Hells Canyon Wilderness
January 1, 2021
Location: About 1 hour and 20 minutes from Phoenix. North of Lake Pleasant
Distance: We logged 6.25 miles out and back
Parking: There isn’t a parking lot (read on for more details)
Pets: Yes, but we wouldn’t recommend if you are hiking to the summit
Video: Governors Peak
Our first hike of 2021! This hike is a little over 6 miles out and back. We did get lost a few times, so it is possible we recorded more than it actually is. However, we do think it is longer than what AllTrails says. They say it is 5.2 miles out and back. To get to this hike from Phoenix you take the 17 to the 74 and will turn off on N Castle Hot Springs Road. You will pass Lake Pleasant and will take N Castle Hot Springs Road all the way until it turns into a dirt road and will continue down it. This is BLM land. We used Apple Maps and were able to find this trail ok. There were two cars parked off to the side of the road and that was a nice indication that the trail was near. We also saw a trail sign that pointed forward. We decided to park off an offshoot that turned into a wash because there wasn’t a ton of space and we were driving a truck. You definitely don’t need a high clearance vehicle to drive down this dirt road. A sedan would make it down just fine. We saw two people finishing their hike as we were starting it.
This hike starts off by crossing a wash and then you will come across multiple signs that will help guide you. There is also a book to sign your name (for your safety). After you cross these signs you will be entering wilderness area, so pay attention to those signs. Once you cross into a wilderness area there are stricter rules since the land is protected. You quickly come to a steady incline. There are a lot of cairns that will help keep you on trail. Without the cairns it would be hard to keep on the trail, so look out for those!
Once we reached the canyon we saw about 6 or 7 donkeys. We snapped a few pictures and continued on our way. We didn’t see a ton of information on this hike, so we were unsure of what “Governors Peak” actually looked like. There were a lot of false peaks that tricked us and potentially made this hike feel longer than it was. Once we continued up the canyon we then started to decline. We saw a ton of saguaros at this point. It was incredible. This is the part that becomes pretty steep and hard to follow. Once we got to this point we also figured out what peak was “Governors Peak” and it felt so far away.
Once we got near the top we passed two people coming down. Those and the two people we saw at the start of the hike were the only people we saw the entire hike. The last stretch felt like it took forever. It was pretty steep, but then does flatten out and you will see a pretty defined trail near the top of the summit. The trail does come to a Y and we weren’t sure if we should go left or right. We decided to go left and had to boulder over a rock to get to the top! But wow the views were worth it.
From the top you can see Lake Pleasant to the south, the beautiful Castle Hot Springs Resort tucked down to the eastern base. Looking beyond to the northwest are the Wickenburg Mountains and to the northeast are the Bradshaw Mountains. There is a jar tucked into the rocks to sign your name and a sign on top that says Governors Peak.
Overall, we enjoyed this hike. It is something different and isn’t high trafficked. We love exploring new areas! We would say this hike is a little more difficult than moderate, which is what AllTrails says it is. It is a longer hike and you gain over 1,700 feet. It seemed like there were a lot of other hikes in this area so we hope to be back.