January 8, 2017, New River- I did it right, this time; I found, and walked, the Boy Scout Loop. Taking the northbound route, from New River’s Emery Henderson Trailhead, the next to last such springboard to Black Canyon National Recreation Trail, as one gets towards Phoenix, it was a non-taxing 5.75 miles, each way, including the Loop itself. Starting with the trailhead itself, there are five covered ramadas and BLM-style restrooms, greeting the bicyclists, hikers and equestrians who flock to this part of the Sonoran Desert, for a fair guarantee of a satisfying day in lush mesquite and saguaro forests.
The first 1/4 mile is marked by what had been a developer’s road, complete with blue-staked gas lines marking either side of the trail. There is no gas hook-up, nor are there any further signs of prospective development. This project was one that went belly-up in 2008.
Once past this bladed wasteland, the cacti, succulents and hardy desert trees take over. The terrain is not as rugged as that further north, with the washes and creek beds of the New River and its tributaries generally dry, even with the goodly amount of rain we had, the first few days of the new year.
The rock above had been struck by lightning, some years back, thus showing the bright sandstone, under its veneer of gray.
Near this crossroads, I came upon two runners- husband and wife. The lady had been injured, whilst running, and fortunately, the driver of this truck came back from target shooting, nearby, and was able to give them a ride back to the trailhead.
It’s always wise, even in easy terrain, to keep an eye out for the triangular Black Canyon Trail markers. Numerous ATV and shooting range roads cross the trail. I must add that target shooters have been uniformly careful, and respectful of those whose day in the desert is more oriented towards fitness. Younger shooters, and off -road drivers, are well-supervised by older family members. The teams are very careful, in my experience, to pick up their shell-casings and other trash.
After 1 1/2 hours, and 4.8 miles, I came to the southern end of Boy Scout Loop. I took the western route, going another 1.5 miles to the Loop’s northern terminus. The west side uses a BLM road, and features a moderate ascent, the only remotely challenging part of this segment. A Boy Scout troop from Cave Creek, about ten miles east of here, is said to have built this trail.
There are a few low mountains rising, north of Boy Scout Loop. One of these, at the base of which I stopped, the day after Christmas, turns out to be just across a wash bed from the BSL’s northern tip. The fence below marks a boundary between BLM land and State Trust property.
Above, is the rather well-hidden northern terminus of Boy Scout Loop. A single track leads back to the other end, going around a small mountain and through New River’s dry bed, on its way.
This segment, as indicated earlier, is a more leisurely, non-taxing route than its counterparts to the north. Nonetheless, it, and the remaining Biscuit Flat segment, which I will visit at the end of this month, are good indicators of the fragility of the Sonoran Desert, and of the special relationship the residents of New River and Table Mesa have with their surroundings. Indeed, on the way back, near where the runners were rescued, a man was coaching his daughter on proper shooting, cleaning a rifle and policing spent shell casings. I feel safer among such folk than I do in some shopping malls.
I topped off the day with a unique Jalapeno Ranch Burger, the pride of New River’s Raodrunner Saloon, which was, suitably, packed with locals this evening. Waylon and the kids are always gracious to those from near and far.
This was a fitting end to a well-spent Christmas-New Year’s. Tomorrow, it’s back to work for nine weeks. We will do well.