logo Arizona Trailblazers
Outdoor Links
Hike Arizona
Trip Planning Guide
Trip Report Index
Calendar of Events
Badger Springs Day Hike
Agua Fria National Monument
December 10, 2011
by Wendy Rennert
  GPS Map 
by Ted Tenny
Front Row: Quy, Monika, Olga, Ajay, Wendy K.
2nd Row: Ted, Wendy R., Michael, Debbie, Dave.
3rd Row: Yanis.
4th Row: Dan, Wayne, Eileen, Rudy, Karen, Jean.
5th Row: Amber, Dani, Terri, Arturo

The payoff for our early 7 AM meet-up time was that we all got to see the amazing lunar eclipse as we drove to our carpool meeting location!

The funny thing was, there was another group from the Sierra Club gathering in this same parking lot, also on their way to the Agua Fria National Monument area, but to Baby Canyon, just a few miles north of where we were going.

Lunar eclipse. [by Dave French]
Prehistoric Etch-O-Sketch.
Looking north up the Agua Fria River.
Despite the chilly 37° starting temperature at the trailhead, our sizable group of 21 Trailblazers found it to be perfect hiking weather once we got moving. The first 0.8 mile was a pleasant stroll in the Badger Springs Wash, a sandy riparian plant community of cottonwoods, willows and grasses, which was a nice contrast to the desert scrub in the hills above to either side.

We soon reached the junction of the Agua Fria River, which would essentially be our 'trail' for the duration of the hike. But before beginning on our riverbed journey, we paused to take in the views of the petroglyph panels. I saw maybe 50 symbols, but the trailhead info tells us there are at least 86 individual petroglyphs on the rock faces. We also checked out the metate and mano grinding stones that the local Perry Mesa Tradition Native Americans used to grind corn and seeds between about A.D. 1250 and 1450. Some folks speculate that this location was a gateway to the river and may have been seen as a place of special power and significance. The scenic views both up and down the river are spectacular from this point.

Ice chunks make for a cool reflection – literally.
Unexpected colorful reflections.

We did not, however, find the remnants of the arrastra tool that miner William Perry used to mine gold back in 1878 (a stone-lined circular pit with groove patterns on the flat stone slabs from crushing the ore). A challenge for another day, perhaps. With Perry Mesa (named after William Perry) across the river to the east, and Black Mesa to the west, we took the southward route down the Agua Fria River. The river bed was mostly dry on this visit, which made the boulder hopping a bit easier. There were pools of water here and there, some with ice sheets starting to form.

The boulders were mostly granite and also some lava, all polished smooth from the water that usually flows through here. It is always amazing to see the result of the forces of water erosion on huge slabs of granite – sinuous undulating shapes which are quite artistic.

green red
The Christmas-colored pools of water make for a festive holiday time hike.
On a spring day, you'd be throwing them an inner tube ...
The majority of the grey boulders were sporting a nice tan line – but not the kind you are thinking of! These lines mark where the waters flow during high water times. They were a good 3-4 feet above where we were walking. Note to self: must come back during the spring season!

Our large group became pretty spread out, as we each traversed the boulders at varying speeds in our own ways. Some concentrated on how to best maneuver the stepping stones, while others went in search of interesting trail treats and treasures.

Darn, no cave or mine here! Worth a try.
We start to spread out in the canyon.
A speckled wonder of conglomerate rock.
Is Wilma yelling at Bam Bam?
This Badger has a bit of a headache!
A few kinks in the plumbing system ...
A colorful South view down the Agua Fria.
After we battled the ferocious and famous Badger of Badger Springs... (oh wait, I might be exaggerating just a tad, but we did actually find a Badger skull along the way), we then became fascinated by a series of rusted out large pipes on man-made stone columns at about the 2.5 mile point. A few hikers continued on for about another 1/2 mile to the junction of Perry Canyon, to see if they could follow the old pipe system to some sort of end, but found they could not get past the dammed up area too easily. The rest of us had a snack break near the beginning of our pipe discovery, which is where the group photo was taken.

Turns out, (according to a hiking book at the gift shop in Rock Springs) those pipes were part of the system of the former Richinbar Mining operation, which was situated some 700 feet above us on top of Black Mesa. We could have easily stayed out all day exploring the area, but this was our advertised turnaround point, so we headed back to the trailhead.

The sandy soil of Badger Spring Wash are a sight for sore eyes – or feet!
Table for 18, please!

Besides, the pie at Rock Springs Café was calling our name...

Supplemental Report
by Ted Tenny

An eclipse of the moon was going on right before me as I drove to I-17 & Bell for Wendy Rennert’s hike along the Agua Fria River. The hike was delightful, in a boulder-strewn river bed with colorful scenery along the way.

Hmmm, this looks interesting. [photo by Ted]
Ancient artwork. [photo by Ted]
Trailblazers in the Agua Fria River bed. [photo by Ted]
We move cautiously among the boulders. [photo by Ted]
This part of the river forms a canyon. [photo by Ted]
Looks yummy, but it tastes like rock. [photo by Ted]
Wendy takes the group picture. [photo by Ted]
Green for Christmas. [photo by Ted]
Red for Christmas. [photo by Ted]
There has been water here. [photo by Ted]
      top Top of Page
Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
Comments? Send them to the AZHC .

updated June 3, 2020