Friday, September 16, 2011

Badger Springs Trail-Agua Fria Nat. Monument

The Agua Fria National Monument is a BLM managed area that preserves 400 archaeological sites in central Arizona. There is only minimum development for visitors, but the Badger Springs Trail is easy to access. Exit Interstate 17 at Exit 256 between Camp Verde and Phoenix. It is a short distance on dirt roads to the trailhead.
Agua Fria is home to the Perry Mesa Tradition people. Most of the sites were inhabited between 1250 and 1450 AD. There is a pit toilet available near the trailhead and the information sign includes a good map with some interpretive information.

 I started hiking at the pit toilet but the actual trailhead is a few hundred yards further. The hike is about 1.5 miles round trip down Badger Springs Wash to the junction with the Agua Fria River.

The trail follows the sandy dry wash bottom between steep slopes on both sides. The vegetation is different than the higher desert areas of the Four Corners canyon areas and seemed mostly different than the lower desert area around Phoenix.

The trail highlight is the petroglyph panel at the junction of the Badger Springs Wash and the Agua Fria River. The two main panels are high on the boulders on the left side.

Both these panels are easy to see from below. Binoculars are helpful for the higher panel. There are a couple of minor images besides the two large panels.

The interpretive brochure says that Hohokam farmers established small villages in the area around 700 AD. After 1100 AD more settlers moved to this upland area. The Perry Mesa is the highland east of this canyon junction. Black Mesa is the highland to the west.

The Agua Fria River was just a puddle during my visit in early September. The area around the canyon junction was very jumbled with rocks and cliffs.

My total hike took about 1:00 hour for about 1.5 miles. I saw 3 other hikers on the trail during my hike. The other trail that is publicized for Agua Fria National Monument is the Pueblo la Plata ruins site accessed from the Bloody Basin Road at Exit 259.

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