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Friday, February 20, 2009

BUTCHER JONES TRAIL

BUTCHER JONES TRAIL Saguaro Lake Tonto National Forest Wrapping around the mountains and valleys surrounding one of Arizona’s most popular lakeside recreation areas, Butcher Jones trail offers a surprisingly peaceful hiking experience. However, getting to the “peaceful” part requires some effort. That’s because the first half-mile of the trail is usually congested with anglers, weekend picnic groups, rambunctious kids and manic water dogs. After that, though, the trail emerges from the commotion and climbs exposed desert ridges for spectacular views of the hillsides that form both the harbors and beaches of Saguaro Lake. High points along this gracefully undulating ribbon-like trail hover above cattail-choked coves and pebble strewn beaches with reflections of Four Peaks shimmering in the rich blue waters of the lake. In order to really appreciate the beauty of this trail, be sure to explore the spur paths that plunge to secluded shorelines and shady coves where silken, lazy waves lap at the bases of mesquite bosques and massive forests of saguaro cactuses. LENGTH: 5 miles round-trip RATING: moderate ELEVATION GAIN: 400 feet GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, go north on Highway 87 (Beeline Highway) to Forest Road 204 (Bush Highway). Continue on the Bush Highway for 3 miles, turn right (east) onto Forest Road 166 and go another 2 miles to the Butcher Jones Recreation Site. The signed trailhead is located at the beach near the dock. FEE: A Tonto Pass ($6 daily fee per vehicle) is required. Information: visit fs.fed.us/r3/tonto or call (602) 225-5200

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