Length: 26 miles roundtrip
Managing Agency: Tonto National Forest
Directions to Trailhead:
From Mesa or Fountain Hills, go north on AZ 87 to mile marker 210.7 (the Ballentine Trailhead is 8 miles south of Sunflower). Trailhead is well marked, just off the highway.
This trail begins on the Pine Creek Loop. Take either the North or South Loop for 1.5 miles to the junction with the Ballentine Trail. From the signed junction, the Ballentine Trail begins to climb. This climb continues for about a mile along Camp Creek; then the trail levels out.
About 3 miles from the trailhead, there is a large mountain to your right called "The Boulders". True to its name, "The Boulders" is covered with rust-colored, piano- and house-sized rocks. The trail turns to the south and follows along the east side of "The Boulders". About halfway along, down the east side of "The Boulders", you will come to an unsigned junction. The right fork is a abandoned spur trail that will lead you to a very pretty overlook in about 15 minutes. However, the main trail is the left fork. It climbs a small ridge before dropping into Boulder Flat (4 miles from trailhead).
Boulder Flat is a small area with a nice view. There are lots of prickly pear cacti in this area. After meandering through Boulder Flat for a third of a mile , the trail climbs steeply to upper Ballentine Canyon where it again flattens out. A half mile from the top of this climb, the trail reaches an area that has been heavilty overgrazed and the trail fades to nothing. There is a barbed wire fence laying on the ground to your left. Cross this fence at a 45 degree angle and continue due west until you find a coral. Go through the coral. The trail is again visible at this point.
Now the trail follows along Ballentine creek. This area was heavily infested with flying insects. The trail continues along the creek for 2 miles and climbs to Rock Tank. I quit after only one mile due to lack of water.
When I did this hike in June 2000 (very dry year), there was no water to be found anywhere along this trail.
Return the way you came.
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