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Mesquite Canyon-Willow Canyon loop (White Tanks)

Mesquite canyon-Willow canyon trail loop (White tank regional park)
Willow Springs
hiking along the Mesquite canyon-Willow canyon trail loop (White tank regional park)
Mesquite canyon-Willow canyon trail loop (White tank regional park)
Rattlesnake on the Mesquite canyon-Willow canyon trail loop (White tank regional park)
Map: Mesquite canyon-Willow canyon trail loop (White tank regional park)
Elevation plot: Mesquite canyon-Willow canyon trail loop (White tank regional park)


How to Get There
This hike is located near Waddell, AZ.

To get to the trailhead: From the Phoenix area, take I-10 West to HWY-303. Take HWY-303 North (Right) to Olive Road. Turn left on Olive Road (West) and go five miles to the White Tank Mountain Regional Park. From the park entrance, follow Mountain Road North to the Waterfall Canyon Rd. Make a left here and drive to Ramada Way. Make another left and park at the Mesquite Canyon trailhead.
20304 W. White Tank Mountain Road
Phoenix Area and Central Arizona

Hike details

8.40 [Miles] Total
Hike Distance- Details
The loop hike described is 8.4 miles.
3.75 [Hours]
This hike took us 3.75 hours.
Elevation Change
1,600 Total gain/loss [Feet]
Elevation Details
About 1600 ft elevation gain.
Hike Trail Type
Lollypop Loop
Special Features
  • Water
  • Wild Flowers


Best Season
  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • October
  • November
  • December
Season Details
This is a good hike to do when it's cold in the Phoenix area. The spring during wildflower season is also a good time to hike this trail.
Date Hike completed
April 05, 2013


Solitude Details
This is the only problem with this hike. Expect to share this hike with about 35 other people on a typical winter weekend.


Difficulty Rating
difficulty detail
This was a very enjoyable hike through a sonoran desert. The rare desert spring and the trail through Willow Canyon is worth the price of admission. The loop hike described here is a Moderately-strenuous hike.


Be Aware of
Fee Area ($6 per car as of 2013).

Hike the Mesquite Canyon Willow Canyon trail loop in White Tanks regional park in Arizona.

From the parking area, follow the well maintained and well signed Mesquite Canyon Trail west into the mountains. The trail climbs quickly through the desert canyon, quickly gaining 500 ft in about 0.7 miles. After 1.7 miles of hiking, you will reach a trail junction (JCT 1L on the map). To the right is the Willow Canyon trail. For this loop hike, we will continue straight on the Mesquite Canyon Trail. This part of the trail stays flat for a bit and then climbs steeply again. After an additional 1.5 miles of hiking, you will come to the top of a ridge with good views of Slick Rock canyon and the surrounding White Tank Mountains. There is another trail junction here (JCT 2R on the map), where you turn right on the Ford Canyon trail. After 0.9 miles along this trail, you reach the signed junction of the Willow Springs Canyon trail (JCT 3R on the map) headed East. Turn right here and enjoy the descent through this lovely canyon. The trail is quite picturesque here, as it stays high on the wall of the canyon providing good views of the wash below. Soon (perhaps 0.3 miles) you will near a crossing of the wash. On your right will be evidence of a ranch, with a dry tank. There is an unsigned spur trail here that will take you (after a few hundred feet of walking) to Willow Springs.

Willow springs is one of those very unique features in an otherwise bone dry desert. Green vegetation is evident in abundance and the source is a year round spring. We took this hike during a prolonged dry spell (3 months) and the spring was still running. After enjoying the view of the spring, continue down Willow Canyon trail back to the junction with the Mesquite Canyon trail. It will be about 1.7 miles from the Ford Canyon trail junction. 

From here, turn left and make the quick 1.7 miles decent back to your car.


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