Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
8,233.00 ft (2,509.42 m)
Trail type
Shuttle
Distance
80.00 mi (128.75 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Black Canyon Trail (BCT), is an 80-mile, singletrack, National Recreation Trail that extends for 80 miles across a Sonoran Desert landscape within the foothills of the Bradshaw Mountains. Located between Phoenix, AZ and the Prescott National Forest boundary, the BCT runs parallel to Interstate 17. This non-motorized trail is open to hikers, trail runners, equestrians, and mountain bikers. 

The Black Canyon Trail is relatively easy, with moderate elevation gain and loss overall. Several trailheads are located along the length of the trail making it accessible to those interested in day hikes, weekend trips, and/or a full thru-hike.

CAMPING AND PERMITS

Backcountry/dispersed camping is allowed throughout the trail as long as visitors follow appropriate Leave no Trace principles. There are no permits or fees required to hike or bike this trail.

WATER

As with many desert trails, water can pose one of the biggest challenges. The Agua Fria River is one of the main water sources along the Black Canyon Trail and it is crossed multiple times. Halfway through the trail the town of Black Canyon City becomes accessible. A brief trip into town may be useful for resupply and to fill up on water. 

WEATHER AND SEASON

This desert trail features hot summers and little shade. In the winter the temperatures can drop below freezing at night, but during the day the averages are around 60-70 degrees making it the perfect winter getaway for anyone craving the sun while most of the country remains dark and cold. 

HISTORY

The BCT follows a route that was once used for Native American travelers and traders. In 2008 the trail received its National Recreation Trail designation. This designation came as the result of it’s  rugged nature, natural beauty, and historical significance. To learn more about the history of the trail and surrounding area please visit: History of the Black Canyon Trail

MORE INFORMATION

Black Canyon Trail Coalition: https://bctaz.org/

Bureau of Land Management: https://www.blm.gov/programs/recreation/mountainbike/blackcanyon.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Winter
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Days

5

Pros

Sonoran Desert Landscape. Easily Accessible Long Trail. Great Winter Trek.

Cons

Water may be difficult to find.

Trailhead Elevation

4,339.00 ft (1,322.53 m)

Highest point

4,526.00 ft (1,379.52 m)

Features

Wildlife
Historically significant
Backcountry camping
Near lake or river
Bird watching
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

Yes

Suitable for

Biking
Horseback

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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