Hawes Ridge Loop
The Hawes Trail System is a well-planned and maintained mountain biking and hiking route network near the Salt River in the Tonto National Forest of Arizona. The Hawes Ridge Loop combines several trails in the system into one hike with epic desert and river scenery.
This trail system is mostly used by mountain bikers, so you’ll need to share it. Additionally, bring more water than you think you’ll need and avoid this trail in the summertime or heat of the day; some users report struggling with heat exhaustion. You can make this hike your own by using the connecting routes to shorten or lengthen it as you please. If you want a longer loop in the same area, try the Hawes Trail System Loop.
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Route Description for Hawes Ridge Loop
The Hawes Trail System was developed by the Hawes Trail Alliance, a group of mountain bikers and hikers who worked to create, expand, and maintain this network of hiking and mountain biking paths. They built over 45.1 km of new trails and worked to improve 54.7 km of existing trails. Now, this network of routes is used by countless bikers and hikers from Mesa and the surrounding area.
With a few different trailheads, you can DIY your adventure using the interconnecting web of routes in this area. This hike makes a loop around the west side of the park, giving you a view of the tall saguaros and red rock hills of the park.
This is primarily a mountain biking trail, but most bikers are happy to slow down and announce themselves while passing. Share the trail and watch out for one another.
Bring more water than you think you’ll need on this hike. We recommend 3 litres per person or more. If you’re not used to the heat, avoid this hike between June and September or hike very early in the morning.
As you hike, look for beautiful views of Mount McDowell and glimpses of the Salt River. Parts of the route are undulating and parts require some more consistent climbing.
The first thing you’ll need to do is pick a spot to park. There isn’t a defined parking lot for this route and there are "No Parking" signs along N. Bush Highway that you’ll need to obey.
We recommend going a bit further north on the highway until you reach the 2nd parking lot on the opposite side of the road. You can then cross the street and there is a trailhead that connects to Hawes from the northern side.
From the trailhead, start out on Hawes Trail. Go right to hike along the base of a hill beside a wash. When the trail splits, stay left. Hike north to a 4-way junction and take the trail to the left, Upper Ridge. Stay on this route where Granite Trail breaks off to the north and follow it back to Hawes Trail.
Hawes will take you back to the trailhead.
Hiking Route Highlights
The Salt River borders the northern side of the Hawes Trail System. This river provides an oasis in the desert, attracting the birds of prey, native mammals, and wild horses that call the Tonto National Forest home. Adventurers in the area use the river for swimming, paddling, and fishing. Several dams create reservoirs along the river where hikers and campers come to enjoy the shoreline on hot days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Hawes Trail System for hikers?
While the area was developed with mountain bikers in mind, hikers are also welcome to use the trails.
Can I bring dogs on the Hawes Trail System?
Dogs are allowed on leash. Please keep your dogs on leash and close to you to keep them safe around the mountain bikers on this trail. Additionally, remember to bring water for your dogs.
Insider Hints for Hawes Ridge Loop
- There is camping at Coon Bluff nearby if you’re wanting to make a weekend out of your adventure.
- A trail map is definitely recommended if you’re unfamiliar with this trail system.
Getting to the Hawes Ridge Loop Trailhead
The trailhead for the Hawes Ridge Loop is on N Bush Highway.
Hawes Ridge Loop Elevation Graph
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Hawes Ridge Loop Reviews
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