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post #1 of (permalink) Old 12-19-2021, 12:01 AM Thread Starter
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Default Hiking in Phoenix

This on-going thread will aggregate various hiking trails around Phoenix, Arizona. Obviously this is desert and nature/logistics are much different from what we have in Canada; however there are still amazing trips available. On drive from Sedona I stopped at Jerome State Park & picked up 3rd edition of "60 Hikes within 60 Miles" by Charles Liu & it is pretty good guidebook; besides proverbial Internet this book is where I'm getting most of my beta from
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Trail #21: Sunrise Peak


Highly rated by Author ("If you can't find something to love about this trail, you might be having really bad day"). It is situated in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in North Scottsdale. There are several trailheads; after consulting Spirko online report, I decided to do same as he did & started from Lost Dog Wash Trailhead (Ring Freeway 101 - Shea Boulevard East - 124 St. North to end). I was quite impressed by facilities, that included water filling stations and maps (water availability is huge issue here, quite different from Canada where you can hike most trails just with small cup hanging of strap of your backpack and drink from creeks you pass by). There was a gate & posted closing time was 5:21 pm - but in casual conversation with some locals I learned that, even if gate will lock, there is sensor for outbound cars & it will open up - yau for enjoying sunsets in peace. Trail is not long - just shy of 5km (1-way) with ~410m elevation gain - easily done return in 3 hrs. Conditions where perfect - 68 degrees Fahrenheit temperature with light breeze. But this is december - I can't even fathom what this hike looks like in July/August. Trail is good with marked junctions; there are some rocky sections but grade is quite gentle. Upon topping up I nested behind rock & enjoyed easterly views towards Superstitions for good half an hour. With 2 cars 1-way traverse / descent to official "Sunrise Trailhead" is most logical choice. There is ~5miles of asphalt walk between trailheads, if I had a bike it would be no problem, but since I didn't I simply retraced my steps back to Lost Dog Wash, enjoying some lovely sunset colors lower down. Photo story:


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[Interesting warning just of the bat; something John and Katie might find interesting]

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[Lower trail; first goal is to reach obvious saddle just left of center. It seems this is where most people that start from Lost Dog Wash turn back]

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[Rattlesnake warning sign along the way; again, something quite different compared to trails back home in Canada]

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[Very scenic contouring trail beyond first saddle; Sunrise Peak is right of upper center and trail follows obvious ridgeline. Just the last bit is bit steep, but no problems]

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[Pano east from Sunrise Peak towards distant Superstitions]

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[As much zoom as I could get towards Superstitions; prominent feature is Weavers Needle, I intend to take a closer look at]

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[View west from Sunrise Summit]

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[60th at Sunrise Peak in Arizona. Just warming up]

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[Lovely sunset colors behind trademark Saguaro cactus on return. Photography note: All pics were taken just with small hiking pocket camera, but for this I took SLR out of the pack. Inexpensive Canon 50mm prime lens - light as feather and optically superb]


Recommended half day hike if you are in Scottsdale area. GPS based Map and Elevation Profile:
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Full trip report on personal site with high-res photos and downloadable GPS track here

Last edited by zeljkok; 12-20-2021 at 01:35 AM.
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 12-21-2021, 01:58 AM Thread Starter
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Default Peralta Canyon

Trail #34: Peralta Canyon

Superstitions Wilderness is prime Phoenix hiking area, and Peralta is one of flagship trails. I heard first time of it from Mr. B on this forum, and it is fantastic! I've done much hyped Flatiron before, but Peralta is larger bang for your buck by significant margin. Of course there is this stupendous view of Black Tusk, I mean Weavers Needle
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but it's not only that. First ~1/2 hr of the hike are bit tedious, but once trail starts rising above canyon floor it becomes very scenic. There are multi-colored rocks of all shapes, there is desert vegetation with inevitable Saguaros and there are caves that beg to be explored - including famous Geronimo cave. And then when you hit Fremont saddle ~1.5hr from trailhead Weavers Needle just hits you in the face - I expected it, but it was still huge "WOW". Peralta trail then continues on the other side eventually ending somewhere in Lost Dutchman area, but don't turn back at the saddle! There is about 15-20min ridgewalk towards Weavers that is as good as it gets. I stayed over the hour in total solitude just soaking it in - incredible. I returned the same way, but 60 hikes guidebook talks about highline variation on north side of Peralta canyon, it is supposedly scrambly with route-finding but with fantastic views - next time. Highly recommended, if you have time for 1 hike in Superstitions make it this one. 3hrs return is with casual - moderate pace + whatever time you decide to spend exploring / enjoying Weavers viewpoint. Photo Story:


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[View back as trail reaches upper part of Peralta canyon and starts Fremont saddle approach]


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[Multi-colored rock layers on north side; sharp eyes can spot famous Geronimo cave. Scramble ridge return passes on top of that cream colored rock]


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[Tiny rock fissures filled by water, not a reliable source]


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[Another view back ~15min before Fremont Saddle with trademark Saguaro. If you do this hike in mid to late afternoon, you will get some shade as sun dips behind canyon walls]


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[Trailside cave, mentioned in guidebook. It is not deep or long, but still interesting]


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[And view of Weavers Needle from Fremont Saddle, quite a sight. Trail now descends on the left side of photo - turn right and follow ridge trail towards Needle. It ends by that lone tree on horizon mid center right]


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[Plateau pano looking north across Superstition wilderness hiking towards Needle Viewpoint]



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[Trail end. I imagine this spot gets busy on weekend, but you can find some solitude on rock outcrops left or right]

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[Needle zoom. More than passing resemblance to Garibaldi Black Tusk is quite striking]

Map and Elevation Profile:
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Detail report with more high-res photos and downloadable GPS Track here
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Last edited by zeljkok; 12-22-2021 at 12:44 AM.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 12-21-2021, 10:49 AM
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Thanks for the memories. Peralta is our favourite hike near Phoenix.
How long are you there?
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 12-21-2021, 02:42 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. B View Post
Thanks for the memories. Peralta is our favourite hike near Phoenix.
How long are you there?

Till end of month. Do you have any photos of Picketpost cliff where you turned back? My guidebook says exposed ledge which you crossed with no problems is the worst part. Is it possible you were off route?
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 12-21-2021, 09:54 PM
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I have pictures,but no idea how to share them

We were on trail, but the scramble was too steep for Lynn

Last edited by zeljkok; 12-21-2021 at 10:11 PM.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 12-23-2021, 01:14 AM Thread Starter
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Trail #11: Piestewa Peak

It seems every metro area has to have its version of The Grind. In Phoenix it is Piestewa Summit Trail. Insanely busy, steady up start to finish, cardio exercise & maybe even place to mingle with athletic singles. Difference with Grouse? Half of elevation (~400m) over just shy of 2km. Open views start to finish and no gondola to take you down. I knew what I was up against, but still enjoyed more than expected. Maybe because it was new - in Vancouver I enjoyed Grind first time too (but never did it again - if I went to Grouse it was BCMC or Flint), and maybe because views of huge Phoenix metro area is quite commendable. Twin summits are quite rocky & after tagging both I could simply not tolerate the crowds more than 1 minute, so I scooted down & found solitude behind some rock outcrops ~50m below summit, then watches Sunset over smog filled metro Phoenix. Brief photo story:


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[View of east summit from West summit, note crowds. It is actually a bit scrambly. Chopter buzzing added to overall mayhem]


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[Sun setting over metro Phoenix area. This is looking west. There was more smog than this photo reveals]


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[And view east with infamous Camelback distance center]


Word about Camelback. It is iconic Scottsdale landmark. I intended to get up while I'm here. I don't believe I will. 3 times I drove by & could not get parking. There are two trailheads: Chola Trail (south) and Echo Canyon (north). Chola has been closed over a year because of some rockslide. And Echo is insane; I think I'd have to show up there no later than 7 am to find space, and I'm not ready to do that - or get a taxi to drop me off.


Do Piestewa if you are in the area & are looking for exercise. But not more than once.


Full trip report with more high-res photos here

Last edited by zeljkok; 12-24-2021 at 01:29 AM.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 12-23-2021, 01:54 AM
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Piestewa & Camelback were both crazy busy when we were there years ago. You have to get out of town for any kind of solitude. Vulture Peak is a nice scramble albeit a fair long drive North. We enjoyed the medicine wheel trail and 2 trails on the northeast side of the Superstition Mountains
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 12-23-2021, 02:23 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. B View Post
Piestewa & Camelback were both crazy busy when we were there years ago. You have to get out of town for any kind of solitude. Vulture Peak is a nice scramble albeit a fair long drive North. We enjoyed the medicine wheel trail and 2 trails on the northeast side of the Superstition Mountains

Ya, it's all part of experience. I am surprised by rather large availability of hiking areas even within metro area. Well developed and maintained too. One difference between Piestewa and Camelback is parking - no prob. at Piestewa



I'd like to check these trails by Roosevelt lake at East end of Apache trail. Long drive though, and weather forecast bad here too.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 12-25-2021, 01:08 AM Thread Starter
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Trail #9: Papago Park

This is not wilderness trail, but it is listed in Hiking Guidebook; Papago is also very famous and as good as Urban parks go. There is Phoenix Zoo, Desert Botanical Garden, Golf Course, Governor Hunt Tomb, several Fishing Ponds and easy Hiking Trails. I've been quite impressed; just like Stanley is Vancouver pride, same goes for Papago and Phoenix. There is rich history - Park was Indian Reservation, National Monument 1914 - 1930, POW during 2nd World War and then sold to and managed by City of Phoenix since 1959. It was also finish line in 4th season of Amazing Race. You can read more about Papago on official Park Page and on Wikipedia

Galvin Drive bisects park to east and west side. Attractions are on east side, while quieter west side has couple of km of hiking trail around twin Rock Features known as Little and Big Butte. On east side is also "Hole in the Rock" - listed as hiking trail actually, and as far as human swarms go you have to see it to believe. I came on two occasions, first time for tourist east side and later for rainy (ya, it rains here too) hike around the Buttes on west side. Photo story:


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[Sunset time at Hole in the Rock; access is from the back, and it is as much human zoo as it gets, as evident on photo]

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[Entrance from the back to Hole in the Rock]

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[Inside photo in Hole in the Rock; I stayed literally 1 sec just to snap this pic. It would be terrific to watch sunset here actually if you could get it to yourself]

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[Found this sign quite funny while wondering from Hole in the Rock towards Hunt's Tomb]

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[One of several fishing ponds and picnic areas on east side]

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[They had "Zoo Lights" for Holiday season in the Zoo (but day ticket won't get you in during the night & you have to purchase separate tickets) tickets]

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[Night pic of George Hunt memorial, 1st Arizona Governor]


These are few shots hiking around Twin Buttes on west side. There are several scrambling paths to top of these features, but rain storm came in and triggered all kinds of small waterfalls and mud slides so I just went around. There is also shelter (with running water) between the buttes, and I used it during to wait heavy rain


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[Lower Butte seen from plateau between the two]

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[Golf course Pano (west of Papago) - you can see the storm coming]


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[Rainy pano over south part of Papago from cave in Big Butte]


If you are in Phoenix, Papago should definitely be on your list. You can spend few hours or full day or even couple of days here.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 12-25-2021, 11:35 PM Thread Starter
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Default Lookout Mountain

Trail #7: Lookout Mountain


This is another of "urban hikes" at north end of Phoenix Mountain Preserve. But it is nowhere as busy as Piestewa and provides several options. Officially there are 2 signed trails: Summit trail (#150) and Circumference trail (#308), but there is whole network of additional trails one can use to wonder around. Hike to top is very short - less than 30min from parking at 16th St trailhead (lots of residential parking available too) - and I explored middle path that contours about halfway up the "mountain", above official Circumference trail. There are several bumps & all can be tagged with no problems. Enjoyable couple of hrs stroll, capped with colorful sunset sky after quite rainy few days. Couple of Pics:


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[Along the contour trail on south side; twin summits of Lookout Mtn are upper center, and right is higher]


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[Summit pano from ~700m high Lookout Mtn]


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[Sunset sky looking west from one of lower bumps above Circumference Trail]


Finally a shot of Arizona Falls I stopped at while driving to trailhead. It's waterfall on Phoenix canal with small hydro dam that generates some electricity & is well worth visiting. It is a park, entry is free, and there are couple of history displays, quite enjoyable.
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 12-26-2021, 10:23 AM
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Great vignettes of an interesting part of the country; I've only driven the highway north from/to airport.
Arizona has an active hiking community, which tends to congregate on https://hikearizona.com/
Perhaps some further ideas here?
(A bit complex to sort through on a PC, so could be much worse on a handheld device.)
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 12-27-2021, 02:24 AM Thread Starter
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Trail #32: Hieroglyphic Canyon to Superstitions Ridgeline

As often the case, I left best for last. Mr. B if you see this I will fully recommend to you; it is better than Peralta Canyon by couple of grades. It is also harder, with some scrambling - still easier than Flatiron - but there is some non-trivial route-finding. Access is via uber popular Hieroglyphic Trail (fork off Hwy 60 couple of miles east of Peralta), but once official trail ends by Hieroglyphic Springs you'll be on your own. It's a great trail, true Superstitions wilderness. At times it is well defined but higher up there are sections where I had to "think" and backtrack. Hardest bit is some 50m travel directly up the creek bed with couple of class 3 rock steps. Good thing is water - I didn't bring enough, but happily refilled from the creek. (Hopefully my system used to Rockies water won't complain to Arizona bugs as I didn't filter). Final climb to the col is steep and scrambly; at the col you intersect Superstitions Ridgeline, Weavers Needle is across - this is place for gods. I ran out of time, but ascent of Superstions Peak is 45min from the col. Took about 5hrs return, but quite fast pace. Some pics, I'll post more with stats later on:


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[About 30min from end of "tourist" access trail as canyon bends to the east]

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[Small waterfall in Hieroglyphic creek & place where I refilled. Col is just right of upper center & still an hour away of rough going]


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[I found this section the crux; it is unclear where to go (answer - right up the creek). Upcoming rock step is center / center left is class 3, good thing rock was dry]


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[Out of the creek and trail gets better defined, but quite steep. It is easy to get off trail - stay on climber right of that beautiful rock spire. Above is one section with friction rock but low angle and not a problem. Col is 20-25min from here]


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[Superstitions from the col & intersection with Ridgeline Trail. Just such an awesome place; I should have started earlier & didn't have enough time because I didn't want to descend that tricky canyon with headlamp]


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[And 105mm Telephoto of Weavers needle (that doesn't quite look like Black Tusk from this angle]


I am certain to return here next time I'm in Phoenix area. This col is just a "teaser" -- there is Superstitions Ridgeline, there is Superstitions Peak and there is 1-way crossover to Peralta Canyon (!!!) - with 2 cars one of best things you can do in Superstitions. Highly recommended

Last edited by zeljkok; 12-27-2021 at 02:31 AM.
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 12-27-2021, 12:21 PM
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Thanks for the info, we only went maybe half an hour past the regular trail. More incentive now!
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