Hawes Trail System Loop
The Hawes Trail System is a well-developed mountain biking and hiking route collection near the Salt River in the Tonto National Forest. This loop makes use of several trails in the system to put together a hike with awesome desert and river scenery. You can even check out an old mine shaft from the region’s past mining days.
This trail system is mostly used by mountain bikers, so you’ll need to share the trail. 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.
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Route Description for Hawes Trail System Loop
The Hawes Trail System was developed by the Hawes Trail Alliance, a group of mountain bikers and hikers who worked to expand this network of trails. 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 tons of bikers and hikers from Mesa and beyond.
With several different trailheads, you could create a dizzying array of adventures using the interconnecting web of routes in this area. This route follows a loop around the perimeter of the park, giving you a view of the Salt River Valley and the Usery Mountains.
This is primarily a mountain bike 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 continuing 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, take a right onto Hawes Trail. Follow this trail as it skirts the southern edge of the national forest. Take a left onto Saddle Trail until it ends in a T where Saguaro Trail intersects. Go right here and then take Mine Trail to where Saguaro Trail splits off again.
Taking a left at Saguaro Trail, hike to the T-junction. Turn left onto Granite Trail and follow it to where it meets Ridge Trail. Turn right here.
Following Ridge Trail will take you back to the junction with Hawes where the trailhead awaits.
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 Trail System 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 Trail System Loop Trailhead
The trailhead for the Hawes Trail System Loop is on N Bush Highway.
Hawes Trail System Loop Elevation Graph
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Hawes Trail System Loop Reviews
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