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Butcher Jones Trail


  • Butcher Jones Trail, Arizona



  • February 9, 2019



  • Ed, Marilyn, Dave, Diane, Kevin, Joanne, Rob, Meike




  • take the North Bush Highway a half hour out of the north end of Mesa and turn right just after the Saguaro Lake Marina
  • the trailhead is two miles down the road at the Butcher Jones Recreation Site


Degree of difficulty:

  • it is 10 km out to Burro Cove and back
  • 180 meters of elevation gain on easy to moderate terrain
  • the trail is very easy to follow and well maintained
  • the footing is good, but you need to be careful not to brush up against any of the cacti while enjoying the panoramic views
  • it took us just over 2 hours for the round trip at a leisurely pace



Interesting notes:

  • you need to purchase a Tonto National Forest pass ahead of time which we did at a gas station in Mesa ($8/vehicle for the day) although you could do so at the Saguaro Lake Marina
  • the spectacular mountain and lake views provide a stark contrast to the flat desert area around Phoenix
  • there has been more precipitation than normal this year, so the normally brown desert landscape had a vibrant green tone to it
  • there was a short ΒΌ km trail near Burro Cove that jutted off to the right and likely provided a different view of one of the narrow channels
  • we saw lots of activity on the lake including fishing, boating, and paddleboarders
  • the trail got very busy on the way back, so there were frequent stops to let groups of people pass on the narrow trail
  • our friends, who have a place in Mesa, noted that it was fun to rent a pontoon boat or take the guided cruise around the lake on the two-story Desert Belle excursion boat
  • Saguaro Lake is the most accessible of the four reservoirs on the Salt River