Ben Avery Trail
Trailhead: Courthouse Rock
Length: 20 miles roundtrip
Wilderness Area: Eagletail Wilderness
**Kid Friendly Hike**
Directions to Trailhead:
From Phoenix, drive west on I-10 to Exit 81. Cross the highway and turn right onto Harquehala Valley Road. Drive 5 miles south to Courthouse Rock Road. Turn right and check your odometer. Follow Courthouse Rock Road towards Courthouse Rock until you reach the intersection with a gas pipeline road. Follow the pipeline road. When you are 10.8 miles from the point you checked your odometer, turn left and follow the road 1.5 miles to the Courthouse Rock Trailhead. The trailhead is accessible in a sedan (we did it), but a high clearance vehicle would be preferable.
A topo map and a compass really helps on this trip. The trail follows an old jeep road from the trailhead. After a mile, it drops into a wash and heads west. The wash gets narrow and then the trail climbs steeply out of the wash onto an old jeep road. Continue following the road as it crosses a low ridge and then descends back to another wash. The hiking is easy and quite pretty. If you look around, you will see several natural arches.
About 2 miles in, there is a large tank visible on the side of a hill. Just before this point the jeep road crosses the wash. At this point you should turn left (south) and follow the wash. The first time we did this trip, we followed the road. The road took us up to the tank and then west toward an impressive double arch and then northwest into a canyon. The canyon was quite pretty but it is overgrown and made hiking difficult. It was a very interesting area to explore, but it is not the Ben Avery Trail.
The correct route follows the wash before the tank for a couple of hundred yards. Then a jeep trail picks up and follows and crosses the wash several times. About 3 miles from the trailhead, there are two large rock-strewn hills with dozens of petroglyphs. They are really quite amazing. In this area, a second wash joins in from the right and the jeep road ends. Turn left and follow the wash east. Indian Spring is literally around the corner from the petroglyphs. Camping is prohibited within 1/2 mile of Indian Spring.
From Indian Spring, the route stays in the wash and the walls of the canyon narrow. This area was one of my favorites. After another mile, the canyon opens up and the surrounding terrain flattens out. Rather than stay in the wash, we discovered that it was easier to leave the creek and follow old game and jeep trails while paralleling the wash.
We turned around about 2 miles after the narrow canyon ended. The trail continues another 4 miles to Topnotch Butte. The topo map indicates that the majority of the remainder is flat and follows and old jeep road.
When we hiked this in March 2000, there were several pools of water left over from recent storms. Indian Spring had some water, too. I would not even consider hiking this in the summer.
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