Park Itinerary


Maricopa County's regional park system attracts thousands of visitors each year. With over 120,000 acres in the park system, there is plenty to see and explore. However, sometimes visiting a new place can be a little overwhelming when you don't know what's available. To make sure your visit to White Tank Mountain Regional Park is a pleasant experience, we've pulled together a couple of basic itineraries to get you started on your journey.

I have this much time available              Here's what I can experience
1 - 2 hour visit:
  • Enjoy a leisurely visit in our beautiful library and nature center. Watch live snakes and scorpions up close. Learn fascinating facts about the park and the first native desert dwellers. Purchase quality gifts for family and friends to take back home. Meander through the library and see the majestic mountains framed in the panoramic windows in this award-winning LEED platinum, environmental efficient building.
  • Enjoy a brief hike along the Wildlife Trail to the parks nature pond which includes a functioning windmill that was built on the site of the original 92-year-old well, interpretive signage and benches for wildlife viewing.
  • One of the most popular trails in the park is the Waterfall Canyon Trail which leads to a dark pool in a narrow box canyon. Right after a good rain there really is a waterfall. This trail also houses the "Petroglyph Plaza," some of the finest petroglyphs found in the park. This two-mile round-trip walk along a barrier free trail is rated easy in level of difficulty. Strollers and wheelchairs alike can easily maneuver this trail.
  • Still wanting to continue your hike after the Waterfall Canyon Trail? Hop onto one of the Black Rock Trails and check out the interpretive signs that display information about the petroglyphs and plants found along the trail. The shorter loop is approximately 1/2-mile long and circles the dark outcrop that gives the trail its name. The longer segment is around 1.3-miles around and will drop you off in the group picnic area where you can enjoy a picnic.
  • The Waddell Trail is also a nice easy two-mile round trip hike along the foot of the mountain that starts at Area 7. Near the end of the trail is a deep wash cut by excessive water rushing down the mountains.
  • Come for an early drive and watch the sunrise over the valley as well as look for wildlife.
2-3 hour visit:
  • Come along one of the scheduled ranger led hikes and learn about the Upland Sonoran scrub desert.
  • Walk the first loop of the Sonoran Loop Bicycle Competitive Track which is about 3-miles. About half way, you will see an old block ring from the first half of the 20th century. It is recommended that you walk the opposite direction than the bike riders.
  • Another easy two-mile loop is the South Trail/Goat Camp Trail combination that wanders across the Black Canyon bajada. Start at Restroom 1 and hike the South Trail to the junction of the Goat Camp Trail. Turn right and return on the Goat Camp Trail to the trailhead. Complete the loop on the Black Canyon Road back to Restroom 1.
  • Did you bring your mountain bicycle with you? Enjoy a nice ride across the desert and through dry washes on the Sonoran Loop Competitive Track. Be aware of the technical loops and know your limits.
  • Contact the White Tank Riding Stables for a one or two hour horseback ride in the park. (623) 692-9498.
3 hour visit:
  • Are you seeking a trail that showcases the best of what White Tank Mountain Regional Park has to offer? Then the Ford Canyon Trail is the trail for you! Starting at Restroom 9, the Ford Canyon Trail offers a little of everything. From an easy walk across the open desert and small hills, to views of deep washes and an open valley. At the end of the open valley, the trail turns up into a steeper, rugged gorge filled with bus-sized boulders and white polished slabs in the wash below. Continue on in the sandy wash to the abandoned dam built in the early 1900's. The level of difficulty from the trailhead to the dam ranges from easy to difficult with an elevation gain of about 700 ft. in the three miles to the dam. Beyond the dam, the trail continues in the sandy wash to the Willow and Mesquite Canyons and is very difficult and not recommended for novice hikers, small children and pets. If you are planning on hiking the Ford Canyon Trail in its entirety, please start early; take a lot of water and plan on an all day hike of about 9.1-miles.
  • Start at the nature center and hike the Mule Deer Trail across the east boundary of the park for the best view of the entire Valley of the Sun. Continue if you wish to the nature pond and windmill. Return by the same moderate trail for a round trip hike of about 5-miles.
4-5 hour visit:
  • Want to get up into the mountains and see more of the park? Try our Mesquite Canyon Trail Loop, a favorite among the annual pass holders. Starting at Area 7, the Mesquite Canyon Trail starts with the steepest climb, gaining 700 ft. in elevation in the first mile. After that it levels off to a more reasonable steady climb as it skirts the wide open upper Mesquite Canyon to connect with Ford Canyon and Goat Camp trails. Return via the Willow Canyon Trail and lower Mesquite Canyon Trail. Watch for the rock walls, old shack foundation, and water tank ring left by cattle men in the 1930's on the Willow Trail. This is a difficult 8.4-mile hike and is not recommended for novice hikers, small children and pets.
6-8 hour visit:
  • Are you training for the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim hike or an upcoming marathon? Well, if it's a strenuous hike you seek, the Goat Camp Trail is perfect for you. In about three-miles it barges straight up the outwash plain, climbs 1,700 ft. into the upper "hanging" valley with its different vegetation, and traverses the slowly rising floor to the old stone corrals. The trail is approximately 10.5-miles as a loop down through Mesquite Canyon. Hikers should start at Area 1 and end at Area 7 (or vice versa). The trail receives an extremely difficult rating and is NOT for novice hikers, small children or pets - experienced hikers only. Hikers are encouraged to allow for more than six hours, start early and take lots of water. If you wish to hike around the entire loop back to your car, start at the Horse Staging area adding the Mule Deer and Bajada Trails for a 13.3-mile hike.
Ranger Picks:
  • Join the ranger for the Black Rock Archeology Walk. This is a half-mile hike on a flat trail to one of the largest and most concentrated collection of Hohokam and Yavapai petroglyphs in the Valley. The hike will discuss history and lifestyles of the early native people of the Valley and try to decipher the meaning of some of the ancient rock art symbols along the trail. See park calendar of events for upcoming dates and times.
  • Come to White Tank Mountain Regional Parks Nature Center for a talk about the cold blooded Venomous Creatures that inhabit our desert. The Interpretive Ranger will have several venomous creatures and a few other creepy crawlies of the desert on display.
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