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Best Hikes Ever: Ben Avery Trail, AZ

Trek a desert landscape under a purple sun.

Few places rival the Sonoran Desert backcountry for its depth of solitude, which is shattered only occasionally by a coyote yip. But in a state with 25 national parks, monuments, and recreation areas, the Eagletail Mountain Wilderness is like the littlest sister in a family of giants. Just 85 miles west of Phoenix, this seven-mile out-and-back to Indian Spring winds through saguaro cactus forests, which stand like a million green stovepipes, and ducks in and out of shadows cast by the desolate brown mountains. Gaze out at sunbathed Courthouse Rock rising to 2,874 feet as you hike along the abandoned jeep trail. Go from November to April to avoid searing heat and bring navigation skills;  the trail tends to disappear in sandy areas. Dispersed camping is allowed, except within .5 mile of Indian Spring.

Maps USGS quads Eagletail Mountains East and Eagletail Mountains West

Contact (928) 317-3200; blm.gov/az

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