Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate
Length: 2.29 Miles (one way).
Location: South Mountain Preserve Park (Main Entrance)
10409 S. Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85042
Before entering the park, you will see horse stables and Scorpion Gulch on the left. The trail head is across from Scorpion Gulch on the right hand side, near the parking lot.
As you’re walking away from the parking lot, this trail starts off very flat and in an open section of the park. As you make your way towards the ranger station you will start to gain a little more elevation, but nothing too strenuous. As it begins to flatten out again you will find yourself walking alongside the mountain looking down at the ranger station. A portion of this trail connects with a little nature trail near the ranger station. It’s interesting because they have metallic signs posted in areas giving you information and history about the area and there’s a bench you can sit on to take in the view. I stopped at some of the signs and in doing so learned that the west side of South Mountain, (which looks smoother) is actually about 2 billion years old, while the east side of the mountain (which is much rockier) is 40 million years old. I honestly had no idea the mountain could even be that old, so I’m glad I acted like tourist and stopped to read some of the signs!
After about 1.5 miles the trails changes into a rockier pathway, again though nothing too difficult. This trail begins to gain and lose elevation because it’s going between washes. As you go down as you enter the wash and then up to get out. This by far is not a steep or difficult. According to the south mountain park’s website the elevation gain is only 80 feet.
This trail does follow Summit Road. I was fortunate enough to do this hike on Silent Sunday, when they don’t allow cars on the road, so I didn’t really mind being near the road. I could imagine though that it could get annoying if the road had cars on it, especially if they had loud music playing.
While I did enjoy this trail, it has probably been my least liked trail on South Mountain so far. Since your walking more on flat ground and not on any actual mountain it felt kind of boring. This trail ends at the road where you see the Bajada trail and you do get a great view of Camelback Mountain.
This trail took me about 2 hours to complete. I would only rate this trail as moderate – because of the length. It’s 4.5 Miles, which could be a difficult distance for a beginner.
Note: I did get a little lost on this trail, due to not fully trusting the signs! Click here for the video showing how I got lost and the correct way to follow the trail.