“An exciting, long-distance singletrack experience through the foothills of the Bradshaw Mountains.
— Leslie Kehmeier
The Black Canyon Trail (BCT) is a long-distance singletrack that runs from the boundary of the Prescott National Forest, across Highway 69 south to the Carefree Highway.
The trail parallels Interstate 17 and offers a variety of experiences through the Sonoran Desert landscape, including saguaro forests and rugged canyons. Most of the route is flanked to the west by the Bradshaw Mountains.
Due to its length, the BCT is often broken into segments and can be accessed from multiple trailheads along the route. Depending on your vehicle situation, both out-and-back rides and point-to-point routes are possible.
The BCT is an overall descent from its beginning at Prescott National Forest to its terminus at the Carefree Highway. The majority of riders skip the section north of Hwy 69 and start with the Big Bug segment heading south.
The northern reaches vary from open and rolling desert to small canyons. The middle sections from Bumble Bee to the Table Mesa trailhead offer the most dramatic scenery and the most adventurous riding. From the Black Canyon trailhead south to the bottom of Little Pan, expect multiple crossings of the Agua Fria River.
The southern section of the BCT is mellow with a gradual descent. Many people stop at Emery Henderson trailhead as the section between there and the Carefree Highway is flat and uninteresting compared to the rest of the route.
The BCT was designated as a National Recreation Trail in 2008. The Black Canyon Trail Coalition has been instrumental in the planning, design, construction and maintenance of the trail.