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Monday, November 16, 2015

CASA GRANDE MOUNTAIN TRAILS

CASA GRANDE MOUNTAIN TRAILS
Casa Grande
The Ridge Trail 

Casa Grande Mountain Park resides in the desert space between a world of truck stops and freeways and valleys of checkerboard farmlands. Here, mornings break to the hum of traffic, blaring train horns and veils of mist drifting off crops. Despite its proximity to the busy Interstate 10/8 interchange, the park has quality hiking, especially at its southern end where the din of industry is absorbed in cholla-fleeced foothills and stony clefts.
The 1,025-acre park has more than 18 miles of non-motorized use trails. The system is made up of stacked loops with varying levels of difficulty anchored by the 4.86-mile Ridge Trail that traces the mountain's eastern flank. Although the Ridge Trail is well-signed, some of the others are not, but finding your way around isn't too tough. Also, because wildcat social trails muddle the terrain, it's smart to download the park map before heading out. Official trails are marked by metal posts with arrows that use standard alpine color codes (black for difficult, blue for moderate, green for easy). Follow the posts to stay on track. Two trailheads offer distinctly different experiences. At the north end, the Peart Trailhead appeals to those looking for easy, close-to-town hiking, while the Arica Trailhead provides access to the park's midsection and more difficult options.
While on the trail, scan the horizon for the profile of Picacho Peak and the jagged silhouette of the Sawtooth Mountains. Underfoot, look for the Arizona Fishhook Pincushion cactus that appears to grows out of solid rock in calf-high clusters blooming pink in spring before producing cherry-red fruits that linger through winter.
LENGTH: 18.29 miles
RATING: easy to difficult
ELEVATION: 1,500' - 2,350'
FACILITIES: porta potty, interpretive sign, benches, trash can
GETTING THERE:
Peart Trailhead:
From Interstate 10 in Casa Grande, take the Jimmie Kerr Blvd. exit 198 (State Route 84) and travel 2.6 miles west to Peart Road. Turn left (south) and continue 1.7 miles to where a "hiker" sign points to a dirt road on the left. Follow this sedan-friendly road 0.4 mile to the trailhead.
Arica Trailhead:
From Interstate 10 in Casa Grande, take the Sunland Gin Road exit 200 and head 0.1 mile south to Arica Road (just past the Loves truck stop). Turn right and continue 1.5 mile to the trailhead. The last half-mile is on rough dirt but is passable by sedan.
INFO & MAPS:
MORE PHOTOS: