by Blake Herzog
Off-roading is as easy or hard a hobby to pick up as you want it to be, depending on the vehicle you have or want to have and how steep the terrain you want to conquer.
Whatever kind of adventure you seek, Pinal County has a perfect playground for you! Do check ahead for closures or other changes in road conditions.
Unless stated otherwise, these are located on state trust land and require the appropriate permit.
Pinal Air Park — This popular area is on the north side of the well-known hub for parked and in-use planes just off Interstate 10 at Pinal Air Park Road. It offers spectacular up-close views of these machines in action as well as the surrounding mountains.
Box Canyon — This awe-inspiring trail northeast of Florence off state Route 79 follows a slot canyon with walls up to 1,500 feet high and widths of 15 to 20 feet in some spots. This mostly flat trail has some moderately-sized boulders to surmount and should be avoided if there’s any hint of rain in the skies or forecast. Otherwise it is a lovely 13-mile-long passage.
Hackberry Creek — Just south of the Oak Flat campground east of Superior, this is a difficult trail over trails etched in granite, rewarding those with the equipment and skill with sweeping views of boulder-coated hills and difficult-to-fathom formations that keep your imagination in overdrive along with your vehicle.
Stanfield and Maricopa Trail — You’ll find this at the intersection of Warren and Robin roads just north of state Route 84’s junction with I-10. This loop of just over 5 miles is an easy drive for most 4X4s and shows off some of the desert’s prettiest country, surrounded by impressive summits and threading through stands of saguaro and cholla.
Tucson Wash — Just west of Mammoth, the 17-mile trail goes underneath a railroad trestle and uphill to an overlook with sweeping views of the high desert. It mostly follows a wide, sandy wash with a few mild obstacles as you approach the lookout. It’s on a mix of state-owned and private land so carry your permit with you.