|Hiking||4.50 Miles|| || |
|1,100 ft AEG|| || || |
The Alta trail at South Mountain is quite steep at both ends and winds around the North side of the small range that sits North of the main National trail range. Monday we ventured down the San Juan trailhead road with the intent of doing the Alta trail from west to east. At the junction with the summit road and San Juan Road we found a closed fence across the road. Since the padlock was not locked we opened the fence and drove through toward the trailhead. About a mile from the trailhead we were stopped by a Phoenix policeman! He said, "Didn't you see the fence?". We said, "Yes and we opened it because the sign said open from dawn to dusk.". We then had a short discussion as to why we should not have opened the gate and why we did it. The result was that we had to turn back and re-close the gate. Ford was filming commercials for the 2007 Ford SUV. The road was blocked off for that reason and we had ventured where we should not have been.
SO, we went to plan "B". We parked at the junction of the summit road and San Juan Road and cross countried for one half mile to the Alta trail east end. From there is was a series of switchbacks up to the top of the range, then along the North side of the range near the ridgeline until we past Maricopa Peak and started down to the San Juan trailhead. Great views and grand vistas are on this well maintained trail. The terrible brown smog layer shown very pronounced over the city of Phoenix. Looks more like LA every year!!!
Please be aware that the literature and hike routes all seem to list the Alta trail as 4.5 miles. This would only be true if you treated it as a shuttle hike. Our route was from the junction NW and west over the ridge, down to the San Juan trailhead, National trail to the road, cross the road and the Bajada trail back to the east Alta trailhead. Counting the added distance to our car the total distance was 9.4 miles to make the loop. The Alta trail is certainly more spectacular than the National trail sections and the North side of the ridge has many quite steep dropoffs. I tried to take some photos that would show this.
Although the Alta trail has two steep ends we were prepared for it. The National trail over to the Bajada is easy and quite flat. However the Bajada trail of almost 2 miles is not what I consider easy. Lots of ups and downs and crossing arroyos. Actually lots of climbing into the foothills overlooking the San Juan Road. You look down on the road until you drop down to the trailhead. That trail route could have been quite tame but I guess they wanted to make it more wandering and higher.
If you want to see how the Phoenix growth is spreading west, be sure to do this Alta trail. These days you can not see the plumes from Palo Verde at all due to the brown smog layer. Oh, finally, neither of us was impressed with the 2007 model we saw. Looked more like a Honda rip-off.
|Life is what is happening while you are making other plans.|