Saguaro Lake sits about 45 minutes outside Phoenix to the northeast and feeds into the magical Salt River. The lake is a busy place, but you can find some solitude if you get away from the parking lot and the lakeside. The Butcher Jones Trail is the most popular of the Saguaro Lake hikes and is family-friendly. At only five miles round trip, you wind and weave along the lake, and after two miles, you will find yourself away from the hustle and bustle.
Saguaro Lake Hiking on the Butcher Jones Trail
Can you Swim in Saguaro Lake?
Most definitely. Swimming is perfectly allowed at Saguaro Lake. The water should be a lovely temperature for summer. After a long hike, jumping in would feel magical!
Butcher Jones Trail Hiking Details:
- Distance: 5 miles
- Elevation Gain: 550 feet
- Beauty Level: Nice
- Estimated Time: 3 hours
When is the best time to visit Butcher Jones Recreation Area
The best time to visit to hike the Butcher Jones trail and do other Saguaro Lake hiking is October through May. This timeframe is the best temperature-wise, and you’ll be able to venture out at any time of the day.
During the summer months, this trail will consistently see 100+ degree temperatures, which makes it unsafe to hike.
Do I need a permit to hike the Butcher Jones Trail at Saguaro Lake?
Yes, you do, but the America the Beautiful Pass works here. If you don’t have that, you need to have a Tonto Daily Pass or a Discovery Pass. If you’re also boating, you must have the Tonto Daily Pass and Watercraft Sticker.
Related: My top hikes in the Superstitions
Hiking Around Saguaro Lake
There’s nothing super special about the Butcher Jones Trail. It’s a solid hike that will warm your legs while enjoying the stunning desert and lake views. However, I believe it’s one of the few Saguaro Lake hikes, which means it could be crowded – we did see a lot of people hiking in when we were heading out (sunset views FTW).
This is a hike that anyone in the family can do. The trail is well-maintained and doesn’t get too steep at any point. About a mile in, you will have to practice your limbo a bit or take off the child carrier, as you meander through a very brushy area with low-hanging branches. Other than that, it’s very mild and a nice little walk.
The Butcher Jones Recreation Area does close around sunset, so make sure you’ve packed up in a reasonable fashion to ensure you won’t get a ticket.
What Gear to bring while hiking Saguaro Lake
- Trail Runner or Hiking Shoes
- Hiking day pack
- 2L of water
- Sunshirt or hiking shirt
- Wide-brimmed hat
Can I camp near Saguaro Lake?
There’s no camping directly at Saguaro Lake or the Butcher Jones Recreation Area. There are other places to stay, though it will require a drive.
Some close campgrounds are Lost Dutchman State Park, Usery Park Campground, and Canyon Lake Campground. However, there are dispersed sites available on the National Forest and BLM land in the area. Most people only do day trips while hiking the Butcher Jones Trail.
Treat the area with respect while hiking the Butcher Jones Trail
As you’re hiking on the Butcher Jones Trail and doing other Saguaro Lake hikes, remember to practice the Leave No Trace Principles and to Pack Out what you Packed In. There’s no one to clean up after you.
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
You can follow along the journey on Facebook and Instagram or shoot me any questions and comments about places to go. And don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get notified when new posts come out!
Interested in adding a photo in your home or office? Purchase a print here.
Interested in backpacking? Check out my Ultimate Guide to Backpacking!