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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Happy tails at Usery Mountain Park

Usery Mountain Regional Park
A hopeful pup and her handler arrive at the trailhead

More than 29 miles of hiking trails bumping up against Mesa's Goldfield Mountains grace this lower Sonoran Desert park.  The miles are divided up among 19 routes ranging from easy to difficult, so there's something for everyone---including those who require or prefer barrier-free trekking. For hikers pushing strollers or turning wheels, the Merkle Trail is just the ticket.  Off limits to bikes and horses, the flat, graded path makes a loop through lush vegetation with outstanding mountain views. On the first Saturday of each month from November through April, the public is invited to hike this trail along with adoptable dogs from Maricopa County Animal Care’s east shelter. “Wag & Walk” hiker dogs are already spayed or neutered and available to go home on the spot with reduced adoption fees and a chance to win free county park passes.  Even if you’re not looking for a new fur baby, hiking among a pack of happy tails makes for a memorable morning in the desert.

Volunteers hike with adoptable dogs

LENGTH: 1-mile loop
RATING: easy, barrier-free
FEE: $6 park entry fee per vehicle
FACILITIES: picnic tables, restrooms, water,
3939 N. Usery Pass Rd., Mesa AZ 85207
From Phoenx, travel east on US60 to the Ellsworth Road exit.  Go north on Ellsworth to the park entrance.
UPCOMING WAG & WALK HIKES:  All hikes begin at 9 a.m. at the Merkle trailhead (area 6 parking). December 7, January 4, February 4, March 1, April 5. No registration required. 
INFO: Maricopa County Parks & Recreation, 480-984-0032

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