Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Hike #52: Goat Canyon/Mesquite Canyon Loop, White Tank Mountain Regional Park
Although not the most exciting park in the state, White Tank Mountain Regional Park makes up in convenience what it lacks in excitement. Located in the far West Valley, the park is operated by Maricopa County, so it enjoys all the ease of access as one would expect. In the past, I hiked the Ford Canyon/Mesquite Canyon Loop, but the Goat Canyon/Mesquite Trail was also listed in 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Phoenix (which has always been a favorite source of good hikes.)
The Goat Canyon Trail starts immediately after entering the park (right after the ticket booth). The first mile of the trail is a very level walk along the desert floor at the foot of the White Tanks. After this easy stroll, the trail starts slowly climbing up the mountain, for two-miles of continuous, gradual incline! Throughout this portion, the real star of the trail was the view of the Valley and distant Superstition and Four Peaks in the distance behind you. Just after the three-mile mark (the trail is conveniently marked at every mile), the trail levels out and passes just below the mountain peaks - though it also turns and loses the Valley vistas. This is pretty much how the trail continues until the terminus after 6.5 miles.
At the end of the Goat Canyon Trail, the trail intersects with two other trails: the Ford Canyon Trail and the Mesquite Canyon Trail. Although the this trail was listed as the Goat Canyon Trail/Mesquite Canyon Trail, the guidebook suggested continuing along the Ford Canyon Trail for one-mile until it intersected with the Willow Canyon Trail. (Yes, the White Tanks have a lot of "______ Canyon Trails"!) The Willow Canyon Trail is actually a fairly enjoyable descent back down mountain; in fact, there are actually small pools of water in the very green canyon between the mountain peaks.
After about 1.5 miles of the Willow Canyon Trail, the trail ends at the Mesquite Trail, which leads uneventfully back to the parking lots - only on the other side of the mountains! What the guidebook failed to stress (though in fairness, I just looked at the map without actually reading the trail description) is the fact that the trailhead for the Mesquite Trail is a couple miles down the road from the starting point at the Goat Canyon Trailhead! I attempted to shortcut this by passing along the Waterfall Trail (where there were some petroglyphs) and the Black Rock Loop. Unfortunately, this still required a lot of walking along pavement - so much, I almost considered hitching a ride! Eventually, I arrived back at my car for the short ride back to the Valley.
To view more photos of the Goat Canyon/Mesquite Canyon Loop, click here.