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Sunday, March 18, 2012

A stormy hike in Phoenix South Mountain Park

South Mountain Park, Phoenix

Yesterday, here in Phoenix, it was 87 degrees.  Today: 59.  Welcome to the wild and wacky world of Arizona weather. For the past several years, in mid-March, Arizona has experienced a major winter storm and this year was no exception.  Today, much of the high country was pummeled with snow while we here in the desert got a (much needed) day of mixed drizzles and downpours.  Of course, for hikers, this means one more luscious wintery opportunity to enjoy local trails.  A perfect choice for a soggy-day hike is Las Lomitas Loop in South Mountain Park.  Close-to-town, heavily-traveled and not-too-tough, it’s a logical choice for a quick trek.  Staying low in the foothills, this route is very popular with equestrians and families with kids.  The well-signed route passes among gigantic boulders, sandy washes and desert gardens of saguaros, ironwoods and Palo verde trees.  The loop tops out at the Kiwanis trailhead, then swings back for the return leg where beautiful views of downtown Phoenix and the western peaks of the Sierra Estrella mountains stand out on the horizon.  Back at the Holbert trailhead, I decided to take a quick jaunt into Box Canyon to see the famous petroglyphs.  The weather held for 20 more minutes before I was chased back to my car by what may be the last cold rain before our impending hot weather settles in for the long haul.

LENGTH:  1.2 miles (4 miles as described here)
RATING: easy-moderate
ELEVATION:  1,350’ – 1,460’
DOGS: leashed dogs allowed
HOURS: 5 a.m. – 11 p.m. (facilities close at 7 p.m.)
FACILITIES: restrooms, water, picnic tables, covered ramadas
From Phoenix, go south on Central Ave and follow it all the way to where it dead ends at the park entrance.  Once past the guard gate, take the first left and follow the main road to the Holbert trailhead near the end of the road by the restrooms.
THE HIKE: as described here:  hike about 100 yards west, (go right) from the Holbert trailhead and pick up the Box Canyon Loop trail (actually, it’s Las Lomitas trail, but not signed that way).  Hike 0.25 mile on Las Lomitas to the Loop junction at trail marker 16.  Go right or left—and follow the signs to complete the loop.
INFO & MAP: City of Phoenix parks & Recreation, 602-262-7393

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