Railroad Canyon Trail

Take an alternate way to or from Swansea along the historic railroad grade. The slightly rougher trail leaves Midway on the way to Swansea and winds through a narrow canyon before arriving at the former boom town.

Last Known Status: Open Trail type: Point-to-point Length: 10 miles one-way Approx. time: 1-2 hours Traffic: Light
Permit Needed: No Current Info: BLM/Havasu F.O. (928-505-1208) Nearest City: Parker Elevation: 1218'-1657' Best Time: Fall-Spring

Where to go:

This trail begins about halfway along Swansea Road at the former site of Midway, 10.4 miles from Bouse. To get to Bouse from I-10, take Vicksburg Road north for 8.0 miles. Turn left onto AZ-72 and follow it for 19.6 miles to Bouse. Turn right on Main Street, then left on Rayder Ave. Rayder becomes Swansea Road. Staging and an information kiosk are available to the left at the fork. Proceed 10.4 miles from the end of the pavement to Midway. Combined with Swansea Road, this trail makes a big loop.


Trail Description:

From Midway, where Swansea Road continues to the left, stay right at the fork onto Lincoln Ranch Road. Continue to the left (N-NE) where Powerline Road continues to the right (E). Continue straight at 0.4 miles where lesser roads branch off both directions. The road remains wide for the next few miles as it slowly climbs and crosses through several washes. Ignore side roads. Trail forks at 3.8 miles, pick either fork. Shortly after passing through a small wash, make an important left turn off the main road at 5.5 miles. The turnoff should be marked with wooden posts labeled ‘Railroad Canyon’.

Continuing north, the narrower, yet still established trail immediately crosses a wash after leaving the main road. For the next several miles, small stream crosses have eroded parts of the trail. After a few wide turns, the road then drops into a wash at 7.3 miles. The trail continues north up the wash where the condition and line may vary. From here on out, you will be able to see the old railroad grade onto the left, especially around 7.8 miles. The former railroad bed is in rough shape but you can see where wooden trestles would have spanned over gaps in the wash. Continue following the most traveled line through the wash.

Make an important left turn out of the wash at 9.3 miles. Information kiosks on the left indicated you’ve found the correct exit. Stay left at 9.5 miles. Ruins off to your left mark you are now in Swansea. Continue northwest as you pass ruins of old railroad depot at 9.6 miles. Stay left at 9.7 miles and again at 9.8 miles as trails join from the right. The trail heads south and climbs over mine tailings and ending at the main townsite at exactly 10 miles. Take some time to walk around the numerous abandoned buildings of Swansea. To return to Bouse, you can return via the route you came, or continue south on Swansea Road. Swansea Road is easier and will be quicker.

Notes & Trail Ratings:

Despite this trail only being 10 miles one-way, allow for 3-4 hours. Because this is an alternate way to Swansea, this route requires using other trails to get to the start point and get back to civilization at the end. Plan on 40-50 miles of riding total. This trail is mostly easy but gets rougher in the wash along Railroad Canyon. We’ve rated this trail a ‘3’ out of ‘10’. Stock SUV’s should be able to do this trail but additional modifications help. Great for dirt bikes, ATV’s, and UTV’s.  High-clearance required, 4WD recommended. Wash bottom can vary.


Page last updated: 1/1/2019