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Name: FR41: New River (Table Mesa) Trail Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: Not rated yet
Type: 4WD Difficulty: - (Easy 4WD - Challenging 4WD or worse - see comments below)
Time: 4 -6 hrs Region: Central Arizona
Length: 19 miles (one way) Elevation gain/loss/change: +3500 / - 1795 / +1705 (one way)
Type: Through trail (connects to others) Avg Elevation: 3500 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, winter Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Low Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: High
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: January, 2012
Short Description: An easy 4WD trail along the scenic New River Canyon and desert north of Phoenix
Geocaches:Tons of cool geocaches around. Here's just a few. Old Cabin Cache; T824 Table Mesa; A Pile of Rocks;
References / Contact Information: Backcountry Adventures: Arizona, Pages 417-420;
Points of interest: New River Canyon, beautiful Sonoran desert landscape, ruins of an old line cabin, access to tons of other trails and adventures
Special Considerations: May require a State Trust Land permit (see update on permit page).Roads may be impassable after heavy rain (portions of the western side of the trail can get extremely muddy) and be careful of flash floods in canyon areas
How to get there: From Phoenix, take I-17 north until you reach exit 236 at Table Mesa Road (Waypoint 0001). Head east on Table Mesa Road. Click here for directions.

Trail Description

This is a great trail that has a little of everything for those wanting to enjoy the Arizona desert and all its wonders. The trail starts out as an easy graded dirt road as it follows New River Canyon. The area has some trails that lead off toward New River for camping (trailers).

After a few miles, you enter the Tonto National Forest and the road becomes much rockier. It is my understanding that this trail used to be much more difficult a few years ago, before the Forest Service bladed it. You will have a rocky, steep climb up to the saddle above Cholla Basin. This was the most difficult portion of the trail when we went.

The views from here are outstanding. Cat-Dog loved climbing on the large boulders. From here, you drive down into the canyon below. If you're lucky, you'll find a little bit of water in the wash crossings over the next few miles. There's the foundations of an old line cabin along the creek before heading up out of the canyon.

The last part of this trail takes you on a winding series of small hills and valleys. The trail is hard-packed dirt/sand, fairly smooth and fun with scenic hoodoos spotting the area.

Also in this area there are a bunch of side trails leading off in both directions. These look like a great time and may be fun to explore if you have the time.

The trail ends at FR24. You can take this north to Bloody Basin or Sheep Bridge (which we did), or south to Carefree via Cave Creek.

General Information and History

There's the foundations of an old line cabin along this trail. The area appears to be a combination of ranching and mining (which shouldn't be a surprise).

I don't have much information regarding the area. If you know the history, I'd appreciate any information you may have.

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The Trail

Note: When I ran this trail in 2012, it had recently been graded and was very easy (the original 2/5 rating), since then I have received two additional reports stating the trail should be rating a 3.5/5. I have not verified this myself, but given how much trails can change with a few good rains, I wouldn't be surprised. Use caution.

September, 2014 Update: Road may be very difficult to impassible due to recent rains. See comments.

The trail starts at exit 236 at the intersection of I-17 and Table Mesa Road. This first portion of the trail is graded dirt road. Along this section, there are portions of this road that can get extremely muddy when wet. Please be careful during/after heavy rains.

This area is relatively flat and easy. If you like to camp out in the open (maybe with a trailer), there's a fairly nice spot about 3 miles up the road from the start of the trail that overlooks New River.

Keep driving along this road for about 4.4 miles until you reach Waypoint 0002. Keep right onto FR41 (I believe left takes you on private property) and head into the Tonto National Forest, though there's not much of a "forest" at this point. The road begins to get a little rockier at this point. You will start a slow, long climb up toward the saddle above Cholla Basin.

At Waypoint 0003, the road heads left as you drive up probably the most difficult portion of the trail. A loose, rocky and steep climb up to the saddle. At first, you will find some nice lookouts down to the valley on your left (west).

At Waypoint 0004, there's a large parking area on the right side of the road for you to stop and enjoy the views to the east. This saddle overlooking Cholla Basin is awesome. There's a short foot trail leading off to the boulder formation on your left. It's worth the 5-10 minutes to stop, hike over and gaze down on the valley below. Cat-dog enjoyed the break to trot along the trail and climb some rocks.

Now you will head down toward New River Canyon through Cholla Basin (aptly named) along some easy switchbacks. You will begin crisscrossing New River starting at Waypoint 0005. This is extremely nice when there's water flowing (but not too much) and this is another great area to stop and explore the rocks and pools.

After a mile or two of following the river, you will climb out of it and skirt the valley floor to the right of New River. There were a few nice camping spots along this area of the trail. At Waypoint 0006, you will pass a large balanced rock on your left. We didn't have time to get out and explore it, but you may want to. It looked like fun.

Keep driving along the trail until you reach Waypoint 0007. There's the foundations to what I understand was an old line cabin on your right. A few years ago, this building was mostly intact (see pages 417-420 in Backcountry Adventures: Arizona book). Not a whole lot left to it now. When I looked at Google Earth (after visiting the site) it appeared there may be other small items to explore in the area. Click here to view Google Earth image.

The large red circle shows a large area "cleared out" around the cabin. This can be misleading. Google Earth doesn't show the small scrub trees very well. When we went, the area seemed very overgrown. There looks to be some water troughs and corrals in the area. Not too surprising. But what really caught my eye, was the white circular area south of the cabin (noted by the smaller red circle in the image).

The appears to be manmade. Maybe it's a circular horse corral? Maybe it's something else (an Arizona crop circle ;-)? If you visit the area and explore that circle, I'd appreciate it if you let me know what's there.

Drive almost another two miles and you'll come to a FR37 on your left, keep right to stay on FR41. This looked like a fun trail, but again not enough time to go exploring. Looking at the Topo map, there's a small square denoting a building (or at least what used to be one at the time the topo was made) at the end of FR37 (GPS coordinates: N34 03.533 W111 56.817). I brought up Google Earth and there looks like a large building (reflective metal roof) near those coordinates. A photo near the location was submitted to Google Earth. It shows a small collapsed shack, but not the larger building shown on the aerial view from Google Earth. Again, if anyone knows what's out there, I'd appreciate an email with the information.

The next section of the trail was fun. The trail is relatively smooth and easy, going up and down small hills and valleys. Very scenic too. Keep on the main road as you pass other trails leading off in both directions (Waypoints 0009, 0010, 0011 and FR374, F17 and FR321 respectively).

This trail intersects a major dirt road (FR24) at about Waypoint 0012. Take a right to head south to Carefree and Cave Creek. Turn left if you want to head toward Bloody Basin and Sheep Bridge roads. We went left toward Bloody Basin Road. As an added bonus, I've added a picture of a cool rock formation we found along the way called CP Butte. It sort of looks like a small version of Bell Rock to me. See if you can find it.

Have fun and be safe!

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Have you been on this adventure? What did you think? Comments and updates welcome by clicking here. You can also rate this adventure by clicking here.

Member Comments

September 28, 2014

We attempted to drive Table Mesa Rd today. The road has been extremely washed out. There are a lot of very rocky sections. We crossed the the river/wash several times. Each crossing was more difficult than the previous one. Finally we got to a point where we had to turn around. The road was covered by debris from a land slide. There are boulders covering the road rendering it unpassable. I just wanted to give you an update on the road condition for your website. Btw, we were in a Power Wagon with the lockers Engaged and we still had a difficult time in places.

I did not bring a GPS with me and we only took a few pictures. It was a last minute adventure. I looked at the way points you have listed on your website, I was able to located the spot which was impassible on Google maps. The location is almost right in between way points 5 and 6, probably closer to way point 5. Looking at the map way point 5 is the first crossing of the river, after you cross the river again and go up the hill you start driving next to the river. The road was washed out right before it tuned away from the river. On the aerial map you can see a wash running down from the mountain, this is where the the road was washed out. Here are the GPS Coordinates I was able to pull from google maps: 33 58.545n,112 0.95w. Hope this helps.

January 4, 2014

My son and I took the New River trail and I must say it is completely different than described. It was extremely torn up and rutted. My son, who is 7, and I we in a stock height 2002 Nissan Xterra. We needed that extra clearance. We never made it to the saddle parking overlook area due to large rocks/ small boulders that litter the trail. At point making the steepest climb of the trail so far I felt my vehicle shift and lose traction. I would rate this a 3.5 due to its extreme rockyness and the crux of the trail when attempting to reach the switch back. My son and I were a bit upset we couldn't complete the trail but overall we had a great time. Thank you for your website and all the effort you have put into it.

January 22, 2014

I agree with the guy who commented on your website that the trail should be at least a 3.5 because of its rocky, rutted and rough trail.

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