Hike | Ballentine Trail | Phoenix

Trail Stats

  • Length:  8.5 miles round trip
  • Trail Type: Out and Back
  • Trailhead Elevation:  2,200 ft.
  • Gain/Loss:  +1400 ft.
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Rating: 6/10
  • Solitude: High
  • Season: Winter/Spring/Fall
  • Kid Friendly: Yes
  • Dog Friendly: No, too much cactus

Trail Description

This trail takes you on an uphill adventure to a valley of huge boulder formations and some great desert landscape.  For an added adventure, take the short detour to an old homestead cabin tucked back in the rugged mountains.

The Hike:
**Note: For a shorter version of this hike try the 2.5 mile Pine Creek Loop Hike!
The trailhead is located quite literally right off of the 87 Beeline Highway.  There is a large sign indicating the Ballentine Trailhead with a right turn lane and is located about 20 miles northeast of Fountain Hills.  The TH is never overly crowded and has enough room for about 20+ cars if people park correctly.  From the trailhead there are two options; head to the north or head to the south.  I chose to head north which runs parallel to the Beeline for about 1/2 a mile and then turns east and runs along Pine Creek.  I would advise you to do the same as the northern trail is much easier with very little elevation gain.  You'll need your endurance for the next 3 mile constant uphill challenge.

The first 1/2 mile is annoying because the Beeline is very loud and it doesn't feel like you are hiking in wilderness.  Once the trail heads east, however, the desert comes alive and is quite beautiful.  When I hiked this trail in the winter Pine Creek was flowing really well and was just a beautiful little creek.  The hillside to the north is dotted with giant Saguaros which makes the northeastern view that much cooler.
The trail will head east for about 3/4 of a mile and then begin to loop back south. When you begin to loop back toward the south you will  approach a junction in the trail. If you started with the north route you will now be facing south. To the east (left) is the Ballentine Trail which leads to Boulder Flat, Cline Trail, and further. Go east (the sign will say Boulder Flat 3 miles).

From here it is a nice, gradual uphill battle most of the way.  As you gain in elevation the scenery will also change.  The massive rock formations will begin to present themselves and eventually you will come to a 3 way junction in the trail.  The trail will branch to the left (north), right (south), and straight (east).  If you head left you will climb for another 200 yards and then drop into a valley where you will find an old cabin known as Ballentine Cabin and Corral.  It will add another 1 1/2 miles to your trip but I think it is a fun little side trip if you have the stamina to continue.  If you go right you will find some awesome rock formations and eventually a season creek.  I recommend choosing one of the two and then making your way back the same way you came.  The whole trip with an added side venture will put you at about 10-11 mile round trip.

Hiking Tips

  • Please follow Leave No Trace Principles by taking only pictures and leaving only footprints
  • There was too much cactus and the trail was too overgrown/narrow for my dog.  I saw a few dogs on the trail but they wore booties
  • The trail is full of loose rock so make sure to wear sturdy shoes with good soles

Highlights

  1. Outside of Phoenix
  2. Detour to abandoned cabin
  3. Amazing high desert scenery just off a major highway

Map to Trailhead

Drive east from Phoenix on the 87 towards Payson. At around mile marker 210 you will see a large brown TH sign for Ballentine Trail. Turn right and the TH and parking is right next to the freeway.

 
 

Support our wild places with a purchase!

Follow us on Instagram!

PhoenixCameron Jarman