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Friday, February 11, 2011

PASS MOUNTAIN

PASS MOUNTAIN TRAIL Usery Mountain Recreation Area, Mesa A perennial favorite, we made a return trip to this trail last week---always a good choice for a beautiful local hike. There are actually many access points (both within the Usery Recreation area and via Tonto National Forest) to the Pass Mountain Trail as you will see on the map that is available at the park entrance. The counter-clockwise hike we did is easier and shorter than starting the hike elsewhere. Well-maintained and easy to follow, the trail makes a wide loop around Pass Mountain--the signature landmark of Usery Mtn Park--through desert terrain before climbing to a scenic pass overlooking the Salt River Valley, Goldfield and Superstition mountains. Although there weren’t yet many wildflowers in bloom, impending warmer temperatures over the next few weeks will coax out the color and vivid green leaves of the ocotillos that grow profusely along the cliffs. This is an EXCELLENT place to see Mexican Gold poppies and lupines. The park is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and offers nearly 30 miles of trails, many nice picnic areas and plentiful restrooms. LENGTH: 7.4-mile loop RATING: moderate ELEVATION: 2,030 – 2,588 feet BEST SEASONS: October - April GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, take US 60 east to exit 191 which is Ellsworth and go north. Continue on Ellsworth (which will turn into Usery Pass Road) for 6.7 miles and then turn right onto Usery Park Road. Follow the signs to the Horse Staging Area and park there. The trail begins at the east side of the lot. There are porta potties but no water here. Other parking areas have flush toilets, water, and canned soda machines. FEES: $6 daily fee per vehicle payable at the park entrance INFO: Maricopa County Parks & Recreation, 480-984-0032, http://www.maricopa.gov/parks/usery/pdf/2010maps/usery-8x11.pdf