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Monday, October 15, 2018


Remnants of Hurricane Sergio over Kiwanis Trail 10-14-18.
Long before the craggy hills that comprise South Mountain where outfitted with hiking trails and picnic ramadas, the Akimel O’odham (Pima) people referred to them as Muhadag Du’ag or Greasy Mountain.
A hiker enters the mist on the National Trail near Mt. Suppoa.
The name comes from a Native American legend about how hot grease dripping from the mouth of Trickster Coyote as he consumed food stolen from a cremation fire gave the mountains their dark stains. 
October rains have greened-up the desert.
People have been carving their marks in the  "greasy" dark rock veneers of the mountain ranges south of Phoenix since prehistoric times. Archeologists have attributed artifacts and petroglyphs (rock art) found in the area to a wide scope of peoples who lived in and around what is now known as South Mountain Park.
Hohokam petroglyphs are plentiful along Kiwanis Trail.
Heritage sites in the park include a few rare incised symbols from hunter-gathers of the Archaic period (8000-2000 years ago), thousands of Hohokam (A.D. 400-1450) etchings and the scribblings of early European settlers.  Many of these artful and mysterious panels are visible from the more than 50 miles of hiking trails within the park.  In addition to several petroglyph sites with human forms, spiral patterns and animal designs tapped into stone by the park’s ancient inhabitants, Kiwanis Trail also exposes features of the park’s more recent history. 
Telegraph Pass Lookout Tower on the National Trail.
Established in 1924, the park was a major work center for the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1933 and 1940. 
View of Downtown Phoenix from Telegraph Pass. 
During that time, roughly 4000 workers constructed many of the park’s trails and masonry/stone buildings.
Kiwanis Trail was constructed by CCC workers in the 1930s.
View of the Salt & Gila River Basins from National Trail.
The Kiwanis Trail is a classic example of CCC construction projects. Its hand-hewn cuts, native-stone steps and check dams built into drainages to slow the flow of water and minimize erosion are relics of the Depression-era program.
AZ Desert-thorn bloom year-round with ample moisture.
Over its 1-mile course, the trail climbs 480 feet through a furrowed canyon to Telegraph Pass Road. As the trail gains elevation, views of Downtown Phoenix expand from sliver-glimpses to full blown panoramas. Moisture dropped by the remnants of hurricanes Rosa and Sergio over the past weeks coaxed the green back into the landscape. The wettest October in recorded state history has enabled ocotillos to puff out, drought-starved brittle bush to sprout leaves and delicate Arizona Desert-thorn to bloom in fragrant clusters.
Post-drought brittle bush will soon produce yellow blooms.
Heavy rain can also cause Valley trails can become very muddy. Although it’s advisable to avoid hiking on saturated trails to prevent damaging them, you won’t encounter mucky quagmires on the Kiwanis Trail. The path is mostly hard-pack gravel and bare rock, and was built to drain quickly and withstand wet-weather use.
CCC-built check dams help prevent erosion.
At the top of the trail, the hike may be extended by crossing the road to the National Trail for a short but steep climb to the Telegraph Pass Lookout. Situated on a knoll overlooking the Salt and Gila River Basin, the rustic stone hut serves as a convenient turnaround point or stop off before continuing on the 15-mile National Trail that traces ridgeline crests for the entire length of the park.
Dark rock veneers on "Greasy Mountain".
Kiwanis Trails ends at Telegraph Pass Road

LENGTH: 2 miles round trip or 2.6 miles roundtrip to Telegraph Pass Lookout
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION:  1580- 2060 feet
South Mountain Park, Phoenix, 10919 S. Central Ave.
From the main park entrance at the end of Central Avenue, continue on Stephen Mather Dr. and go left at the first four-way intersection. Take another left onto Piedras Grandes Dr. and continue to the trailhead.

Landscape of the Spirits Hohokam Rock Art at South Mountain Park
Todd W. Bostwick and Peter Krocek
University of Arizona Press, Tucson

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