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Monday, June 13, 2016


Sacred datura bloom along River Ramble Trail
The month of June is notoriously rife with wildfire activity. Historically, it's our driest month leading into monsoon season. Hikers who like to escape the heat on high elevation trails may find their plans thwarted by road closures, smoke and the possibility of more fires popping up with no warning. During those weeks when it seems like the whole state is on fire, it's good to know that that there's an alternative cool hiking destination located not too far from Downtown Phoenix.
The trails at Hassayampa River Preserve in Wickenburg offer respite from the heat under canopies of cottonwoods, willows, mesquite, alders and enormous Desert fan palms. Straddling one of the few places where the 100-mile-long river flows above ground, the preserve has trails that explore the site's diversity. River Ramble Trail follows a channel of trickling perennial water through a tangled, green forest flush with wildflowers and an arboreal symphony of bird songs. The overhead avian chatter is a constant companion and it's nearly impossible to miss the brilliant red Vermillion flycathers, Summer Tanagers, hawks and flocks of song sparrows fluttering from tree to tree. Mesquite Meander Trail loops through a haunting maze of Velvet mesquite trees that arch over the sandy path. Other trails circle spring fed Palm Lake where viewing areas with benches are situated near prime habitats for ducks, egrets and herons.
Hassayampa River
Most of the trails are flat and easy except for Lykes' Lookout, that makes a short but very steep climb to a stony mound overlooking the rare desert oasis.
LENGTH: 2.54 miles
Lots of shade on the Palm Lake Trail
RATING: barrier free - difficult
ELEVATION: 1,900' -1,980'
49614 N. US 60/89, Wickenburg.
From Phoenix, go north on Interstate 17 to Carefree Highway (State Route74) at exit 223. Go 3 miles west toward Wickenburg to US60. Turn right (north) and continue 6 miles to the Conservancy turn off on the left near milepost 114.
May 14-Sept. 16
Friday - Sunday
7 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Trails close at 10:30 a.m.
Pets are not allowed.
ADMISSION: $5 per person, $3 for The Nature Conservancy members.

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