Legend of Eagle Pass
Approximately a half dozen trails access upper South Mountain from Ahwatukee. This trail is located just east of Eagle Pass. It serves as a great segment for loops with Corona de Loma - West, Guadalupe Ridge & Gabriel Canyon.
Sections of trail are loose gravel on steep inclines. Going up is the preferred direction of travel.
Finding the trail your first time may require a GPS unit or some trial and error. Once you know it you'll be glad you took the time to figure it out. I suggest checking out the Official Route for specifics.
From the lower end at (33.33687, -112.02188) the trail parts from an access loop off the Desert Classic Trail. Nobody loses sleep over hiking South Mountain but this is a pretty good hike from the beginning. The trail shoots up a ravine before a switchback takes you to a ridge ascent. This is one of the more strenuous ascents on South Mountain. Fear not, it's still a tad under nearby Camelback or Piestewa grade wise. The trail is easy to follow with no real sucker trails of concern.
On the way up I noticed a good population of Ironwood trees. Most are medium to small and healthy. When you see an Ironwood you know you're in the Sonoran Desert as it's the only place they grow. They can live up to 1,500 years providing micro climates necessary for other desert life. The dense wood wards off birds from burrowing. On the same token, the dense canopy provides shade for birds and vegetation underneath.
In the upper reaches Ironwoods give way to Palo Verde trees. You have a nice overview of Eagle pass on your left. Look closely and you'll notice Corona de Loma (west) coming down inside the pass. At about 2,380 feet the trail levels off for a while. You get a chance to catch your breath in a nice stretch of desert flora. After 0.15mi (a couple minutes) you're climbing in elevation again. Views to the north open up before you top out. The Guadalupe Ridge trail junctions at (33.34270,-112.03435). Continuing up you soon come to the highest undeveloped ridge stretch on South Mountain. The radio towers sit about a hundred feet higher if you really want to top out. The views of the entire South Mountain range unfold in all directions. There's a nice perch to admire down into Eagle Pass and a fifty yard side trail to the high point.
The trail continues on down to the National Trail at (33.34297,-112.03893). The most popular looping option is probably with Corona de Loma West. From the Warpaint Trailhead it's a nice 6mi hike.
Popular nearby section to consider for various loops:
Note: If you plan on mountain biking this trail it's going to be hell unless you're a pro!
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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