Difficulty Rating: Easy
Paved path the entire route.
Trail Length: 1 mile, roundtrip
Trail Location: South Mountain Park & Preserve – South Mountain Environmental Education Center
10919 S Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85042
Directions to Trailhead: After entering the park and passing the first guard station, turn left. The Environmental Education Center will be on the right-hand side.
This trail is appropriately named after Judith Tunell, who is a local Phoenix advocate for the disable. This trail accommodates those with disabilities to be able to hike in the South Mountain Park and Preserve. The pathways are paved for hikers in wheelchairs and those with small children who are in strollers. It also provides benches, drinking fountains, shady pavilions and garbage/recycling cans for easy waste disposal. Needless to say, this hike is designed to be very peaceful and offers fantastic views of South Mountain, that otherwise may have gone by unnoticed.
As you begin the hike you walk through the outside portion of the South Mountain Environmental Education Center and will follow the pavement where the trailhead sign is located in the back of the building. Near this area there are bird feeders, which attract local birds, including lots of quails.
Along this hike there are signs posted with useful information about Phoenix desert landscapes, wildlife and plant life, which makes this hike educational and informative, especially for those unfamiliar with the desert environment.
Judith Tunell trail has two different sections, each being a half mile long. In this trail writeup both sections are combined making the entire trail length a mile. The section that branches off to the South West is called the Challenge Loop section, which does gain a little bit of elevation, but it’s very subtle. The challenge loop offers scenic views of the surrounding mountains towards the North.
This path loops arounds, and heads back towards the Environmental Education Center. This hike is very peaceful and demonstrates the beauty in the park. Once you’re back over the bridge, if you veer to the right you will be on the other portion of Judith Tunell Accessible Trail. This portion of the trail curves around the building. Along this Accessible Trail, there is also a rock that you will come up to that has petroglyphs on it created by the Hohokam Indian Tribe. There is a sign in front of this rock, that explains the petroglyph and offers more information.
This portion of the trail, also intersects with Box Canyon Loop, which is a trail used often by equestrians riders. Therefore it quite common to see people on horses go by as your on this trail.
Overall, Judith Tunell Trail is a simple, peaceful and educational trail. It encompasses everything that you might see on other hikes on South Mountain. It is good for those with disabilities, young children or those just wanting to get their toes dipped into desert hiking and get some education on the desert wilderness. I feel that this trail does a great job of giving you everything you experience from hiking on South Mountain.