Hiking and mountain biking near the Salt River

There are a number of formal and informal trails around the Lower Salt River area. The easiest way to find detailed trail information for the area you want to explore is to simply search trail databases like hikearizona.com or alltrails.com.

Hiking the Coon Bluff/Phon D Sutton area

There are a number of trails in the Coon Bluff and Phon D Sutton area. If you’re looking for a great viewpoint of the Lower Salt River, you’ll want to hike one of the trails that climbs Coon Bluff.

The Maricopa Trail and Sun Circle Trail

The Maricopa Trail is an ambitious 315-mile multipurpose trail that loops around metro Phoenix, connecting many of the existing city desert preserves and county regional parks. The Sun Circle Trail is a shorter version, which cuts through the heart of the city and shares its southern route with the Maricopa Trail. Both of these trails cross the Salt River just west of the Granite Reef Diversion Dam. However, the Maricopa Trail includes an additional spur segment that skirts the south side of the river, passing through both Granite Reef and the Hawes Trail System, and eventually connecting to Usery Mountain Regional Park.

Hawes Trail System

The Hawes Trail System is located in the Tonto National Forest on the south side of Bush Highway between Power Road and Usery Mountain Road. This trail system currently boasts about 25 miles of multipurpose trails, though there is a proposed master development plan that would greatly expand the system, including designating additional parking areas. 

Usery Mountain Regional Park

This Maricopa County regional park is located off Usery Pass Road about 5 miles south of the Bush Highway. You’ll need to pay an entrance fee to access the park, which includes more than 29 miles of trails.

Red Mountain

For many kayakers, Red Mountain stands as a sentinel along the Lower Salt River. Its official name is Mount McDowell—named after General Irwin McDowell, a Union officer in the Civil War—but it’s also occasionally called FireRock or Gunsight Butte, as well.

Located on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation, Red Mountain is explicitly off-limits to hikers, or visitors of any kind. We’re privileged to have so many amazing mountains and landscapes available for us to recreate on, but this is one that simply is not. In short, don’t go there.

That said, you’ll still get magnificent views of the mountain along the river, especially the stretch between Goldfield and Granite Reef. There are also excellent vistas along the Beeline Highway and along Power Road just south of Granite Reef.