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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Malpais Trail - San Tan MRP, AZ

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54 22 0
Guide 22 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix SE
Rated
2.3
2.3 of 5 by 3
 
0
Statistics
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Distance One Way 4.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,730 feet
Elevation Gain 197 feet
Accumulated Gain 460 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.73
Backpack No
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Collective Slideshow
Inaugural Calculation next Tap
7  2017-06-25 DarthStiller
6  2016-01-24
SanTan Moon Star Malpais Loop
chumley
2  2015-04-25
San Tan Mountain Regional Park
hikingaz2
6  2015-02-07
San Tan RP Outside Loop
hikerdw
10  2012-07-14
San Tan Trail - San Tan MRP
jochal
23  2010-03-14 ferazamboni
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Nov, Jan, Dec → 8 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:56am - 5:25pm
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Official Route
 
3 Linked
 
Water
Nearby Area Water
Rock Peak Wash Trail - San Tan MRP
0.9 mi away
0.9 mi
68 ft
Hedgehog Trail - San Tan MRP
1.3 mi away
1.0 mi
127 ft
Stargazer Trail - San Tan MRP
1.6 mi away
0.8 mi
90 ft
Littleleaf - San Tan MRP
2.2 mi away
0.7 mi
88 ft
San Tan Trail - San Tan MRP
2.2 mi away
6.4 mi
150 ft
Moonlight Trail - San Tan MRP
2.2 mi away
1.3 mi
132 ft
Malpais Loop from Phillips TH - San Tan MRP
Malpais Loop from Phillips TH - San Tan MRP
2.2 mi away
9.3 mi
259 ft
San Tan Mountain Regional Park
San Tan Mountain Regional Park
2.2 mi away
8.0 mi
166 ft
Dynamite Trail - San Tan MRP
3.4 mi away
2.4 mi
408 ft
Goldmine Trail - San Tan MRP
Goldmine Trail - San Tan MRP
3.6 mi away
2.5 mi
564 ft
[ View More! ]
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
The best of San Tan Mountain Park
by ferazamboni

Likely In-Season!
Overview: The Malpais trail is a 4.2 mile loop that accesses the beautiful and remote southwestern part of the San Tan Mountain Regional Park. If you have the time, this is the hike you'll want to do while visiting the park. Due to its more remote location, length, and significant hiking in sandy washes, this trail receives less usage than other trails in the park. Reaching the trail requires first hiking into the park from one of the three main trailheads, which adds length to the total trip milage. Much of the trail follows a sandy wash so it's a good idea to wear hiking boots that will give support and keep sand out.


Access: There are three ways to access the San Tan Trail. If you want to minimize your milage, the Rock Peak Wash trailhead is your best bet. Starting from this trailhead only requires a 1.4 mile hike (one-way) to reach the start of the Malpais trail. Starting from the visitor center trailhead requires a 2 mile (one-way) hike to reach the Malpais trail, and from the Goldmine trailhead would require 4.1 miles (one-way). Consult the park map to decide which option suits your needs. This trail description is based from the visitor center for a 8.8 mile loop hike.

Hike: To access the visitors center trailheads you need to either pay per vehicle, or you can opt to bike/walk in from outside the park entrance and pay a smaller fee. From this main trailhead head south on the San Tan trail. This is a wide and flat trail that connects with many other trails in the park. Along this section be on the lookout for mountain bikers and horses. Bikers tend to ride fast on the flat and wide sections of this trail. The trail etiquette is for bikers to yield to hikers, and hikers to yield to horses. After 0.6 mile you reach the junction with the Stargazer trail. Continuing south on the San Tan trail another 0.3 mile you reach the junction with the Hedgehog trail. Head southwest on the Hedgehog trail, which climbs slightly between two hills. From this trail you'll have nice views of the Superstition Mountains, Four Peaks, and Pinal Mountains to the East. Continue on the Hedgehog trail for 0.9 miles until you reach the junction with the western end of the San Tan trail. From the junction with the San Tan trail head west on the San Tan trail for 0.2 mile until the junction with the Malpais trail. Take a break here before embarking on the 4.2 mile trek along the Malpais trail.

Heading southwest on the Malpais trail you will go up in elevation as you climb to the top of a hill. At the top of the hill is an interesting group of rocks guarded by a devilish saguaro cactus. From here you will begin a long trek westward along the fence that divides the park and the Gila River Indian reservation. This is a good time to watch for birds flying from one saguaro to another, and inspect some of the desert vegetation more closely. After about 2 miles the trail turns (finally!) south and drops into a sandy wash as it approaches the base of the large mountain range that encompasses the southern end of the park. It is here that the park really shines. The beauty of the mountains combined with the vegetation and wildlife make for the perfect Sonoran desert scene. Look for hawks making a ruckus and soaring playfully along the mountainside. The only thing missing in this part of the park are some benches to sit down and relax at (oh, and a summit trail!).

The trail now turns back east, continuing for 2 miles in the same sandy wash. As you head east Rock Peak will soon become visible. Once you reach the junction with the San Tan trail, take a moment to look back at the mountains you just hiked along. It's interesting how different they look from this perspective as compared to when you originally approached them on the Malpais trail. From the junction head north on the San Tan trail for 0.7 mile until you reach the Hedgehog trail. Return to the visitor the same way you came in using the Hedgehog and San Tan trails.

The park visitors center has a nice memorial of the Arizona residents who lost their lives in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. There is also a Desert Tortoise Habitat that provides an up close look at how these animals live and what they eat. The visitor center shop has a few items for sales as well.

ferazamboni
  • 2014 map 2014 overview map
    area related

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.

Permit $$
Maricopa Regional Parks - Fees more info


$6 per vehicle or $85 annual

$2 walk, bike or horse ride into park


Directions
Map Drive
or
Road
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
For visitor center: From central Phoenix, take I-10 east to US 60 east. Exit Ellsworth Road south to Hunt Highway. Travel east on Hunt Highway to Thompson Road south. Turn west on Phillips Road to the San Tan Mountain Regional Park entrance. For Goldmine Trailhead: From central Phoenix, take I-10 east to US 60 east. Exit Ellsworth Road south to Empire Blvd. Travel west on Empire Blvd to Wagon Wheel Road. Take Wagon Wheel Road South to Skyline, and then west on Skyline to trailhead. For Rock Peak Wash trailhead: From central Phoenix, take I-10 east to US 60 east. Exit Ellsworth Road south to Hunt Highway. Travel east on Hunt Highway to Thompson Road south. Continue south on Thompson until it becomes Brenner Pass Rd. and eventually reaches the trailhead.
page created by ferazamboni on Mar 15 2010 11:43 pm
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