Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hike #3: Boulder Canyon Trail, Superstition Wilderness

Length: 5 miles

Ok, I guess the ghost of my Houston past came to visit me this morning when I decided to hike the Superstition Wilderness. I had hoped that by going at 6 AM I would be able to escape the heat of the day...and while the temperature only got in the mid-80s, the humidity was freakin' high!!! You know you're in trouble when you can feel the sweat begin to pool on your eyelids....

Anyway, the hike itself was quite rugged. While the Superstition Wilderness and Superstition Mountains make up the southern region of the Tonto National Forest, the environment is completely different from that of the northern regions of the forest. With its barrenness it's hard to imagine this a forest by anyone's standards; however, that's not to say the Superstition Wilderness doesn't have it's own beauty.

With rugged cliffs, tons of cacti, and clear blue skies,the Superstition Wilderness is likely to be what most people picture when they imagine Arizona. However, let me be the first to say that that Wilderness will beat the crap out of you! I began the Boulder Canyon Trail with a two-mile hike straight up! (It was the mountain that would NEVER end!) Once I finally made it to the top, the view was pretty amazing. Unfortately, by the time I made it up there, the heat and humidity were just too much...I had to give up my hopes on continuing further (although with 5 miles round trip, my trip wasn't any too short!) However, I will definely return later this fall once the temperatures in central Arizona cool down a little!

To see more photos of the Boulder Canyon Trail, click here.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Hike #2: Geronimo Trail, Tonto National Forest

Length: 7 miles roundtrip (just a segment of the total trail)

The Tonto National Forest is definitely a remote area! Turning off the main highway (SR 87), you immediately encounter a small, rough dirt road. To get to the trail head, you must follow this road for 8 slow miles. I don't exactly think my Hyundai Elantra was designed for this type of road! That vast majority of the other vehicles I encountered were SUVs or trucks...although I did see a couple other small cars...and my Elantra did survive the trip - even if it did come back with quite a bit of mud caked on the sides.

Anyway, the original plan was to hike the East Webber Trail; however, time did now allow us to actually make it far enough into the forest to actually hike this well-hidden trail. These are the directions to the trail as listed by Phoenix magazine:

"Follow Highline Trail #31 for a quarter mile to the Geronimo Trail 240 junction. Go right at the junction and follow the trail for 3 miles to the end where in intersects with the East Webber Trail #289..."

Now, that sound relatively easy....until you realize how difficult it is to find the correct intersection. It was also VERY difficult to judge when you've traveled the 1/4 mile and the 3 miles for the trail intersections. (And, as anyone who's ever driven along trying to find a street in 2 miles knows, that 2 miles is going to seem like 20!) I wish we had known that the intersection were both going to be clearly marked with trail signs. (We accidentally turned off of the Highline Trail too early and ended up walking a 1/2 mile out of our way!)

Although, we never made it to the East Webber Trail as hoped, the 3 miles along Geronimo Trail did provide a good view and a challenging walk. The trail was pretty much on a straight incline on the way in, so coming back out was much easier. The mountains and pines also made for a nice getaway from the desert environment of Phoenix and Southern Arizona. This trail also provided a great deal of isolation (in our 4 hours on the trail, we saw but one other couple!)

For my pictures of the Tonto National Forest and the Geronimo Trail, click here.

Hike #1: Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

Length: 1.5 miles

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park was perhaps the perfect spot to begin my hiking adventure. Located in the mountains an hour directly northeast of the Phoenix area, Tonto Natural Bridge is an easy drive that's paved all the way. The park itself is very family friendly, with man-made stairs, multiple viewing decks, and toilet facilities.

The Natural Bridge is actually quite impressive. There are several trails that allow you to travel both over and under the bridge (although the underside is definitely more impressive!) I personally recommend forgetting the established trails in favor of a more exciting trek over the rocks and boulders that line the streams. (Surprisingly, I neither fell or got wet at any point during this excursion!)

Under the Bridge, the trails are a little more difficult due to the smoothing of the rock walls by dripping water. Although it may be more demanding below the bridge, the cooler temperates make the trip below well worth it. In fact, I would guess that during cooler months, one would need a sweater or jacket to comfortably venture through the bridgeway...however, after a couple months of 100+ heat in Phoenix, the cool breeze was quite welcome! Overall, I highly recommend this park. At first I had allowed only an hour (since the trail is only 1.5 miles) however, with all the wonderful hidden places to explore, I would definitely say this park deserves at least 2-3 full hours.

To see pictures of my excursion to Tonto Natural Bridge, click here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Recently, I came across an article in Phoenix Magazine entitled, "30 Summer Hikes", I've never been much of a hiker, but I couldn't help but being drawn to the article and beautiful pictures included.

Therefore, I decided that I would set a goal to try as many of these trails as possible over the next year! My plan is to chronicle my experiences on the trails with stories, advice, and photos of my excursions.