travel and outdoors
badger springs wash
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Badger Springs Wash
January, 2008, Page 60
Photograph by Mare Czinar
Promotional literature doesn’t mention the quicksand. The treacherous little sinkholes lurk in the sandbars of the Agua Fria River Canyon, poised to suddenly grab onto a hiking boot and pull its occupant knee-deep into a mucky suction-hold.
Quicksand is just one of the reasons why exploring the canyon is not for inexperienced hikers. The trail begins on a well-defined dirt road that merges into footpaths along Badger Springs Wash. About a mile in, the trail meets the Agua Fria River.
There, prehistoric rock art on the canyon walls signals the beginning of the difficult portion of the hike. This is a good turnaround point for casual hikers. Adventurous trekkers can opt to slosh across the river and continue hiking off-trail through the canyon.
To do so, head right (west) and follow the water into the canyon, where rapids and vertical rock faces present a continual maze of water crossings, boulder hopping and route-finding challenges.
Above the soaring canyon walls, vultures gliding on the air currents serve as a reminder to tread lightly and carry a big stick – to test for quicksand.
2-12 miles (optional)
easy then very difficult
From Phoenix, go north on I-17 to exit 256 (Badger Springs Road). Turn right at the exit and continue down Badger Springs Road for about 1.25 miles to the parking area at the “Badger Springs Wash” sign.
Call the Bureau of Land Management, 623-580-5500 or visit
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