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white tank mountain Ford Canyon Trail

White Tank Mountain

Maricopa County Regional Park



Left: Ford Canyon Trail. Rocky and rugged in areas, good hiking shoes or boots are necessary. NOT wheelchair accessible. Other trails in the park are wheelchair accessible. Read article for details.

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Take the W. Olive exit from the west loop of 101 and go east on Olive. The road runs through rural, but rapidly changing (as housing intrudes), desert. The west end of Olive enters the White Tank Mountain Regional Park.

Protected from development, this pristine park allows one to experience the valley in its original, unspoiled state. A herd of 800 mule deer reside in the park, along with bob cats, javelina, wild birds, rattlesnakes, scorpions and numerous other desert inhabitants.

Numerous trails run throughout the park, ranging from easy and flat to rocky and rugged. Boulders along some trails contain ancient petroglyphs - STAY OFF THE BOULDERS.
petroglypsh on boulders in white tank mt Arizona

Above Right: Petroglyphs along Waterfall Trail. Wide, flat and wheelchair accessible up to the petroglyph area.


Click photos for larger view.
bench along Waterfall Trail White Tank Park Arizona

Above: One of numerous benches along Waterfall Trail.
Right: Waterfall Trail - easy most of the way;
Waterfall Trail is a barrier free, wheelchair accessible 1 mile hike
Waterfall trail and wide and flat

Saguaro bloom White Tank Mountain Arizona desert bloom White Tank Park Arizona

The photos above were taken during the spring bloom on May 6, 2007. Spring bloom varies; you can usually catch it in late April and early May.

Ford Canyon Trail White Tank Park Ford Canyon Trail White Tank Park

Above: Ford Canyon Trail runs through flat desert and steep sided natural washes.
Stop by the visitor's center for maps, information, and supplies. If you are lucky, you might spot a mule deer in the area. We had just missed one when we stopped by in the early morning.

Due to stinging ants, rattlesnakes and other creatures that you might not want to get too cozy with, stay on the trails. This also protects the environment, which is important because on a busy weekend the park can receive over 500 cars full of park visitors. Over-use and mis-use can cause damage to a delicate habitat. Wear shoes or hiking boots to help protect the feet from creepy-crawlers. I had to do a quick 2-step when I got too close to an ant hill.

Fall through spring is the best time to visit. Summer brings on intense heat. Spring provides spectacular blooms of saguaro cactus and other plants of the Sonoran Desert. After a good rain, water might be visible at the falls on the Waterfall Trail.

As in all Arizona travel, bring plenty of water and sunscreen. There is not a lot of shade; so bring a wide brimmed hat and a good pair of sun glasses.

Overnight camping is permitted in designated areas. The 25 miles of trails are designated as "shared use", meaning that they are used for hiking, horseback riding (bring your own horse) and mountain bikes.
Ford Canyon Trail White Tank Park
Ford Canyon Trail

Special Tips

Traveling with children, pets or special needs


Waterfall Trail accessibility information  Accessibility
The Waterfall trail is wide, flat and handicap accessible most of the way to the waterfall area. This trail offers sights of petroglyphs on boulders, beautiful desert terrain, and distant downtown Phoenix.

The numerous paved roads throughout the park provide views of the desert and city beyond. Several picnic areas are conveniently located just off the road, as are handicap accessible restrooms.

Left: Barrier free Waterfall Trail
  
accessibility information  Traveling with children Please - STAY OFF THE BOULDERS. Children love to climb over rocks, but many boulders contain petroglyphs that need to be preserved for future generations. For the safety of your children and the environment, keep your children on the paths. The desert is a habitat for several varieties of stinging insects plus rattlesnakes. Cactus are fun to look at, but not fun to touch.

Biking in the desert provides a fun way to explore the wonders that only a pristine area such as this can provide.

Children can dehydrate more quickly than adults; bring plenty of water. Sunscreen, sun glasses and hats provide needed protection for little ones as well.

bike riding in White Tank Mountains
Bike riding in White Tank Mts

Help your child identify local desert plants and animals by having a guide book available. These can be purchased at the visitor's station.

travel with pets  Traveling with pets Please - KEEP PETS AWAY FROM THE BOULDERS. Leashed pets are allowed on the trails. The leash should be no more than 6 feet in length.

Pets can dehydrate quickly; bring plenty of water and a bowl. Allow your pet to rest in shady areas as needed.

For your pet's safety, as well as the protection of the environment, keep your pet leashed. When a dog tangles with a cactus, the cactus always wins. NEVER leave a pet unattended in a vehicle. ALWAYS clean up after your pet.

Directions & Resources

Located on the west end of West Olive Avenue, west of Glendale. Take the Olive Avenue exit from the west loop of 101.

Resources:

www.maricopa.gov Maricopa County: White Tank Mountain Regional Park. Maps and information about park activities.
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