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Thursday, January 16, 2014


Camelback Mountain 
Camelback Mountain as seen from Piestewa Peak

After being closed for improvements for nearly a year, the new Echo Canyon trailhead at Camelback Mountain was opened Wednesday, January, 15, 2014. Providing access to one of the most popular, iconic and infamously crowded in-town hikes, the new recreation site features smoother traffic flow, double the parking, restrooms, water and a stabilizing trail realignment. The summit of Camelback Mountain is the highest point in Phoenix and  the aggressive ascent is a prime workout for peak-bagging hikers and cardio trainers alike.
This trail is NOT RECOMMENDED for novice hikers or those who are not accustomed to desert conditions. Although it's frequently touted as a "must do" for out-of-state visitors, Summit Trail is not a walk in the park.  It's an insanely steep haul with loose footing, sheer drop offs and elbow-to-elbow foot traffic.  Prime season for the hike is from November through April.  Off-season temperatures can climb to the triple-digits making it downright dangerous to attempt.  Dehydration---which can be, and has been deadly--- is a common problem for hikers on this route. Additionally, the sheer volume of trekkers using this trail is taking a toll on the terrain---and with so many other wonderful Phoenix hiking destinations, it's smart to test your mettle elsewhere.

LENGTH: 1.23 miles one-way
ELEVATION: 1504' - 2704'
RATING: difficult

4925 E. McDonald Drive, Phoenix
INFO: City of Phoenix, 602-261-8318

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Superstition Wilderness
Giant Saguaro, Jan.11, 2014

Although it’s not the largest  ever discovered, the colossal cactus known as “Giant Saguaro” along Dutchman’s Trail is a commanding presence.  Balancing a massive, Medusa-like crown of spiny arms and isolated in a landscape where neighboring saguaros sport more modest profiles, this impressive plant grabs the spotlight.  But, it might not stand for much longer.  An ominous gray scale on its north side and what appears to have been a lighting strike in its core may spell its doom--who can say.  The probability that this cactus has been around for hundreds of years is a testament to its tenacity.  Whether it stands for one more year or another century, hikers with a love of natural curiosities should pay it a respectful visit.  The hike to the saguaro, begins at the Peralta trailhead on Bluff Spring Trail with the (infamous) climb of “cardiac hill”---a nearly 800’ ascent in less than a mile--and although the route has many ups-and-downs, this is the most challenging segment. Stay on Bluff Spring Trail to the 3.1-mile point, head north (straight ahead) on Dutchman’s Trail and follow it 1.7 miles to the giant saguaro.  You can’t miss it. EPITAPH 2016: The giant saguaro is officially dead.
water in Bark's Canyon
LENGTH: 9.7 miles round trip
RATING: difficult
ELEVATION: 2153' - 3184'
"Cardiac Hill"

From Phoenix, go east on US60 to just past milepost 204 in Apache Junction, turn left at the "Peralta Trailhead" sign and follow Peralta Road (FR77) 8 miles to the trailhead. Six miles of FR77 is dirt with some washboard sections passable by carefully driven sedans.
INFO: Mesa Ranger District, Tonto National Forest, 480-610-3300