Sweeping vistas…pristine waters… points of interest at every turn. The Butcher Jones Trail has it all, and more.
Jo & I discovered Butcher Jones more than ten years ago and immediately placed it on our must-do-again list. We’ve hiked it at least a dozen times, but the allure remains.
Butcher Jones is unique in many ways. While most trails in Arizona wind through dry desert, Butcher Jones wraps around the two northern arms of Lake Saguaro, a man-made lake in the Tonto National Forest not far from Mesa. The hike starts at lake-side, winds past the beach area, then steadily climbs as it follows Lake Saguaro’s contours. At every turn, there are picturesque views of the lake, the backdrop of mountains around it, and the twisting shoreline below.
My favourite view lies roughly midway along the 7 km in-and-out trail at a point where the climb levels off and turns sharply. No matter how many times I hike Butcher Jones, I stop at this spot and invariably snap a photo. I have quite a collection of shots from this location, all of them showing the green-blue lake and the chiseled cliffs that frame it.
Normally when we hike, we pack a lunch and find a midway point to picnic. Butcher Jones has the perfect picnic spot. It’s a little off the marked trail and at the water’s edge. There the water laps the shoreline, and usually a few ducks provide entertainment as they bob for food.
Butcher Jones is a desert oasis and definitely a hike I would recommend. A day pass costing $8 is required. The pass cannot be purchased in the park, but many filling stations and pharmacies in the region sell it so you can buy one on the way if you like.