This is the last trail in the Basin and Range Region. It is also the easiest and the shortest, but since the off-road approach to Needle Rock is in a wash, the usual warnings about flash floods apply. An oasis from the summer heat, you can reach Needle Rock either by paved road from Fountain Hills and Scottsdale, or by driving in Camp Creek, a wash that begins at Bartlett Dam Road. Interesting formations of mud and conglomerate rock line the wash. At the Verde River there is a well-maintained campsite and the cone-shaped Needle Rock.
You may see bald eagles and great blue herons in the area. A protected riparian area (Mesquite Bosque) on the other side of the river is off limits to hikers 6 months of the year. Camping, picnicking, canoeing, fishing and wildlife observation make this a popular site, although the campground is now closed to motor vehicles. There are vaulted toilets and trash service, but no drinking water.
Fishing and bathing are allowed, but require a permit. How to Get There: Waypoint 1: From Cave Creek Road (FR 24) drive 2.9 miles east on Bartlett Dam Road (FR 19) and turn south onto Camp Creek (FR 413). Waypoint 7: From Shea Boulevard in Fountain Hills, drive north on Fountain Hills Boulevard, turn right on E. McDowell Mountain Road and then turn north on N. Forest Road (FR 20). Drive through Rio Verde, Tonto Verde, and continue straight to the entrance to Needle Rock. From Pima Road in Scottsdale, turn east on Dynamite Road and drive three miles to Rio Verde Drive. Continue on Rio Verde Drive to Forest Road (FR 20) and turn left. Needle Rock is three miles ahead. FR 20 is an unpaved road with narrow blind curves. Roads Comprising Off-road Trail: Camp Creek Wash (FR 413) Open months/Best Travel: Year round. Permits: None to drive the trail. You can buy a Tonto Pass in stores in the area if you intend to picnic or to camp by the river. Elevation Min/Max: 1542’/2649′ Total Mileage: 27.6 miles. Paved Mileage: 14.3 miles from Shea Boulevard in Fountain Hills to the Needle Rock campsite. Unpaved Mileage: 13.3 miles from Bartlett Dam Road on FR 413. Travel Time: 1 hour from Bartlett Dam Road. Difficulty: Easy. Remoteness: 1/4 from Fountain Hills, 2/4 from Bartlett Dam Road. Services Available: None on the trail, but food and fuel are available at Rio Verde (three miles), Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Carefree, and Fountain Hills. Driving the Trail: Camp Creek is a wide, sandy wash with numerous tracks that change after each flood, but all lead to Needle Rock. Since pin-striping is likely, follow the widest track where possible. It is a favorite among ATV enthusiasts, so be careful driving around blind curves. Road Information: Cave Creek Ranger Station (Appendix B). Restrictions: The east side of Verde River is closed from December to July and all motorized access to the river is now prohibited. Map References: USGS: 1:24,000: Fort McDowell, Bartlett Dam, Wildcat Hill. 1:100,000: Theodore Roosevelt Lake 1:250,000: Mesa (AZ) Terrain Navigator: Arizona South, (AZ10). Arizona Road & Recreation Atlas: p. 41, 75. USDA Forest Service Map: Tonto National Forest.