Create an account

Start your adventure today.


    Already a member? Login

    Butcher Jones Trail

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    9.3 km
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    194 m
    User Ratings
    These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
    Be the first to add a review!
    Directions to Trailhead
    Butcher Jones Trail

    Butcher Jones Trail leads you through the Sonoran Desert to the shores of Saguaro Lake and the Salt River. This is an absolute oasis in the middle of the desert and an excellent place to spot wildlife like bighorn sheep, javelinas, and bald eagles. If you’re exceptionally lucky, you could even spot the wild horses of the Lower Salt River while travelling through the area. The hike is moderately difficult, with some narrow, rocky sections of trail and occasional overgrowth. It’s mostly downhill for the first half of the hike, and then you’ll be gaining moderate elevation on the way back.

    There is a beach and picnic area near the trailhead, so consider bringing along your picnic blankets and some bathing suits to cool off after your hike. Speaking of cooling off, this area can get incredibly hot in the summer months. We don’t recommend this hike between June and August, and you should be sure to bring lots of sunscreen, water, and protective clothing if you’re hiking between March and November.

    Download the 10Adventures App

    View Butcher Jones Trail on Map

    View Map

    Join our newsletter

    Get a weekly dose of discounts and inspiration for adventure lovers

    Route Description for Butcher Jones Trail

    Butcher Jones Trail is a rugged, scenic hike that takes you along the shore of Saguaro Lake to the Salt River. This hike is an excellent choice for those who like to watch wildlife, especially birds. Osprey, peregrine falcon, bald eagle, and more can be spotted in this area. You may also be treated to a sighting of the wild horses that live near the Salt River in Tonto National Forest.

    This trail is moderately difficult. The elevation gain is quite modest, but you’ll need to contend with narrow, rocky stretches of trail. Parts of this route may also be overgrown. Because of this, good boots and long pants (if you can stand them in the heat) are recommended.

    Keep in mind that rattlesnake season runs from April to October. If you see or hear a snake, keep a safe distance.

    Since this hike starts near the beach, we definitely recommend bringing some swimming attire and cooling off after your adventures. There’s also a picnic site at the lake.

    From the trailhead, hike down to the shores of the lake. You’ll make your way along the water as you walk around Peregrin Cove, the first of many small coves you’ll pass. These are popular spots for fishers.

    Admire the tall saguaro cacti as you explore, which dot the landscape in addition to several other kinds of cacti. The route dips down to the lakeshore at Campers Cove, then crosses the spit to the Salt River side.

    Your trip out ends at the shore of the Salt River. It’s been mostly downhill on the way out, so you’ll need to gain your elevation on the return trip, but it’s not a challenging task.

    As you hike back across the spit and then up the lakeshore, see if you can spot any birds, especially the area’s birds of prey. This oasis draws all sorts of animals to refresh in its waters.

    Across the spit, you’ll turn uphill and do a bit of short-lived climbing to reach Peregrin Cove once again, hiking along the lakeshore to return to the beach and picnic area.

    Toss out your towels, hop in the lake, and enjoy the rest of your day before heading out to your next adventure.

    Hiking Route Highlights

    Saguaro Lake

    Saguaro Lake is a small reservoir on the Salt River, formed by the Stewart Mountain Dam. The lake offers a beach and picnic area in addition to fishing opportunities. Fishers can catch rainbow trout, bass, carp, and more. The gem of Saguaro Lake is the 6.4 km hiking trail that follows the lakeshore and the shore of the Salt River. Despite the rugged desert surroundings of the lake, it’s an excellent place to birdwatch and spot mammals and reptiles.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Do you need a pass for Butcher Jones Trail?

    Yes. Pick up an $8 (subject to change) Tonto National Forest Day pass at the nearby Chevron or Circle K gas stations.

    Can you swim in Saguaro Lake?

    Yes, you can swim in the lake.

    Is Butcher Jones always open?

    The area is subject to occasional closures due to nearby wildfires. If there are fires in the area, plan to return another time.

    Insider Hints for Butcher Jones Trail

    • If you like off-roading, there is an OHV trail accessible from the picnic area road.
    • Shiprock Restaurant is on the far west side of the lake if you need a snack after your hike.

    Getting to the Butcher Jones Trail Trailhead

    The trailhead for the Butcher Jones Trail is at the end of E Butcher Jones Beach Road.

    Route Information

    • Backcountry Campground


    • When to do


    • Pets allowed

      Yes - On Leash

    • Family friendly


    • Route Signage


    • Crowd Levels


    • Route Type

      Out and back

    Butcher Jones Trail Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

    Check Area Weather

    Butcher Jones Trail Reviews

    Add a comment

    You must be logged in to post a comment.

    Nearby Trails

    Nearby Regions

    Get travel inspiration and discounts

    Join our weekly travel newsletter