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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Urban wildflower hike

Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area
Globemallow, March 7, 2013

Wolfberry, March 7, 2013
She appeared out of a pile of rubble to check me out as I photographed wildflowers on the flood plain.  The beautiful white pitbull mix kept both her distance and a watchful eye on my wanderings, never letting me get more than a few dozen yards of her. I dubbed her “Ghost”. Sadly, feral dogs and cats are common in this 5-mile stretch of the Salt River, which cuts through Phoenix just south of downtown.  Surrounded by quarries and construction industries, this 595-acre City of Phoenix multi-purpose project spanning from 19th Ave to 28th Street was developed to restore the native riparian life zone, improve flood management and open new recreational opportunities.  The formerly blighted river corridor was cleared, water pumped in and thousands of native plants reintroduced into created wetland marshes, mesquite bosques and cottonwood-willow habitats. Even with all the improvements, the sights and sounds of the heavy industry end of town are ever present ---planes overhead, earth movers groaning in the quarries that flank the river and unfortunate piles of trash carried in on the wind.  Still, it’s important to keep in mind how extraordinary it is that this place even exists.  And, for me that’s the draw.  Although the Terrace Trail is one of the least attractive of the area’s hiking routes, I find it fascinating to marvel at the variety of life inhabiting this sliver of green wedged between freeways and barrios.  Beautiful life such as globemallow, wolfberry and popcorn flowers mix with water fowl, rabbits, lizards and misplaced beasts like Ghost, who I last saw loping off toward 19th Avenue.
Terraced waterfall & cottonwood trees

LENGTH: 2 miles roundtrip
RATING:  easy---rocky, unpaved route
ELEVATION:  1,100’
DOGS:  leashed dogs are allowed only on paved trails
HOURS: sunrise to sunset or 7 p.m. whichever comes first
There are many access points.  I used the 7th Ave trailhead just south of US 60. Hike west from &th Ave to 19th Ave. 

"Ghost" the feral dog
City of Phoenix, 602-262-6863
Audubon Visitor Center, 602- 468-6470


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