along 68D to Dugas, and from Dugas you can take public roads to connect with more four-wheel drive trails, mainly 68, to get to Sycamore Creek Rd then head south to Bloody Basin.
Heading northwest on 260 from I-17 you'll come to FR 9603S that is accessible to all kinds of motorized and 4wd vehicles, and gives access to the north side of Boulder Canyon. A littler further along the 260 you'll come across Cherry Creek Road which will take you to a staging area that can also access this same section of trails.
Finally, the Middle Verde Trails area can be accessed from Highway 169, just half a mile west of I-17 exit 287, on the north side of 169. From here the trails heads north, through a web of trails, all the way up to south side of Boulder Canyon.
Find more details on the Prescott National Forest Vehicle Use Maps
While many of the trails in this areas are primarily meant for smaller motorized vehicles, there are a lot of roads open to larger 4wd vehicles of any kind. While some of the main dirt roads are overland in style and accessible to pretty much any kind of vehicle, there are still a good collection that require high clearance and four-wheel drive or some kind of traction control. Also, be on the lookout for pedestrians, horseback riders, and smaller vehicles as this is a multi-use area, so be courteous to others on the trails. There are also ranches and some livestock in a few areas, so be sure to close the gates behind you.
Below are the most common places to access these trails from.
1: Copper Canyon Trailhead
This staging area 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. It's right along General Cook National Recreation Trail, which provides a nice scenic drive with mild 4x4 obstacles through Copper Canyon. It also connects to a few ATV, horseback, hiking, and motorcycle trails.
2: Middle Verde Staging Area
You'll find this spot on the north side of Highway 169, about half a mile west of I-17. It gives access to a web of trails on the west side of I-17, and south of Boulder Canyon. The forest services map show it open to all kinds of motorized vehicles, and allows for dispersed camping.
3: Grief Hill Staging Area (15.0mi)
Near Mile Marker 15 along Cheery Hill Road, you'll find the staging area for Grief Hill. this also connects to the trail heading west to the access point off Highway 260. This is a day use only with no camping available.
The trail was an old wagon route built in 1864. It’s steep but with a beautiful vista. Builder and rancher King Woolsey charged soldiers and civilians two cents per mile for its use in the old days.
The signs in some of the areas say not to travel on the roads when wet.
For more information on road conditions you can contact:
Road Conditions, Department of Public Safety, 888-411-7623
Camping and Lodging
There are dispersed camping spots throughout the area, but be sure to check with Prescott National Forest to be certain you are camping in an appropriate area.
Prescott National Forest, Verde Ranger District, 928-567-4121 http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/prescott
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 http://www.cliffcastlecasinohotel.com
Questions & Answers