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Monday, January 18, 2010

CAT PEAKS LOOP

CAT PEAKS LOOP Usery Mountain Regional Park Kid, bike, dog and horse-friendly, this short hike in the desert offers all the amenities of a stroll through a vivacious subdivision---except with much better scenery. The wide, easy-to-follow trail with only one minor uphill section makes for a perfect family outing. Along the way, forests of chain fruit cholla cactuses dripping in spiny seed necklaces, and ironwood trees with their delicate pink, pea-like blooms clutter the landscape. The roundabout route showcases views of the park’s signature landmark—3,300-foot-high Pass Mountain--before bending to the east where the jagged peaks of the Superstition Wilderness stand out on the horizon. In between, the path circles the two Cat Peaks---pyramid-like summits within the park. To cap off your hike in the desert, pay a visit to Shakira (affectionately known as “Shakes”) the Western Diamondback rattlesnake, one of three resident snakes housed at the park’s new visitor center. HIKE DIRECTIONS: Begin by hiking east on the Blevins Trail. Continue .3 miles, pass the Amigos Wash trail, veer left and continue on Blevins for another .4 miles to the Cat Peaks Trail junction. Follow this trail for 1 mile to the Cats Peak Pass trail and turn right. Climb over the pass back to the Blevins Trail, turn right and retrace your steps back to the trailhead. LENGTH: 2.7 mile loop RATING: easy ELEVATION: 1,925 – 1,795 feet GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, go east on US 60 to exit 191, Ellsworth Road. Go north on Ellsworth for 7 miles to Usery Park Road, turn right and continue 1.7 miles to the horse staging trailhead. FEE: $6 daily fee per vehicle INFORMATION: Maricopa.gov/parks/usery/Directions.aspx FACILITIES: restrooms and horse trailer accommodations at the trailhead. All trails are well-signed and easy-to-follow.

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