Thursday, March 13, 2014

Agua Fria River Hike

A beautiful morning in the desert

We recovered from our long day at the car show, so we got up early Sunday morning to go to 8am mass and get our hike in before it heated up too much.

From Anthem, we drove north on I-17 to the Table Mesa Rd. exit, and then headed west into the desert.

Following the dirt road

There were quite a few people out in Jeeps and 4 wheelers, and even some dirt bikes.     Some dirtbikers on the road








We kept following the directions we found online,

Getting closer to the Agua Fria

and eventually reached the Maricopa County Regional Park boundary,




and found a shady spot to leave the car.





The Agua Fria River flows into Lake Pleasant, bringing snowmelt and rain from the Bradshaw Mountains to the lake.

Bald Eagle Nesting Area

This area of the lake, where the river meets it, is a nesting habitat for Bald Eagles, and it’s closed to boat traffic during the winter and spring seasons.  One of our goals on this hike was to see some eagles.

Following the road to the river





When we got down to the riverbed, we could see the trail that we needed to follow,


but first we had to get across the river!

Agua Fria River

Decent flow from the recent rain

I was the only one in water shoes, so I just found a sandy area to walk across.  The water was chilly, but barely ankle deep.


Nick got his new shoes wet!Nicolas tried to go across on the rocks, and ended up with wet shoes!  Bryce found some “crutches” to help him cross the rocks, and Tom searched downriver for a drier route.

Bryce came up with his own way across

Tom found a dry route


I’ve been wanting to pick up hiking poles for quite a while now – I think they’ll help keep me steady when we’re hiking on uneven ground, or climbing on rocks.  When we went on our secret hike with the volunteer, Frank, last week we noticed that he was using a ski pole.  He recommended a ski pole over collapsible hiking poles because they have been known to collapse on people when they put their weight on them.  So, when we were out on Saturday, we stopped at the local Goodwill and found 3 ski poles (one for Tom, one for me, and one for our fellow volunteer, Leece) – for $10.  Not a bad deal!  We tried them out for the first time on Sunday’s hike – they worked pretty well!

Using our new hiking poles


Our online source said that the hike to the lake was about 1-1/2 miles, depending on the water level.  We followed the road alongside the river,

Following the road along the river


sometimes walking among the cactii, and at other times in the shade of mesquite and cottonwood trees.


Found some bones in a tree

Walking by one mesquite tree, we found some bones hanging from a branch . . . donkey bones, maybe?

Nicolas and Bryce headed down toward the water to see if it was cooler there,


but they had to come back to the road because there were too many trees along the edge of the water . . . kindof surprising in the desert!


We had been walking for about 40 minutes when we passed through a mesquite meadow,

Mesquite Meadow

and back to the edge of the river. 


We had forgotten to bring water with us and it was already getting pretty hot, and we weren’t exactly sure how much further we had to go before we reached the lake, so we decided to turn around and head back toward the car.  We hadn’t seen any eagles, but probably because we hadn’t gotten all the way to the lake.

Met some horses on our way back


We passed several hikers, and even a couple of people on horseback, as we walked back to the parking area.  One family, complete with kids in strollers, were headed down to the lake for a picnic. 

We described where we walked to, and they said we were probably within a 1/4 mile of reaching the lake when we turned around.  So, we were almost there!

Oh well, we’ll just have to come back another day!


It was a beautiful area and a great morning for a hike!


After a relatively quick stop at Fry’s for some groceries, we were back home in time for Bryce to watch Michigan State lose to Ohio State!  He was so disappointed!


  1. Sorry you didn't see any eagles, but what you saw was quite lovely:o))

    We have the retractable hiking poles and love them. I have used it as a tripod a few times;o(( Never thought of ski poles...nice idea and great price!!

  2. Kathy and I have the retractable poles that we have used a few times without them collapsing.
    We recently found Belt Packs that hold two water bottles each at Walmart. We had been searching for a few years and just found them recently.
    Seeing the Eagles would have really been a sight to see.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.


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