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Holbert - Hidden Valley - Mormon Shuttle, AZ

Guide 10 Triplogs  0 Topics
  4 of 5 
no permit
86 10 0
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Shuttle 6.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,300 feet
Elevation Gain 1,130 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,330 feet
Avg Time Hiking 3 - 4 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 11.03
Interest Off-Trail Hiking, Historic & Seasonal Waterfall
Backpack No
feature photo
Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
9  2015-11-14 rayhuston
20  2013-07-29 RowdyandMe
31  2012-01-05 outdoor_lover
26  2012-01-05 PaleoRob
author avatar Guides 7
Routes 54
Photos 12,967
Trips 576 map ( 6,441 miles )
Age 59 Female Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar → 7 AM
Seasons   Early Winter to Late Winter
Sun  5:47am - 7:20pm
Official Route
0 Alternative

Ancient History meets Hidden Urban Gem
by outdoor_lover

Normally you would not think about a Shuttle Hike on the northside of South Mountain, but the Shuttle distance is fairly short, about 3 miles apart. I found that this is a great combination of Trails to showcase some of the sweetest areas of South Mountain Regional Park for people that have not been to this range before, whether they are visitors to the area or just first-time hikers in this range. And it's a hike that people and kids of all ages can enjoy both from the variety of areas that it encompasses and the length and difficulty range of the hike itself. You get to go from marveling at the ancient petroglyphs on the rocks on the Holbert Trail to the wonderful rock playground and peaceful solitude of the sparsely traveled Hidden Valley.

Adults and kids should be in reasonable shape as both the ascent and the descent have some steep sections. Watch your kids around the rock areas, especially in Hidden Valley, where the fall potential increases from scrambling and descending large boulder areas. Also please be respectful of the petroglyph areas and do not climb, deface or remove anything in the area.

This description starts from the Holbert TH and ends at the Mormon TH. See Directions for both at the bottom of the page. The Holbert Trail takes you immediately into a passageway of large rock and if you look up you will start to see the ancient rock art appearing. You will travel out of the passageway into a fairly open area with more petroglyphs on large and small boulders along the trail route. You will also see petroglyphs on the rocks further above the trail on the hillside. After you encounter a large picnic area, the trail going east will gradually start to climb and soon you will parallel a paved road going to a large water tank against a hill. The trail starts turning here to the south and the grade becomes a little steeper. You enter a large canyon and the trail becomes steeper yet, but is far from unmanageable and is well defined. The canyon serves as a large drainage and judging from the rock and steepness, is probably quite a site after a very large rainstorm. Don't forget to turn around every once in a while and enjoy the views of the canyon and the city behind you. As you near the top of this canyon you will likely encounter more people as you pass Dobbins Lookout, a scenic vista area with a large rock ramada, with vehicle parking and restrooms.

Shortly after that, you will cross Buena Vista Road, and do a little more hiking up into a smaller canyon. As you top out of this canyon, you will encounter another paved road. This is TV Road and it goes from Buena Vista Road to the radio towers and ends at Gila Valley Lookout. TV Road makes a great side trip if you have the time and energy. This is also where you intersect with the National Trail running east to west. Turn east on National, enjoying full vistas to the north and peaks of the vistas to the south. You will also encounter the Buena Vista Lookout, a large parking area, and two more Trails. Geronimo Trail goes North back down, and Corona de Loma goes south and down, towards Awautukee. When you get to the edge of the parking lot, either continue straight east through the parking Lot or stay right and circumvent it around the south end. If you circumvent it, you will see a marker for the Corona de Loma TH, with the trail starting out going west. This would be in the southwest corner area of the parking lot. Continue around the lot and pick up the National Trail in the southeast corner, going east on the other side of the Lot. You start to lose the vistas soon after you leave here as you descend somewhat and then the trail starts to flatten out again.

1.7-mi after the Buena Vista lot you will hit the Hidden Valley Trail junction. Bear right and down into Hidden Valley. You will immediately descend into a large drainage that drops into the valley with large boulders. Once you negotiate a few of the rocks going down, you will encounter Fatmans Pass. This is a gap between two giant rocks that is pretty narrow. Don't get too discouraged, it actually looks narrower from above than it is and alot of people can get through it. You may have to take your pack off, but an average person will fit. You can opt out if you like and go over the top, but it's not nearly so much fun and it's a good Photo Op if you're hiking with someone. The kids love it! After squeezing through the Pass, there is a little more scrambling on the drainage rock and then you are in the valley. The Trail becomes pretty obscure here and is not marked. There are a lot of footpaths and little game trails that go every which way, but the valley is pretty narrow and I have found that if you stay in the main drainage wash in the center of the Valley traveling east, you can walk the short length of the valley without any trouble at all. This valley is a quiet little paradise and you would never know that you are only a mile from a major urban area. The mountain bikers stay on National Trail for the most part and a lot of hikers bypass this little gem. At the east end, the Valley closes in and you will find that scrambling over the large, dark slickrock and turning with the drainage will get you to the end of Hidden Valley where there is a natural rock tunnel for an exit. The trail becomes a lot more defined again and as you climb a short ascent out of the valley, you will encounter the National Trail junction.

When you get to this junction, you want to go left and backtrack just a short way west on National and you will meet up with the Mormon Trail intersection. This is also the south end of the Mormon Loop that can be hiked. Proceed north on the Mormon Trail and before your final descent, you will see the north Mormon Loop junction. Bypass this junction, and begin your descent on the Mormon Trail. It's a little steep in places, but not too bad and it's a scenic trail as well. It's quite a bit shorter of a descent than the Holbert Trail would be, so it's going to be half as hard on the legs and knees. But which way you decide to do this hike is entirely your choice and is enjoyable either way. I did this as a shuttle to keep the hike shorter. Otherwise, if you backtrack out of Hidden Valley back the way you came to the Holbert TH, it will add significant mileage to the hike and turn it into a full-day affair. This way, you're down and out after approximately one more mile.

South Mountain has so many options for loops that you can get very creative and see alot of different territory in a short amount of time. I chose to Describe this hike due to the variations of terrain, points of interest and hiking ease so that we can show off South Mountain to our friends and visitors. Enjoy!

Water Sources
South Mountain Phoenix Preserve shows water availability at both the Holbert and Mormon TH's. However, the South Mountain Environmental Education Center at the Holbert TH has been closed since 2010 due to budget cuts, so I would not rely on a water source there. There are no Water Sources on the trails themselves.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2012-01-21 outdoor_lover
    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 $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From the East or Southeast Valley take I-10 to the Baseline Rd exit and proceed West on Baseline Road to 24th Street. From the West Valley, take I-17 South to the 16th St exit. Turn South on 16th Street and go down to Baseline. Go East on Baseline to 24th Street. At 24th Street, turn South and follow it to the end. 24th Street ends here and turns left, changing into Valley View Dr. Right after the turn, you will see the Parking Area for the Mormon TH. There is usually always adequate parking here and information on the trail. Drop a car here.

    Backtrack back to 24th St and head north. The first street on your left going west is Euclid Ave. Take Euclid Ave. going West to 20th Street. Turn South on 20th Street and after a couple of blocks, 20th Street curves to the West and becomes Dobbins Road. Stay on Dobbins Road to Central Ave. At Central Ave, turn South and follow it into the Phoenix Preserve Complex. There is a Paystation at the Entrance that is unmanned at this time and there is no fee to park in this complex at the time of this posting. The Education Center has been closed since 2010. After you pass the Paystation, take an immediate left following the directions to the Education Center. This is a main road around the parking area. When you reach the turnoff to the Education Center Parking Lot, bypass it and stay on the road going Southeast. This is an enormous parking area but stay on the road until you see another building with another large parking area beyond that. When you reach that building area, turn into the actual Parking Area and park in the area between the building and the Median area on the South Side. The Holbert TH is just South of this area, across the Main Road that you just drove in on. Look for a sign just a few feet in from the trail entering a large rock passageway.
    page created by outdoor_lover on Jan 21 2012 2:54 pm
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