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Coach Whip Trail H-1 - Thunderbird, AZ

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Guide 204 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NW
1.9 of 5 by 17
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 4.75 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,339 feet
Elevation Gain 190 feet
Accumulated Gain 450 feet
Avg Time One Way 2.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.25
Backpack No
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10  2018-03-25
H4 Loop - Thunderbird Park
7  2018-02-16
Thunderbird Trifecta
1  2018-01-23
Thunderbird Park 2 Peaks
8  2017-11-17
Arrowhead Point Trail H-2 - Thunderbird
5  2017-01-20
Thunderbird Conservation Park
3  2016-08-20
Thunderbird Sunrise Loop
3  2016-08-17
Thunderbird Sunset Loop
1  2016-06-03
Arrowhead Point Trail H-2 - Thunderbird
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author Barrett
author avatar Guides 14
Routes 9
Photos 1,311
Trips 283 map ( 1,483 miles )
Age 55 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jan, Feb, Nov, Dec
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:17am - 6:26pm
Official Route
16 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Culture Nearby
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by Barrett

The Thunderbird Conservation Park located along Pinnacle Peak west of 55th Avenue is named after a WWII Fighter plane training facility that used to be located 4 miles south of the park. It's trails wander up and around the Hedgepeth Hills, named for the Hedgepeth Ranch that used to be at the site.

H-1, or on newer maps the Coachwhip Trail, technically runs from the horse staging area just inside the 67th Ave park entrance over to it's terminus at the intersection of 55th Ave and Potter. The new name is apt, as the trail is in the shape of a whip, forming a hairpin along with a number of lesser bends. It also connects with a number of other trails, and is rarely hiked from end to end as it is impossible to loop. I'll refer to it as H1, as that's what the trail signs still read.

Starting at the horse staging area, the trail heads south across a flat section with sparse vegetation and 2 connections leading left (Sunrise Trail), followed by 2 on the right (unnamed, they lead to 67th Ave). The trail then gains some elevation and heads east along the southern slope until it reaches the H4 intersection on your left at 0.5 miles. The next 0.6 miles will drop you down into a small wash and up some switchbacks, topping out for some nice views of the park and Phoenix in the distance before dropping you down into the center of Thunderbird Park proper. There you will find restrooms, water, a large amphitheater, ramadas, stone barbecues, even a rotisserie big enough for a pig roast (call 602-344-6940 for ramada reservations, beer permits, and the lock code for the rotisserie).
It's about 0.2 miles to cross the park and pick up H1 as it climbs up to the H3 (Cholla Trail) junction on your left, where you continue east towards the pedestrian bridge that is a shortcut across the Coachwhip hairpin. If you continue straight, you will cross the intersection of 55th Ave/Pinnacle Peak, reaching the eastern trailhead after 0.7 miles (no facilities). Following H1 west, now on the south side of Pinnacle Peak, you'll notice the vegetation difference between the north and south-facing slopes. The sun-drenched slope north of Pinnacle Peak has Brittlebush, Creosote, Palo Verde, along with Saguaro, Barrel, Cholla, and Buckhorn Cactus. The south side is primarily Brittlebush, with just a few Palo Verdes in contrast.

0.7 miles from the road crossing you will reach the pedestrian bridge again, and a few ramadas as well, from there the trail turns south and descends some switchbacks to the sedimentation basin where you will find three sets of viewing blinds to check out the 50+ species of birds that frequent the area. Bring binoculars or a high-power lens though - the blinds are set far back from the pond so as not to disturb the wildlife.

1.5 miles from the bridge you will cross another paved road at the entrance to Arrowhead Manor Estates, a gated community of exactly 3 houses (?). From there you can enjoy the views of peoples backyards and the sounds of barking dogs for another 0.5 miles until you reach the trails end at the intersection of 55th Ave and Potter.

The least challenging and scenic of the Thunderbird Park trails, H1 is nonetheless convenient for those who live near it's trailheads, or use it in connection with other trails to form loops. The geology is mostly volcanic tuft, with a few outcroppings darkened with desert varnish. Birdwatchers will enjoy the viewing blinds, and the trail is smooth enough for trail running over most of it's course. In over 400 trips to the park, I have seen Coyotes, Rattlesnakes, Cottontails, and numerous lizards, but in general it is an urban park with scarce wildlife beyond the sedimentation basin.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2013-06-23 Barrett
  • 2013 Map
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    2013 Map
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One-Way Notice
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.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Coach Whip Trail H-1 - Thunderbird
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Route scout! Started well in the dark, but there was enough moon and ambient light I didn't turn on my headlamp. That is until I heard a coyote howling at me just off the trail. Turned on the headlamp and saw the glowing eyes staring back at me. That raised some pulses! The coyote left me alone and I continued on my way.
Coach Whip Trail H-1 - Thunderbird
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Well we had the trails pretty much to ourselves today. It was sprinkling at the start but not to bad at least in the beginning.
And by the time we hit the Sunrise Trail it went from sprinkling to just freezing cold rain and windy. When we got back to the trailhead my arms were numb and Rowdy and I were soaking wet. I carry extra towels which came in handy as I dried Rowdy off as best I could. Then we headed home to a warm house.
Coach Whip Trail H-1 - Thunderbird
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Cholla Loop to Arrow Point
Stopped by my stepmom's in Arrowhead Lakes en route to Surprise from Scottsdale.
Pretty tired from Shaw/North/Squaw cuz I've been so dang lazy lately.

Opted for a cute quickie hike near my old neighborhood.

Didn't disappoint!
Plenty of Cholla and saguaroas to keep me smiling for the rest of the year.

Hopefully returning to my Ponderosas soon...
Coach Whip Trail H-1 - Thunderbird
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Hoping to get back in the groove! I couldn't drag myself out of bed yesterday, but today I had the will power. Parking lot was filling up when I got there at 5:42 and was about 80% full by 6:30! Someone put a solar powered light on the flag since the last time I was on Arrowhead Point back in April.
Coach Whip Trail H-1 - Thunderbird
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Well this time around was a lot better for Rowdy. The temperature was nice and cool with a really nice breeze. We finished the Cholla and decided to keep going while enjoying the weather conditions. I am glad we kept on going as the views were really great. We were lucky as we were getting back to the trailhead it became really windy.
We took a little break before we left and as we pulled out of the parking lot it began to sprinkle. This was the very first time I really enjoyed Thunderbird Park.
Coach Whip Trail H-1 - Thunderbird
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A morning ride was foiled by the feared "hissssss" following a rock drop just past half way through the ride, on the east side of 59th. Momentum from interspersed downhills or flats was interrupted by rocky slopes. Fortunately I wasn't too far from the Pinnaccle Peak trailhead, so I carried my chariot down the hill and called a cab. A karma-earning good samaritan offered to throw my bike in the bed of his truck and schlep me back to 67th, saving me some dough and a lot of headache with getting my bike into a cabbie. I won't be returning for another - this is a rough one on two wheels with the dropoffs that made for a lot of chop.
Coach Whip Trail H-1 - Thunderbird
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Thunderbird Park
Well I hit the trail a little after 2pm and it was busy. There were people waiting for parking spaces. Well the trails here are not marked according to HAZ. I hike the Arrowhead Trail. It was marked as H2 so I just started hiking and figured I would find my way back to my car eventually. I really wasn't wowed by this hike and there must a have at least a hundred dogs out today. Rowdy never got of his leash today and at one point I got scared as some little kid ran up to Rowdy and grab him around his neck. Rowdy was startled a growl at him. His mother and I had a few words as Rowdy was on his leash. I am glad Rowdy didn't bite him but I feel the boys mom should be more responsible.
After that we finished our hike and I shared a couple of beers with Rowdy. Oh he loves IPA's.
Coach Whip Trail H-1 - Thunderbird
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Had a training class today and got released early. Way too nice a day to not take advantage of some daylight to get in a quicky. And, I was at 497 miles for the year! Unfortunately, it was only a 2.5 mile loop, so I'm still a tad shy of 500. Too bad, so sad. The trails are in terribly bad shape. Ankle busting rocks!
Coach Whip Trail H-1 - Thunderbird
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I spent most of the dry part of the morning indoors looking up a hike to do, found an old Tbird loop that hits all the Hs, ah what the hell... soon as I set foot out of the Suby it's rainin' cat's n dogs! And I wore shorts and a tank top to work on my tan... :doh:

Three hours later, wet, cold, no birds, no people, no animals, heck I only saw 2 cyclists! Is it bed time yet? :zzz:
Coach Whip Trail H-1 - Thunderbird
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I won't mention what time I left work today :whistle:
But I DID have time for a 12 mile bike ride and a 7 mile hike...I might need to sleep now... :zzz:

Permit $$

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From the intersection of the 101 and I-17 freeways on the north side of Phoenix, proceed west along the 101 to the 67th Avenue exit. Turn right and head north 1.7 miles to the western entrance of Thunderbird Park. The H1 trail begins at the horse staging area.
page created by HAZ_Hikebot on Jun 23 2013 10:24 am
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