Trail #40 - Penny Howe Barrier-Free Nature Trail
Length: .3 mile
Elevation: 1,420 ft. - 1,380 ft.
The trailhead is located at the northwest corner of the Havasupai parking lot in North Mountain Park. Paved parking, restrooms and drinking water are available.
This self-guided nature trail is a short loop trail adjacent to the picnic areas at North Mountain. Bear to the right at the start and follow the loop in a counterclockwise direction back to the beginning.
Trail #306 - Shaw Butte Trail
Length: 4 miles
Elevation: 2,044 ft. - 1,390 ft.
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
The trailhead is located at the paved parking lot at the end of Central Avenue south of Thunderbird Road. **Parking is limited at this trailhead and on-street parking in the surrounding neighborhood is prohibited. The lot is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. from October through March and from 5 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. from April through September.
The Shaw Butte Trail signs show trail number, direction arrow and elevation along the way. Follow the service road up the hill to a junction just below the towers, then downhill to the steel pipe barriers. Follow the left (south) road down past the old "Cloud Nine" (the concrete foundation is all that remains of the early '60s elite Phoenix area restaurant that burned to the ground and was never rebuilt) and make a sharp left turn down a slope and across a saddle to join the Christiansen trail. Follow trail #100 to the left (north) then past the flood control dam back to the trailhead and parking lot.
Trail #60 - Maxine Lakin Nature Trail
Length: 1.2 miles
Elevation: 1,408 ft. - 1,290 ft.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
The trailhead is at the north end of Mountain View Park at Seventh Avenue and Cheryl Drive adjacent to the Charles M. Christiansen Trailhead. Paved parking, benches, drinking water and restrooms are available.
The trail starts in a northeasterly direction on an old road. At the end of the road, go east and south and then follow the numbered posts back to the trailhead.
Trail #44 - North Mountain National Trail
Length: 1.6 miles
Elevation: 2,104 ft. - 1,490 ft.
Recommended for hiking only
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
The trailhead is located at the Maricopa picnic area in North Mountain Park where paved parking, restrooms and drinking water are available.
The trail travels north up an incline and set of steps. Follow the paved road to the top of the mountain. Bear left just below the towers and follow the trail along the ridge to the junction with #44A from the Quechan picnic area. The trail continues south from the junction along the ridge and ends at the picnic area near the water pumping station.
Trail #100 - Charles M. Christiansen Memorial Trail
Length: 10.7 miles
Elevation: 2,080 ft. - 1,290 ft.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
The trailhead is located at the north of Mountain View Park at Seventh Avenue and Cheryl Drive. A dedication plaque, benches, paved parking, drinking fountain and restrooms are available.
The Christiansen Trail is a multi-use trail that traverses the Phoenix Mountains Preserve west to east and serves as the major artery for the trail system in the Phoenix Mountains. The trail passes through tunnels at Seventh Street, Cave Creek Road and Northern Avenue avoiding any conflict with vehicular traffic.
The Christiansen Trail passes just north of the parking lot at Dreamy Draw Recreation Area, which serves as an excellent access to the trail and into the heart of the Phoenix Mountains Preserve. Paved parking, a staging area with hitching racks, horse trough, drinking fountain and restrooms are available at Dreamy Draw.
The Christiansen Trail continues east toward Piestewa Peak and intersects the Perl Charles and Quartz Ridge Trails. The trail ends at Tatum Boulevard, across from Tomahawk Drive where there is limited parking. A popular access point is at 40th Street south of Shea Boulevard where ample parking for cars and horse trailers is available.
North Mountain elevation is 2,104 feet. Shaw Butte tops out at 2,149 feet.
Around the turn of the century, the North Mountain area served as a campground for the Phoenix Indian School's pupils and their families. There are a number of closed mining shafts and pits, evidence of the history of copper mining in Arizona.
Geology, flora and fauna
It is important to remember that the Phoenix mountain preserves are open, undeveloped desert areas. Please use care when heading out as hikers routinely encounter rocky terrain, rattlesnakes and other potential hazards native to the Sonoran Desert. If you encounter a rattlesnake, allow it space and time to escape.
The major plant species found in the park are typical of those found in the lower Sonoran Desert and include bursage, brittlebush, creosote bush, palo verde trees and saguaro cactus. Overall, more than 300 species of plant life are found in the area. The varieties of cacti include: saguaro, barrel, hedgehog, pincushion, jumping cholla, christmas cactus, staghorn, cholla and prickly pear. Palo verde, mesquite, elephant and ironwood trees, along with the ocotillo plant, are also numerous in the park.
The fauna found in North Mountain is typical of the lower Sonoran Desert ecosystem. The desert arthropods - sun spiders, scorpions, centipedes, beetles and ants are common, but mostly nocturnal, spending the day underground due to high daytime temperatures. Reptilian inhabitants include desert tortoises and several species of snakes, including rattlesnakes, and lizards - Gila monsters, horned lizards, geckos and chuckwallas. The mammal population, which is restricted by food supply, habitat and the presence of man, includes the California jackrabbit, cottontail rabbit, ground squirrel, mice, ringtail, coyote, javelina, gophers and kit fox. Bird populations vary according to season and moisture but include Gambel's Quail, great horned owls, roadrunners, mourning doves, and red-tailed and Harris's hawks.
Copyright 2009 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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