Statistics

DifficultyIntermediate
Miles800+
Time5-6 days
LandBLM, USDA FS, AZTL, Tribal
Elevation1,300-10,000 Ft.
StintApproximately 180 mi.

Download

This download consists of GEOJson, GPX, and KML files.

Trail Write-ups

Currently, there are no trail write-ups on this route.

Important information

The Navajo Nation section of this route is currently closed.

Arizona State Parks and Trails is currently developing a management plan for the entire trail. Expect re-routes and changes to this route sometime soon.

Route Description

The Great Western Trail is a 3000+ mile multiple-use trail that travels from Mexico to Canada. This route is the original Arizona section of the Great Western Trail. The route incorporates some of Arizona’s well-known scenic drives, such as Mount Lemon, Pioneer Pass, Four Peaks, Seven Springs Rd, Cherry Rd, and several others.

You can complete this route in sections. There are several opportunities to bail out, fuel up, and get groceries.

Destinations

There isn’t much to see directly along this route, but exploring some side trails will take you to some incredible destinations. There are several abandon mines, old cabins, and even state parks to visit. I would suggest downloading our POI collection and choose some destinations.

Among these locations are the historic town of Lochiel and the Marcos de Niza monument, American Flag Ranch, monster cactuses near Mammoth, and several fishing destinations.

Requirements

The route is super easy and suitable for any lightly equipped 4wd truck or SUV. Wet weather conditions may change that. You must be prepared to spend at least three days without services. Extra fuel is not required.

Photos


Statistics

DifficultyExpert
Miles450+
Time5-6 days
LandBLM, NPS, AZTL
Elevation1300-7000 Ft.
  

Download

This download consists of GEOJson, GPX, and KML files.

Trail Write-ups

Parashant 1 day 1
Parashant 1 day 2
Parashant 2
Parashant 3 is coming soon!
Also, visit the Parashant National Park website to read more about road conditions.

Important information

A $25 entrance fee is required to visit the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Visit the National Park website to learn more.

DO NOT DRIVE INTO THE GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK! There is no gate and only signs to indicate the National Park boundary on your way to Mollies Nipple overlook. You must park at the boundary and hike the last 2 miles to the overlook. No fee is required to hike into the Grand Canyon National Park.

Hi ranger Todd!

There is no cell phone service anywhere along these trails. Cell phone service is currently only available at the canyon overlooks if you use the Verizon network.

Route Description

Get your rig ready and make sure you’re prepared for this 400 mile plus journey to the most beautiful overlooks of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. You will travel through Arizonas deepest sandstone canyons as you make your way to the Granet Gorge.

This collection consists of maintained county roads and highly technical 4×4 trails. You will find several sections that require technical driving skills and recovery equipment. Vehicle failure is possible on these routes and could be devastating. A vehicle recovery could take 4 days or more, so be prepared for anything.

There are over 1,500 miles of trails in this collection that provide many route options. These routes are not maintained, and there are no services for hundreds of miles. You will need to pack in a full tank of extra fuel for each vehicle plus enough supplies for a minimum of 5 days. Do not underestimate this area. Climbing in and out of deep canyons will use more fuel than anticipated.

Destinations

There are endless opportunities for adventure along these routes. Nearly a hundred old ranches lay scattered throughout the Parashant National Mount, along with several other relics of the pioneer days.

There are four National Parks in this collection. The only area requiring a fee is the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The Gold Butte National Monument and the Parashant National Monument do not require an entrance fee.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park is accessible from Mollies Nipple. However, you will need to hike approximately 2 miles to visit the Mollies Nipple overlook.

Requirements

This collection consists of about 1,500 miles of dirt roads. The shortest distance required is 400 miles of dirt. This route will require a minimum of 4 days to complete but can take up to 5 or 6 days, depending on destinations. Requires expert driving, route finding, and problem-solving skills. You will find boulders 12 inches in diameter or more on some sections.

Photos

 

400 4×4 trails and 1500 points of interest in Arizona 

I’m sure a lot of you have seen our adventure map. It’s one of the biggest reasons folks visit our website. It’s an amazing collection of offroad trails throughout Arizona, and all of them were recorded during our travels. Arizona is full of offroad adventure, and by tracking our every move, we have developed a collection that takes you to nearly every corner of the state. Whenever I hit the dirt, the GPS track starts recording, and we have always tried to find the best way to share them with you. Continue reading

By far the best 4×4 adventure in Arizona.

The Grand Canyon is one of the largest canyons in the world. Most people will never get a chance to experience most of this natural wonder. To reach many of the canyons overlooks, you must have a highly modified 4×4, superb driving skills, days to spend, and a full tank of extra fuel. Don’t forget your camera, because you’re going to need it! Continue reading

A 4×4 adventure trail through the Sierra Ancha Mountains in Arizona

Sierra Ancha Mountains Loop is a highly demanding 4×4 adventure trail that will take you to Young Arizona. There are a few attractions but the trail is mostly scenic. The trail can be driven in any direction. Visit during the fall season for the variety of color.

The Cherry Creek portion of this trail is subject to severe flooding. You will encounter multiple water crossings and washouts may occur. Trail maintenance may be required. There is no wood at the marked campsites. Around PB Ranch you will find the best campsites along the trail with plenty of down trees,

See the trip report from this adventure click HERE

Sierra Ancha Mountains loop 4x4 trail Arizona
Making our way through the Cherry Creek

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Trail Rating
Difficulty
Scenic Beauty
Isolation
Physical Demand
Ooo Ahhh
Trail Information
Total Distance 117.7 Miles (Allow 2 days)
Elevation Gain 11,850 Feet
Maximum Elevation 6,379 Feet
Fuel Stop Tonto Basin, Young
High Clearance Required
Full Size With Caution
Nearest Wilderness Area Sierra Ancha, Salome
Opportunities 4X4, Camp, Bike, Hike, Fish, Hunt
Land Management USFS, Private
Flash Flood Yes
Winter Closure Yes
Best Season Avoid Winter

A long-awaited trip to the Sierra Ancha Mountains

I was thrilled by our members’ positive response about our most recent trip through the Sierra Ancha mountains. The trip had been on my bucket list for months until a last-minute decision and time to spare sent us down the forest road 203 back to Globe. It wasn’t part of the plan, but my friend Ryan and I were more than thrilled; we didn’t want to go home!

We started our trip in Punkin Patch and made our way to the Tonto Creek to air down the tires. As we ascend picture mountain, we got an awesome view of the Tonto Basin from behind and Juniper Canyon to the left. “Keep an eye on your temperature gauge,” I think to myself as we climb 1800 feet to the saddle of picture mountain and Juniper Mountain. In just over 2 miles, we reach the saddle, where the sound of the wind blowing through the tall pine trees becomes prominent. From here on, it’s a nice easy ride all the way to State Route 288.

As we continue, the driver’s side window is full of excitement. Turkey Creek has some beautiful rock formations and waterfalls. It’s a great place to stop for lunch and a quick look at the canyon. I could only imagine seeing the waterfalls in motion. After some time, you enter a burned area where the trees open up, and Manzanita dominates the landscape. From the trail, you can see the Mogollon rim nearly 50 miles away. The views are spectacular for the next 40 miles all the way to State Route 288. Arizona State Route 288, AKA Desert to Tall Pines Scenic Road, is a 52 mile maintained dirt trail that travels from Theodore Roosevelt lake to Young. It’s true to its name and provides travelers a chance to witness the change from desert to the forest, along with some great opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and 4 wheeling.

As the sun sets, we approach Young. It’s a little late to be setting up camp, but we find a spot after searching for a while and settle in for the night.

View from the saddle of Picture and Juniper mountains. Looking over Tonto basin and Juniper Canyon.

View of the Mogollon Rim in the distance over 50 miles away.

Another view of the burned area. You can see for miles.

Gotta grab a pic before the trees close in.

Settling in for the night just outside of Young.

Another destination checked off the list, Cherry Creek.

Day 2

Day 2 began with breakfast and a quick run to the Young gas station to top off fuel and ice chest. We were sure to grab some more food and water. The word on the trail is that Cherry Creek is washed out and not passable. We had no idea what to expect, and we were prepared for a challenging 80 miles to Globe. Unsure of how long it would take, we quickly made our way to the trail.

Right away, we drop into a rocky river bed, and the trail is nearly unrecognizable. Following the forest service signs, we climb out of the river and onto FR 203. The fall colors gradually become stronger as we continue. The trail becomes more and more predictable as it winds up, over, and around the canyon of Cherry Creek. Each tributary provides beautiful color, water, and a path to the rocky cliffs above. The mountains here are amazing. Sheer cliffs rise above the trail to the west, where you will find the Sierra Ancha Wilderness. Here, you can find prehistoric cliff dwellings built sometime around 1350 A.D. by the Salado Indians. Some are extremely difficult to access, requiring free climbing and rappelling. Extreme rock climbers and backpackers could spend weeks exploring the Aztec peak and the surrounding mountains. Along the way, P B Ranch sits to the east of the trail. It’s a nice place to stop for lunch or camp for the night. There are a cabin and other remains of the pioneer days.

Along FR 203, there are several small washouts at every river crossing. Nothing a high clearance 4×4 with an experienced driver couldn’t handle. One section tilts you towards the cliff, where a washout has taken the trail. In another section, the trail is completely gone, and others have created a bypass. The bypass requires a sharp, off-camber, 2 point turn. Highly modified off-road vehicles can use the original trail and take advantage of the washout. The trail is undercut about 3 to 4 feet and ready to collapse just ahead of the bypass. Drivers must navigate these sections with caution. Full-width, long wheelbase vehicles will have issues on this Trail. Several sharp dips range from 4 to 5 feet, where high center and hanging your bumper can become an issue.

It’s a slow, bumpy, but easy 35-mile ride to the county-maintained portion ahead. As we press forward, we spot a blue jay and a herd of mule deer.  It’s a great day to be a deer on Cherry Creek. They pay no attention to us as we stop, photograph, and admire. At our lunch stop, we meet a hunter. He tells us about a huge washout down the trail that he almost flipped his 4 wheeler on. This builds more excitement for Ryan and me. We reach the washout and find a bypass. After cautiously navigating the washout, we continue towards State Route 288. The trail becomes maintained for approximately 20 miles before we reach state route 288. We hit the blacktop just in time for a beautiful sunset over Theodore Roosevelt Lake.

The first water crossing heading towards Cherry Creek.

Gotta have a sharp eye if you want to catch the Mule deer.

Trees closing in on the trail.

Mexican Jay

Approaching the Cherry Creek

The Wilderness in the background is very rarely accessed from the east. Many prehistoric Salado ruins are directly accessible from Forest Road 203.

The trees greet us as we continue forward. This was the mutually agreed lunch stop.

An incredible amount of color with an elevated view of Cherry Creek.

The washed-out, undercut section at Gold Creek. Stay towards the wall.

Most people often forget to look behind them.

The foliage was awesome along the trail. This vine was eye-catching.

Photo opportunity as well as a great camping spot.

This small side trail leads to Cheery Creek at the bottom of the canyon.

An old and obviously abandoned Tonto National Forest sign describing the prehistoric cliff dwellings in the surrounding mountains.

You can find this crested saguaro cactus at the intersection of Forest Road 203 and State Route 288.

The sunset on the way home was worth waiting for.

Cherry Creek road, aka Forest Road 203, is set to close this year upon completing the 2018 Tonto National Forest travel management plan.

The trail weaves in and out of the Sierra Ancha Wilderness. During the Sierra Ancha Wilderness creation, land managers failed to align the Wilderness border with Forest Road 203. The southern portion of the Wilderness border is aligned with the trail; the northern portion is not. By law, a Wilderness Area can’t contain any roads. Therefore, our land manager’s solution is to close Forest.   Road 203. Unfortunately, it will take an act of Congress to realign the Wilderness border and keep Cherry Creek Road open for all.

Furthermore, once Cherry Creek Road is closed, there will be no way to access a large portion of the Sierra Ancha Wilderness. It will effectively Place tens of square miles of public land on gridlock. It really bums me out, but I’m glad I got a chance to complete Cherry Creek Road before its closure. With all of the trails in Arizona facing closure, this one might be the biggest loss. Young strongly relies on tourist activity. With the off-road community being a good portion of that tourism, Cherry Creek Road will no longer be an attraction. Yes, there are other ways to get to Young. But Cherry Creek road is a historical trail that has previously attracted many off-road enthusiasts from all over Arizona.

Here you can see this portion of the Wilderness boundary is properly aligned with Forest Road 203.

Here you can see the Wilderness border is not aligned with Forest Road 203.