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Bull Dog Canyon
Saguaro Lake - Butcher Jones
Sycamore Creek
Four Peaks
Otero Canyon
Log Corral Wash
Sunflower Mine
Mt Ord
Sheep's Bridge
Saguaro Lake - Butcher Jones 
Difficulty:  3

Description: Nestled between Stewart Mountain and the Goldfield Mountains in the Tonto National Forest of Arizona lies a man-made reservoir called Saguaro Lake. The reservoir was built between 1925 and 1935 with the construction of the Stewart Mountain Dam, and it is fed by a series of up-stream lakes from the east: Roosevelt, Apache, and Canyon. Saguaro Lake in turn feeds the Salt River to the south. Being the last lake in the chain, it is almost always brimming full, even in drought years, making it a wonderful recreation site.  For the fisherman, the lake offers Walleye Pike, Largemouth Black Bass and Striped Yellow Bass.

Butcher Jones Trail runs along a section of Saguaro Lake’s northern shore, offering many scenic overlooks of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Colorful mountains surround the Salt River basin and add a dramatic backdrop to the lake. Butcher Jones Trail 463 provides access to some choice vantage points from which to catch a bird’s-eye view of the lake.

Once through the green gate almost any capable off-road vehicle can make the journey to the coves via a network of un-maintained dirt roads, hills and washes. The first cove is about three miles from the entrance, and the fifth cove is about ten miles away. The washes are soft smooth sand, but the area between the washes includes a number of hill climbs and descents that are noted for their deep ruts and loose gravel.

Rovers with low rage recommended for this trail.

Distance: 26.3 miles

Time: 3 hours

To the trailhead:  Take Highway 87 northeast from Phoenix. One mile after mile marker 199, turn right onto the Bush Highway. Two miles in, turn left into the Butcher Jones recreational area.  The trail entry is through the parking area on the right, after the beach.  Zero your odometer at the gate/sign. 

The trail: 




Cross the gate and veer left.  There is a large, sandy area that is good for airing down.  As you continue down the trail, there are multiple split tracks; either track is fine.  They all eventually merge back together.



You will arrive at the first obstacle which is on the left.  This is a rutted climb which arrives on the top of a small mesa.  Continue along the top of this mesa and veer right. 


You will see six trails below.  There are two descents to this playground.  The left track down is easier; the right track is more difficult.  After playing on this hill playground, you will exit the opposite hill, on the left.


Veer left away from the lake


Continue straight towards Four Peaks.  Turn left down and then up a small hill


You will arrive at the top of a mesa with four route choices for descent.  From the top, the far left is the easiest, the far right is the second easiest, and the left middle harder and the right middle the hardest.


Once at the bottom of the hill, you are again at the base of a hill playground.  You will exit at the top of these hills to the right.  Looking at this set of trails, if 1 is the easiest, then the trails should be labeled 2,3,4,5,1.


Veer right towards the lake.


Turn right.  Narrow and tippy.


Down to the left to the lake.  Picnic and swim.  This is cove 1.  Follow the sandy wash around to the right and straight NW.  The tracks split-they will remerge further down the trail.  Veer to the right to stay along the “canyon wall” on the right.


Go up the trail to the right onto a narrow ridge road.


Veer right and go down and up a small hill.  Take the far left approach down.  Go up the trail to the right.  Exit to the right heading towards the lake.


Veer left.


Follow sandy washes to the right.  The tracks split-they will remerge.  Arrive at cove 2.  Take the sandy wash out.  Veer left towards a set of four trails on a hill.  Exit right.


The track splits-it will remerge.


Go downhill.  Take far left track.  Ascend the hill: right track is easier than the left.


Veer right


Turn left.  Go down the hill


Go uphill (a sharp crest), cross wash, go back up the hill.


Turn right.  Follow the road along the top of the “mesa”


Descend hill. Right track is easier.  At the summit, exit left.


Follow track left. Descend rutted but fun.  Follow sandy wash out. Return to large sandy lot and back across cattle guard.


References (2007) Butcher Jones Trail. Retrieved September 22, 2007 from

Off (2006) 2001 Coves Cleanup. Retrieved September 22, 2007 from