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Friday, April 8, 2011


PIMA CANYON WASH South Mountain Park, Phoenix Because of its close proximity to suburbia, the Pima Canyon recreation area draws the crowds--especially on weekends. From what I’ve seen, many people use the area as an outdoor treadmill-- speed hiking or power walking uphill on the wide dirt road heading west from the trailhead. Although all the traffic does tend to keep the resident pit vipers at bay, the trail gets a bit loud and congested. However, for those who prefer solitude and/or more of an exploratory hike, the Pima Wash Trail--located below the road---offers a slower, scenic meander through classic Sonoran desert terrain. With lots of sand and loose rock underfoot, the trail is hemmed in by weather-worn vertical cliffs decorated by centuries-old petroglyphs and inhabited by myriad critters including Harris Antelope Squirrels, rock squirrels and Turkey vultures.  LENGTH: 2.2 miles one-way to National Trail junction (official trail) OR 3.3 miles one-way to canyon end RATING: easy-moderate ELEVATION: 1,390 – 1, 690 (1,990 if you continue up the canyon beyond the National Trail Junction) GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, go east on I-10 to the Elliot Road exit. Go a couple blocks west (go right) on Elliot to 48th Street (major stoplight intersection), turn right (north) and go exactly 1 mile on Elliot to where the road splits just before Guadalupe Road. Take the left fork toward the golf course (which is the continuation of 48th St. Hint: if you reach Guadalupe Road, you’ve gone about a half-block too far---just make a U-turn and backtrack) and go a few yards to a guard gate on the left---there’s a City of Phoenix sign, but it’s not prominent. Turn left here onto Pima Canyon Road (no signs) and follow it all the way to the end—or park in any of the designated spots along the road. FINDING THE TRAILHEAD: Access to Pima Wash begins near the first ramada on the right (north) side of Pima Canyon Road at the “West Loop” sign where there are trash bins and a poop bag station—see photo for reference. Follow West Loop downhill roughly 0.1 mile to the signed Pima Wash junction. FACILITIES: restrooms, water, covered picnic ramadas. DOGS: canines must be on leash at all times and owners must bring poop bags and clean up after their pets. FEES: none as of April 2011

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