|March, 2012 issue|
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Hikers, not sure where to begin your celebratory hiking of the newly-completed, state-long Arizona Trail? No problem—just pick up a copy of the March issue of PHOENIX magazine and turn to page 50 for my article on why this route is so phenomenal and where you can go to sample its greatness---before embarking on the entire 817-mile journey.
ON SALE FEBRUARY 16, 2012
Here’s where you can find PHOENIX magazine: Safeway, Fry’s Marketplace, Wal-Mart, Costco, Sam’s Club, Sunflower Markets, Sprouts, Borders, Barnes & Noble, CVS, Walgreens, Sky Harbor Airport, Albertson’s, Fresh & Easy, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Target, Whole Foods, Basha’s, A.J.’s, La Grande Orange, The Kitchen, Area hospital gift shops WEB SITE: http://www.phoenixmag.com/ ORDER BY PHONE: 480-664-3960
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
168th Street Spur
McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Fountain Hills
|Four Peaks from 168th Spur|
|Bee on fairy duster|
Back in the mid 1990s, this park sustained some substantial fire damage which left large swaths of land devoid of trees and shrubs. Although the area is recovering nicely---jojoba, Palo verde trees and blooming shrubs mask the last of torched trunks---there's a “secret” place that escaped the fires where centuries-old ironwoods and massive saguaros anchor an “old growth” desert forest. This slender, sandy path has been used for years by residents of the communities that border the park's northern perimeter. Now, the 168th Street Spur is an official route. With more than 51 miles of great, shared-use trails in this park, one might wonder why bother with a little one like this. Simple---it's the “garden valley” of the McDowells, and with peak wildflower season approaching, it's a good location to know about. Why, this week in early February, we observed poppies, scorpion weed, fairy dusters, lupine, desert rock pea and a bevy of sprouts about to burst with color. In addition, the abundant plant life attracts birds galore. Hawks, ravens, cactus wrens and phainopeplas are easy to spot gorging on wild seeds.
LENGTH: 4.2 miles (as described here)
ELEVATION: 1,850' – 1,930'
DOGS: leashed dogs allowed
KID FRIENDLY?: yes
PARK HOURS: 6 a.m. - 8 p.m. (10 p.m. Friday & Saturday)
FEE: $6 daily per vehicle , $2 per person walk/bike in. Bring exact change for the self-serve kiosks.
See web site for info on annual passes, senior discounts, etc. Maps are available at the park entrance and nature center.
FACILITIES: restrooms, water, camping, picnic tables, nature center, horse staging
From Phoenix, go east on Loop 202 to SR87 (Beeline Highway). Go north on SR87 to Shea Blvd, turn left (west) and drive roughly 1 mile to Saguaro Blvd (traffic light). Turn right (north) follow Saguaro to Fountain Hills Blvd., turn right and continue 4 miles to the park entrance.
TRAILHEAD AS DESCRIBED HERE: from the park entrance, follow McDowell Mountain Road past the nature center, then past Shallmo Drive. Just before the point where Pemberton Trail crosses the road, there's a dirt pullout with wood pylons on the left. Park here. Walk a few yards north on the road to the Pemberton Trail, turn left (west) and hike 0.4 mile to the 168th Street Trail junction. We hiked to the park boundary, then followed the perimeter trail to 158th St. Spur. Because we had stashed a dog poo bag on the way in, we back tracked to pack it out, however, you could take 158th Spur back to Pemberton to make a loop hike of about the same length.
INFO: Maricopa County Parks, 480-471-0173