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This positively ponderous municipal preserve -- the nation's largest -- features acres of hiking, climbing and horseback trails, plus picnic and recreation areas.
This positively ponderous municipal preserve -- the nation's largest -- features acres of hiking, biking, climbing and horseback trails, plus picni...
Last week's announcement of GoPro's newest-latest action capture HD camera, the Hero 3 Black, means that a whole new wave of bike or helmet mounted videos will be hitting the internets, now in g... More »
The second the summer said adios, a new weekly ritual took over the Cycle Cycling Team (of one): henceforth, every Sunday's ride would include time in South Mountain Park.Since its inception, Cycle ha... More »
Living in the city requires regular intervals of time away from the computer, the car, work and just about everything else. Our favorite place to let our worries fall away and get in touch with our inner center of peace, love, and all that wonderful hippie stuff is on the seemingly endless trails around South Mountain Park/Preserve.South Mountain encompasses more than 16,000 acres and is the largest municipal park in the country, so it's easy to avoid the crowds of screaming kids, hipster... More »
In 1539, a Franciscan friar named Marcos from Italy led a scouting party from Mexico's interior through Arizona and into New Mexico, where he later claimed to have seen the prosperous land of Cibola. Along the way, he visited what is now the Valley and, the story goes, scratched a short inscription on a rock that, translated into English, says: "Fr. Marcos of Nice crowned all of New Mexico at his expense, 1539."The inscription, first seen in the 1920s, is located on a hill just south of the... More »
At the end of a dirt road in South Mountain's Pima Canyon Entrance, tucked away in a quiet desert arroyo full of mesquite and cactus, you'll find a collection of boulders with names. These are the gems of South Mountain bouldering, a type of low-vertical climbing activity that usually involves rock shoes and a chalk bag but no rope. On nice days, you're likely to find climbers scampering around the Entrance, Africa and World boulders, or the "Amphitheater."The routes here are mostly "clean,"... More »
Sitting in a Valley watering hole sipping a few cold ones, it's hard to imagine that human beings not so different from us were here, doing things, hoping for things, dreaming of things long before we were ever around. Occasionally, we must stare history in the face to recognize how far we've come and, perhaps, realize how far we have to go. There's no better place to do this than the Holbert Trail at South Mountain Park. Here, petroglyphs inscribed in the living rock by Hohokam People... More »
In 1900, cries of "There be gold in them hills!" could be heard ringing through the streets of downtown Phoenix. But these miners were not referring to the Superstitions and legends of lost Dutchmen. These were claims for mining rights on South Mountain. Today, most of the mines have been filled and covered, but several holes are still visible and accessible (though, for the record, we do not recommend you try to access them). The primary mine on the mountain was the Max Delta in the San... More »
After a hectic day, there are many surefire ways to escape from reality. Some are expensive. Others are illegal. Luckily, viewing the sunset at South Mountain is a free antidote to calm your weary mind without any side effects. Head up to Dobbins Point at dusk and take it slow as you drive up the windy, meandering Summit Road. We recommend raising the volume of your tunes (possibly Alexi Murdoch's "Orange Sky") as you take in the light against the crags and the mountain profiles along the... More »
What goes up must come down -- at least, that's what mountain bikers count on. The South Mountain Desert Classic Trail is not the most grueling trail in our neck of the desert, but it's close, it's scenic -- and full of ups and downs. Phoenix South Mountain Park is over 16,000 acres of desert landscape overlooking downtown Phoenix to the north and urban sprawl to the south. The trail is about 18 miles long and runs along the southern face of the mountain. If you don't have a... More »
There are two things you need to know about this hike, and they're both supercool: 1) the Alta Trail is situated on the front range at South Mountain Park, and we're betting that many of you didn't even know there was a front range; 2) the "Alt" section of this trail is not maintained and does not appear on any of the park's maps. Translation: It's not choked with other hikers and it's completely badass.If you want to hike the "official" Alta Trail, drive about two miles down the San Juan... More »
Mountain biking at night seems crazier, in theory, than it actually is. Just as in the daytime, it requires zooming up and hurtling down steep dirt tracks, all the while flanked by cholla cactus and pointy boulders. It sure isn't any safer at night, but it's not as risky as you might think if you have a burly lighting system. A while back, we threw down for an expensive Niterider 15-watt lamp with a rechargeable battery, but we got our money's worth out of the gadget.Our night fun hunting... More »
The weather outside's delightful, and it really would be frightful to bounce around your apartment on such a lovely day. So don't. Get the hell out and discover what life here is really about at these signature destinations.Our positively ponderous municipal preserve -- the nation's largest, at 16,000 acres -- features mile after mile of hiking, biking, climbing, and horseback trails, plus picnic and recreation areas and the South Mountain Environmental Education Center. The... More »
San who?Exactly. Even we die-hard outdoorsfolk spent many a wasted year in ignorance of this under-utilized section of South Mountain Park before a wrong turn turned out right. Our happy misadventure started at that big fork in the road where nobody turns west 'cause everyone's headed east to the top of the range. And who can blame them? The top of this range, the centerpiece of the largest municipal park in the world, is a pretty special place.But so is San Juan, South Mountain's... More »
The best thing about the view from the top of South Mountain is that you don't have to be a super jock to get there: There's a road that will get you all the way to the summit without one ounce of exertion. (Well, your car will be working it; you won't.) And once there, what a sight: After getting this bird's-eye view, "the Valley" label suddenly makes sense -- as does some plan for slowing, if not stopping, development. You've never seen sprawl until you've seen it from 2,200 feet. Wai... More »
Within a mile of all sorts of fast-food restaurants in Ahwatukee, you and the kids can set off on the Telegraph Pass Trail and quickly feel like you've left civilization. This one-and-a-half-mile trail offers fantastic views of the Valley as well as gorgeous desert flora and fauna, rugged Sonoran terrain and even a few petroglyphs. And when you're done, suburbia is right around the corner, handy for refreshing post-hike hungry kids. Which means you can have a great outdoor experience in... More »
San who? Exactly. Even we die-hard outdoorsfolk spent many a wasted year in ignorance of this under-utilized section of South Mountain Park before a wrong turn turned out right. Our happy misadventure started at that big fork in the road where nobody turns west 'cause everyone's headed east to the top of the range. And who can blame them? The top of this range, the centerpiece of the largest municipal park in the world, is a pretty special place. But so is San Juan, South Mountain's fetching ground floor. You'll know you're on the right path when you see the snaggle-toothed spires of the Estrella Mountains looming dead ahead in the windshield. On either side of the road are wild tracts of lowland Sonoran Desert that slowly give rise to the park's curvaceous promontories. There's excellent hiking here in the rolling foothills — all of it fairly easy, unless you decide to go vertical — and we've yet to find a better place to ogle desert wildflowers in the spring. A little farther down the road, there's a parking lot that provides access to a riparian area. Dry most of the year, the riverine system offers a desert experience that's rare, especially in the central core. You can walk for hours through boulder-chocked mini-canyons carved by monsoon storms and flash floods. At the end of the road lies San Juan Lookout, which offers a prime view of the city plus a picnic area and the terminus of the 20-plus-mile National Trail.
I frequently take my dog out running and hiking and while I will not tell you where they are, if you are observant you will see petroglyphs all over South Mountain. If you ever get the chance to hike in the rain, take the Mormon trail off 48th street to Fatmans pass, and follow the water falls back to the road, it is just beautiful. The flowers all bloom in March and after a rainy winter, it is gorgeous.
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