Hassayampa River Preserve is a nature preserve four miles southeast of Wickenburg, Arizona and worth a hike. It is a 770-acre riparian nature preserve. In the 1860’s it was a stagecoach stop; in 1913 a guest ranch. More recently, after more than 25 years of the property being owned by The Nature Conservancy, a partnership was created seven years ago with the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department. The Conservancy however retains most of the preserve.
When you check-in at the visitor center and pay five dollars per person, collected by the Maricopa Parks and Recreation Department, you discover their ownership includes the visitor center, a portion of the river channel and Palm Lake. The trail to Palm Lake is currently closed due to construction of a wildlife viewing platform at the lake. The Conservancy put a conservation easement on the property to ensure the land’s natural values are forever protected.
The flowing river was wonderful to see as I visited the preserve specifically to birdwatch. The Hassayampa name comes from a Yavapai Indian word “hayesamo, meaning following the water as far as it goes”. It has also been referred to as the “upside down river” by Apache Indians because the river flows underground most the way. Water is important for wildlife. As a result of the existence of this river, the preserve is home to a variety of wildlife and approximately 300 bird species. I did see lizards and deer, smelled skunk and observed numerous birds! Actually I saw two new birds to add to my life list: golden-crowned kinglet and a varied thrush! I will make a point of visiting the preserve each season to observe more wildlife!
Things to know before you visit:
The preserve is closed each Monday and Tuesday. There are specific park hours per season, so check what they are before you head out. The trails are sandy, so if you have difficulty walking on pavement, please know this could be a challenge for you. Pets are not allowed at the preserve. The trail loops 2.2 miles. Lykes Lookout trail ends with a very steep 123 foot elevation gain. Remember, what you climb up, you need to come back down … plan what is best for yourself! At top, you do get a 360 degree view and possibly see and hear a train passing by! Enjoy your visit and be safe … remember the usual: hat, sunscreen and plenty of water! The Hassayampa River Trail can be downloaded at the AllTrails app.