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Monday, December 12, 2016

BLACK CANYON TRAIL: Gloriana Segment

BLACK CANYON TRAIL: Gloriana Segment
Near Bumble Bee
View of Bradshaw Mountains from BCT
Sandwiched between the spot where Interstate 17 splits to begin its climb up to the mesas and gorges of Agua Fria National Monument and a gaping valley below the Bradshaw Mountains, the Gloriana Segment of the Black Canyon Trail is the middle road between a freeway and  dusty dirt double tracks. The 80-mile route flows from Carefree Highway in Phoenix to just outside of Prescott following centuries-old Native American trails, defunct livestock paths, dirt roads and sections of new construction.
A battered saguaro stands above Maggie Mine Road
The trail is divided into segments with trailheads located along its entire length. The 3.4-mile-long Gloriana Segment is smack dab in the middle and wanders along slopes above the scoured courses of Sycamore, Poison, Arrastre and Rock Creeks.  Geology buffs will find a plenty to explore. Within a few hundred feet of the trailhead, the path bumps into an outcropping of metamorphic rock tilted vertical and resembling fossilized Stegosaurus fins weathering from the earth. A couple of hairpin turns through a gully of giant saguaros and a short walk through a Palo Verde forest deposits hikers on a breezy edge splattered with chunks of milky white quartz overlooking Maggie Mine Road.
"Stegosaurus" rock slabs
Take a moment to spy the various mine prospects that dot the hillsides. Continuing south, the trail wanders through sunny rangeland
accompanied by morphing mountain vistas in what the Black Canyon Trail Coalition calls “Arizona’s Outback”.  The segment can be tackled as an out-and-back day hike, multi-day backpack or a one-way car shuttle using maps available on the coalition’s website.
Juvenile saguaros on the Gloriana Segment of BCT
LENGTH: 6.8 miles out-and-back
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 2520’ – 2720’
GETTING THERE: Gloriana Trailhead.
From Phoenix, go north on Interstate 17 to the Bumble Bee/ Crown King exit 248. Follow Bumble Bee Road 1.1 miles to the trailhead on the left. There are no facilities. The hike begins at the south side of the lot near the big sign. Roads are 100% paved. (The sign across the road marks the start of the Bumble Bee Segment.)