HikingYavapai by Stan Bindell
You can’t tell much about Jacks Canyon from the first mile on the trail. The rest is far different from that stretch.
The first mile parallels a housing development so it doesn't give the hiker a sense ofwilderness or encourage you to keep going. Except for a good amount of birds, including scrub jays, white-throated swifts and and red-tailed hawks, the terrain is plain.
But for those who keep going the best is yet to come, as you soon dip down and leave the housing division behind for the scenic canyons and panoramic views that highlight Jacks Canyon Trail.
Not far into the hike, a warning sign pops up letting you know that if you plan to do the Hot Loops Trail you had better be prepared. Too many hikers have had to be rescued off that trail. It’s a rugged 20-plus-mile hike that most humans can’t do in one day. It’s rocky, involves route-finding. And hikers report that it's more mileage than any report states.
But this column is just about Jacks Canyon Trail. Arizona Highways calls Jacks Canyon a strenuous 15-mile hike. The book 100 Hikes in Arizona calls it a 13-mile moderate hike. Either way, come prepared. The first mile also shows some remnants of the La Barranca Fire, which scorched 800 acres in 2006, among mostly pinyon pine, juniper and scrub oak.
Once past the first mile you start to get a bit more shade, but it’s not enough until you get to the Munds Mountain Wilderness line. About 2.5 miles in you’ll come to a water tank, which often has water in it, but on this day was dry. Shortly after the tank you dip into a canyon with a worn wire fence, which is where the Munds Mountain Wilderness begins. A small wilderness sign also lets you know that motorized vehicles are not allowed past this point.
From here you’ll parallel Lee Mountain and Munds Mountain.
The next four miles is along dry washes with a lush riparian area for when the rains come. This is also where you get more into Arizona cypress, alligator juniper and manzanita.
The upper reaches of the trail has a Douglas fir forest as well as gambel oaks and ponderosa pine. You will soon start the climb up Munds Mountain. Past the Munds Mountain Wilderness line you're also more likely to see wildlife, including mule deer, javelina, elk, coyotes, foxes, bobcats and rabbits, maybe even an elusive mountain lion.
In the last 1.5 miles you’ll reach the top of Munds Mountain. From there you can see Wilson Mountain and Secret Mountain, as well as Schnebly Hill Road below.
Directions: Take I-17 to 179, then about ten miles to Jacks Canyon Road. Turn right. Drive nine-tenths mile to where the road curves right. Then go 1.7 miles and make a right onto a dirt road. A small sign on Jacks Canyon Road points to the trail, but it's easy to miss. The trailhead is one-tenth mile down the dirt road. For more information telephone the Red Rock Ranger District at 928-203-2900.
Stan Bindell is always looking for a good hike. If you have one, contact him at thebluesmagician@gmail. com. Photos by Stan.