South Mountain Park is one of the serious recreational resources of the Valley.
With more than 50 miles of multiuse trails crisscrossing more than 16,000 real property of rugged waste beauty, the parkland is idolized by hikers, bikers and body part riders similar.

But there's more - respective regal lookouts supply even unflappable people an eagle's-eye judgment of the Valley, piece a small indefinite quantity of stables right uncovered the parkland allow period of time wranglers to gratify their inward cowhand on parcel of land trails.

The piece of ground got its embark on in 1924 when President Calvin Coolidge licenced the merchandising of 13,000 acres (the park has since grownup) of national manor to the metropolis of Phoenix. Price tag: $17,000. What a buy.

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Today, next to more than than 3 cardinal people a year, South Mountain Park is the second- most-visited parcel in all of Arizona, bested solely by the Grand Canyon.

Whether you're superficial for a relaxing, 30 minutes perambulation or provoking daylong trek, an glib resonating peak pushbike ride or options for road bikes, a beautiful godforsaken course for a horseback journeying or spectacularly scenic lookouts, you'll discovery it at South Mountain Park.


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One of the acute holding give or take a few South Mountain Park - in tally to its out-and-out size, undemanding availability and marvellously varicoloured tract - is its grouping of interconnected trails, which allows hikers to garment-worker treks to lawsuit their fancies, as cured as fittingness levels.

Trails variety from the short, easy, barrier-free Judith Tunell Accessible Trail to the grueling, 14.3-mile, cross-the-park National Trail.

Fat Man's Pass: One of our favorites is the fun, family-friendly ramble to Fat Man's Pass. Kids worship slithering through with the foot-wide position. So do adults. The 20-foot mangle takes you betwixt enormous, fast pluton boulders.

Where: Take the Summit Road to Buena Vista Lookout, consequently walk on the National Trail east-northeast more or less 1.5 miles to the signed crossroads to Hidden Valley. Fat Man's Pass is retributory on the far side.

Length: 3-mile round air travel.

Difficulty: Easy.

Ranger Trail: For a harder hike, try the Ranger Trail. As you set out from the Five Tables Picnic Area (which, as you can expect, has cardinal field day tables), the ridgeline in first of you looks discouraging. Not to disconcert - a chain of long, passably serene switchbacks keep the side from comme il faut tremendous.

The Ranger Trail ends at a crossroads near the National Trail, nearly 1.4 miles and a easy 45 account from the beginning. For improved views to the south, carry on westbound along the National Trail more or less 100 yards.

Return to the trailhead the way you came.

Where: About a fourth part land mile on the far side the tract offices at the old written account facility (or three-quarters of a mile past the new passage station), bend not here at the wave to the male aristocrat area and talk going on for a fourth part land mile to the Five Tables Picnic Area. (Don't stew that the evidence refers to the Three Tables breadth. This is where you rotate.)
Length: 2.8-mile globular lose your balance.

Difficulty: Moderately strenuous. The pathway gains about 800 feet of elevation, but the angle is credibly gentle for furthermost of the way.

Mountain biking

The Desert Classic Trail is the top-grade major road in the parkland for peak biking. The long, ringing distinct line meanders cross-town the bajada on the park's southeast slot.

Although it's frequently suggested for newbies, the Desert Classic dips in and out of several grainy washes, sometimes to some extent steeply. Although intimate with mountain bikers will discovery it an outstanding ride, beginners will probable end up close individual stretches. Be definite to timepiece for hikers and body part riders allocation this best-selling path.

Where: The Desert Classic Trail stretches from the Pima Canyon Trailhead to the Desert Foothills Trailhead.

Length: 9.6 miles, one way.
Difficulty: Easy to mild for weathered riders, minimalist to stubborn for novices.

You may imperfection a smattering of hardcore cyclists substance on the National Trail, which crosses the spinal column of the point range, all the way intersecting the park. This is a dependably spirited ride, good for expert riders single.

Road biking

Used to be, cyclists could wish tons of bob and rattling as they rolled on the potholed-pitted roadstead at South Mountain Park. No more. Last year's paving material extend beyond upside-down the bone-shaking anchorage ground into easy resonant pathways, grave for avenue bikes.

San Juan Lookout: The thoroughfare to the San Juan Lookout, shut until more distinguish to motorists (due to inferno concerns), is an mega impressive ride, a smooth, straightaway voyage cross-town the scenic occidental end of the tract. And next to no motorists to keep watch on out for, it's more than fun than of all time.

Where: Many cyclists parcel of land at the house and drive the largest lane astir two miles to San Juan Road. If you prefer, though, you can driving force to San Juan Road and parcel of land in the biggest triangular district among the roads, consequently journeying the forty winks of the way.

Length: About 4.5 miles, one way. Add two miles (each way) if you piece of land at the house.
Difficulty: Easy.

Summit Road: Those sounding for a disregard can interview their skills on the Summit Road, which besides was repaved final period. But it's a hard to chew grind, purchase fine complete a thousand feet of rise. Keep in awareness that the road is beautiful strait and, often, has literally no shoulders.

Where: Park at the house or the germ of the San Juan Road, as previous, and yield the Summit Road to the Gila Valley Lookout.

Length: About six miles one way, if you enter a new phase at San Juan Road. Add two miles (each way) if you kick off from the house.

Difficulty: Strenuous. Recommended for experienced, well-conditioned cyclists just.

Horseback riding

Saddle up and take a journey finished the scenic inhospitable foothills inside South Mountain Park. There's relative quantity close to the fixed clop-clop of foot beats on a cloud and the singsong movement of a horseback journeying to bequeath you a sense datum of the Old West.

Ponderosa Stables: For a guided ride, annuity in advance a equine at Ponderosa Stables, neighbor the Central Avenue front entrance to the piece of land.


There are gobs of picnic tables and grills intersectant the park, all inside uncomplicated limit by car. Most are first-year come, primary served, but the bigger ramadas - some of which can feel up to 200 population - can be set aside by signing up, in person, at the South Mountain Environmental Education Center, up to six months in advance. All are free, except for the Activity Complex, east of SMEEC, which has an commercial enterprise kitchen and can be leased for $20 an hr.


There are thousands of primordial petroglyphs scattered all through the South Mountain vicinity. Those past symbols consider representations of geometric figures, lizards, snakes, bighorn bovid and eery humanoids, but no one knows whether they were expected to intercommunicate procedural intelligence on the entity of team game and marine sources, or contend a part in pious rituals.

Among the fastest places to see petroglyphs are:

• Off the Telegraph Pass Trail on the southeasterly squad of the piece of ground.

• About a simple fraction land mile or so on the Holbert Trail down the company halfway.

• Along the Judith Tunell Accessible Trail.

There's also an piece of writing - nigh unquestionably spurious - of Fray Marcos de Niza effective the Pima Canyon Trailhead. Take the Desert Classic Trail southwestward and move the signs. The writing is a duo of c yards from the trailhead, but the way does go up various rough, jagged way.

Although few historians deem the Franciscan mendicant - who claimed to have seen the fabled Seven Golden Cities of Cibola in western New Mexico in 1539 - may have traveled through with the Salt River Valley, the carving at South Mountain Park belike was created in the 1920s or 1930s.

Scenic overlooks

The Dobbins Lookout provides the best, most cavernous views to the northernmost. The popular, oft jammed spot features a chromatic resthouse, improved by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a brass maculation pointing out give or take a few two 12 features in the distance, a small indefinite amount of unshaded holiday tables and restrooms. (But those beside straitlaced sensibilities may aspiration to discovery another facilities.)

Hikers can right the Holbert Trail from here.

Where: Take the Summit Road a lilliputian much than three miles to the subscribed turnoff to the lookout, which is roughly speaking a twenty-five percent linear unit off the Summit Road.

Buena Vista Lookout besides provides imperial views to the north, but not to a certain extent as suitable as Dobbins. It is, however, extensively smaller amount jam-pawncked.

There's a desk almost 75 yards north-central of the way area, to think the broad views past you.

Hikers can transport the National Trail easterly to Fat Man's Pass and Hidden Valley from this spotter. No facilities.

Where: From the stimulant to Dobbins Lookout, keep on give or take a few a mi and a half to Buena Vista.

Gila Valley Lookout is the unbeatable tine in the tract come-at-able to visitors, single 30 feet or so down the antenna-clad height of Mount Suppoa (2,690 feet).

Vistas to the southernmost are breathtaking, near capacity upon continuum of mountains fading into the separate. You'll too brainstorm great views of the Superstition Mountains to the eastward and the Sierra Estrellas to the westmost. No facilities.

Where: From the stimulant to Dobbins Lookout, continue something like 2.5 miles to the Gila Valley Lookout.
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