Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club
Bush to Magic Mountain Day Hike
when Wednesday, February 3, 2021
where Usery Mountains
the hike     The Bush to Magic Mountain hike into the Hawes Trail System on the west facing slopes of the Usery Mountain Chain at the northern edge of East Mesa. What began as primitive area, trafficked by native hunters, miners, and wild horses, is now a gem of a trail system, trafficked by bicyclists, hikers, and wild horses. In addition to all of the human and animal trails that existed before the mountain bikers discovered this playground, there are many fine trails that have been laid out by the bikers. Check out their website and perhaps consider a donation, Hawes Trail Alliance. You will also find the best map I have found for the trail system on this site.
    We owe these rough-and-tumble thrill seekers a debt of gratitude for the network of trails we have now and what is about to be opened. As with many trails we hike, there are some special hazards we must navigate when we hike bike paths, the V shape of bike trail ruts, the fine granite marbles that seem to appear magically on every surface of the trail, the chance that a bike will come over the hill or around the corner going way too fast and perhaps airborne. The good news for us tall guys, the bikers are taller, and so are the passages under overhead tree limbs and bushes. Also, there are very few switchbacks and a lot more rollercoaster.
    For this lollypop hike, a loop with an in-and-out side trip, we cross the highway in an unmarked gap in the guardrails. We pass through a man-fence gate, and we are on the Maricopa Trail. Within the first 140 yards, our breathing will be up and our layers will begin to come off. We leave the Maricopa Trail and bear left on the Mine Trail, where the real climb begins. The mine is at the top of a white quartz veined peak within the Usery massif. We can look into the mine shaft, but it is not wise to enter the darkness within.
    We drop into the canyon beyond the mine, and then we begin our ascent on the Saguaro Trail, Saddle Trail, Secret Trail, Upper Secret Trail, and the Magic Mountain Trail, to the ridgeline at the horizon of the trail system. We will stop somewhere for lunch in the next mile or so. We may need shade, but would you believe it, we may need sun. Bring your poncho.
    While on the ridge, we will take a side trip, the stick of the lollypop, on the Saddle Trail to see over the saddle into Hidden Canyon. The site of some truly remarkable homes in the premiere Las Sendas gated community. We should, as always, stay on or near the trail and be discrete when viewing or photographing privacies, no matter the altitude or the cost per square foot. In this case, rumor has it that some of the homeowners, former and current professional athletes, are capable of running a 4.4, or even better when angry.
    We leave the ridge and the sun exposure behind and follow some water courses down into the wilderness. This is the region of the trail system where might see wildlife. We will most likely see some unshod horse hoofprints but are not likely to see wild horses. The spend daylight hours further east upriver. As we descend on the Saddle Trail, Upper Ridge Trail, Ridge Trail, Granite Trail, and at last, the Maricopa Trail, we will pass many saguaros and one giant in particular, a double trunk cactus. We will pass another white quartz outcropping named (by John S.) “The Hawes Glacier”.
    After the hike, if you wish, go back to the side road at the curve and check out the downriver views there, or go upstream to the Blue Point bridge and have a look at the riverside where the wild horses congregate. Be aware, if you leave your vehicle for any length of time, you should have a Tonto Pass for the parking areas that are so posted.
    Safety Notice: There are many social trails and relatively few trail intersections have signs. To prevent anyone from taking the wrong path up or down too far, it will be important that the lead hiker and the sweep hiker be in line-of-sight distance as much as possible throughout the trek. We will each have radios and we will bring at least one more radio for backup and relay. We must not stretch out or accordion up as we hike. No bumper-to-bumper or speed hiking please.
    We can share photos, so we do not all have to stop for every shot. Everyone should have a mask for the group photo and for instances when we cannot maintain six feet from each other, other hikers on the trails, and any horse droppings we might step in. If we see horses, we will stop for photos as long as is reasonable.
•  Poles
•  Gloves
distance 6 miles
time 4-5 hours
EC +-675' elevation change
elevations 1280' to 1878'
type lollypop loop
starting at
Unnamed pull-out-for-parking on the Bush Highway 33.519397, -111.670040
on trail 100% — Maricopa, Mine, Saguaro, Saddle, Secret, Upper Secret, Magic Mountain, Saddle Trails
rating "C+"     Rate yourself as a hiker.
dogs allowed no
cost The club allows voluntary contributions of $5 per non-member.
weather Apache Junction
leader     Hike is full. 
meet 8:00 AM at the unnamed pull-out-for-parking on the Bush Highway.
•  If you are coming from the north or west, take the 202 to Power Road.
If you are coming from the east or south on the 202, exit at McDowell Road. Turn left onto McDowell and then right onto Power.
Go north on Power toward Red Mountain (the actual mountain).
From here on to the trailhead, you will be seeing the Red Mountain and the Salt River Valley, which dominates the view. As you drive, you pass other sights we will see from our trails.
As you continue north on Power Road, you will pass between Red Mountain, the community on the left with a great golf course view by the highway, and Las Sendas, a community that borders on the Hawes trail system all along the Usery Range on your right.
Once you pass the last of the human habitations, you will next pass the Salt Gila Pumping Plant on the right, the Red Mountain Mining Company mine on the right, and the top end of the trail system on the left beyond the Central Arizona Project Canal, the CAP.
Somewhere along here, the name of the road you are on changes to Bush Highway.
As you cross the bridge over the CAP Canal, the distance to the unnamed pull-out-for-parking at our trailhead is 1.15 miles. If you get to the turnoff for Coons Bluff, you have gone too far. GPS coordinates of the unnamed pull-out-for-parking on Bush Highway: 33.519397, -111.670040. See the maps in my pre-trip email to you. In the unlikely event that the pullout parking is full, there are some smaller pullouts back up Bush toward the curve.
Below the bridge, the road curves to the right into the Salt River Valley. There is a road and a picnic area there that is worth a side trip when time permits. Looking west, downstream on the river, there is a nice view of the Granite Reef Dam on the Salt River. The dam diverts water into the Arizona Canal, on the north side of the river heading west into the valley, and the South Canal, on, you guessed it, the south side of the river.
The unnamed pull-out-for-parking is on the north side of Bush Highway. It is a dirt lot with some trees and bushes between the rough entrance into the pull out and the exit back onto Bush Highway. There are no facilities at the pull-out. You should see my white Jeep there with the Arizona Trailblazers sticker in the back window. We will sign up, saddle up, and carefully hike across the highway to the un-named trailhead.

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updated January 27, 2021 © Copyright 2021, Arizona Trailblazers.  All rights reserved.