Windgate Pass / Bell Pass (Arizona) 15-Jan-2022

I’m trying to be diplomatic here, but we’re just not big fans of the Phoenix metroplex, regardless of how many people seem determined to move there. Or maybe all its freeways and traffic and frenetic activity are off-putting simply because we haven’t lived in a “big” city in years. How sadly provincial we must seem. Whatever. 🙄 But direct flights to Phoenix allow us to visit friends who live elsewhere in Arizona, so we cope with the metroplex for those friends and some hiking. 😊

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Goldmine Mountain (Arizona) 13-Jan-2022

After San Xavier and Titan II, we had time for a short hike on our way into Scottsdale. San Tan Mountain Regional Park sits on the very southern edge of the Phoenix metropolitan area and features a viewpoint overlooking the southern end of greater Phoenix. We reached this county park on a mix of controlled access and country roads – we knew we were getting close to Phoenix when the traffic thickened considerably. We paid a $7 day use fee to enter and park at the park’s Phillips Road Trailhead.

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Elephant Mountain Trail (Cave Creek, Arizona) 21-Mar-2018

Spur Cross Ranch Maricopa County Arizona

Our third hike was a loop past Elephant Mountain in Maricopa County’s Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, the newest addition to the county’s regional park system. After some cold packs, ibuprofen, and a night’s rest, it seemed like we’d convinced The LovedOne’s knee to allow for more hiking. We did a loop that started at the Spur Cross Trailhead, then followed the Spur Cross Trail to the Tortuga Trail to the Elephant Mountain Trail and around on that to return via the Spur Cross (6.9 miles round-trip with 1,600 feet of elevation gain).

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Sunrise Trail (Scottsdale, Arizona) 20-Mar-2018

Sunrise Peak McDowell Sonoran Preserve Scottsdale Arizona

Our second hike in Arizona this year was the Sunrise Peak Trail in Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve. We ended-up there because The LovedOne’s knee was acting up and we didn’t feel comfortable committing to a longer hike. The straight out-and-back trail to Sunrise Peak is short (4.4 miles round-trip) but steep (1,100 feet of elevation gain) and immensely popular. It had been a long time since we’d seen this many people on any trail, particularly on a weekday. But then there are 1.6+ million people in Phoenix, so some of them undoubtedly had the day off. As feared, The LovedOne only made it to the “Scenic Viewpoint” (about 1.3 miles in) before her knee started protesting mightily. So she descended while I made a quick trip to the summit and back. Good views from up there but not a hike for those craving solitude.

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Ford Canyon Loop (Phoenix, Arizona) 19-Mar-2018

Ford Canyon White Tank Mountain Regional Park Phoenix Arizona

As we say in Oregon: When the going gets wet, the dry go to Arizona. And so it was that we found ourselves in Phoenix and Tucson for a week, visiting some old friends and doing six local hikes. The weather pretty much cooperated the whole time, with sunshine, mild air temperatures (mid 70ºFs to low 80ºFs), and only artistic clouds. There was a potent, cholla-hurling windstorm with clouds one afternoon but that was it for weather drama. We chose hikes that covered habitats from saguaros to oaks to pines, at altitudes between 1,500 and 8,000 feet. Cacti spines were dodged, no snakes were startled (or startled us), and a good time was had by all. Now that there are direct flights between home and Phoenix, we may have to do some more hiking down there…

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