- Wear sunscreen, there is no shade on this trail.
I would not recommend this for a beginner hiker, but for a beginner hiker who is ready to move to something moderate, the Bursera trail is perfect!
This trail can be considered more challenging as there is a lot of uphill action throughout the route. Nothing too steep, but as you’ll read this trail goes up a peak, down a peak and then right back up another peak.
Not to mention the length (roundtrip) is 6 miles. That’s a pretty good distance for a trail on South Mountain.
This trail is located within the peaceful Phoenix neighborhood known as Ahwatukee. There is a small parking lot, but if the spaces are full, you are able to park along the side of the Chandler Blvd.
As you leave the parking lot the path is flat and a very easy hike, as it is guiding you towards the base of the mountain. At around, a half mile you will reach the trail marker, indicating to turn left onto the actual start of Bursera. (on the right side, will be Pyramid Trail)
At first, it’s relatively easy as it takes you around and up the back portion of the mountain. Soon you’ll be looking down at the other hikers on the same flat path that you had just been on a few moments ago.
But, you’ll soon discover that this incline does not let up and the hike is starting to get more challenging. Although, there will be a few areas where it flattens out, making it a great spot to catch your breath before continuing.
Once on the natural ridgeline of the mountain, the trail will curve towards the right and back behind the Ahwatukee neighborhoods, exposing your view into the inner portion of South Mountain.
Coming up soon at around 1.3 miles you will reach the highest point on this trail, which is known as Bursera Peak. From this point the trail will begin declining down and will slither you away from the mountain top and down into a wash area.
This area is flat and leads you towards another section of the mountain, across from where you started. For now, enjoy the hike because at about 2.25 miles the route begins to steepen once again. The good news? It’ll only be for a short distance of about a half mile until you reach the end, where the trail meets up with National Trail.
I wish I could say the ending point of the trail will be amazing, but I can’t lie to you.
There really is no spectacular view at the end. It tends to just end when it intersects with National Trail.
From this point, you could continue onto connecting trails and do a loop to reach the parking lot, or you can head back the way you came.
To Do the Loop:
From the end of Bursera, turn right onto National Trail and follow until you reach Pyramid Trail. Follow Pyramid Trail all the way, and you’ll find yourself at the parking lot where you started! (this would total about a 10-11 mile hike.)