Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult
Length: 1 Miles (one way).
Location: South Mountain Preserve Park in Ahwatukee, (where Chandler Road ends and become Shaughnessy Rd.)
The Bursera Canyon Trail is one of the newest hiking trails on South Mountain. A bit hidden from plain site, this trail begins on the Ahwatukee side, right at the intersection where Chandler Road ends and becomes Shaughnessey Rd.
Within this neighborhood there are plenty of walking paths but this one distinct trail, will lead you right onto South Mountain and can act as a connecting trail towards the other main trails. Although this short path is only a mile long, it becomes intense as the steep route gets hikers along the ridgeline in a short amount of distance and time.
As the route begins branching out of the neighborhood along a concrete path, it quickly transforms into a dirt route, with a trail sign, indicating you are now entering the South Mountain Park and Preserve. It begins relatively flat with a gradual incline, as it approaches the base of South Mountain leading right towards a small canyon.
Within this canyon area, the trail becomes a lot steeper. Following the natural flow of the land, the only direction is up and within taking a few steps, you can look back and see you’ve gained a lot of elevation in such a small amount of time. While the trail crosses over some sturdy boulders, there is no scrambling or difficulty to this section (other than the incline).
Once through this middle section the trail veers to the right and a series of steep switchbacks begin. In some areas, I would equate the steepness level to that of the highest incline setting on a treadmill.
In fact, you may find yourself needing to pull over to catch your breath. Not to worry though, while at the time this section may feel a bit brutal…it is shortly lived.
As you keep following the trail, up weaving in and out of the standing saguaro cactuses, it quickly ends and meets up with the popular Bursera Trail.
From this ending point, you could decide to either go left onto Bursera Trail and follow that to National Trail or go to right towards the Pyramid Trailhead. Either way, you could make a loop hike out of it, or just add a bit more mileage to your hike and return the way you came.
Whichever you decide the Bursera Canyon Trail is a great little hefty trail that will surprisingly get your heart rate pumping and offers great views along South Mountain, without having to hike for a long amount of time.