I’ve hiked a lot in the White Tank Mountains and I have to say Black Rock Loop Trail is one of my favorite short and easy trails within the park. If you’re looking for something easy yet scenic then you’ve found the one!
Black Rock Loop is the trail I’d suggest to anyone limited on time and looking for a sweet and simple hike on the West side of the Phoenix valley. The loop trail is flat but takes you around some rocky buttes and to the base of the mountain range.
The area also holds history from the past so you get a lot of bang for your buck here. In this guide we’ll cover trail details, park information, and an option to connect to a seasonal waterfall.
Black Rock Loop Stats
- Hiking Distance | 1.30 miles
- Difficulty | Easy
- Elevation Gain | 60 feet
- Total Time | 1 hour
- Permits/Fees | $7 entry fee
- Trailhead | Black Rock Loop Trailhead
- Road Conditions | Paved
- Dog Friendly | Yes
Below is a map of the Black Rock Trail Loop.
Overall the trail is your typical desert trail full of dirt and many rocks, however there are no step ups or large obstacles along the way. The elevation gain is only 60 feet and hardly noticeable!
You’ll see signs along the way for the “Big Loop” or “Small Loop”. This trail guide covers the Big Loop because even though it is labeled as “big” it is still short in length. You can see the Small Loop in the map above, which is the inner trail that crosses from one side to the other.
There also is the option to connect to the Waterfall Trail to see a seasonal waterfall! The map below depicts the connector trail from the Black Rock Loop to the Waterfall Trail.
The waterfall is very seasonal, which means it is rare to catch it flowing. But, if you want to take your chances or just get in some more exercise visit the guide below!
About White Tank Mountain Regional Park
Since this hike lies within the boundaries of the White Tank Mountain Regional Park you’ll have to pay the $7 entrance fee or showcase the annual Maricopa Regional Park Pass (worth the $ for locals).
Below you can find basic information for the park including the operating hours!
Entry Fee | $7 entry fee or free with Maricopa Regional Park Pass.
Activities | Good for: hiking, backpacking, running, biking, and horseback riding.
Permits | Only for backcountry backpacking in established sites.
Camping | Tent or RV camping available in developed sites, fees apply.
Hours | November 1st – April 30th: 6am – 8pm daily, May 1st – October 31st: 5am – 9pm daily.
Dogs Allowed | Yes, very dog friendly park!
When To Hike Black Rock Loop Trail
I love hiking this trail around early morning or sunset. The sun sets right behind the White Tank Mountains so if you love getting those sun rays you’ll have a good vantage point. Even after the sun ducks down behind the range you have time to keep hiking before dark fully sets in.
Typically hiking in the valley is best between November-April due to cooler temperatures. Since this loop trail is short it would be possible to knock it out first thing in the morning before the sun reaches its’ peak and heats things up. Rule of thumb is to just make sure you’re not out hiking during the hottest part of the day! This is the desert after all.
Hiking Black Rock Loop Trail
Google Maps will take you right to Black Rock Loop Trailhead which actually starts on the other side of the main park road than the trail itself. There is now a parking lot just past the official trailhead, on the left side of the road. It is much easier to park here and begin your hike!
You have the option of hiking clockwise or counter-clockwise. I’ve hiked both and I do think that clockwise is slightly more scenic!
Along the way there will be plenty of benches scattered about if you need to take a break or just want to sit in the wilderness and listen to the sounds. Evening time grows very quiet here. The traffic disappears and the small animals come alive.
You can hear birds singing, coyotes talking back and forth, and the Cottontail rabbits hopping about the vegetation.
According to the park information this trail is one full of traces of the ancient past. A Native American tribe, the Hohokam, used to live in this mountain range. They’d farm cotton, corn, beans, and squash which were irrigated by the canals they dug.
To this day Phoenix utilizes some of the same canal networks they dug thousands of years ago. Most people don’t know this and I find it fascinating!
If you chose to hike clockwise the trail will lead you past a couple of buttes before leading you back to the base of the mountain range. Once you pass the turn off for Waterfall Trail (take it if you wish, then return back!), things get pretty scenic.
You’ll traverse through what used to be one of the Hohokam’s villages although you won’t be able to tell unless you have the trained eye for it. Still, it is pretty cool to think that there once was a small civilization here.
Sooner than you know the trail loops back to the beginning and you’ll find yourself at the parking lot.
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Recap: Black Rock Loop Trail
For such a short trail I was actually impressed with Black Rock Loop. I’ve hiked it several times now, all different ways, and even included the Short Loop portion- it never gets old.
This is such a great hike for a quick morning or evening outing and even for family photos! I see plenty of professional photographers using the Short Loop as a photography destination.
I hope you’re able to visit and hike this one because it is a great option for the West Phoenix valley. Share in the comments if you’ve been before, or maybe you’re adding it to your bucket-list?!