|Overlooking Agua Fria River|
Monday, April 11, 2016
PEORIA CALDERWOOD BUTTE PRESERVE
The City of Peoria's long incubated land preservation effort has spawned quadruplets. Four beautiful mountain-centric preserves--East Wing, West Wing, Sunrise and little sister, Calderwood Butte--have been saved from development, built out with trails and are being nurtured for future generations of recreational enthusiasts. All are located within burgeoning suburban communities lodged between Interstate 17 and the Agua Fria River. For hikers, the three "big sisters" offer excellent routes with challenging climbs, tiered loops and easy options. On the other hand, to those unfamiliar with it, Calderwood Butte gives the impression of exactly what you'd expect of a stereotypical baby of the family--a fussed over, coddled, hyper-protected spoiled soul surrounded by toys. Its short length and the fact that it's swaddled among manicured yards and swimming pools causes some to shrug it off as too wussy to try. These misconceptions do not apply to the actual hiking experience. Sure, it's a short hike and yes, the trail is primped and trimmed; but with not one, but two high-point clambers, walks beneath sheer cliffs and 360-degree views, this compact trek is a satisfying journey. From the 99th Avenue trailhead, the path makes an immediate ascent into the chiseled clefs of the oblong butte. Flowing switchbacks wind around jagged pinnacles that hover over mountain vistas, flood plains and the distant skyline of Downtown Phoenix. The only thing "spoily" about this tiny trek will be your regret for not hiking it sooner.
LENGTH: 1.2-mile loop
ELEVATION: 1,390' - 1,686'
99th Avenue Trailhead:
From Interstate 17 in north Phoenix, take the Loop 303 exit 221 and go 7.2 miles west to Lake Pleasant Parkway exit 131. Turn left (south), drive 3.3 mile to Jomax Road, turn right, go 0.3 mile to 99th Ave., turn right and continue 0.3 mile to the paved parking area on the right. There's a picnic table, trash can and dog waste bag dispenser, but no other facilities.
Jomax Parkway access:
From 99th Ave. continue 0.6 mile west on Jomax Rd., veer right at Jomax Parkway and continue 0.2 mile to the trail cut. From here, it's roughly a mile to the loop. There's limited parking along the road. No facilities.