Black Canyon Trail: The Elusive K-Mine and More Agua Fria


Cactus Wren nest, in ocotillo plant.

January 24, 2016, Black Canyon City-  I returned to the Black Canyon National Recreation Trail,  this afternoon, with a long-time family friend and her dog in tow.  This hike was 5.5 miles round trip, not as intense as last week’s jaunt, but exactly what I had in mind.

We parked in the spacious Trailhead Lot, just north of Black Canyon City, and were treated to a taste of the lushness this section of the Sonora Desert offers.


Blooming creosote, Black Canyon City Trailhead


Ocotillo and sahuaro cacti, Black Canyon City Trailhead

We headed out, up a 1.1 section of trail called Horseshoe Bend, being on the south side of the feature of the same name, which was my stopping point last week.  It is not a strenuous trail section, and offers a few anomalies, such as the Pharaoh’s Face.  At the 1.1 mile point, Horseshoe Bend meets two other segments:  K-Mine and Skyline.  We took the K-Mine Trail, which took us close to the spot where I stopped last week.


Pharaoh’s Face, with a barrel cactus keeping watch, Horseshoe Bend segment, BCT


Friends along for the afternoon, junction of Horseshoe Bend and K-Mine Trails

The K-Mine Trail features mild switchbacks, down into a vast valley, outside Black Canyon (the natural feature).  The cacti and succulents here take full advantage of the water wealth proferred by the Agua Fria and its tributary streams.


K-Mine Trail, west of Black Canyon City


K-Mine Trail, west of Black Canyon City


Desert valley, west of K-Mine Trail

The K-Mine Trail offered striking vistas, before taking us down to the Agua Fria, southwest of last week’s fording spot.

We explored a bit along the Agua Fria, but my intuition said it would be best for the three of us, that we turn back.  This did not happen, though, before we checked out a small cataract, a bit upstream from the K-Mine Trail.


Edge of box canyon, along Agua Fria, near the K-Mine Trail


Agua Fria River, north of Black Canyon City, with small cataract in the background.

We met three young ladies, riding a quad and a small motorcycle, and watched as they gingerly negotiated the river.  After returning to the trail proper, we found yet another crossing place, but again I had a feeling in my gut to turn back.  So, up the K-Mine Trail we went again.  The short section of trail to my last stopping place can wait for another day.  Everyone’s well-being mattered more.

On the way up, we spotted a couple of cactus wren nests.  One was wedged in between the arms of a sahuaro.


Cactus wren nest, K-Mine Trail

With such confirmations as these, and several heart-shaped rocks along the way, we called the day a success.  More exploration of the Black Canyon Trail, and other such routes in Arizona, await, over the next several months.




10 thoughts on “Black Canyon Trail: The Elusive K-Mine and More Agua Fria

  1. 😀 cheaper than heart shaped boxes of chocolates! 😀 stunning pictures … it’s neat to know those cactus often are veyvery long lived…. kinda like hearing century plants aka agavas aren’t soo old as all that but how years go by before one can roast them sweeter for the nectar…7 years ish i believe. knowing that leaves much more wonder to the deserty scenes.

      • that is fairly accurate from again i’m not wholey sure either :D… I keep getting this image of an old west with flies buzzing about and someone trying to matter MATTER in their life and the chaos that ensues…only to have a cactus pup from the ground become small then a fairly sizable buld like that one you show above behind pharoes rock and then whoomp a family dynasty begineths as then whoomp the catus is full grown….but the motif says something of the dessert… it’s emptiness and yet’salmost laughter at whom is around and what means so much…see if a cactus cares over it’s 200 years what we think on today?

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