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Thursday, April 23, 2009


HIDDEN VALLEY South Mountain Park, Phoenix The grey stone walls of Fat Man Pass have been worn to a shiny slick veneer by countless hikers who have sucked in their guts to squeeze through the foot-wide gap—the first of three fun rock scrambles in Hidden Valley. The hike starts on a leg of the National Trail, heading downhill and skirting desert ridges to the Hidden Valley junction at the 1.5 mile point. It’s there that Fat Man Pass presents the first obstacle…but, don’t worry, it’s easy to circumvent the narrow channel and pick up the trail on the opposite side. A short distance later, a natural tunnel made of fallen boulders is easy to pass through. Just past the tunnel, the trail reconnects with the National Trail. Go left at the junction and head back to Buena Vista Lookout. LENGTH: 3.5 miles roundtrip ELEVATION GAIN: 400 feet RATING: easy-moderate GETTING THERE: There are numerous ways to get to Hidden Valley. Here is one option. From Phoenix, follow Central Ave. south to the well-signed park entrance. Follow the signs leading to the Buena Vista Lookout. This is about a 6-mile drive to a nice parking area with great views. There is a “Hidden Valley” sign at the east end of the parking lot indicating the start of the hike. You are actually on a section of the National Trail. Hike about 1.5 miles to the junction for Hidden Valley and follow the sign. This section of the trail takes you through the famous “Fat Man’s Pass” as well as a natural tunnel. Once through the tunnel, reconnect with the National Trail by heading west (left) and follow it back to the Buena Vista trailhead. Admission is free. The park is open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. See the park website for additional access points. INFORMATION:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Hidden Valley trail is one of the only trails on South Mountain where you won't find runners. A reason why it is one of the best. The extra rocks provide great rock climbing for those more afraid of heights. Stop and eat a lunch or some snacks, but after you go through Fat Man's Pass. Do not miss this hike when you are in the Valley.