Judith Tunell Accessible Trail
Length: 1 mile, broken into two, 1/2-mile loops.
Elevation gain: minimal
The trailhead is located at the South Mountain Environmental Education Center at 10919 S. Central Ave. (Central Avenue south of Dobbins Road). There are a number of disabled accessible parking spots at the center. The trail is open even when the center is closed.
Difficulty: The Interpretive Loop generally contains more moderate grades with a maximum grade of 7.5 percent. The Challenge Loop is slightly more difficult with a maximum grade of 8.5 percent.
This is the city's newest preserve-based accessible trail. The trail consists of two, ½-mile loops made of stabilized granite. The Interpretive Loop includes interpretive signs, water fountains, benches, three shade ramadas and a bridge over a wash. The Challenge Loop also contains ramadas, benches and water fountains.
The Mormon Trailhead is located at 24th Street and Valley View Avenue (south of Baseline Road)
Length: 1.1 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult (elevation change about 1,000 feet)
This lot is open from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Beverly Canyon Trail
The Beverly Canyon Trailhead is located by the parking lot, 8800 S. 46th Street (south of Baseline road)
Length: 1.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate - some short, steep sections
Javelina Canyon Trail
The Javelina Canyon Trailhead is located at Beverly Canyon parking lot, 46th Street (south of Baseline road)
Length: 1.7 miles
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Located at 9904 S. 48th Street and Guadalupe Road. Users can choose from a number of trails in this area, varying in length and difficulty. The trailhead parking lot is open from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Length: 14.3 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult, horses not recommended, trailpost #15 west to Buena Vista Lookout.
Desert Classic Trail
Length: 9 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult - mainly due to the length
Telegraph Pass Trail
Telegraph Pass Trailhead is located at Desert Foothills Parkway (north of Chandler Boulevard) and Sixth Street. The trailhead lot is open from 5 .m. to 7:30 p.m.
Length: 1.5 miles to Telegraph Pass. First 0.5 mile is paved.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate - steep sections toward the top.
Holbert Trailhead is located at Activity Complex (first left turn immediately after entering the park on Central Avenue) passes near by Mystery Castle.
Length: 2.5 miles
Difficulty: Difficult - fairly steep and long.
Kiwanis Trailhead - turn left at the dip in the road (Central Avenue entrance), go straight at the next intersection. Follow the road back to a split rail fenced gravel parking area.
Length: 1.0 mile
Difficulty: Moderate - steep towards the top end.
Ranger Trailhead - turn left at the one mile marker (one mile in on the main road of the Central Avenue entrance)
Length: 1.4 mile, one way
Difficulty: Moderate - steep switchbacks toward the top end.
NOTE: San Juan Road is closed to vehicular traffic for resource recovery except for the following times:
* The first weekend of each month, Saturday and Sunday, from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m.
* Wildflower season - Saturdays and Sundays, Feb. 23 to March 30, from sunrise to 5 p.m.
Bajada Trailhead - take the main road (do not make any turns) from the Central Avenue entrance for nearly two miles. Then, turn to the right following the signs towards San Juan Valley. Turn left into a gravel parking area at the 2.5 mile marker. The San Juan area closes at sunset. All vehicles should be outside the area by that time, so plan your hike accordingly.
Length: 2 miles
Difficulty: Easy to moderate - although there is little elevation change, some sections and wash crossing are steep.
Parking for the Alta Trail is in the same lot as the Bajada Trailhead. Hikers need to cross to the north side of San Juan Road to pick up the trail. The trail also can be accessed at the end of San Juan Road.
Length: 4.5 miles
Difficulty: Very difficult - very steep on both ends, not recommended for horses or bikes.
Mount Suppoa (not accessible to the public) reaches 2,690 feet. Dobbins Lookout, at 2,330 feet, is the highest point in the park accessible by trail.
The history of South Mountain Park/Preserve as a city of Phoenix park dates back to 1924. Prominent local citizens, with the help of Sen. Carl Hayden, bought 13,000 acres from the federal government for $17,000. In 1935 the National Park Service developed a master plan for the park with riding and hiking trails, picnic areas and overlooks, all in rustic regional character. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built many of the facilities in the park, based on this master plan. Visitation at the park has gone from 3,000 a month in 1924 to three million a year today. Photos and artifacts at the South Mountain Environmental Education Center give a glimpse into the early history of the park and the CCC's construction work.
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 can 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.
South Mountain Park/Preserve actually consists of three mountain ranges, the Ma Ha Tauk, Gila and Guadalupe. They stretch diagonally from northeast to southwest. Diagonal mountain ranges that protrude from desert floors, like those of South Mountain, are typical features of the Sonoran Desert. Various minerals were mined in the park in the early 1900s before its birth as a park.
The major plant species found in the park are bursage, brittlebush, creosote cush, palo verde trees and saguaro cactus. More than 300 species of plant life are found in the park. Only the hardiest plants survive, and even they grow slowly. 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 South Mountain is typical of the lower Sonoran Desert ecosystem. The desert arthropoda - 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, javalina, 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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