In English, Bajada (pronounced, buh-hah-duh) means a vast slope of earthy dirt at the base of a mountain. Which, is a pretty accurate description of the Bajada Trail on South Mountain. This route will lead you around the base of South Mountain, gaining an elevation of 720 feet. This is a very easy and clear defined hike that is mostly flat, but seeing as how this hike is almost 7 miles (roundtrip), I would label it as a moderate hike, since most hiking trails are only a few miles roundtrip on South Mountain.
This trail begins at the intersection, where Los Lomitas trail ends and Ranger trail meet.
Therefore, the best spot to park for this trail would be at the Five Tables Trailhead and to hike up Ranger Trail, where you will shortly see the trail marker indicating the beginning of Bajada Trail. At this point you will have gained a little bit of elevation from walking towards this trailhead and as you follow along the trail you will gain a little more as well. So needless to say, this hike does get your heart pumping, but it is nothing too extreme or difficult for any level of hiker to be able to do.
At around 0.7 of a mile you will cross the paved Summit Rd. and pass by San Juan Rd. Gate which is a little parking area.
Shortly after, at around the 0.8 mile trail marker you will pass by the old Max Delta mining site that used to operate on South Mountain during the 1920s to the 1940s. If you look towards the mountain you might be able to make out a fireplace that was left behind and see the rock piles that were created. For more information on this site, please go to the Max Delta Trail write-up.
After this section the trail curves around directing you further West into the mountain range. This area begins by going through a wash area with lush vegetation encompassing you.
Once you get to mile marker 1.33 there may be some trail confusion. You will see that at this mile marker the arrow directs you to turn left even though this trail looks as if it continues going straight. Therefore it’s important to make sure that you are paying attention to the trail marker directions. Towards the left you will hike up a rocky small incline section. Once up this section you will notice the entire landscape and energy of the trail drastically changes.
On this side of the mountain the trail feels more remote. The lush vegetation has now changed to short dry brush lining the trail. Tall saguaros stand about with big black boulders scattered throughout this area. The trail becomes more alive and flowing, instead of just a direct straight line at the mountain base. Instead the trail curves around with the natural shape of the mountain. At times you will dip down in areas to then swoop back up. This side of the mountain also seems to have more wildlife. It’s not uncommon to see birds flying about and lizards zipping around at your feet.
At around 2.5 miles this trail will begin to gradually decline. For the last mile the path brings you back onto the flat desert ground through a wash and then meets up with National Trail, making it the end of Bajada Trail.
This ending point will be very isolated, seeing as how this side of the mountain is more secluded from other hikers. But as you turn around and head back the way you came, you’ll see the gorgeous view of South Mountain that you just came off of. Usually when you’re hiking you forgot that the beauty is also behind you as well, and this trip reminds you of that.