Tuesday, September 16, 2008
BARNHART CANYON to the FALLS Mazatzal Wilderness Devastated by a wildfire in 2005, the oak-pine woodlands and manzanita-covered hillsides that formerly shaded the Barnhart trail, now reside only in our memories, hard drives and memory cards. What remains is an astonishing array of geological landforms and endless mountain views that have been laid bare for hikers to enjoy. The highlight of this rugged trail is a roaring waterfall nestled in a slot canyon. It takes a bit of scrambling to get to the falls, but the experience has earned a spot on my TOP 10 ARIZONA HIKES list. The best time to hike this trail is between mid-March and early April when snow melt sends hefty cascades of icy water over the cliffs for a spectacular water show that cumulates at Barnhart Falls--a secluded box canyon of red-tinged quartzite where a slender double water fall plunges 100 feet over the canyon walls. This trail is a MUST DO for all Arizona hikers. SEE MY 2010 ENTRY FOR A VIDEO OF THE UPPER WATERFALL. LENGTH: 7-9 miles round trip (7 miles to the falls and back) RATING: moderate ELEVATION: 4,200-6,100 feet GETTING THERE: From the Shea Blvd. intersection in Fountain Hills, go north on Highway 87 for 51 miles to the Barnhardt Trailhead turn off (FR 419) located a quarter mile south of the town of Gisela. Follow the dirt road 4 miles to the signed trailhead.