Mormon Trail View of Phoenix

South Mountain Park

The Phoenix area is a hiker’s paradise. South Mountain Park with 16,000 acres (which is equivalent to 24 square miles) and more than 50 miles of trails may be the largest municipal park in the country. The Mormon Trail offers panoramic views of Phoenix with a 1,000 foot elevation change in just over a mile. Picturesque saguaro cacti, strategically placed, add interest to the view. Near the summit compass barrel cacti are prominent. The Lost Dutchman State Park at the base of the Superstition Mountains near Apache Junction is another good hiking area. The Treasure Loop Trail is about 2.5 miles with an elevation gain of 500 feet. In addition to the stately saguaro cacti, we identified chain fruit cholla and prickly pear cacti. Nearby Goldfield Ghost Town offers a sense of what life in the West might have been like in the 1890s. The Desert Botanical Garden is a wonderful place to see and identify desert plants. The many varieties of aloe and examples of organ pipe and cardon cacti were particularly striking. Several colorful Gambel’s quail dutifully bobbed their heads and two cottontail rabbits near the trail tried to hide from us. An evening stroll along the manmade lake in nearby Tempe Beach Park and Town Lake is a pleasant contrast to hiking in desert areas. The Phoenix area is great for hiking, especially with temperatures in the 70s.