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Saturday, February 19, 2011

MORMON LOOP

MORMON LOOP South Mountain Park, Phoenix Rain schmain---although the National Weather Service predicted a 100 percent chance of rain for the Phoenix area today, we simply HAD to get out and hike. Our original plan was to head out to the White Tank Mountains. However, by 8 a.m., the range was already immersed in deep cloud cover and the majority of my hiking pals had opted out---except for two diehards. From our meeting place vantage point, we could see clear skies over South Mountain Park and it looked as if the track of the approaching storm would give us a few hours to hike a trail there before the rain set in. So, off we went. We selected the Mormon Loop trail because two of us hadn’t been there in several years. With its easy access, clearly signed junctions and amazing terrain, we weren’t surprised at all to find the trail teeming with hikers and bikers-- despite the ominous weather forecast. The first mile climbs up into the hills featuring some pretty great views of Metro Phoenix. After that, the route descends into the Beverly Canyon-Hidden Valley area for a more remote feel. Adding a bit of history to the hike, several Hohokam petroglyph sites line the route--the best one is located just before the National Trail junction. We also made a quick side trip to Hidden Valley’s natural tunnel (turn left at the Hidden Valley trail sign and hike a few yards to the tunnel) before completing our loop just before the skies dumped some much-needed rain on our desert town. HIKE DIRECTIONS: Begin on the Mormon trail hiking uphill 1 mile to the Mormon Loop junction. Turn left here and continue 1.1 miles to the National Trail junction (there’s a HUGE rock pile here in addition to park signage). Veer right and hike 1.4 miles on the National Trail to the Hidden Valley Junction. From here, keep right to stay on the National Trail, hike another 0.4 mile back to the Mormon Loop Junction and head downhill back to the trailhead. LENGTH: 5 mile loop RATING: moderate ELEVATION: 1,400’ – 2,000’ GETTING THERE: From central Phoenix, go south on 7th Ave to Baseline Road. Head east (left) and continue to 24th Street. Turn south (right) onto 24th Street and follow it all the way to the end (veer left at Euclid) to the signed trailhead. FACILITIES: parking, shaded kiosk, no restrooms or water. No fees. DOGS: leashed dogs are welcome. Please bring poop bags and clean up after your pets. BEST SEASONS: October-April INFO: phoenix.gov/parks/hikesoth.html MORE PHOTOS: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=49590&id=1795269672&l=5a1a104412

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