Bone Wash

This popular trail is widely used by hikers, equestrians, and a few bikers as a primary access to the Elephant Arch trail. It also has many features which make it a genuinely beautiful back country route into the canyons of the Cottonwood Canyon wilderness area.  The Bone Wash trail is most often accessed from the Mill Creek trailhead.  From the trailhead, visitors proceed ¼ mile north on the Mill Creek maintenance road and turn right at the sign to begin the Bone Wash trail.  The trail then follows a powerline maintenance road until it drops down into Bone Wash just past the city pump station.  The deep, sandy wash leads visitors to the junction of Elephant Arch trail about 1.4 miles from the trailhead.  Bone Wash, however, continues to the left through a small slot canyon and opens up into a delightful sandstone canyon with slickrock formations, arches, side canyons, and diverse wildlife and desert vegetation to observe and explore.  Many hikers and most bikers and equestrians will turn around at the head of a box canyon about ¾ mile north of the junction.  Some hikers will choose to follow a user trail to the left and 100 yards before the head to move beyond the box canyon and continue the hike for another 0.8 miles through rugged, beautiful back country till narrow canyon walls and giant boulders impede normal travel.  Total distance from trailhead to this point is 2.9 miles.  Elevation gain is 300 feet.  Total elevation change up and down is about 425 feet.  Some visitors, primarily equestrians, will choose to follow all of the actual Bone Wash from its crossing at the Mill Creek road to the end point rather than using the powerline road near the start.  Because of the deep, soft sand, most hikers and bikers will not find this original route desirable.  The lower part of the Bone Wash trail lies across lands administered by SITLA while the uppermost part of the trail inside the wilderness area is administered by BLM within the Red Cliffs NCA.


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